Last Updated: November 2019
Output Sound Designer, Josh Story, works tirelessly to create some of the industry’s best presets and recording samples. Needless to say, he needs a phenomenal pair of studio monitors to hear his work in precise detail.
We asked him to create a comprehensive list of both the best high-end studio monitors and home studio monitors in a wide range of prices and scopes.
If you’re new to music recording and production, it might not be clear why studio monitors are such a crucial piece of equipment.
Your home speakers are probably powered by a single amplifier and are built to enhance elements like bass and high frequencies. No matter what you do, what’s played back will be different from what’s on your digital audio workstation.
Professional studio monitors are made up of several amplifiers (like woofers and tweeters). Since powerful noises like deep bass notes and drum crashes have their own amp, they don’t reroute energy as they would in a regular home speaker. This results in a more precise, non-enhanced sound.
KRK Rokit 8 monitors are a great, affordable option for anyone with a small home studio – especially when paired with Output speaker stands. These studio monitors are known for their hyped bass response but they’re a lot of fun to listen to.
These KRK monitors are perfect for hip-hop and bass-heavy electronic music. If you have space in your home studio layout, spring for the 8” woofers for the full, room-thumping effect.
You’ll likely find a pair of mid-range Yamaha NS-10 studio monitors in most major studios around the world. Their popularity stems from engineers repeatedly choosing this pair of studio monitors as the closest reference to the average home stereo speaker. If your low-end sounds solid through these, your mix is probably in pretty good shape.
These ADAM monitors are a remarkable deal for around $1,500 a pair. The A7Xs feature X-ART Ribbon Tweeters, which produce a pristine high end, extend all the way up to 50kHz (according to industry specs). Extending such a high-frequency range allows for a detailed, flat response in a range that human ears can actually hear.
Paired with a 7” subwoofer, the A7Xs have a solid bass response, making these speakers great for multiple musical applications. If you want a bigger low end, the A8X features an 8” subwoofer and the A77X offers dual 7” woofers in a horizontal studio monitor design.
A top contender among professional studio reference monitors, Barefoot Sound is known for its clarity and balance. Dual 10” subwoofers are paired with 2 x 5.25” mid-bass drivers and a 1” tweeter – all enclosed in one monster of a speaker. If you’ve got $10,000 to drop on a pair, the MicroMain27 is hard to pass up.
In contrast to the MicroMain27, the Dynaudio BM15A runs around $3k per pair and are excellent for low-end clarity and definition. This makes them a nice companion when set up alongside a pair of NS10s during the mixing process. We have these in the Output studio and they sound fantastic.
PMC studio monitors are brutally revealing on bad recordings but are also profoundly deep with wide imaging on great recordings. The sound impresses clients, as it should: They run upwards of $90,000.
Even at extreme SPLs, PMC Loudspeakers hold up with zero loss of definition and no distortion, which is sometimes heard on studio mains of lesser quality. If you ever have the chance, listen to these speakers – you won’t be disappointed.
Josh Story is a music producer, sound designer, and Grammy Award-nominated recording engineer based in Los Angeles, CA. Josh is also an amateur electrician, chef de cuisine, and all-around handyman. Check him out on Soundcloud.
From speaker stands that fit practically anywhere to stylish working spaces, our home studio products are built by musicians, for musicians. See how the Output Studio Collection can elevate your recording space today!