When it comes to studio monitors, picking the right ones for you can spell the difference between absolutely sweet, untainted bliss or nail-bitingly maniacal frustration that greedily eats away at your conscience as you try to understand why every single mix you render sounds barely better than lousy juvenile attempts at musical flatulence.
|DynAudio BM5A MKII||$499.99||More Info|
|Mackie HR824||$699.99||More Info|
|Genelec 8030A||$895.99||More Info|
|Yamaha HS50||$145.00||More Info|
|KRK Rokit RP8 G2||$249.99||More Info|
Don’t Skimp on Your Sound
So far, your choice in purchasing those super-duper monitors that make everything sound larger than life itself in all their glory hasn’t worked out well so far, has it?
In this article, we’ll explore five different sets of monitors that have proven to be great purchases for audio engineers and music producers who know their craft inside and out.
As an aspiring audio engineer and producer myself, I’ll go into my personal experience with monitors that I have found to be indispensable in my endless pursuit of high-fidelity excellence and clarity in every project I’ve worked on up to this point.
The 5 Best Studio Speakers
1. DynAudio BM5A MKII
Having used these monitors for little over a year now, I have to admit that I am thoroughly impressed with the accuracy and precision that monitors have afforded me throughout various mixing, mastering, and music production projects.
- Custom aluminum drivers handcrafted by Danish engineers
- High-resolution soft-dome tweeters measuring 1.1″
- Overall frequency response of 48 Hz to 21 kHz
- Analog room filters for any necessary frequency-balancing corrections
- 2 channel 90-Watt transient power (2x 50W RMS) resulting in an overall 117dB SPL peak power output
Not that you would ever want to turn them up that high if you care about your hearing!
While these will likely cost you a pretty penny in comparison with other offerings, I swear they’re worth every single cent!
2. Mackie HR824
Personally, I would say that these are ideal for beginners who are in search of an inexpensive pair of monitors that can help them achieve good results.
- 3/4-inch (19mm) thick MDF construction
- 1-inch (25.4mm) thick MDF front panel with radiused edges in order to minimize diffraction
- H-shaped brace that reinforces the cabinet
- Overall SPL rating of 120 dB
In terms of overall usage, these are great monitors for tuning in your low end and mid-to-high frequencies, but in comparison to the Dyneaudio BM5A MKII’s, the mid range could be improved.
Nonetheless, these are widely recognized as an industry standard for audio engineers are definitely a wise choice for first-time buyers and novice engineers who need to break their ears in.
3. Genelec 8030A
While never having owned these two small, yet beastly-sounding monitors, I have heard them in action and can say that they effortlessly blow monitors that are three to four times their size out of the water!
These Finnish-handcrafted magic boxes feature:
- Magnetically shielded cabinet that’s made out of die-cast aluminum
- Bass reflex system that reaches down to 58 Hz
- DCW (Directivity Controlled Waveguide) technology, which allows for superb flatness that translates seamlessly for both on and off-axis listening.
Being a bit higher on the pricing scale (you’ll likely spend up to roughly $1400 for a pair, but keep an eye out on sites like eBay, Craigslist, or Amazon), the Genelec 8030A’s are definitely a pair you’ll want to save up for if you’re looking for excellent stereo imaging and a ruthlessly accurate yet highly instrumental representation of your mix and productions.
4. Yamaha HS50
Initially designed by Akira Nakamura and launched in 1978, this model grew enormously popular during the late ’70s and became a staple in recording studios worldwide after failing miserably as a hi-fi accessory for home entertainment systems at the time.
While they aren’t really at all pleasing to listen to, they are considered by many engineers to be remarkably effective at revealing any particularly ugly flaws that wouldn’t quite stick out on alternative monitoring setups.
Which likely explains why so many engineers hated them.
Additionally, the inability of the Yamaha HS50 to perform at high levels as well as the brittle and harsh characteristics of the tweeters didn’t win many brownie points among many engineers either.
At the same time, it’s worth noting that there are also many engineers who continue to swear by them to this day because of their strangely uncanny translation capability.
My personal advice is that if you can find a pair, definitely try them out and use them as an A/B option along with whatever other monitors that you’re currently using for your mixing / production routines.
5. KRK Rokit RP8 G3
Having messed around with a pair of these unassuming and decidedly cartoonish-looking monitors while helping a friend out with a mix. I was actually very impressed with their ability to maintain a decently wide image while representing the mid and low-frequency ranges quite capably.
The stereo imaging was exceptionally clear and made detailed panning and artificial widening an enjoyable experience. At roughly $250 a pop, you owe it to yourself to check them out!
Along with any decent pair of monitors comes the prerequisite know-how in order to achieve the sonically desirable results that serious engineers and producers strive for on a regular basis.
You’ll find plenty of different schools of thought in this regard, but my advice is as follows:
How to Tune Your Studio Monitors
Maintain the overall level at a same level as a typical human conversation, which is normally measured at 60-70 dB.
Turn up the monitors slightly past your typical monitoring level when working on low-frequency material.
According to the Fletcher-Munson curve, human ears tend to be more sensitive to mid-range frequencies than either low or high-frequency frequencies, which requires us to boost those frequency ranges respectively in order to effectively compensate for this psychoacoustic anomaly.
Alternatively, instead of turning up your monitors to gauge and process high-frequency content like you did with low-frequency content, turn your levels down to slightly below than where you monitored lower frequencies, and then slightly below your “standard” monitoring range.
The goal is to make things sound bright, but not so bright to where things end up sounding fatiguing and annoying. This technique will help you to balance all your high-frequency elements effectively without any confusion as to the texture or brightness of the elements.
Pay Attention to Warping
While turning things up high to enjoy your music can be fun, beware of a psychoacoustic phenomenon known as the frequency loudness warp, which can actually alter your sense of depth and pitch as your ears become fatigued from excessive loudness.
Though, the best way to listen to music at louder levels is to gradually turn the music up so that your ears can be coaxed into it. Additionally, be sure to wear ear protection, take frequent breaks, or simply turn the monitors back down from time to time so that you can retain a proper perspective and avoid damaging your hearing. Happy mixing!