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44 Best Selling Studio Monitors Buying Guide

Hello there, back again with another article for you. In this fairly long review, we will be looking at the best-selling studio monitors according to Thomann.de! It’s probably going to be a longer review because you can always filter down your selections based on many parameters.

Note that this article has been updated profoundly, all the discontinued products have been removed and replaced with fresh ones!

The reason I’m working on this is not to only post some content here but also to try to figure out which one I should go for too!

Update: I have already purchased a pair of KRK Rokit 5 G4 studio monitors and already published my review and some sound tests, please see below. 🙂

Check out my KRK Rokit 5 G4 here.

I recently moved to Bratislava and as I mentioned in my “The ONLY Tip For Getting The Best Guitar Tone On Your Computer!“, it is not usual for me to sell my gear to make other gear or life changes possible.

It also means starting from scratch for gear freaks like me! I have nothing left with me except my RME Babyface PRO interface and Keith McMillen QuNexus control pad to make some noise which is sad.

I’m planning to get back to music by collecting the essential pieces of equipment to make some noise and one of the most important among them is an active reference monitor.

While I’m working on my decision, I also want to give you guys detailed information on how to choose one that fits your goals and budget. Up to now, I have owned a couple of monitors by several brands such as Kurzweil, M-Audio and Alesis. I have also had the chance to listen to Yamaha, Adam, Presonus and Genelec ones.

The funny thing about writing a review of reference monitors is that one can only judge these products based on their personal experience just after having listened to them. So if anyone around tells you a particular brand and model is the best, they are probably trying to sell it to you. 🙂

Other than that, you can only have a look at some of the tech specs and price tags. Even if you listened to a couple of monitors in different rooms, you would hear different sound qualities.

We can actually filter our options down by price range, speaker size, RMS (Power) and brand. But it will be a never-ending article. In my case, since I am on a quite tight budget, have to live in an apartment where I won’t be able to make so much noise and have the possibility of moving soon again, I should be focusing on the price, power and weight (size).

How to choose your active nearfield reference monitors?

Let’s talk about the options we have here. Note that the “Sales Rank” parameter is based on the number of sales within the active nearfield studio monitors category only. So we are not comparing a particular monitor against a completely different product in a different category. All belong to active nearfield studio monitors!

Before we dive into the comparison tables, I would like to mention some of the important factors and tech specs that will help you to determine your purchase.

Power – How Many Watts To Go For?

Actually, how much power your monitor going to handle is a crucial effect on the overall sound. Don’t just think it only relates to how high your volume will be. It also determines a very important parameter called “dynamic range“.

This is the amount of headroom you will have before signal peaks are occurring during your listening sessions.

The higher the wattage you have, the better you’ll hear the transients in detail. And also it will have a positive effect on being able to make more precise adjustments to your essential effects such as compressors, gates and limiters.

Most people are not aware of the music peaks which are often called transients of snare hits or kick drums (They might demand 10 times more than what wattage you have!). These transients require way more headroom than you could imagine. For example, for a given volume level these might require an average of 15 watts.

So if you have an amp that can deliver a clean headroom of 50 watts, you would still need 100 watts of power in order for your monitors to produce these transients without any clipping. This does not mean you have to go for the highest wattage possible. But you will definitely have more definition, clarity and dynamic range.

Ports Front or Back?

You will probably bump into many monitors that have ports placed on the backsides of monitors. These ports (let’s say holes!) might help to extend lower frequencies. Think of this as compensation for high energy lower frequencies. But if you only have to place them just very close to walls or corners, you might have problems with lower frequencies and maybe it’s much better for you to go for a front-ported or closed design in order to hear more accurately.

Manual EQ Compensation

Most monitors you will see have built-in EQs which help you to shape or modify the sound based on where you place your monitors. You might also have ones with DSP built-in which also helps you to shape your sound in more detail.

Even though these might help a lot, you should always consider your natural room acoustics in advance in order to have the best results. No built-in EQ or DSP chip can correct a bad-sounding room.

Speaker Size

You shouldn’t take this as the bigger speaker you have the better sound you’ll have. Rather I suggest you should go for the one that fits in your room size. So if you live in a studio apartment and just want to upgrade to active monitors, it makes much more sense to get small to mid-sized speakers.

Frequency Response

As you can see from the tables above and below, there are only ranges of those speakers. It really does not mean a big thing to us since it is just the range! If you ever see a tech spec such as “20Hz to 20kHz ± 5dB @ 100 dBSPL“, this would make a bit more sense since this means at this level (100 dB SPL) given test signal was not louder or softer than the 5dB (amplitude tolerance).

