Studio monitors are one of the most important pieces of hardware in any audio studio. In this tutorial, I'll examine and describe the characteristics of a number of studio monitors costing in the region of $1,000-1,300.
Studio monitors are specifically designed for professional applications where precise audio reproduction is essential. The term implies that the frequency response is more linear—flatter, without coloration—than Hi-Fi products.
Typically audio companies dealing with studio products spend research and development costs mainly for audio quality rather than fancy aesthetic design or brand building.
Preferring Studio Monitors to Hi-Fi Speakers
Not a universal rule, but in my experience a similar sounding Hi-Fi speaker or headphones usually costs two or three times more than a studio speaker.
So there is even more motivation to buy dedicated studio speakers for audio tasks.
In this article I'll list the characteristics of the following speakers:
- Adam A5X
- Dynaudio LYD-5
- Focal Shape 40
- HEDD Type 05
- KRK V4S4
- EVE audio SC207
- Monkey Banana Turbo 8 Black
- Mackie XR624
- Genelec 8030B
- Genelec 8320APM
- Pioneer RM-05
- Neumann KH 80 DSP
- Frequency response: 50Hz-50kHz
- Can be used for longer sessions without ear fatigue
- Quick transient response even at high sound levels and over the full range
- Great stereo image
- Low-distortion amplification
- Wide frequency range
- Adaptation to the listening environments
- Volume control on the front panel
- Supports balanced and unbalanced line signals
- Frequency response: 50Hz-21kHz
- Low-volume precision for long mixing and production sessions
- Lightweight aluminium voice-coils like in high-end Hi-Fi speakers
- Class-D amplification
- 24-bit/96kHz advanced DSP
Focal Shape 40
- Frequency range: 60Hz-35kHz at (+/-3 dB)
- Doesn't have a port, so it can be placed near a wall
- Special tweeter for flexible listening position
- Controlled and articulated bass
- Natural lower mid-range and upper mid-range registers
- Adjustable bass and treble
- Class AB amplifiers
- Several mounting options with additional kits as an extra purchase
HEDD Type 05
- Frequency range: 45Hz-50kHZ
- Strong performance despite the compact size
- Analytical sound without ear fatigue
- Optional AES3 and USB-2 connectivity and audio-over-IP
- Reasonable price
- Frequency response: 58Hz-19kHz
- Custom designed Kevlar tweeter and Woven Kevlar woofer
- Front ported bass reflex design
- Class-D amplification
- Mid and High freqency EQs
- Input level attenuation switch
- Robust EVA foam pad for non-skid and acoustic isolation
- Built on the legacy of the famous, old V series, but is now in the 4th series, renewed and updated
EVE Audio SC207
- Frequency response: 44Hz-21kHz (-3 dB)
- SilverCone honeycomb structured woofer for tight and dynamic bass
- Low distortion copper cap magnet system
- Precise linearity
- PWM amplifier with protection-limiting
- AMT (Air Motion Transformer) RS2 for higher output level
- XLR and RCA inputs
- High resolution DSP electronics for tailoring the monitors
- Professional A/D converter (24bit/192kHz) from Burr-Brown
- Efficient bass port design for lower distortion and compression even at loud sound levels
Monkey Banana Turbo 8 Black
- Frequency range: 45Hz-30kHz
- Great sound
- Exceptional build quality
- Smooth high range
- Digital input via S/PDIF
- Notched rotary EQs for LF and HF
- With an 8 inch woofer it is ideal for bigger rooms
- Frequency response: 45Hz-22kHz (-3 dB)
- Great overall performance
- Logarithmic waveguide provides adaptation to listening environment
- New bass reflex system for extended range and better quality
- Anodized aluminum tweeters for better upper registers
- Kevlar woofer gives you quick transient
- Reduced distortion and enhanced clarity
- Class-D amplification
- Adjustable acoustic space filters
- Power saving with eco-friendly mode
- Included isolation pads
- Frequency response: 58Hz-20kHz (+/-2 dB)
- Reflex Port Design
- Room Response Compensation
- Protection for circuitry
- Optimised Amplifiers
- Active crossovers
- Intelligent Signal Sensing Technology for power saving mode
- Iso-Pod™ Stand for better acoustic isolation
- Several mounting options
- Ultra high precision in given range: 66Hz-20kHz (+/- 1.5 dB)
- Smart Active Monitor (SAM™) Systems to adapt to listening environment
- Frequency Response: 45Hz-50kHz (-10 dB)
- HD-Coaxial design for better point source monitoring
- Bass reflex/Aluminium die-cast enclosure for reduced resonances
Neumann KH 80 DSP
- Very High precision sound in almost full range: 59Hz-20kHz (+/-2 dB)
- Low end frequency response: 53Hz (-6 dB)
- Low-distortion materials
- Optimised drivers
- DSP engine adapts the sound output to the environment
The Sounds of Brands
Mackie, Monkey Banana
These speakers go more low than others, but less precise in linearity. Very good for heavy club music.
The latest V series are generally flatter than similar Mackies, but still have a good bass response.
Adam, EVE, HEDD
They have some common roots with the designers and founders starting out from Adam Audio. Adam is a little colored and massive sounding, while EVE and HEDD are more transparent.
Not so transparent than Genelec, but still good all-rounders.
I place these between the Dynas and Genelecs, but with a different sound.
They are pricey and don't go too low, but they are ultra transparent and revealing. They have a very flat response, equal or better than 2 dB across the spectrum. Very good option if you don't have the luxury for high-end ATC, PMC or Barefoot speakers.
Buying and Testing
I always recommend personal testing in a local store or at least in a bigger city that has an audio store. If you don't have it, I think it is a good way to have one or two days off and travelling to the closest place to test and buy.
When listening use tracks you know already and listen to all the frequency ranges: low, mid and high. Also consider the speed of the response, like kick drums, basses and hihats.
These are two big companies dealing with pro audio. I recommend the webshops for researching and then seeking a local store to buy.
In this tutorial I examined a list of studio monitors that you should consider for your studio. I showed you several great speakers and described the sound of the brands. Take your time in selecting the studio speaker that is right for you and be sure to listen to your chosen speaker before splashing out on a purchase.