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?

  • 1
    Shopping questions are offtopic on SE.com sites.
    – Ian C.
    May 29, 2011 at 17:12
  • Sorry I wasn't aware. Where should I ask?
    – Mark Richman
    May 29, 2011 at 17:37
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    @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.
    – Ian C.
    May 29, 2011 at 17:45
  • @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!.) May 30, 2011 at 18:31
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    @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.
    – Mark Heath
    May 30, 2011 at 20:49

1 Answer 1


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.

  • 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. Jun 2, 2011 at 2:20

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