How to evaluate home studio monitors?


I'm looking for a good pair of studio monitors for a home project studio. The room is 12'x12'x10' and I'll be seated about 4' from the speakers. Budget is about $500-600 per pair.

What features do I need to look for in monitors? What characteristics will be useful in this situation?

Mark Richman

Posted 2011-05-29T14:59:59.160


1Shopping questions are offtopic on sites. – None – 2011-05-29T17:12:57.150

Sorry I wasn't aware. Where should I ask? – None – 2011-05-29T17:37:06.440


@Mark Richman: It's okay. Check out the FAQ for details on questions that belong here and questions that don't. If you just want shopping advice I'd advice checking out a board like The Womb which is completely dedicated to recording discussions.

– None – 2011-05-29T17:45:53.337

@Mark - I took a shot at editing this so it's asking for assistance in evaluating monitors, rather than asking for specific recommendations. (For reasons as to why we do this, have a look at this post on the SE blog: Q&A is Hard, Let’s Go Shopping!.)

– Goodbye Stack Exchange – 2011-05-30T18:31:08.197

1@Ian C, they are indeed, but I think its a shame. I love reading the answers to questions like these, and for a topic like audio recording, questions about what gear should I buy are some of the most important questions people have. It is interesting that when the question is about what piece of software should I use, no one complains, but it is essentially the another shopping question. – None – 2011-05-30T20:49:28.593

What type of music are you going to produce in your home project studio? What kind of walls, ceiling and floor do you have? – None – 2011-05-30T20:50:15.203

Thanks for the helpful edit. I play rock music. The walls and ceiling are drywall and the floor is berber carpet. – None – 2011-05-30T21:00:10.313

@Mark Richman: they're just hard to answer in a way that isn't subjective and doesn't have some major temporal locality to the answer. An answer given today is likely not going to be a good answer 10 years from now. And of course "best" is really hard to nail down when you're talking about audio reproduction. But @Neil Fein's edit is good. Let's see how it goes! – None – 2011-05-30T21:25:46.047

Shopping questions are more pertinent with stuff like audio and bicycles, where the market is small and there isn't much to choose from. It's still important to explain why one is recommending something. Shopping questions are gonna happen, all we can do is to close them or try to make them into better questions. – Goodbye Stack Exchange – 2011-06-02T02:17:29.770

I agree that shopping questions are really important in this context. And in truth is this really just "shopping"? No, the asker is asking for information relative to his studio specs, and what features to look for in monitors. Not even asking "what brand should I go for?". Let's ease up and let the answers come in on questions like these. – Marcus – 2018-09-22T00:36:02.563

I can't believe this question is 7 years old... it deserves more answers, but maybe that's the nature of sound.... more questions than answers! – Marcus – 2018-09-22T00:37:51.970



The best advice I can give is to go and listen to the monitors at a store. It's not perfect, but it'll give you a lot more useful information than spec sheets. Take music you know well and A/B/C/etc. all the monitors on your shortlist.

I've been surprised a few times when monitors that look good on paper turned out to be bested by significantly cheaper units.

If you are going to do a listening check, be sure to see how they're hooked up in the store. You may get a shock if the mixer they're running through has the low frequencies boosted and when you get home you discover the sound isn't as 'powerful' as you'd first thought. Also note what inputs they have and how that will gel with your interfaces.

All of this, of course, depends on where you live relative to dealerships. If you're miles away it may not be possible to get into a decent dealership. On the other hand, monitors are the sort of things that you'll have for years so perhaps it is worth going that extra mile to have a listen.


Posted 2011-05-29T14:59:59.160


Nice answer! Buying monitors without hearing them is pretty pointless. It's like buying a bicycle you haven't ridden. (I've done that twice; one I returned, one was a custom job made for me.) I'd like to add: Bring along some of your own stuff to listen to in the store, tracks you're familiar with. @Mark, Guitar Center in NJ has a good selection of monitors, and you're near three of them. – Goodbye Stack Exchange – 2011-06-02T02:20:28.317