Take this as your error margin. But one should have to look for this information as they don’t always release it out there. You should be looking at manuals all day long!

If you do, as a general rule lower amplitude tolerance in dB is better as your error margin would be smaller. According to the tables below and frequency responses, you might think that some very high-end monitors cannot handle bass frequencies as well as entry-level monitors. But it can not be the truth 🙂

Speaker Size

As a general rule, the bigger your speakers are, the better they handle bass frequencies.

But beware that big speakers can overload a small space easily. So again, you should choose your monitors depending on what kind and what size of the room you are going to put them in.

Best Selling Active Studio Monitors by Price Range

The first thing and maybe the most important thing we normally consider is the price range of monitors. Let’s separate the products by their price range and have a look at our options.

Note that some manufacturers price their monitors per unit. So if you want to compare the prices, always look for the description section when you click on the product links.

Important: All prices below in the tables have been converted to pairs!

Here you will only find a total price of a pair as many of us need a pair of monitors. At the first sight, one can easily be fooled by the unexpectedly low prices of some well-known brands, but if you dig into it you’ll find out that the price is only a single monitor, not a pair!

So if you click on a product link, you might see a lower price on Thomann’s website, but on the right-hand-side table, there’s a piece of information about the item being sold a single unit or a pair!

To be honest, I have spent lots of time on the ultimate comparison tables of studio monitors below and checked everything one by one. 🙂

Here below you will see some comparison tables that list best selling active studio monitors in 2020 along with tech specs and price information.  All are sorted by ascending price ranges which can be seen at the bottom part of the tables (in Euros).

Note that you can directly go to product pages by clicking the model names (Opens in a new tab).

Active Studio Monitors Under €250

*Visitors on mobile devices; Did you know that you are able to scroll the comparison tables horizontally? Try yourself with the below table!

BrandBehringerPresonusBehringerSwissonicPresonusM-AudioPresonusSwissonicJBL
ModelMS16Eris E3.5Studio 50USBASM5Eris E4.5BX5 D3Eris E5ASM7305P MKII
Speaker Size1x 4"1x 3,5", 1x 1"1x 5"1x 5,25"1x 4,5"1x 5", 1x 1"1x 5,25"1x 6,5"1x 5"
Amplifier Power Per Unit (RMS)8 W25 W150 W60 W25 W100 W70 W60 W82 W
Frequency range min.80 Hz80 Hz55 Hz55 Hz70 Hz52 Hz53 Hz45 Hz49 Hz
Frequency range max.20000 Hz20000 Hz20000 Hz20000 Hz22000 Hz35000 Hz22000 Hz20000 Hz20000 Hz
Magnetic ShieldingYesNoNoNoNoYesNoNoYes
Dimensions140 x 150 x 241 mm141 x 210 x 162 mm254 x 204 x 178 mm185 x 278 x 200 mm163 x 180 x 241 mm254 x 176 x 197 mm178 x 198 x 260 mm213 x 321 x 230 mm298 x 185 x 231 mm
Analogue XLR InputNoNoYesYesNoYesYesYesYes
Analogue Input (Jack)NoYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYes
Analogue Input (Mini Jack)YesYesNoNoYesNoNoNoNo
Analogue Input (RCA)YesYesNoYesYesNoYesYesNo
Digital inputNoNoYesNoNoNoNoNoNo
Manual frequency correctionYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYes
Sales Rank203266958374572
Price€ 72€ 95€ 115€ 158€ 180€ 186€ 215€ 219€ 238

Products in this price range are often considered to be entry-level reference monitors. However, most people would tell you that it’s not really possible to get a neutral sound out of monitors in this range.

You may also notice that some of them are categorised as multi-media speakers rather than reference monitors. But don’t be let down by the classifications as you might like the options below.

Here on the first table, you will notice some top sellers, and best-rated monitors. If you are on a tight budget, you should definitely stick to this table.

JBL 305P MKII, Swissonic ASM7 and Presonus Eris E3.5 easily stand out among the others. I would personally go for a Presonus one. I used it in editing videos & audio for a long time and really like their response.

Active Studio Monitors Under €400

*Visitors on mobile devices; Did you know that you are able to scroll the comparison tables horizontally? Try yourself with the below table!

