Price (pair): £399
Design: 2-way ported, concentric setup with DSP
Woofer: 5.25-inch polypropylene cone
Tweeter: 1-inch silk dome
Frequency response: 53 Hz – 20 kHz
The Equator D5s are the odd one out in our list for a couple of reasons. Firstly, they’re the only monitors here to use a coaxial configuration for the two drivers: that is, the tweeter is in the centre of the mid-bass driver, a design which is intended to optimise stereo imaging. Secondly, they’re the only monitors here which use digital signal processing (DSP) to achieve a clearer, more accurate sound than more traditional designs would allow.
The D5s are part of Equator’s budget D series range, based on similar principles to the much more expensive – and very highly rated – Q series. The basic principles are relatively simple. In Equator’s own words: “What is the main reason for a bad mix? Lack of detail in the midrange during production.” In response to that observation, Equator as a brand prize mid-range clarity above all else, seeking to achieve sound reproduction which is free of phase distortion, exceptionally flat through the key mid-range frequencies and perfectly matched between the two monitors for a pin-point accurate stereo image.
We won’t pretend to understand every last detail of the complex DSP which Equator employ in order to achieve these aims (if you have the inclination you can immerse yourself in it here), but the end results speak for themselves. These are highly revealing speakers that allow you to focus in on every aspect of a mix. They’re also astonishingly good value, especially if you live in the US, where you can buy directly from Equator with free shipping.
The downside? A slight lack of bottom-end extension and overall oomph. If you’re looking for monitors to shake the walls, the D5s aren’t right for you. But in terms of their ability to reveal detail and make mix decisions such as subtle changes to EQ and compression easier, they can’t be beaten at this price point.
Top list. Just about to upgrade my own studio and this has thrown a couple of options I hadn’t considered onto the list.
Nice list. Those Events and Neumanns are being added to my list of monitors to check out. I hadn’t even heard of Neumann before. Thanks.
Prodipe not on the list??
No PMC’s on this list? The new twotwo.6’s should’ve surely been towards the top!
Where are the non-ported ones?
I had the HS50’s to start with which were amazing speakers, just not enough bottom-end for producing Dance music so opted for the bigger brother (HS80’s) and am very happy with the upgrade!
I can’t believe Dynaudio BM12a are not on the list..
If you’re going to have the KH 120’s on the list, I’m surprised the Sonodyne SM 100AK didn’t make it as well.
Nice article. Although the Adam A7x is reviewed, has anybody used their little brother the a3x? Thinking about purchasing a pair as a step up from my rokit5s
I can’t believe EVE Audio is not on this list. They have surpassed Adam by far.
Yamaha HS80 should not be considered as a good monitor for dance music. 😡
What makes you think that the HS80 isn’t good for Dance music Ben? It’s got plenty of bottom end but doesnt over-exaggerate the mix and the mid and high range are second to none for the price tag…
I listened to HS80M in different rooms, one is very good treated. The Yamaha sound OK for listening, but I experienced them to sound very compressed in the low end. Yes, they go deep, but I really can’t decide on them compression and eking in the lows, it’s always a guessing.
Also, their port makes lots of noises and they just don’t have enough headroom. Maybe the ZenPro Audio modification is, what them speakers need (they disable the limiting circuit for example which already kicks in at low levels).
If you’re going to mix some more bass light music with more acoustical instruments, the Yamaha are really good for the price, however a bit on the bright / harsh side for my ears.
Hope that helps, of course, it’s just my 2 cents.
I’ve not used them in a treated room so cant comment on that, but if anything I found that the Yammy’s gave a truer interpretation of the bass sound, rather than the KRK’s for example which are seriously booming.
I’ve got a number of friends that are quite successful in the genre of music they produce for and they have all commented on how good the HS80’s are and wish they had got them sooner.
It’s all personal preference at the end of the day tho I guess. I must admit when I first got them I didn’t like how flat they were compared to KRK but now I find it reassuring as when it sounds good on the HS80’s I know it will sound awesome on most other devices! 🙂
What speakers did you opt for in the end Ben?
yeah it’s really a very personal thing – monitors.
Maybe the pair of HS80 I’ve got is a monday model or something like that.
I have Rokit RP8G2 aswell. They are less detailed in the highs and mids to the Yamaha and they have a boxy sound around 200 Hz. The bass is what many people would call boomy yes, but they just have a different bass reflex alignment (higher tuning).
Amusingly, the KRK actually measure LESS bass as the HS80 do, the krk produce nearly nothing below 40hz because of a steep low-cut, where the yammies measure in my room flat down to 40hz with a gentle roll off to 30…
What speakers are the right for me?! 🙂 I don’t know yet, haven’t got the money to give the big boys a chance… 🙁
Ben, your issues with the HS80M / HS8 have been addressed by zenproaudio. They offer mods. You could send your HS80M’s in for the mod. Warhead @ the gearslutz forum is the owner of Zen. You could research there / ask questions.
