A good pair of the best studio monitors you can afford is one of the key essential items in any home recording studio. You know that top studios will spend tens of thousands to equip themselves with the best studio speakers they can so they can achieve the perfect mix. You are not going to have the same kind of budget – or space.
Still, the good news is you do not have to spend all that much to purchase a really excellent pair of home studio monitors. And a pair of well set-up audio monitors will certainly elevate your music production and mixing to a new level. Here we will concentrated on the best budget speakers on sale right now, in 2021.
So in this post you can find out how to choose the perfect monitor speakers. You will learn what are the key features to consider when comparing different brands and models of studio monitor speakers, and we will review the best powered studio monitor speakers, concentrating only on the ones that are affordable for a small home recording studio.
Table of contents
- Which Are The Best Studio Monitors For The Money?
- What Are The Best Kind Of Speakers For Music Production?
- Top Tips For Sound Control During Mixing With Your Studio Monitors
- Technical Specs Of Studio Monitoring Speakers
- Best Cheap Studio Monitors: Detailed Review of Our Top 5
- Home Recording Studio Setup – Video Tutorial
- Further Reading
Which Are The Best Studio Monitors For The Money?
5 of the Best! Below, you will find which kind of monitors we recommend for home studio use with some technical terms explained. And we reveal our top 5 inexpensive active studio monitors for those of you on a tight budget. You can view the quick compare to see head-to-head specs or read more detailed reviews of each model.
What Are The Best Kind Of Speakers For Music Production?
Many pro studios use large monitor speakers that have a deep bass. But these are expensive, heavy, difficult to install, require acoustic treatment and are just not suitable to a small home recording studio. So avoid the hassle and expense, and use a pair of near-field monitor speakers. These are small, wide-range speakers, typically using a cone woofer and dome-shaped tweeter.
- You place a pair of them about 3-4 feet apart about 3-4 feet from you in a triangle as in the image below. Easy!
- There are a couple of reasons why near-field monitoring is best for the small studio:
- The speakers are close to your ears, so you can easily ignore the room acoustics
- Nearfield studio monitors sound clear and provide sharp accurate stereo imaging
- Some units have bass or treble tone controls built in to help you compensate for the effects of room acoustics and speaker placement and these may be the best speakers for music production for you if your studio space is, shall we say, a bit challenged!
Near-field recording speakers have enough bass to sound full when placed away from walls.
They can lack deep bass, but can be supplemented with a subwoofer to reproduce the complete audio spectrum, or you can occasionally check your mix with studio headphones that have deep bass.
Powered (Active) Monitors
The best monitor speakers for home studio use have a power amplifier built in so you do not have to buy any other equipment to use them. In this article we are only going to review self-powered monitors because they are the most suitable for a home recording studio.
You can feed a line-level signal from your audio interface or mixing console straight into the active monitors. Most good powered monitors are bi-amplified. This means they have one amp for the woofer and another for the tweeter (all built into the unit). The advantages of bi-amplification are:
- Distortion frequencies caused by clipping the woofer power amplifier will not reach the tweeter, so less likelihood of tweeter burnout
- Clipping distortion in the woofer amp is made less audible
- Intermodulation distortion is reduced
- Peak power output is greater
- Direct coupling of amplifiers to speakers improves transient response – especially at low frequencies
- Bi-amping reduces the inductive and capacitive loading of the power amp
- The full power of the tweeter amp is available regardless of the power required by the woofer amplifier
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Top Tips For Sound Control During Mixing With Your Studio Monitors
- Mix at LOW volumes. Although it might seem like fun to crank up the volume, it rarely translates into a great mix. Professional mixing engineers often listen to their mixers at low levels. Yes, they occasionally use high levels, but only after the mixing is nearly done, and then only for short periods of time. You don’t want to damage your ears do you? That would lead to a short-lived career as a sound engineer. Plus, lengthy listening at loud volumes will tire your ears out before you’re done.
- Use acoustic panels to tame the sound. Make your room work better for you. The secret to getting a good mixing room is to tame the sound reflections coming out of your monitors. So do at least put some foam panels on the wall where the speakers are pointed to eliminate echo. You can read more about acoustic treatment in our complete post on this topic.
Technical Specs Of Studio Monitoring Speakers
When you try to compare different models of studio monitors, and make sense of the reviews, you will no doubt come up against terms that you don’t understand, especially if this is the first time you are setting up a home studio. To help you we have created a complete glossary of the technical terms associated with studio speaker monitors. Simply click below to open up our jargon buster and find out what all these technical terms mean. This will help when you are trying to compare different brands of studio monitors. The manufacturers do love their jargon, so it will help to get up to speed with the difference between a woofer and a tweeter, the ins and outs of THDs and SPLs etc:
Jargon Buster: Studio Monitors Technical Terms
Best Cheap Studio Monitors: Detailed Review of Our Top 5
Top Tip!! Make sure you are buying a PAIR of monitors. Sometimes they are sold singly, and you need to buy two. Watch out for that …
Well that completes our round-up of the best reviewed and most popular studio monitors, completely updated for 2021. Hopefully you will find the ideal set for your home recording studio among them.