Monitors are one of the most critical pieces of equipment on a studio, perhaps most importantly at the mixing stage. So here we are - ten pairs of studio monitors from $1,000 to $2,000 (USD) to take your listening environment to the next level.
Enjoying heaps of praise over the years and a wide acceptance from the Gearslutz community it’s safe to say that the A7X is a modern-day classic. This monitor comes with a 7” woofer and Adam’s famous X-ART tweeter to provide a super extended frequency response that goes from 42 Hz and reaches all the way up to the dog-whistle territory of 50 kHz. Powerful amps (100W for the woofer, 50W for the tweeter) provide plenty of volume for record monitoring and mixing. The A7X has two front ports and for the users convenience it brings the power switch and volume control between them so they’re easily accessible. On the back there are balanced XLR and unbalanced RCA connections, high and low shelf equalizers (-6 to +6db) and a tweeter gain setting from -4 to +4 db. A reliable and accurate monitor that is still a very good choice for any studio. Read our user reviews.
From Poland comes a newcomer manufacturer - APS - and their 'Klasik' two-way studio monitor, which is garnering very positive comments from the GS community since its release in 2015. The Klasik features a 7” woofer, 0.75” tweeters, 2x75W amps, an impressive frequency response from 35Hz up to 25kHz (-2db), balanced XLR and unbalanced RCA connectors, an eight position input switch (with 1.5db increments from -10 to 0db), and a small and centered rear port. It also offers the user the option to tweak the tweeter’s volume (-1.5/+1.5db) and a bass control with roll off, passive and extended options for the woofer - extended should be the standard mode of operation and passive/roll off should be used along with subwoofers or if you want to tame the low frequency response in a smaller room. It’s great to see new manufacturers thriving, APS is a very welcome addition to the monitor pool and the early word is that it seems like this speaker is a “Klasik” in the making! Read our user reviews.
Famous for their useful, if intentionally bandwidth-restricted/one-way 'Mixcube' speakers, Avantone’s new series of monitors are now set to cover the whole spectrum with a truly full-range system. The impressive 'Abbey' 3-Way features a 6.5” woofer mounted on the side that delivers a low end starting at 35Hz, a 5” midrange driver that stretches from 120Hz to 2.40 kHz and a 1” tweeter that picks up from there and takes it all the way up to 35 kHz. The Abbey features a front bass reflex port and amplification is provided by three amps - 2 x 100W for mid/highs and gut-whopping 200W for the lows. Connectivity comes through an XLR/TRS combi connector housed on the back, along with a volume control, ground lift and an optional high-frequency boost. Everything is neatly packaged in a distinctive looking cabinet with two colour options - black and cream (featured). If you’re looking for a system that will really cover everything from top to bottom then you should definitely give the Abbey 3-way a very serious look.
Dynaudio’s acclaimed BM6A is another case of a 'present-day classic' studio monitor, with over ten years of great service and a solid reputation. They’re so well-regarded that it doesn’t seem like Dynaudio will ever discontinue them (knock on wood!) - they keep updating the BM line of monitors but somehow the original BM6A “MKI” is always in production. The BM6A comes with a 7” woofer, a 1.1” soft-dome tweeter, two mighty 100W MOSFET amps, a frequency response ranging from 41Hz to 21kHz on a rear-ported cabinet. The back part houses the power switch, a balanced XLR input, low and high frequency trim from -4 to 0db, a +4/-10 switch to set bal/unbal operating levels and under the hood there are thermal and electrical protection systems and a limiter keeps the tweeter safe from overloads. The front LEDs will indicate signal clipping or if the protection system is engaged. Despite being the oldest variant of the BM lineup the 6A is still the most expensive when compared to newer models. In that regard, the BM5A/6A MKIII can be a viable option if you want to keep the Dynaudio signature sound but have to work within a smaller budget. Read our user reviews.
The recently updated 'CMS' line of speakers brings all the quality from this revered French speaker manufacturer to a more friendly price point. The CMS 65 has a 6.5" woofer, a 1” tweeter with Focal’s trademark “inverted-dome” design, 100W (LF) and 60W (HF) amps and a frequency response from 45Hz to 28kHz (+/-3db). The CMS line has a conveniently placed front power switch and volume control. On the back there are balanced XLR and unbalanced RCA inputs and four tone controls with a low cut filter (45, 60 and 90Hz -12 db/octave), bass/midrange (0-450Hz) and treble (4.5-20kHz) controls with -4, -2, 0 and +2 db options and a tight (Q=2) parametric filter up to -6db at 160 Hz. These speakers ship with a handful of useful accessories that includes a pair of decoupling table stands to minimize vibration, four rubber feet, two height-adjustable feet, a phase optimization plug for the tweeter and a set of grilles to protect both woofer and tweeter. It also has wall/stand mounting holes on the back. Focal offers the smaller CMS 40/50 models and also a subwoofer option (CMS10), making the CMS line very appealing to different needs, budgets and room sizes. Read our user reviews of the CMS40 and CMS65.
