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A guide to our favourite studio monitors, from the best budget models to our pick of money-no-object dream speakers.

You should always be skeptical when you hear someone make definitive sweeping judgments about something as nuanced as music production gear. Objectively there’s no such thing as ‘the best cheap studio monitors’ or ‘the best monitors for producing dance music’. Top choices depend on budget, personal preferences over sonic characteristics and, to some extent, the type of music you’re making (although it’s a fair assumption that producers of most varieties of dancefloor-focused electronic music have roughly similar requirements in terms of transparency and full-range frequency response).

Those caveats aside, this list contains a selection of nearfield monitors which we’d strongly recommend checking out if you’re in the market for a new pair – a totally subjective guide to our favourites, from budget models right up to money-no-object dream speakers. They’re certainly not the only options we’d consider in each of their respective price ranges, but these are the models we’d recommend as starting points.

There are models here to suit every pocket and every taste, but remember that spending more money isn’t necessarily a guarantee that you’ll find a better pair of monitors for your own requirements. Pick any pair of expensive speakers and we pretty much guarantee you’ll be able to find one group of producers and engineers who think they’re amazing and another who think they’re awful.

A totally subjective guide to our favourite monitors, from budget models right up to money-no-object dream speakers.

The best advice we can offer when it comes to choosing a pair of monitors is to listen to them before you buy. In the era of online shopping (and with bricks-and-mortar music shops closing on a far too regular basis) that might be easier said than done, but given that your choice of monitors is one of the most important studio decisions you’ll make, you owe it to yourself to make the extra effort.

So, starting with two very affordable models and working our way through to the more expensive options, here are our favourites.


9th December, 2013

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* SoundCloud only offers ad-based monetization with a 10-20% payout and all music is made available to non-paying users which generates very low earnings on a per-stream basis

** Digital distributors and record labels typically keep an estimated 47% of Spotify and Apple Music earnings leaving their artists with only about 23% and 24.5% respectively

*** Spotify forces artists to participate into a “Freemium” model where most users don’t pay for music which generates very low earnings on a per-stream basis and significantly dilutes overall earnings per stream

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