“What We Do:
Stock op-amps are replaced with Burr Brown brand (which delivers over 10x the slew rate, increasing detail and clarity).
Electrolytic capacitors in the signal path are replaced with Panasonic low ESR type caps, in combination with high quality WIMA polypropylene caps.
Limiter circuit is disabled (preventing compression of the bass response, and allowing midrange transients the ability to punch)”
no love for Adam S3’s okay..
I can’t find Equator D5’s for £349 anywhere in the UK. They are all listed as £399. Sources please!
There’s been an RRP increase on the Equators. We’ve updated the price in the article.
No JBL’s LSR305 or LSR308? They are th new M3 series from JBL’s with the new Image Control Waveguide technology imported from their M2 $10.000 series. They cost exactly the same as KRK’s ($149,99 @ Amazon) and they sound much much better. More flat response with crispy highs, nice mid range and low extension. Seriously, you guys should consider giving a try on those speakers. KRK’s sound super muddy compared to them:
JBL LSR305 Yamaha HS5 and KRK RP5G3 Comparison and Review:
Really useful article, Thanks!! Could yo do the Same with soundcards?
My advice would be not to buy Adam’s A7X’s. I had no end of problems with mine! One developed a fault with the amp module, causing an audible buzzing sound. They also suffered from substantial port noise, particularly with low frequencies around 50-70Hz. Forget trying to work on kicks or bass as they can’t handle low end. Mine had to be repaired numerous times. In the end I reluctantly exchanged them for b-stock. Turned out the replacement pair had similar problems.
The ribbon tweeters were very clear and crisp although I found the amps simply too powerful 50W/100W RMS. Looks good on paper, but unnecessary.
As for the build quality, they look pretty solid and well built, but the cabinet is vinyl coated mdf. In todays market this kind of cabinet design is pretty dated and they resonated, hence the port noise issue.
I now use Genelec M040’s and they are quite amazing. There’s no comparison! The M040’s reflex port design delivers a solid, uncompressed bass and this ensures that there’s more than enough low-frequency information around to help you make the right decisions, which has its -3dB point at 48Hz.
The M040’s mid-range reproduction is open, natural-sounding and very precise. The sound is very detailed and this, combined with the mid-range performance, delivers a wide stereo image with a solid centre, precisely positioned sources and a real sense of space.
Overall, I can find nothing to fault in how the M040 reproduce whatever I throw at them. I’d recommend Genelec with confidence. The cabinet design is injection moulded and features downward facing ports – something of a revolutionary design in todays market. build quality is second to none. If you can hold out and spend a bit more money get em!
You mention the Equator D5 is the only one that uses DSP. But I believe the KH 120 is also fine-tuned with some DSP tech.
kh120 have no internal dsp except acoustical eq dip switches which i leave off anyway, dont like eq , correct placement is more important..they happen to be better then most others if used as a desktop/nearfiled speaker…they are amazing, lots of low end, no fatigue whatso ever unless your music sucks, lol and are not as room sensitive as are other bigger woofers are…and heres a thought…consider this, 3 major german companies joined forces on it..thats says something!! without a doubt best desktop monitors
another recommendation for anyone using desktop speakers
will change forever your desktop mixing scenario regardless of monitors, properly!!
The HS8 is hardly the best choice here from yamaha’s HS range
Too much low end for the VAST majority of rooms
I wouldnt go beyond the HS7
The HS8 will give you bass problems unless you have a larger room
and decent bass traps also THIS DOES EFFECT MID RANGE CLARITY
I tested all 3 models before committing and the HS7 offers the best balance
whilst still giving enough bass to used with out a Sub (also a bad idea in smaller rooms)
Best option period is the HS5 with subs but then your still going to need
a bigger room…
Long time user of the H series if your going this route GET THE HS7…
It is bad advise telling any one in a small likely to be untreated project studio to buy anything too big and bassy this will cause you many problems trust me I went wrong on this when I bought the event TR8’s thinking I wanted loads of bass that was in 2004 They didn’t last long before I got something sensible and actually useful.
The Smart advice is to get some beyer DT250’s / DT880’s and mix your bass on those use your SMALLER near-fields for other none bass mixing decisions particularly spatial and sound stage issues…
What about KRK VXT8 BK – could anybody comment on them?
Went to a friends studio today and he has the Adam A77x’s. Again low end port noise when isolating bass or kick drums, car exhaust splutter comes to mind. Just don’t like em! @ David K, my mate has the KRK VXT8’s and they are nice. Not as transparent as some monitors, but they can really handle low end frequencies very well. He’s had them 4 years with no problems whatsoever.
