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Monitor Speakers Roundup: Audiotuts Readers’ Favorites

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You can spend countless hours mixing and mastering, but if you’re not accurately hearing what your music actually sounds like, you’re wasting your time. There is no substitute for good monitor speakers. We recently asked you about which you use, and this article wraps up your answers. It summarizes the “hive mind” of Audiotuts+ readers on the best brands and models to use.

Top Brands

You mentioned lots of brands in the comments, but three brands stood out from the rest:

  1. Yamaha was the recommendation that stood way above the rest
  2. KRK
  3. Tannoy
  4. M-Audio

Other brands that were mentioned more than once include Adam, Samson, and Blue Sky.

Top Models

The Number 1 Yamaha HS80Ms really stood out in your comments. Here is the complete list:

1. Yamaha HS 80M

Specs: 8″ woofer, 1″ tweeter, 120 Watt
Price at Amazon: $312.57 each

Comments from users of these monitors:

  • “As I’m building my setup I’m looking at some decent monitors, and from the ones I’ve used (or at least heard in studios) that I could reasonably afford, I’m looking at the Yamaha HS80M’s. Good sound, reasonably priced, and not as fatiguing to my ears as some others in the same price range I’ve used.” (Jonathan Lynch)
  • “Yamaha HS80M are really good, especially for that price tag. I’ve been using them since last year. At first they sounded a little bit odd; it took me some time to get used working on them.” (Iankoo)
  • “I’ve been using Yamaha HS80Ms for over a year now and have been really happy with them. They’re pretty forward sounding and have good stereo placement. They also have a monster low end. In fact I had to roll off the bass to get them to sound acceptable in my little studio (2.5m x 2.5m x 3.5m). I generally mix electro and metal so I need monitors with fast transients and good lows. Oh, and they look great too – jet black enclosures & white cones.” (Dripfeed)
  • “Now I work with Yamaha HS80M – IMO, great monitors for price.” (Alex_HS)

2. KRK Rokit 5/6

Rokit 5: 5″ woofer, 1″ tweeter, 30 Watt
Rokit 6: 6″ woofer, 1″ tweeter, 50 Watt
Price at Amazon:$149 (Rokit 5), $193.78 (Rokit 6) each

Comments from users of these monitors:

  • “KRK Rokit 5’s. Surprisingly satisfied with them. Have them isolated on some Auralex pads. A little colored but nothing you can’t used to.” (Kerry O’Donovan)
  • “KRK Rokit 5’s, love ‘em. Great for the money.” (Rylaan)
  • “KRK Rokit 6’s. Great monitors.” (Guilha SantAna)

3. Tannoy Reveal 5A (Active)

Specs: 5″ woofer, 1″ tweeter, 40 Watt
Price at Amazon: $695 (pair)

Comments from users of these monitors:

  • “I have always used Tannoys and been really happy with them. I had been using Tannoy reveals with a Tannoy TS8 sub until very recently, but I just got a pair of Tannoy System 1000’s with the dual concentric driver. Lovely speakers.” (Simon)
  • “Now I work with … Tannoy Reveal Active (of studio’s owner), but dont like their – raised lo-mids, very sharp hi-mids and cutted bass and treble.” (Alex_HS)

4. M-Audio Studiophile BX5a/BX8a

Studiophile BX5a: 5″ woofer, 1″ tweeter, 40 Watt
Studiophile BX8a: 8″ woofer, 1.25″ tweeter, 70 Watt
Price at Amazon: $239 (Studiophile BX5a), $376.50 (Studiophile BX8a) pair

Comments from users of these monitors:

  • “M-Audio Studiophile BX5a. They’re okay and pleasurable for listening music, but have some flaws for mixing or mastering, I think.” (Serge)
  • “I have these too, my mixes have come out good in my opinion. They aren’t the best mixes, but I’m only started out, so when I reference a track on another set of speakers I’m pretty [sure] it is my mistake, and some tweaking usually works, except I know have a sub would complete the system.” (Oktavio)
  • “M-Audio Studiophile BX8a. For their price tag, they have given me great results. (Mind you, I’m a little bit of a novice yet).” (Alex)

5. Adam A7

Specs: 7″ woofer, 2.5″ tweeter, 50 Watt
Price at Amazon: $574.50 (each)

Comments from users of these monitors:

  • “Adam A7’s. Spectacular monitors, especially for the cost. When “mastering”, I switch between the A7’s with and without a dual 12″ sub and JBL LSR6328P’s with and without the sub. I cannot recommend the A7’s enough.” (Shawn Guess)
  • “Another vote for Adam A7s. I added a sub recently for low end reinforcement, but the Adams are quite capable on their own. Oh, and I use AKG 240 DF (now discontinued) headphones; they come closest to the sound of the vitage Ureis in the main studio…” (Colin Mansfield)

6. Blue Sky Exo2 (2.1)

Specs: 9″ sub, 2 satellites, desktop controller
Price: $499 MSRP (not currently available from Amazon)

Comments from users of these monitors:

  • “Blue Sky Exo (2.1) – this little monitoring system is excelent. But if you have money go for Blue Sky Media Desk/Pro Desk an so on. The future is 2.1 and 5.1 anyway.” (Gery.M)
  • “Another Blue Sky Exo user here. I’m a bedroom mixer and I like them (except the stupid position of the on/off switch). Don’t take much space, easy to position on a desk and really good stereo image. I just EQ them differently for entertainment purpose.” (LC)

7. Samson Rubicon R5a/R8a

Rubicon R5a: 5″ woofer, 2″ velocity ribbon, 50 Watt
Rubicon R8a: 8″ woofer, 2″ velocity ribbon, 75 Watt
Price at Amazon: $299 (Rubicon R5a), $497.95 (Rubicon R8a) pair

Comments from users of these monitors:

  • “I use Samson Rubicon R8a – great honesty! Have a look at them, especially if you are limited in money.” (Wavestorm)
  • “I have a pair of the R5as that I keep on my primary computer for music and whatever kind of demo stuff I want to do. They were my favorite sound for the pricepoint I was looking for. They went above and beyond what I expected, or even needed!” (Truck)

The remaining models were mentioned just once each:

  • Alesis M1 Actyive Mk2
  • Event 20/20BAS
  • Fostex PM
  • Genelec 8030
  • JBL LSR6328P
  • Roland DS-30A
  • Tannoy System 1000
  • Tapco S8
  • Yamaha NS10 Studio

Some Words of Wisdom

Besides letting us know about their favorite speakers, some commenters left us with some words of wisdom about choosing your monitor speakers:

  • “Well, monitor speakers are the most important thing in studio!” (DNC)
  • “I’d love some Adam or Genelec speakers… But you know what they say in this business – if it isn’t going to make you more competitive, don’t buy it.” ;-) (West)
  • “It doesn’t matter what monitors you have from what ive read, as long as you know what to listen for and how to correct it. Wolfgang gartner says his monitors are old and are colored, so that is an example.” (Oktavio)

Conclusion

The monitor speakers listed above aren’t necessarily the best - they are what Audiotuts readers are using and recommending. Thanks to everyone who participated in the Open Mic thread.

Have we left out your favorites? Let us know in the comments. And feel free to add your own words of wisdom about selecting the right monitor speakers.

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