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7 of the top studio monitors on the market

As one of the biggest studio investments you'll make, we take a look at some of the best monitors on the market...

It’s no exaggeration to say that a quality range of studio monitors will serve to improve every mix carried out by using them, and the market for these essential pieces of kit remains strong. With more and more bespoke options available to fit all size ranges, from small listening rooms to large-scale recording studios, getting the perfect studio monitor is an essential investment and one of the most important pieces of pro audio kit you’ll need to hear an accurate representation of the work you’ve created. We asked some of the top manufacturers in the field to present their best studio monitor products, to suit all budgets and room requirements. This is what they came back with…

Adam Audio – S3V 

 “The S3V is a three-way studio monitor optimised for vertical use and designed primarily for midfi eld applications, although it may also be used in more compact listening environments,” Adam Audio’s head of marketing André Zeugner tells PSNEurope.

“Bass frequencies from 32 Hz to 250 Hz are handled by Adam Audio’s entirely new 9″ Extended Linear Excursion (ELE) LF driver, which incorporates the company’s Symmetrical Magnet Assembly (SMA) and delivers a powerful and accurate low-end extending right down into the sub-bass region. Mid-range and HF information is reproduced with equally analytical precision thanks to the combination of Adam Audio’s newly developed 4″ DCH mid-range driver and the highly refined S-ART folded-ribbon HF driver. 

“Together with the brand-new HPS waveguide, the latter offers high-frequency reproduction with a broad sweet spot with fine, highly detailed imaging and a natural-sounding sense of depth. 

“The S Series’ custom-designed DSP optimises the loudspeaker crossovers to create linear responses for the entire range, as well as providing user equalisation and in-room tuning and voicing functions. 

“The S3V’s built-in amplification is generously specificed, comprising Class D units for the bass and mid-range drivers (500W and 300W RMS respectively) while also boasting a 50W Class A/B amplifier for the S-ART tweeter. “Offering great reproduction of audio frequencies between 32 Hz and 50 kHz, the S3V is a standout offering for anyone demanding highly accurate imaging and localisation from their reference monitors.” 

Focal – Shape

 “Focal is committed to providing innovative nearfield monitoring solutions, as demonstrated by the new Shape line with its double passive radiators, new woofers and tweeter dome,” says Eva van den Kerchove from the company. 

“The three monitors are all made in France, in Focal’s plant, and integrate five innovations to maximise acoustic transparency. Designed to meet the needs of nearfield monitoring, Shape monitors combine an innovative design and numerous settings optimised for the acoustics of small listening rooms. They enable great monitoring quality, in the lowest to the highest frequencies. 

“These innovations provide remarkable acoustic transparency. The new work tools distinguish themselves through the wide and extremely precise stereo image, with the bass register being articulated and controlled. “The lower mid-range and mid-range benefit from extreme neutrality – and without any masking effects – making equalisation of these essential registers much easier. “Finally, the new tweeter is what’s at the source of the very high definition. It reveals any hissing, and it’s also very precise in the very high end.

 “Considering technologies, the Flax sandwich cone has proven to be a considerable improvement over the Polyglass cone in terms of weight, rigidity and damping. TMD surround provides a linear frequency response curve between 1 and 2kHz, and the mid-range register benefits from remarkable neutrality, and it contributes to the great precision of the overall stereo image. Finally, Neutral Inductance Circuit reduces harmonic distortion and intermodulation.” 

Genelec – The Ones

“Genelec’s big launch this year has been The Ones series of compact three-way studio monitors – now comprising the 8331, 8341 and 8351 models – which has been the culmination of many years of sustained R&D,” explains Genelec marketing director Howard Jones. 

“As well as being the world’s smallest three-way coaxial models, The Ones are what the company calls Ultimate Point Source monitors, in that the two concealed woofers and a coaxial MF/HF driver deliver sound from a single point source – eliminating off-axis colouration and creating a very wide sweet spot. This colouration is known to contribute significantly to listener fatigue, so The Ones allow the user to work much more effectively, for longer periods. For stereo that’s really important, but with increasingly complex mixes, precise uncoloured imaging becomes even more crucial. 

“The company is also aiming to reduce the influence of the room on the sound that’s being heard, so The Ones’ ability to deliver an ‘ultranearfield’ listening experience – where the listener can position themselves just 40cm from the monitors without any loss of precision – is a major breakthrough that increases the ratio of direct-to-reverberant sound heard by the listener.” 