A new series of speakers from the active monitor pioneers at Genelec, with the latest breakthroughs in speaker development and the best Finnish technology, with a 'green bonus' - the range is entirely made with ecologically sustainable and recyclable materials. The M040 brings a very innovative and super rigid cabinet with a vibration-damping enclosure and Genelec’s acclaimed 'waveguide' technology to secure the purest possible sound. This monitor features a 6.5” woofer, 1” tweeter, 80W (LF) +50W (HF) amps, 48Hz-20kHz (-3db) frequency response. The M040 has all its controls on the back which allows for tonal adjustments depending on the speaker placement, an EQ for tabletop use (0/-2 db at 210 Hz), bass EQ for using it near room corners (-2/0 db at 80Hz) and a bass level compensator for when they’re placed close to a wall (-4, -2 and 0 db at 100 Hz). Wrapping it up neatly, there are also input sensitivity controls (-20, -10 and 0db), combi XLR/TRS connector for balanced operation, an RCA input for unbalanced signals and the 'M' series also features an automatic standby mode, staying green-friendly when it comes to energy saving. If you’re looking for a monitor that is cutting edge in all areas and of course sounds great, powerful and accurate, then the M040 should definitely be on your watch list.
Founded by former Adam Audio honcho and loudspeaker researcher Klaus Heinz, Hedd is a new contender in the studio monitor game and with such respected credentials it’s already a strong one! The Type 07 is the middle entry in their line of speakers and the biggest of their 2-way models, with a 7” woofer for low-mid frequencies, 2” proprietary “HEDD AMT” tweeter for the high frequencies, 2x100W amplifiers and two front bass-reflex ports. An interesting feature of HEDD’s monitors is the modular input system provided by the Hedd Bridge, an optional accessory for these monitors which gives them forward-thinking digital connectivity and compatibility with audio-over-IP protocols (such as Dante and Ravenna), with USB2 and wireless options coming later this year. HEDD also offers a smaller model, the Type 05, which might be a good (and cost-saving) option for smaller studios. Finally, they offer the four-way Type 30 with two 7” low-mid frequencies drivers, 5” midrange woofer and their signature tweeter, which should do fine on mid-field duties and in bigger rooms. This is definitely a company to watch! Read our users reviews.
The KH120 A are one of the 'most commented on' studio monitors in recent years and an overwhelming majority have nothing but praise for the KH120 A. It’s important to note that the “KH” stands for Klein + Hummel, a German manufacturer known for its excellent speakers that was acquired by Neumann a few years ago. Combine both brands' expertise and you’re bound to find sonic greatness with the KH120, a monitor that features a 5.25” titanium fabric woofer, a 1” tweeter, two 50W class A-B amps, two frontal ports, four-position controls for the lows, low/mid and highs, balanced XLR connection, input sensitivity trim from -15 to 0 db and handy output level controls. They are also magnetically-shielded and features thermal overload protection systems, with peak limiters to protect woofer and tweeter and visually indicated by the logo light at the front. With numerous high-profile endorsements since release we can only recommend the KH120A as one of the very best studio monitors in its price range. Also available with digital input (KH210D). Read our user reviews.
Perhaps the most distinct design on our list, the Pelonis Model 42 MKII is an update to the highly praised compact monitor that has quite a devoted following. The Model 42 features dual-concentric drivers with the high-frequency driver mounted in the center of the woofer, an external 19” rack-mountable amp with configurable DSP through USB and angled speaker cabinets to avoid reflections from a work desk or mixing console. Because of all this the whole concept drifts away considerably from the traditional active monitor design. It's a very interesting proposition that is very much unique in the world of studio speakers! Despite the small 4” woofer these speakers stretch up to 63Hz (-10dB) and most importantly, they deliver the information needed for mixing in a clear and precise way. The system can be expanded with a matching subwoofer (Model 42LF) in case you really need have all the bottom octaves covered. The DSP software allows the user to mute/solo left or right speaker, align each or both speakers (you can set an alignment delay up to 10ms) and most importantly, it offers a 5-band parametric EQ with two optional shelving bands and a wide range from -15 to +3db for fine-tuning the frequency response - all settings can be stored as presets and easily recalled from the software. Clever boxes indeed!
Presonus' entry in the mid-tier studio monitor market has also captured our community’s attention with their bold looks and proprietary “CoActual” drivers aimed to deliver a very symmetric response from woofer and tweeter. This results in a very coherent soundstage with superb definition. The Sceptre S6 ranges from 52 Hz to 20 kHz (-3db), with 6.25” and 1” low and high frequency drivers respectively, powered by two 90W amps to deliver plenty of volume. They feature cutting edge onboard DSP controls to deal with the upper frequencies above 2 kHz (flat, +1, -1.5, -4dB), a low cut switch ('Flat,' 60, 80, 100 Hz) and an “Acoustic Space” control that is a sort of low-shelf equalizer at 250 Hz with (-1.5, -3, -6dB levels) that help to deal with room problems. A master volume control and XLR and TRS inputs round out the package. All the controls are placed on the back of the monitor and on the front there’s a large oval-shaped horizontal bass-reflex port. In case you have a bigger room and/or a bigger budget, Presonus also offers the S8 with an 8” driver for the louder monitoring needs with some extra bass. Read our user reviews.
There are certainly other great sounding monitors out there, so what are you using in your studio? Planning an upgrade or have you already settled in with a nice pair of speakers? Tell us about your plans and experiences!
Apparently poor sales in the USA is the reason. It's a shame because they're wonderful speakers. They are in a completely different league to Adam A7s in my opinion (having shot them out side by side).