When you kit out your home studio you’re going to need a good set of studio monitors to listen back to your recordings on. Monitors differ to standard hi-fi speakers in a variety of different ways, but the main difference is that monitors are built to sound ‘neutral’, in other words, they’re designed to give you an accurate representation of what your recording sounds like with as little colouring (such as equalization) as possible. Hi-fi speakers are designed to make music sound good, studio monitors are designed to make music sound as it is.
If you’re looking to buy a set of home studio monitors, there are a few things you’ll have to decide on. The first is how much you want to spend – studio monitors range from £100 a pair to £1000s. Fortunately, you don’t need to pay anywhere near £1,000 to get a workable set of monitors, as there are a number of great options for under £200 a pair.
If you’re on a low budget, it’s recommended to go for the Samson Resolvs which are under £200 a pair on Amazon.co.uk. I used to own a pair of the Samson Resolv monitors and I can certainly vouch for their quality and robustness.
|If you’re willing to pay a little extra, then the industry standard Yamaha NS10 (or the newer HS80s) are a good buy, and you can buy a pair of active speakers for around £450 on Amazon.co.uk. These speakers have an interesting story to them are known for being exceptionally flat and accurate. Some engineers dislike them for making songs sound bad, but from my experience, almost every top studio has a pair of these tucked away somewhere in the monitoring rig due to their incredible accuracy and unique tone.|
Two other highly regarded options are the KRK RP6s, which cost around £350 for a pair, or in the slightly higher price bracket are the Event 20/20s, which are very popular and cost around £650 for a pair.
|If your budget is in the £600-£800 range, then you may also want to consider the Adam A7X monitors and Mackie HR624s, both of which are very reputable studio monitors used in many top recording studios.
The second decision you’ll need to make is whether to go for an active or passive pair of studio monitors. Active monitors have a power amplifier built into them, meaning you don’t need to buy a separate amplifier, also eliminating speaker cables. The idea is that a speaker should be ‘matched’ with an amplifier, and buying a pair of active studio monitors takes out some of the guesswork when trying to match an amp with a speaker set.
Generally, active speakers are more expensive then passive speaker units, but not necessarily when you consider that you would need to purchase a separate amplifier unit if you bought a pair of passive speakers.
What Size Speakers do You Need? Should you buy a subwoofer?
Depending on what type of music you’re mixing, you may need a subwoofer in your monitoring system, or at least larger speakers. Generally, the larger the speaker the ‘slower’ the driver can vibrate, resulting in the capability to better produce lower frequencies. If you were mixing bass heavy songs, I would recommend at least 15” drivers, or potentially a set of 10-12” speakers with a subwoofer.
Have you had any good/bad experiences with any of these monitors, or know of another good set worth shedding some light on? Share your thoughts in the comments below!