KRK Systems – V-Series 4

“KRK Systems V-Series 4 nearfield studio monitors are specifically designed for audio production applications where accurate reproduction is critical,” a spokesperson tells PSNEurope. “KRK worked with hundreds of pro engineers, producers and mixers to develop these groundbreaking monitors. Recording and broadcast studios as well as sound design and audio production houses will benefit from adding the V Series 4 as the go-to monitor of choice. 

“V-Series 4 includes 49 user selectable EQ settings to ensure proper setup for room acoustics and placement anomalies as well as taste and individual preference. The KRK design team has painstakingly modelled and analysed hundreds of monitor placement and room acoustic situations to ensure that KRK delivers the most useful tools with minimal adjustments.” Producer Mark “Spike” Stent, who has mixed for the likes of Ed Sheeran, Muse, Madonna and Coldplay, says: “I have been using KRK since 1994 and these are the best powered monitors KRK has ever made.” 

The V Series 4 builds on KRK’s 30-year legacy in developing and building world class studio monitors, from their custom made amplifiers and proprietary drivers to their construction and voicing. KRK’s V-Series is also available in the company’s ‘White Noise’ finish. 

Mackie – MR Series

“Designed for home studios, content creators and multimedia, the Mackie MR Series delivers unmatched performance and superior mix translation so artists, producers, and content creators can listen with confidence that their mix will sound great anywhere,” a Mackie spokesperson tells PSNEurope

“Featuring Mackie’s proven logarithmic waveguide, MR monitors provide enhanced stereo imaging for higher fidelity and consistent sound over a wide listening area. “Utilising extensive tuning by Mackie acoustic engineers, precision transducers, and high performance amplifiers, MR Series monitors deliver an honest, accurate representation of the mix, so users can count on their projects to always sound the way they intended. 

“Equipped with versatile Acoustic Space Control and HF filters, MR monitors can be easily optimised for your environment to ensure a flat response. Three acoustic space settings allow for monitor placements near walls and corners. High-frequency EQ control provides further adjustment to ensure an accurate response, and acoustic isolation pads are included that decouple the monitor from the desk or stand for increased performance and accuracy. 

The Mackie MR Series includes the 5” MR524 ($209.99), 6.5” MR624 ($279.99), 8” MR824 ($349.99) and the 10” MRS10 ($559.99). 

Meyer Sound – Bluehorn

“After six years of intensive research, Meyer Sound is setting a new benchmark for accuracy in studio monitors,” says PR manager Jane Eagleson. “A system that marries acoustic precision and digital modeling to offer completely flat amplitude and phase response across the entire audible frequency spectrum, from 25 Hz to 20 kHz, Bluehorn is designed with acoustic transparency in mind.” 

Advanced driver mechanics and alignment technology, along with precision tuning, further minimise phase anomalies that can colour sound. A large-format, three-way system, Bluehorn builds on proven components found in Meyer Sound’s Cinema Series and LEO Family of line array loudspeakers. 

“Powerful digital processing is also at the heart of the Bluehorn System,” Eagleson continues. “Propriety correction algorithms cancel out nonlinearities, inherent in all mechanical transducers and loudspeaker cabinets, to bring acoustic output into frequency alignment with the input signal. “The Bluehorn System is designed for high resolution monitoring applications in mid-sized rooms for recording, cinema post-production, and music mastering, in stereo and LCR configurations.” 

Neumann – KH 80 DSP

“The KH 80 DSP two-way active biamplified monitor features a DSP engine with network control, a Mathematically Modeled Dispersion Waveguide (MMD), an analogue input and an extensive range of mounting hardware,” a Neumann spokesperson tells PSNEurope

“This allows the loudspeaker to be used in diverse acoustical conditions, with any source equipment, and in a wide variety of physical locations. The KH 80 represents the latest in acoustic and electronic simulation and measurement technologies to ensure the most accurate sound reproduction possible. 

“The KH 80 DSP is designed for use as a near-field monitor, as a front loudspeaker in small multi-channel systems, or as a rear loudspeaker in a compact multichannel systems. It can be used in project and music studios, broadcast centres, OB vans, and post production studios for tracking, mixing, and mastering. It is also well suited for use in domestic environments. 

“The new DSP engine optimises output to achieve reference class sound, with mathematically modelled dispersion delivering excellent detail in any surroundings. The monitors are available in metallic anthracite and white.”