Best Studio Monitors for Mixing & Music Production at Home
I’ve got seven studio monitors for your music studio here today. I’ve got the top sellers budget picks and the ones used by famous artists and producers. I’ve conducted blind tests I’ve tested with and without acoustic treatment listen to a variety of genres and even mix my own song with them. So, which one of them is right for you? Let’s find out! I chose these monitors based on reasonable price reputation and of course size.
These are all 5 inch monitors meaning they have 5 inch woofers the most popular size for home producers. They are all powered, so no need for a separate AMP. Audio out from your audio interface or computer goes into these monitors and you’re done. All these monitors have their unique benefits but if you’re just looking for the most neutral and flat ones I’ll cover that too.
Let’s start with the most popular studio monitors in this roundup the JBL 305P MK II these are best sellers on Amazon. The JBL’s are my favorite in the mid-price range. If your budget is under $300 get these. The bass was not as detailed as the KRK’s but still good. Still one of the best in the roundup. The highs were decent but reminded me of consumer speakers at times. Mids were very level, very nice for mixing. The detail of sound was pretty good but not up to the level of the atom speakers in this comparison. So, are these honest? Meaning, will they translate well to other listening environments like your car? Yes. Not only that, they give you a comfortable sound never fatiguing your ear, unlike some other monitors. That said a purely comfortable sound may not be the ideal sound for mixing. More on that later. The JBL’s like other speakers have very convenient connections in the back with quarter-inch and XLR inputs and they give you some basic EQ customizability. Now in blind tests, the JBL scored high but they didn’t do as well as the next monitors in this roundup. By the way, I tested these on ISO acoustic stands which are amazing! They made a huge difference I highly recommend them.
The ISO 155’s are the perfect size for 5 inch monitors. If you can, put your monitors on floor stands, but, with or without floor stands get the ISO acoustics. If you produce hip hop or EDM you’ll like these monitors. These are the KRK Rocket 5 G4. I wanted to keep these monitors for myself! They are used by many Hip-Hop, EDM, and pop artists like Skrillex, Steve Aoki, and Charlie Puth. The bass from the KRK’s was clear, deep, and punchy. Best in the roundup! When other monitors had loud bass, these added the punchiness and detail the highs were excellent as well no complaints at all. The detail of the individual sounds was good, better than the Presonus, but not as spacious as the Yamaha’s. I don’t believe these are as honest as the Yamaha and Adam speakers in this list. But they handled soft and loud volumes well and I’ll say it again, these are the monitors I wanted to keep for myself after testing all of them! The KRK’s only give you XLR inputs in the back but they sport a cool screen to adjust EQ. It makes these feel premium but simple knobs are more convenient. It was a bit cumbersome to flip through menus. These KRK’s scored top marks in blind tests and I bet it’s because of that punchy bass.
Next up, we have another top seller on Amazon. It’s the Presonus Eris E5 XT. These are the XT versions of the E5 monitors which improve high-frequency response and creates a wider sweet spot. When I mixed with these, I found the lows are not as detailed as the KRK’s. In fact, a little muddy. High frequencies were not as clear either. My high hats sometimes got lost in the mix. Mids were excellent and sound much more even across frequencies better than the KRK’s. These sound very balanced. But the detail of sound can’t compare to the competition here. Especially the Yamaha’s I’ve mixed with smaller Presonus monitors before and I was very very happy with the results. So I do believe these will give you great mixes. The Presonus monitors give you great acoustic tuning controls and lots of choices for inputs in the back. And they are reasonably priced at $300 for a pair. These are not the best of the best, but an excellent value considering the price. I installed some acoustic treatment on the wall- minimal stuff, but it did make a noticeable difference when testing. The acoustic treatment I used is by FS Labs, they sent me these panels – very affordable stuff and it worked to reduce reflections it made a difference.
So what if your budget is $200 or less? You may want to look at the Mackie and Monoprice speakers. Let’s take a look at the Mackie’s first. I tested the CR5 XBT, which has Bluetooth but Mackie also makes these monitors without Bluetooth, for just $200 for the pair. That’s a budget price and I was expecting a budget sound from them. But I was wrong! These are marketed as multimedia monitors instead of studio monitors and looking at the back that becomes apparent, You don’t get XLR inputs, and only one speaker is powered and sends the audio to the passive speaker. But whatever, who cares? They sound great! The lows were nice, the detail is pretty good, they surprised me, and good detail in the hi-hats too. The mids blended with the lows at times, which wasn’t great, my vocals in the mix didn’t wow me. The Adam speakers in this roundup were totally on point for vocals. But those are twice the price of the Mackie’s. So would I recommend these Mackie’s for mixing? Well, they’re fine but from time to time they did sound like consumer speakers. But for the price, I would highly recommend these. They’re not on par with the best on this list, but they held their own nonetheless.
So what about the Monoprice speakers? These are the least expensive on this list at about $160 for the pair and they’ve got every type of connector you could want. But what about the sound well these could be decent for mixing because they are relatively flat. But what you start to lose at this lower price is detail. Bass was boomy instead of punchy and clear. I lost my hi-hats in several mixes and things kind of just sat in one place. These are not bad monitors, but when you compare them side by side with the competition here, it’s easy to hear the difference that more money makes. If you need something cheap, these will do fine. But I’d recommend you save up for the others in this list if you’re serious about music production.
Alright next up the Yamaha HS5’s have the best sound space among all the monitors here. It created a 3D space of sound. It’s clear to see why Artists like Finneas and 21 Pilots use them. These are among the most expensive in this roundup at $400 for the pair, same as the Adam’s. But you should prepare for the mids. They were the most pronounced among all these speakers almost distracting, especially if you have a room that is not acoustically treated. Those mids are going to reflect and may start to annoy you. The bass is excellent on these HS5’s – are all about clarity. The highs were never harsh but were sometimes overshadowed by those mids. These remind me of the Yamaha NS10’s, those classic legendary studio monitors. I own the NS10’s myself and the HS5’s are more pleasant because of the better lows and highs. These are probably the flattest monitors among all of these. Make sure you treat your room and these will serve you well. By the way, what if you want more? Upgrading any of these to the larger version should improve detail clarity and size which will give you more range. Better lows would be so nice.
All right last we’ve got the Adam Audio T5V monitors. These have a smaller footprint size-wise, but they’re taller than the others in this comparison. Adam speakers have ribbon tweeters that are immediately recognizable. Ribbon tweeters are supposed to be more comfortable for listening for long sessions, less fatiguing on the ears. These monitors didn’t score very high in blind tests but we don’t always need pleasant speakers for mixing well. The lows are not as pronounced as the KRK’s but still very clear. The sub-low frequencies in Hip-Hop music I listened to were kind of lost too. But the mids were very detailed with beautiful separation, I can hear the bass mids and highs clearly, and pick out sounds very nice. The clarity in vocals was so good! I could hear the details and sounds like F’s and D’s. It was just incredible! And compared to the Yamaha’s, the mids were never harsh. It’ll be easier to balance your mix with these. If you pair these with a sub, or if you don’t need that dramatic low end, these are highly recommended.
So what monitors do I use? I have the Barefoot Footprint 01’s. They are bigger, louder and the bass is awesome! They are a pleasure to use, but I have used the 4.5 Presonus monitors for years. Once you learn how to get the best results from your monitors, you’ll do well with any one of the speakers I compared today. You can’t go wrong with any one of these studio monitors. Buy what you can afford for now and save up for what you want in the future! And get the ISO acoustic stands, they are worth the money.