I've put together a home recording studio - MacBook, Logic, Puredata - I need some monitors - probably active, nearfield monitors. Money is an issue, but I only want to do this once. Any advice would be appreciated.
What size room are you using? How are the acoustics? Do you have carpet? Drapes? Lots of furniture in the room? Will you be using an audio interface or just coming straight out of your Macbook's headphone jack?
A Macbook with Logic is pretty powerful nowadays - lets get you setup with some sweet speakers to match!
That's a big question with too many variables. I can just suggest powered nearfield monitors and some brand name: genelec, adam audio, krk, yamaha, but there are loads of them...try to study datasheets and users experiences to find out the right choice for your money, place, space, power needed, etc...
I'd suggest checking Adam Audio monitors. For example the A7's are a great choice for relatively accessible price. The strongest argument is that they translate incredibly well to other systems. And they offer nice, clean, crisp and natural sound. No frequency is exaggerated or neglected. Very dependable, even in comparison to more expensive set-ups. Basically, it's difficult to make a mistake getting the A7's.
I've had really good results on a veeeery small room with a pair of cheapo Alesis MKII; they translated surprisingly well to larger rooms! I know lots of people who dislike them though. Still, they work great for me, since i'm really used to them.
That said, auditioning speakers should be a very informative for you, if you can borrow a couple of pairs; its a very personal and subjective piece of your rig.
Do you have a budget?
The best thing to do would be to audition speakers. Check with you local dealer (of Adam/Dynaudio/Genelec) and try get them to give you a home demo of the speakers that fit within your budget. Listen to music you know or your previous work and make judgements on what you hear and how comfortable you feel with what you hear. If they let you keep the demo piece for a couple of hours then even better - design some sounds or mix a song and see how it translates. Nothing can teach you more about your room and speakers than listening to how your work translates in an other studio/listening space.
If you can't trust your judgement then get someone who's ears you can trust.
Even the most expensive speaker can sound crappy in the wrong setup/room.
Also try investing in a good pair of headphones which you can use for cross referencing. I never travel without mine.
I am a huge Genelec fan, they are on the more expensive end of the scale, but more than reliable enough to purchase second hand. I have a pair of 1029As that were bought new and have been used almost everyday for seven years. I find them to be accurate and not at all tiring on the ears. I also use the newer 8030As, they are amazingly consistent, as I have access to 11 pairs and they all behave identically.
-for a low budget option i would go for yamahas HS50m's (5" woofer cause you have a relative small room so 8" woofer is mostly problems), cause they really give you crisp highs and in sound design i think you want clarity in high frequencies first of all. of course you have to get some headphones (for example DT-770Pro) that offer very good low frequencies.
-for a medium budget option i think Adams are THE option for me at least...
-and for a high budget i would definitely go for genelecs... anythink of this brand is awesome (i have worked with every monitor they make and i loved em...)
Consider the Mackie HR824. Those are something of a de facto standard in project studios. I have a pair, and I like them very much. Make sure to listen to anything before you buy it though.
From a low budget perspective, I ve heard a lot of good things about Blue Sky and KRK. Genelec are great from my point of view. Since 2006 I m using a Klein and Hummel 0300D 5.1 system and I really love it. If you have the budget, you should check it out.