6 of the Best: Monitors

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We review a lot of recording gear in MusicTech, and every issue we round up some of the best items within certain categories. This time it’s the most important of music production accessories, the studio monitor…

Best Mini-Monitor: ADAM Audio S2V

ADAM Audio S2V

Price £2998 a pair
Contact ADAM Audiouk-info@adam-audio.com www.adam-audio.com

The smallest monitors in ADAM Audio’s S-range certainly deliver more across the board than you might expect given the size. These feature a two-way nearfield design with seven-inch woofer coupled with ADAM’s S-ART ribbon tweeter, each powered by its own amplifier. There’s also a DSP engine that allows users to set and store their preferred response characteristics.

We said: “ADAM’s S2V is a world-class, versatile nearfield monitor. Its seamless tonal integration and lightning-fast transient response makes for a highly revealing system that can be tailored to suit existing monitoring setups, while providing all the detail, depth and resolution bedroom producers would ever need. ADAM’s latest mini-monitor is a world-class performer.”

Best 2-Way: PMC result6

PMC Result6

Price £2394 a pair
Contact PMC | pmc-speakers.com

These are pretty much the best monitors you can buy for this kind of money and that’s because they’ve got PMC’s name on them and all the design excellence that comes with that. They feature a two-way design but a sound that could emanate from a three-way speaker and also one costing twice as much.

We said: The results are undoubtedly honest, but not in a way that will sound harsh after extended mix sessions. They’re honest in a controlled, detailed way and will show you your music in new ways, certainly in terms of breadth and height. The results are fabulous monitors at a great price for the PMC badge. The company has really come up with the goods here. Brilliant results!”

Best Budget: Kali Audio LP-6

Kali Audio LP-6

Price $150 each
Contact Kali Audio | www.kaliaudio.com

These budget speakers are the first offering from a brand new company from the States and could quite seriously shake up the speaker market, as they sound like far more expensive models. Accurate too…

We said: “The LP-6s deliver a sound that punches well above their price point. If you were to blind test them against speakers a lot higher in price tag, I’m pretty sure you’d be surprised as how well they stand up. Similarly if you were to do the same against monitors at their price point, I think they’d stand head and shoulders above them. Great value and great sounding monitors and you could easily spend a lot more for a sound this accurate. Highly recommended.”

Best Studio: EVE Audio SC203

EVE Audio SC203

Price £385 a pair
Contact EVE Audio | www.eve-audio.com

EVE’s SC203 monitors are the best compact monitors that we have looked at in a while. And we mean compact. With a tiny three-inch woofer, the SC203 stands a little over seven inches tall, that’s easily small enough to fit into a rucksack with a laptop for a truly portable studio. The SC203 is an active design, and all telectronics are contained in one enclosure, making this a master/slave system. These monitors excel in the mid and upper frequencies – clear, crisp and detailed.

We said: No-one would describe them as sounding small or tinny, as their size might suggest. Rather, they exhibit a full-bodied sound with a surprisingly revealing and detailed presentation. The SC203s offer studio-quality sound in all manner of environments. Ideal for touring musicians/composers who wish to use time spent in hotel rooms more productively, the little EVEs are excellent desktop monitors for those who need to work in confined spaces.”

Best Mid-Priced: Focal Shape

Focal Shape

Price £1200 a pair
Contact SCV Distribution | www.scvdistribution.co.uk, www.focal.com

Focal’s Shapes have several design updates and tech advances designed to cut down distortion and deliver a great sound across a wide listening position. These include a ‘double passive radiator’ that allows the speakers to be placed close to walls without the need for a port, as there are effectively two side domes that allow the expansion and retraction afforded by a porting speaker. They look the part too, with a great curved design. But how do they sound?

We said: “A truly great speaker is one that marries accuracy with vibe, a difficult marriage to make work. As I’m reviewing them, the Shapes are making me excited to revisit old mixes and classic tracks. They make me want to make music, even on old tired tracks that have been festering within my gigabytes for a while now. And anything that can do that is truly great indeed.”

Best All Round: Genelec The Ones

Genelec The Ones

Price £2169 and £2729 each
Contact Source Distribution | www.sourcedistribution.co.uk

We’re leaving the best – and most expensive – until last. We looked at two models in Genelec’s latest range: the SAM 8331 and 8341. They employ just about every Genelec innovation ever, including self-adjusting technology depending on the space in which they are placed.

We said: “There are no better monitors of this size. They’re compact, flexible, you can put them anywhere and they’ll sound amazing or they’ll adjust themselves so that they do. Genelec has refined, engineered and processed its history into a range of incredible speakers that will set the standard for years to come.” 

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About Author

Andy Jones

Andy Jones has an MA in Music Technology and has been writing about it for 25 years. He has launched and edited several magazines on the subject and was editor of MusicTech for the last four years. Naturally, he has far too many synthesisers...

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