BrandIK MultimediaM-AudioPresonusBehringerKRKAdamTannoyYamahaAdamTannoyKRKYamaha
ModeliLoud Micro Mon­itorBX8 D3Eris E5 XTB2031A TruthRokit RP5 G4T5VGold 5HS 5 MPT7VGold 7Rokit RP7 G4HS 7
Speaker Size1x 3", 1x 0,75"1x 8", 1x 1"1x 5"1x 9"1x 5", 1x 1"1x 5", 1x 2"1x 5", 1x 1"1x 5"1x 7", 1x 2"1x 7", 1x 1"1x 6,5", 1x 1"1x 6,5"
Amplifier Power Per Unit (RMS)25 W150 W80 W225 W55 W70 W200 W70 W70 W300 W145 W95 W
Frequency range min.55 Hz37 Hz48 Hz50 Hz43 Hz45 Hz70 Hz54 Hz39 Hz65 Hz42 Hz43 Hz
Frequency range max.20000 Hz22000 Hz20000 Hz21000 Hz40000 Hz25000 Hz20000 Hz30000 Hz25000 Hz20000 Hz40000 Hz30000 Hz
Magnetic ShieldingNoYesNoYesYesNoNoNoNoNoYesNo
Dimensions180 x 135 x 90 mm384 x 250 x 302 mm203 x 228 x 279 mm250 x 400 x 290 mm285 x 190 x 241 mm179 x 298 x 297 mm294 x 183 x 252 mm170 x 285 x 222 mm210 x 347 x 293 mm357 x 221 x 288 mm339 x 225 x 284 mm210 x 332 x 284 mm
Analogue XLR InputNoYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYes
Analogue Input (Jack)NoYesYesYesYesNoYesYesNoYesYesYes
Analogue Input (Mini Jack)YesNoNoNoNoNoYesNoNoYesNoNo
Analogue Input (RCA)YesNoYesNoNoYesNoNoYesNoNoNo
Digital InputNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNo
Manual frequency correctionYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYes
Sales Rank366059441134554768116
Price€ 258€ 266€ 288€ 289€ 298€ 310€ 316€ 366€ 370€ 390€ 396€ 398

In the second table above, you will notice the number 1 bestseller, KRK Rokit RP5 G4. KRK is a very well-known and trusted brand among modern guitar players who solely base their guitar tones on the digital domain. If you can afford it, there’s another great product by Yamaha HS 7 and Adam T7V which features a bigger speaker (better bass response).

Active Studio Monitors Under €700

*Visitors on mobile devices; Did you know that you are able to scroll the comparison tables horizontally? Try yourself with the below table!

BrandFocalTannoyAdamAdamFocalGenelecYamahaKRKFostexIK MultimediaGenelecAdam
ModelAlpha 50Gold 8A3XT8VAlpha 658010 APHS 8Rokit RP8 G46301NXiLoud MTM8020 DPMA5X
Speaker Size1x 5"1x 8", 1x 1"1x 3,5"1x 8"1x 6"1x 3"1x 8"1x 8", 1x 1"1x 4"2x 3,5", 1x 1"1x 4"1x 5"
Amplifier Power Per Unit (RMS)55 W300 W50 W90 W105 W50 W120 W200 W20 W100 W100 W100 W
Frequency range min.45 Hz54 Hz60 Hz33 Hz40 Hz74 Hz38 Hz36 Hz75 Hz50 Hz62 Hz50 Hz
Frequency range max.22000 Hz20000 Hz50000 Hz25000 Hz22000 Hz20000 Hz30000 Hz40000 Hz15000 Hz24000 Hz20000 Hz50000 Hz
Magnetic ShieldingNoNoNoNoNoNoNoYesYesNoYesNo
Dimensions313 x 220 x 258 mm429 x 274 x 336 mm150 x 252 x 185 mm250 x 400 x 335 mm348 x 252 x 309 mm195 x 121 x 116 mm250 x 390 x 334 mm400 x 266 x 309 mm188 x 120 x 118 mm264 x 160 x 130 mm230 x 151 x 142 mm170 x 280 x 220 mm
Analogue XLR InputYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYes
Analogue Input (Jack)NoYesNoNoNoNoYesYesYesYesNoNo
Analogue Input (Mini Jack)NoYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNo
Analogue Input (RCA)YesNoYesYesYesNoNoNoNoNoNoYes
Digital InputNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNo
Manual frequency correctionYesYesYesYesYesNoYesYesNoYesYesYes
Sales Rank4950562416258985401729
Price€ 444€ 466€ 498€ 514€ 518€ 518€ 538€ 576€ 594€ 698€ 698€ 698

This third table includes a bit more expensive, mid-segmented models by leading brands. Not so surprisingly, Yamaha and KRK lead the way again even though there are way more expensive than the step-back models in the previous table. They both feature 8-inch speakers which will give you the optimum bass response in many scenarios.

