The Buyer’s Guide To Monitors

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We couldn’t list all the monitors on the market, but we’ve extended the Buyer’s Guide to cover pretty much everything we’ve reviewed over the last four years that’s still available. If you’re just getting started, be sure to check out our complete guide to monitors here

Budget

ADAM F5
Price £349

monitors

Two-way ported monitors “designed in the tradition of the legendary Adam professional monitors, which focus on the essence of Adam speakers at a new, lower price point”.

We say: “Given its very competitive price point, the F5 is a remarkable and accomplished monitor. Adam looks and Adam sound quality at an entry-level price. We expect the F5 will be a big success.”

Fender Focal Passport Studio
Price £420



A collaboration between monitoring experts Focal and portable-gear luggers Fender, to aim at producing monitors that you can take anywhere.

We say: “This is a cleverly designed, carefully thought out and affordably priced product that fills a niche in the monitor market.”

Focal Alpha range
Price £400 to £510



Focal’s attempts at producing a range of budget active nearfields impressed us (and you) on release, and they were our Gear Of The Year Monitors Of The Year two years ago.

We say: “The clarity, accuracy and sheer audio quality this monitor provides is rare indeed at this price point.”

JBL LSR305 and 308
Price £258 and £400



Two-way active nearfield monitors that bring JBL’s acclaimed Image Control Waveguide technology to a larger audience – technology that offers more depth to the sound, great for mixing.

We say: “The LSR308 is certainly a cost-effective solution if you want ample bass, power and vibe. However, for sheer clarity, imaging and overall value for money, the smaller LSR305 steals the show.”

Genelec 8010
Price £500



These smaller active monitors are designed to enable “professionals to work in compact studios and on the move”, but are also aimed at being as accurate as possible for serious studio monitoring.

We say: “Genelec’s 8010s are remarkable monitors that provide professional-quality reference at medium listening levels and in an effortlessly portable format.”

Eve Audio SC207
Price £460



“The SC207 will be attractive to a large range of listeners, as their size and form factor make them appropriate for a lot of different rooms.”

We say: “A fine-sounding pair of monitors, with excellent sound quality and über-convenient and practical front-panel controls.”

Mackie CR Series
Price £100 to £120



Among the cheapest monitors here, these active two-way monitors are intended as desktop speakers for bloggers, podcasters and video editors but can also function as basic monitors or for those who are just starting out in home recording.

We say: “Both these Mackie monitors were very pleasing to listen to and offer sensible features for a range of uses.”

IK Multimedia iLoud Micro
Price £279



Two-way bi-amped active monitors designed for desktop use – and probably the smallest proper studio monitors you can get.

We say: “So we approached our review almost wanting to knock the Micro Monitors because of that ‘smallest studio monitor’ claim, but we really can’t. They’re great, simple as that!”

M-Audio BX6 and M3-8
Price £235 and £440



Two- and three-way active monitors from M-Audio: the three-way, more expensive option won our hearts.

We say: “The M3-8 costs twice as much, but you do get an awful lot more – in every sense. There are relatively few manufacturers offering coaxial monitors at this price, and when you factor in the M3-8’s high-quality audio, frequency- response adjustment and power, it looks like a very interesting proposition indeed.”

Tannoy Reveal 402 and 802
Price £264 and £466



The Tannoy Reveal series offers active monitors of varying size and power levels, which can be used as studio workhorses or convenient computer speakers.

We say: “A lot of speaker for the money. The 402 has ample power, great looks and impressive sound quality. The 802 also has much to recommend, but is more expensive, and with a sonic character that is perhaps more entertaining than it is accurate.”

Midrange

Eve Audio SC204 AND TS107
Price £879



A high end and compact 2.1 system that’s designed to be user friendly and affordable.

We say: “This whole system sounds absolutely wide open. The detail resolution is first-class and the TS107 integrates so seamlessly and unobtrusively that this reviewer frequently felt compelled to place his fingers against its cone to check it was actually doing something.”

