Studio monitor speakers come with a variety of price tags. You can get great ones that will cost you $500, while there are even some pretty awesome models in the $300 range. However, one thing remains true with this type of speaker. The more money in invest in them, more performance you’ll get at the end of the day.
Table Of Contents
|Image||Studio Monitors / Rating||Summary||Check Price|
|+ -|| Adam Audio A5X |
Total of 4.83/5
Lightning quick hybrid ribbon tweeter paired with top-tier hardware and smart design.
|+ -|| PreSonus Sceptre S6 |
Total of 4.83/5
An unusual coaxial design that is compact, very powerful and fully transparent.
|+ -|| Focal Alpha 65 |
Total of 4.87/5
Performance oriented design from one of the best brands on the market.
|+ -|| KRKRokit 10-3 G3 |
Total of 4.83/5
Three way setup with massive bass cones and an abundance of power.
ADAM Audio's monitors were always regarded as some of the best on the market. With the release of A5X, that reputation has only been reinforced. This speaker comes with their popular X-Art tweeter capable of reaching 50kHz, a completely redesigned set of front firing ports, a new carbon fiber based driver and so much more. When you put it all together, you are getting an incredibly flat response and performance that makes the A5X sound way bigger than it actually is. This monitor is a perfect solution for smaller studios, but it will work flawlessly even in a larger space. With plenty of power and volume, you are looking at a very efficient set of monitors speakers.
PreSonus Sceptre S6 is a coaxial monitor speaker that not only brings organic 3D imaging to the table, but punches well above its price range. What really stands out about this set is their compact size, which allows for easier positioning. Each cabinet packs some 180 Watts of power coming from two dedicated amplifiers, giving you more than enough juice to work with. The horn mounted tweeter is very quick and responsive, offering great performance even when pushed hard. Overall transparency is impressive, especially when you combine it with 3D imaging and organic sound. Sceptre S6 is a truly professional grade studio monitor that is worth every penny you invest in it.
Focal's speakers are usually found in the top tier segment of the market. However, this brand has designed a whole line of monitors aimed at budget users who want to tap into that Focal goodness. Alpha 65 is one of those models, and it is hard to beat for the money. Focal did have to cut a few corners, but nothing that impacts performance. These bring an extremely transparent response and plenty of headroom to the table. With an aluminum inverted tweeter, those trebles have a come out clinically accurate, which is something that extends to higher mids as well. Overall, Focal Alpha 65 are truly amazing studio monitors for the money.
KRK Rokit 10-3 is probably the least conventional member of this popular family of monitors. This is mainly due to its three-way configuration, and fairly large size. You are looking at a 10" woofer cone per cabinet, accompanied by a 4" mid range driver and a 1" soft dome tweeter. Each cabinet packs three amps, one for each speaker, and offers some 140 Watts of power. One great thing about Rokit 10-3 is its wide sweet spot that allows you to be up to 4 meters away from the focal point and still enjoy perfect sound. Overall, Rokit 10-3 is a great solution for those who want something different for their studio.
To many enthusiast producers, spending $1000 on a set of monitors might sound like an overkill. After all, how much transparency do you really need? Here’s the deal. No matter how experienced you are or what kind of music you are mixing, more transparency and flatter response is always going to be a good thing. However, this single metric is not the only thing that expensive monitors offer. If that was the case, you would see a whole bunch of professional producers running a cheap pair of modded monitors. In reality, they will get the best monitors they can find.
We can break the benefits into several categories. The first one that comes to mind is overall performance of the speakers. By this, we mean a lot more than just the nature of their frequency response. Then we can talk about power and features. Lastly, there is always the matter of design, both exterior and interior. Let’s look at each of these a bit more in depth.
There are several key things that can be classified under performance. The most important one is by far transparency. When you have a good set of monitor speakers, you get an insight into what goes in your mix. More transparency means that you will notice even those details which are extremely subtle. Where a good set of $300 monitors differ from a good set of $1000 is in how flat their response is. A cheap pair of monitors can have a flat response in comparison to its overall frequency range, however if you were to look at the graph of that response, you would see oscillations. These can be anywhere from +-5 dB and rather stacked. With a $1000 set, those oscillations will be much less pronounced.
Power is a another important metric that deserves to be mentioned. With that said, power shouldn’t be mistaken for volume. There are speakers that pack 200 Watts per cabinet, and those that offer only 20 Watts. Both of these will get you 104dB of Max SPL. The next logical question that comes to mind is what is the difference between these two? The main difference is how much headroom they offer. That 20 Watt set of speakers is going to have to work extremely hard to reach its claimed max SPL. On the other hand, the same volume is a breeze for a 200 Watt unit.
When you don’t have power and you want more volume, the most common problem you will run into is distortion. Distortion happens when you push speakers past their capabilities. Distortion is also something you want to avoid at all costs if possible. Not only does it completely mess up the perception of the music you are trying to mix, but it can easily affect the longevity of your speakers.
When it comes to features, expensive speakers simply offer more. We are talking all kinds of protection, controls and I/O options. Whether or not these are essential will largely depend on you and your needs. Some producers like to have absolute control over their gear, while others are only interested in core performance.
Design if one of the more important aspects of any studio monitor. It is not that much about how the speakers look, but rather how the cabinets are laid out. Speaker cabinets do much more than just offering a solid anchor for the transducers. You can have the best possible set of drivers you can find, but that won’t mean much unless you have decent cabs to give those drivers a good enough framework. A good cabinet will allow the transducers to reach their optimal potential without affecting the performance in any negative way. You’d be surprised at just how finicky it can be to design a good cabinet.
Another area that can be filed under design are both the layout and nature of the transducers used. For example, once you get into $1000 price range, you will start seeing coaxial designs where the tweeter is actually inside the low frequency driver. There are also some great three-way monitors out there, like the KRK model from our list.
Overall, spending a $1000 on a set of studio monitor speakers makes a lot of sense if you are looking for optimal performance and sonic clarity. As a producer, this money buys you a much more refined way to mix your music. Models we have shown you today are by far some of the best you can get for this amount of money. We went with speakers that have proven their worth numerous times by now. Some are conventional, others not so much. However, they all share the level of performance that makes them worthy of being on this list.