When you’re mixing music or other audio, you need to hear the most accurate representation of it. Studio monitors are specially designed speakers that do exactly that, as they attempt to color the sound as little as possible.
Studio monitors have long been an essential part of any recording studio or sound engineer. Whether you have a home studio, work in a large one, or are in a gigging band, you’ll want a studio monitor to assess the quality of your sound.
Best Studio Monitor Speakers Under $1000
When it comes to studio monitors, the price range is simply crazy. You could get ones that cost around $150, or you could spend over $20,000 ones. We’ve limited the budget to below $1000 since that’s the budget most recording studios, gigging bands, and home recording individuals work with.
Below are our five favorite sub-$1000 studio monitors available right now. Be sure to go through our buyer’s guide after the reviews for some further insight on studio monitors.
Our Top Pick
Adam Audio A7X
Will Blow You Away
The Adam Audio A7X are powerful 7-inch studio monitors that offering sparkling clean and clear mid and high-range frequencies and deliver incredible sound.
If you’re looking for speakers under the $1000 that could match the performance of those that would cost five times as much, you shouldn’t look further than the Adam Audio A7X.
Outperform their Price
The 5-inch JBL 305P Mark II are successors to the popular LSR305 monitors the company released in 2013 and 2014. They improve upon those in every way and come at an excellent price tag.
Given how well the JBL 305P Mark II perform, they could easily cost far more than what they demand. It’s fantastic value for money.
When you first turn on your newly purchased Adam Audio A7X studio monitors, be sure to keep a hand on your hat so it doesn’t blow away. Simply put, the Adam Audio A7X speakers are absolutely incredible. The powerful 7-inch woofer and 2-inch tweeter combine together to deliver one of the most balanced sounds we’ve heard from studio monitors, and that’s saying something because a studio monitor is supposed to be balanced.
The midrange and high-end of these speaks are very clean, crystal clear, and does not fatigue the years. It’s all thanks to a great frequency range of 42Hz-50kHz, and total power delivery of 150 watts. The Adam Audio A7X is the studio monitor of our choice if you have the money to pay for it.
A pair will cost you nearly $1500, and the size of the monitors means you’ll have made plenty of room for them and run them loud for the best effects. The break-in period of these speakers is also a lot longer than that of others.
- Jaw droppingly good sound
- Ideal frequency response
- Wonderful tweeter
- Long break in time
Yamaha has held its own in the studio monitors market with their legendary NS10 monitors, but in the under $1000 range, they’ve made some seriously impressive models that show the NS10 wasn’t a mere fluke.
Yamaha’s HS8 are our favorite ones out of their HS line of studio monitors, boasting a powerful 8-inch woofer and a 1-inch dome tweeter. The frequency response of these studio monitors is 38Hz-30kHz, capable of handling lows and highs extremely well. The bigger woofer gives a large headroom for you to work with, which is great regardless of how bass-heavy your music is.
What makes these speakers so appealing is there’s very little wrong with them. They’re not going to blow your socks away like the Adam Audio A7X, but they’re incredibly reliable, easily available, and extremely popular. The monitoring experience is outstanding for the price, which given the performance seems to be appropriate.
- Large headroom
- Accurate and reliable
- Built in filters and level controls
- Problems with XLR interface for some users
If you’re well-informed in the studio monitor-verse, you’ve probably heard of the JBL LSR305 studio monitors. Release in 2013 and 2014, these monitors took the world by storm for their affordability and fantastic performance.
JBL has taken much of that formula and improved upon it in the form of the JBL 305P Mark II. These studio monitors are a beast for the price they demand, making them our favorite studio monitor under $200.
The frequency range of these monitors is 43Hz-24kHz, so you know they have the low-end covered. The total power of the 305P MKII is 82 watts. Many of JBL’s flagship features of the M2 monitors (that cost $20,000) have made it into the 305PMKII. These include Image Control Waveguide that broadens the “sweet spot” of the studio monitors (see the FAQs at the end of this article for more information) to a considerable extent.
The new glossy look isn’t the most appealing, as many prefer the more minimalistic matte finish of the original LSR305. That’s perhaps the only area where the Mark II didn’t necessarily improve, though even that is subjective.
- Fantastic value
- Excellent performance for a 5-inch monitor
- Highly accurate flat EQ
- Not aesthetically appealing to everyone
You’ll find it difficult to find any top studio monitors list without the KRK Rokits featuring in them. The 5-inch version is the most popular among them, and you can get a pair for a relatively reasonable price. These active monitors have a frequency range of 45Hz-35kHz and maximum power of 50 watts.