Dynaudio BM Compact MKIII
Price £900



These are small-format active nearfield monitors that we tested with a separate BM9S II subwoofer (for an additional £914).

We say: “The Compact MkIII is an accomplished speaker, we found that the addition of the BM9S elevated its performance. There was an immediate improvement in clarity, image depth and imaging. The midrange detail was significantly enhanced.”

Genelec 8320A and 8330A
Price £959 to £1,249



These active nearfield monitors are highly sophisticated performers, whose parameters are controlled by Genelec’s SAM (Smart Active Monitoring) system which allows you to calibrate them to your studio room.

We say: “SAM certainly allowed both these monitors to perform at their best in our room. Although both monitors are available without the calibration system, we think you’d be crazy not to buy one without the other.”

KRK V Series 4
Price £800 to £1,400



Two-way active nearfield monitors that are “specifically designed for audio production applications where accurate reproduction is critical”.

We say: “The S8s in particular are a great set of monitors to stir up the £1,000-plus end of the monitor market. It’s a crowded one, but these stand out for the best of reasons – accuracy – as all great monitors should.”

Pioneer RM Series
Price £800 to £1,100



These active nearfields have a coaxial design and have been designed from scratch for mixers and producers – and, on the face of it, no compromises have been made.

We say: “The RM-07s do cost an extra £200 to £300 a pair, but it’s money well spent. Even though the RM-05s performed decently enough, the 07s, in direct comparison, give you extra cleanliness and accuracy.”

Yamaha HS7 and HS8S
Price £858



A 2.1 system series of active monitors designed and priced specifically for home studios and based on Yamaha’s popular NS-10 philosophy.

We say: “An excellent-sounding and solidly built 2.1 monitor system, at a very competitive price and with a very transparent sound.”

High end

Eve Audio SC407
Price £2,799



A high-end, four-way active monitor setup that offers “incredible bass reproduction, a very linear response, and plenty of power to shake up your main studio control room”.

We say: “The SC407 is a very well made and fine-sounding monitor that should be capable of producing good results in the right environment. There’s much to admire here.”

MunroSonic Egg100
Price £1,299



The Egg100 is a complete system with speakers, a control unit and amplifier. The speaker design uses the same curved, infinite-baffle design as the Egg150’s in the distinctive egg shape, but with a smaller enclosure housing a four-inch driver.

We say: “With more of our time spent in small spaces, systems such as the Egg100 are a necessity. This is a great system, delivering a big sound from a small package.”

Focal SM9
Price £2,579



Two independent monitor systems housed in a single enclosure. This has a two-way monitor system, plus an eight-inch bass woofer with an 11-inch passive radiator. You can switch between the two-way system and the full system for all four drivers.

We say: “We have nothing negative to report about these speakers. The imaging is surgically precise, the effortless transparency is world-class and they’re a pleasure to work with.”

Dynaudio LYD series
Price £1,200



These are active nearfield monitors designed for small and medium studios. We have so far looked at the 5s, 7s and 8s, although there’s a new three-way option coming soon. They all impressed us, with perhaps the middle 7 being the best of the three.

We say: “These are great-sounding speakers. We were very impressed with what we heard on mixes produced with equivalent priced and more expensive monitors and could make improvements at lower levels.”

Adam S3X-H
Price £4,000



These active midfield/nearfield monitors are Adam’s solution for delivering high power with no loss of accuracy or transparency, and pack no fewer than two woofers, a tweeter and midrange driver.

We say: “These deliver the forensic detail, imaging accuracy, transient response, wide frequency range and flexibility needed for top-end professional monitoring. They can go extremely loud – but, most importantly, they’re very enjoyable to listen to.”

Graham Audio LS5/9
Price £3,450



High-grade passive monitors based on BBC-designed units from the early 1980s. The LS5/9 was the last of the great monitors to come from the BBC Research Department.

