Buying Guide to Studio Monitors

The biggest of musicians and producers will agree on one thing: The most important gear component that determines how you or your mixes will sound is your reference/monitoring system. The better your monitors are, the more clarity you will achieve in your sound and your mixes.

Your set of monitors and how better your mixes can get with their help depends hugely on which set of monitors suit your needs, according to your room, the genres you’re trying to mix and the end result you’re expecting. In short, it varies from person to person and application to application. There is no universally “best” product for everyone. To solve this problem, there are certain things you need to understand and keep in mind before you go to buy a pair of monitors:

1. Room size: Keeping in mind, the size of your studio room is very important. You do not want to install monitors with 8” subwoofers in a room where the hind wall is 6 feet away from your monitors. That would not work for you as the reflections will kill your clarity and with the wall so close, you will never be able to get close to the intended ‘sweet spot’.
2. Sound: You’re not looking for monitors that make your mixes sound “good”. If your mixes sound extraordinarily good on a pair of monitors and bad on consumer level devices, then either you’re doing something really wrong or you have a poorly chosen reference system for your scenario. And there’s a high probability that it might be the latter.
3. Acoustic Treatment: You need to keep in mind that even the most expensive of studio monitors won’t do the job if you have poor room acoustics. Make sure you have your room acoustically treated before determining the pair of monitors you want.
4. Be Confident: Once you’ve decided which pair of monitors to buy, just be confident and don’t look back. If you keep doubting your reference system, you will get nowhere. If there is an issue with the monitors in a certain area that’s creating a problem in your mix, you will realise it later and probably find a workaround for it.

Here’s a buying guide featuring three of our favourite mid-range and highly recommended studio monitors. You need to understand that all three are distinctively good, but like all gear, you need to figure out which one is the best for your needs according to different factors.

KRK Rokit 6 G3
The KRK Rokit comes with a wide range of models. It is available with the most used 5” and 8” models. All these models vary in various respects including the wattage of their amplifiers, woofer size, overall frequency response and of course, the price.

What we’re talking about here is the 6” model. This monitor sports a 1” soft dome tweeter and a 6” glass-Aramid composite woofer. KRK is a top selling monitor brand on the global level.

Highlights of the product
• The MDF enclosures feel solid, sturdy and promise low-resonance.
• Dimensions: 11.4”D x 8.9” W x 13.1” H
• These are some good looking monitors that feel sharp and compact. The distinctive black and yellow combo adds to the feel.
• The 6” glass-Aramid composite woofers pump out a surprisingly punchy and tight low end for this size and price range.
• The rear panel controls are quite useful. There are controls for overall volume which goes from -30db to +6db. There are low frequency level and high frequency level adjustments too that can be tweaked to four different rotary positions. These allow you to adjust the response of your monitors to better suit your room conditions and personal preferences. All the control knobs are pretty solid.
• The connectivity of these speakers is very versatile. There are 1/4” TRS, RCA and XLR inputs that give you the option to connect with almost all sorts of medium.

Buy the KRK Rokit 6 G3 here.

Presonus Eris E5
Presonus monitors are on a little price line but great, versatile monitors in a budget for a young company that hasn’t been making monitors since long. The Presonus E series is a budget speaker for all of your studio and multimedia needs. The E series comes in both a 5” and an 8” size. We’re discussing the E5 that is the 5” model.

Highlights of the product
• These speakers are amplified with class AB analog amplifiers. There is a 5.25” woofer with 45W and a 1” silk dome tweeter with 35W.
• When it comes to connectivity, these are at par with the KRKs. These have XLR, RCA and TRS ins. The RCA ins are summed with other inputs. This means that you can connect your consumer level multimedia devices simultaneously with your audio interface or recording setup.
• A unique feature is a second three position switch that can help compensate for bass build up in your room due to your monitor placement.
• All these controls give you the flexibility to do a reality check by tweaking around, just the way you would use different systems to.

Buy the Presonus Eris E5 here.

Adam Audio F5
Adam is an elite name in the high-end audio circle, with their A and AX series speakers found in many studios. But the quality and delivery doesn’t stop with their premium ranges. We’re talking about the F series, which is a budget range for modest, scaled down artists and small studios.

Highlights of the product
• The F5 bi-amped electric monitor sports a 5” woofer and a 3” tweeter. The cabinet is concise, sturdy and stylishly constructed with subtle finishes that not only compliments the look but also affects the sound production.
• The F5’s tweeter features Adam’s 4:1-geared Air Motion Transformer (AMT) technology and folded-membrane construction for delivering the high end.
• As far as functionality in terms of connectivity is concerned, the F5 has there is an XLR/TRS combi jack and an RCA input. These cables can be plugged simultaneously, but the RCAs will precede the XLR/TRS.
• Just like the other two units, this also has EQ mechanisms for shaping the sound output. There are two shelving EQ trim pots, at 300 Hz and 5 kHz. There is also a level control that goes up to 6db. There is also an 80 Hz high pass filter that can be engaged when used in combination with a subwoofer.

Buy the Adam Audio F5 here.

Just like I said, there is no ‘better’ or ‘worse’ monitors among these three. But you need to determine what you really want depending upon which one suits you the best. Test out your friend’s speakers, read reviews on the internet to make sure what pros and cons people face with each pair of monitors and determine what might happen in your case.

Be sure and then be confident, because the monitors the medium and if you have the medium and its application figured out perfectly, you will definitely be able to get better results.

Three cheers for stellar mixes!

If you need help with setting up your own recording studio at home, you can read about it here.

Visit our epic collection of studio monitors at The Monitor Store!