KRK Rokits are extensively used by many professional users because of their reliability. However, there’s one major caveat: these studio monitor speakers aren’t actually flat. This defies what a studio monitor speaker is designed to do. The KRK Rokit 5 G3 are polarizing because of this in the industry. They have a V-shape sound signature, meaning the bass and treble are boosted while the mids are scooped out.
This does not take away from the quality of these monitors though. They sound wonderful. Their extensive usage among professionals and general popularity should be a testament to how good they are. You just have to be aware of the colored sound of the KRK beforehand, and if you are, you can easily create some great mixes as the countless many have done with these bad boys.
- Solid sound
- Great value for money
- Great bass response for a 5-inch speaker
- Sound is not flat
Neumann is well-known for its legendary microphones. With the KH 120A, they’ve created a fantastic high-quality studio monitor speaker. Although just 5-inch woofer power this speaker, the overall sound is highly balanced for most needs. If you work with bass-heavy music, then you might have to pair the Neumann KH 120A with a subwoofer.
The Neumann has a frequency range of 52Hz-21Hz, and delivers 100 watts of continuous power, with a peak power of 160 watts. The midrange is the standout aspect of these studio monitors. Neumann’s KH 120A have a midrange detail as well as a high-end sound that is unbelievably good and crystal clear.
The Neumann KH 120A are quite similar in performance to the Adam A7X, although the latter has a larger speaker size. That makes the Adam A7X better for bass-heavy genres, but if you want smaller speakers that handle midrange wonderfully well, the Neumann KH 120A are the way to go.
- Beautiful mid and high response
- Rugged aluminum cabinet design
- Extremely reliable performance
- Subwoofer is recommended for bass-heavy genres
One of the biggest things to consider when buying studio monitor speakers is whether they are passive or active. Passive monitors are just speakers – you’ll need to buy a separate amplifier to power them. Active monitors have an amplifier built into them.
So, which one is better? Neither. Active monitors do provide convenience which is an added advantage, but in terms of pure sound quality, both are equal. If you have an amplifier lying around in your studio or home, you should consider getting passive monitors instead as active monitors are often a bit more expensive. However, be mindful of the wattage of the amplifier and see if it matches up with that of the speakers.
The speaker size is important for a number of reasons. Often, a studio monitor’s size is based on the size of the woofer. A larger speaker size will thus have more low-end thanks to a larger woofer. A speaker that is 8-inch in size will produce significantly more and clearer bass than a 5-inch one.
Speaker size is also very important in determining how loud you want to get. Larger speakers will require you to run them at louder volumes (by providing more power) to get the air moving through the woofer, which is when they’ll often sound best. For this reason, buying very large speakers for small settings isn’t recommended.
Smaller speakers suffer from lacking bass, but they are the ideal option for small studios and home recording. A common practice is to add a subwoofer with the smaller speaker to compensate for its lack of low-end frequencies.
Studio monitors can vary in price, ranging from less than $200 and asking all the way up to $20,000 and above. The most expensive categories are not only designed for live-stage monitoring and high-end music recording studios, but also feature some of the biggest speakers out there. Larger speakers require more power to run and also sound best when they are run extremely loud, which makes them appealing only to gigging professionals and professional sound engineers.
Speakers that are priced lower work well for most individuals who want a home recording setup or have a smaller studio. 5 and 6-inch speakers are more affordable, but they often have inadequate bass. Many people prefer to purchase a pair and later add a subwoofer to compensate for the lacking bass. Overall, your budget should ultimately determine the size of the speaker and its quality.
Frequency response is often overlooked by individuals when buying studio monitors. If you were with bass-heavy music, it’s something you should pay special attention to. The average human hearing range spans from 20Hz to 20kHz. Monitors will specify a range of frequencies that they can handle. A monitor with a range of 37Hz-24kHz means that it cannot handle bass frequencies below 37Hz.
Positioning your studio monitor is very important, especially if you are using a pair (which is recommended if the music you’re working with is stereo). The position most professional sound engineers search for is often called the “sweet spot”. Unfortunately, it can vary heavily from speaker to speaker, so there is a lot of trial and error involved in the process.
What’s the biggest difference between regular speakers and studio monitors?
The biggest difference between regular speakers and studio monitors is that the latter gives you a raw, unadorned sound that most accurately replicates what the actual music is like. Regular speakers “decorate” the sound, often with exaggerated bass, compressed mids, and mellowed trebles. Studio monitors, on the other hand, have a flat EQ, giving the listener accurate representation of the sound. This makes studio monitors an essential part of all music recording studios.
What are the most common sizes for studio monitors?
Studio monitors come in various sizes, mainly determined by the size of the speaker. The most common sizes are 5-inch, 6-inch, 8-inch, and 10-inch. With 5 and 6 inch monitors, it is usually recommended to add a separate subwoofer for more bias.