Active Studio Monitors Under €1700

*Visitors on mobile devices; Did you know that you are able to scroll the comparison tables horizontally? Try yourself with the below table!

BrandNeumannKRKFocalGenelecAdamNeumannKS DigitalFocalGenelecGenelecAdam
ModelKH 80 DSPRokit RP10-3 G4Solo 6 Be red burr ash8030 CPA7XKH 120 A Iso Pad BundleC5-ReferenceShape 658330 APM8040 BPMA77X (a)
Speaker Size1x 4", 1x 1"1x 10", 1x 4.5", 1x 1"1x 6,5"1x 5"1x 7"1x 5,25"1x 6", 1x1"1x 6,5", 1x 1"1x 5"1x 6,5"2x 7"
Amplifier Power Per Unit (RMS)140 W300 W150 W100 W150 W100 W175 W105 W50 W90 W250 W
Frequency range min.57 Hz26 Hz40 Hz54 Hz42 Hz52 Hz48 Hz40 Hz58 Hz45 Hz38 Hz
Frequency range max.21000 Hz40000 Hz40000 Hz20000 Hz50000 Hz21000 Hz22000 Hz35000 Hz20000 Hz21000 Hz50000 Hz
Magnetic ShieldingNoYesYesNoNoYesYesNoNoYesNo
Dimensions233 x 154 x 194 mm546 x 329 x 371 mm240 x 290 x 330 mm285 x 189 x 178 mm201 x 337 x 280 mm277 x 182 x 220 mm245 x 200 x 220 mm218 x 285 x 355 mm299 x 189 x 178 mm350 x 237 x 223 mm235 x 530 x 280 mm
Analogue XLR InputYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYes
Analogue Input (Jack)YesYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNo
Analogue Input (Mini Jack)NoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNo
Analogue Input (RCA)NoNoNoNoYesNoNoYesNoNoYes
Digital InputNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoYesNoNo
Manual frequency correctionYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesNoYesYes
Sales Rank5170461815389455753362
Price€ 918€ 938€ 955€ 1,018€ 1,076€ 1,159€ 1,376€ 1,398€ 1,466€ 1,554€ 1,648

Last but not least, you have your fourth table this time listing monitors between 900 to 1700€ in price. They are very pricey in comparison to others but still, we have great sellers by leading pro audio brands such as Genelec and Adam. I have also included a great value option by Neuman which features a bundle that contains isolation pads in the box.

Are You Still Confused?

I think we all should be 🙂 Having told that it would not make sense to recommend a particular reference monitor to anyone as it’s all about how you hear it. Some people can do magic with quite shitty speakers.

Improve your MIDI keyboard/finger drumming skills with Melodics
 

In my current financial state, I would avoid the last 2 tables. But there are still “very good value for money” items on the first 2 tables.

PreSonus Eris E4.5 or the best-seller KRK Rokit RP5 G4 would be my personal choice. I hope to get them soon and review them there one day!

My reasoning would be first the limited budget and having to live in a relatively small room with no acoustic treatment. It wouldn’t be wise to go for bigger speakers as the volume would be an issue for me. Also, I would like to use them as my guitar speakers in a virtual guitar setup.

Believe me, if you are like me and using virtual guitar amps, you should definitely have a decent pro audio setup. Today’s standard in virtual guitar amps and plugins has gone too far and will give you all you need in a guitar tone!

Along with this article, I suggest you check out my long-term review on RME Babyface Pro USB Audio Interface and my “The Best Selling Professional Studio Headphones Buying Guide” article for a complete digital guitar setup.

I would also like to introduce a recent article on “50 Best Selling USB Audio Interface Buying Guide” for you to choose your USB audio interface easily!

Lastly, as I had almost decided as shown in this article, I just got myself a pair of KRK Rokit 5 G4 reference monitors along with IsoAcoustic ISO-55 monitor stands.

Check out my IsoAcoustic ISO-55 monitor stands review here.

Check out my KRK Rokit 5 G4 here.

Don’t think that I am affiliated with any musical instruments manufacturer, it’s just my pre-G.A.S. diaries and I also like to help you guys out there by having gathered all the information you need in order to buy your active studio monitors finally! Thanks for visiting my blog and supporting me so far! I will hopefully see you in the next review here!

Osman