We say: “Regardless of where you place it, it sounds good… and it’s as impressive for clear and breathy vocals as general instrument recording. They more than fit the bill.”

Eve Audio SC305
Price £1,285



A three-way monitor system with a centrally located tweeter, so will be equally at home in the middle position of a 5.1 surround system or a conventional two-way stereo setup.

We say: “These monitors have a clean and effortless quality that opens a sonic window on your mix without being strident or too upfront. We found them easy on the ears over extended periods and the size of their sound belies the size of the cabinet.”

Eve Audio SC3010
Price £4,999



A large three-way main monitor that has been designed for use in professional studios, or larger project studios. Also available in 12-inch format (as shown).

We say: “At just shy of five grand, the Eve SC3010s still offer outstanding value for money, giving you so much in terms of advanced technology, thoughtful design and, above all else, superb sound reproduction.”

MunroSonic Egg150
Price £1,999



The Andy Munro-designed Egg monitoring system is distinctive and comes with its own amplifier, so the smaller monitors can fit in a greater range of setups.

We say “The Eggs are able to serve multiple purposes, making them an excellent choice for project studios on a budget, which might not be able to invest in multiple monitors, but still want a high-end solution.”

PMC twotwo.6
Price £4,440



High-end monitors offering outstanding sound quality with DSP-controlled equalisation and an extended bass response.

We say: “The depth of the soundstage is incredible and left/right imaging is about as crisp as it gets. If you prefer listening to your speakers rather than listening to the music, these may not be for you. But if you want a clear and neutral window into what’s going on with your mix, the twotwo.6s deliver everything you could ask for.”

Presonus Sceptre range
Price £1,000 to £1,200



These are ‘CoActual’ studio monitors featuring a unique driver design that Presonus claims “delivers unmatched lifelike sonic reproduction and three-dimensional soundstage”.

We say: Of the S6s, we said: “There’s tremendous clarity and a wide-open stereo picture. With acoustic recordings, the degree of air around the instruments is quite remarkable.’ Of the S8s, we said: “Simply put, they sounded stunning.”

My Audio Design 1920s
Price £2,350



The 1920S is a compact two-way passive design of similar proportions to the classic BBC LS3/5a, arguably the most revered of all mini-monitors.

We say: “My Audio Design has created a wonderful monitor with the 1920S. Its delicious, classic sound makes for a refreshing change from the unforgiving nature of many modern boxes and it’s equally at home relaying both minimal acoustic recordings and complex mixes of all kinds.”

Unity Audio The Boulder MK II
Price £5,997



High-end, three-way active monitors that “redefine expected levels of sonic performance and are regarded as a truly world-class monitoring system”.

We say: “With their increased power handling and more extended bass, the Boulders can easily rival many bigger monitoring systems. True giant killers.”

Unity Audio The Pebble and Bam Bam
Price £1,295 and £1,075



The Pebble and Bam Bam together are a three-way active monitor system that can separate, so you can take the two-way part (minus the bass) on location or to another studio.

We say: “Using the Pebbles as a portable monitoring system is a great option for location recording. But for the full-on full-frequency experience, they’re best used together and have a very innovative design.”

Unity Audio The Rock Mk 2
Price £2,200



High-end, two-way active nearfield monitors and a refined Mk 2 version of Unity Audio’s Rock monitors.

We say: “The depth of the soundstage is something special. Since we weren’t struggling to hear details, we found ourselves monitoring at slightly lower levels than usual – good news if you’re working long hours. These are loud, deep, detailed and gorgeous-sounding monitors.”

My Audio Design Grand MS
Price £4,499



High-end passive monitors designed to offer a rich listening experience with a huge soundstage.

We say: “The Grand MS is a brilliant performer, delivering tonal accuracy right across the frequency range and with first-rate imaging capabilities that make creating a stereo picture easy. The way that they offer an open window into a mix is outstanding.”

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