Really interesting list, but, no Dynaudio there? Or not even PMC or PSI?
ATC always sounded impressive to me. I own a pair a of passive SCM20’s they’re all about mid range presence and image and no ear fatigue too!
Okay this list is iffy…. Presonus and KRK shouldn’t be on the “Best ” List….
No PMC, No Unity Audio ??
Depending on who this list is aimed at ?
SE Munro Eggs should be in there too…..
I really recommend the new SRP range by Sonodyne. I tried them alongside Neumann KH120, Adam S1X, Genelec 8040A, JBL LSR308, Yamaha HS7 and the Sonodynes really stood out. They sound very even across the frequency range. The Acoustic Energy AE22-04 with the sub was also fantastic.
Why on earth some people, normally DJs rubbish the hs80’s is beyond me. They do also come with a sub if needed. The point of a monitor is for a flat response for mixing… Its not for a night club performance..
No PMCs? No Barefoots?
there are clearly so many options out there depending on ur budget and ur purpose…
I’m aiming for low-budget monitors–and all I want from the set is unbiased and untouched sound—specially at low end
and I have narrowed down my list to:
1- Mackie’s MRmk3
2- KRK’s ROKIT 5 G3
I would love to know ur opinions—and suggestions.
what I find awkward is how a sound driver with a frequency response range cutting off at 40+ Hz provides an accurate reproduction of lower (bass) frequencies in the spectrum of human hearing (20Hz-20kHz). Now I don’t claim to be an expert (a mere hobbyist) so I must ask, am I missing something here?
Anyone hear the Presonus Sceptre S8’s?
in the 20-40 Hz and below frequencies you start to get rumble and what i call that “earthquake” feeling. around 50hz and up is when you start hearing musical frequencies. putting lots of stress around the 20, 30, 40 Hz range puts a load on your speakers and weighs them down. cutting at those frequencies actually brings the rest of the mix up making it sound brighter. to get an accurate feel of the low end, i recommend a sub or nice pair of headphones.
I’m not surprised JBL LSR305s are not mentioned here. I tried them and, despite what all the hype says, they are boomy with lack of clarity. Even my Logitech Z4 computer speakers sound better and more balanced! They might be okay for hip-hop, but not for music.
@cranky – OUCH!!!
@Rollog – +1
Cranky had a bad experience with them, which he reported on the Gearslutz forum. The batch was probably bad or there could have been something wrong with his system. He didn’t try them on a different system, so there’s no telling. Plus, the batch number for his model is different than the ones I own; which live up to the hype BTW.
guys, this is the single best studio investment ive ever done next to good monitors and interface. A game changer
$30 off use code: MAXB
Bullshit article. Presonus and kek Rokits ????? Wtf!!! And no dynaudio ??
Where are the passive versions so that I can use them with a superior amplifier?
Why not produce front ported versions so that they can be positioned closer to the wall? These lazy designers should think for themselves instead of just copying everyone else.
yeah, i like dynaudio BM15A , but on the cheap mackie MR5 are not bad at all.
Hi! I found a great studio monitor test with 4 top brands – Adam A77x and Adam A7x included. It shows how they performed and reveals the rooms acoustic problems. Works for me! http://sonarworks.com/2014/08/studio-monitor-test-2014-08/
Thanks for great review
i just bought my Hs8 and i like the Flat sound in it…i produce EDM music,and i think hearing true sound with HS8 is the best( i think its main reason of monitors to deliver no color in sounds!)
seller tried to change my mind to buy “Mackie’s MR8” and he said look how the bass boom! and honestly i don’t like that boom! was so muddy on Mackies
my ears like HS8 lot
Guys what about Alesis 520 active?? I have them…but thinking of upgrading to HS8,,,because every studio I’ve ever set my feet in..I ALWAYS BUMP INTO THEM..ANDTHEY ALSO LOOK BEAUTIFUL..AND I FEEL KINDA LEFT OU..LOL!! How Alesis yo??? HELP ME ANYONE!!
A shame you forgot http://www.mangeraudio.com
I have been using kh 120 for five months now.,,, They are Worth more than They cost… Very satisfied customer here.
Behringer truth 2031a.. gotta say a very under rated monitor. Clear and detailed, plenty of room correction function. Wide wide sweet spot. They go deep without distorting. Only negative I can say about them is I know I’m about to get a call before my phone rings from low level interference.
Bought the Yamaha HS7’s… amazing speakers, flattest I have ever heard with a beautifully even response across the bass, mid and treb frequencies, great price as well… mine for £312
If you are really talking about “best” monitors, you can’t forget brands like PMC or Unity Audio. A good title could be “TEN OF THE BEST: STUDIO MONITORS UNDER 1500$/Pair”
Genelec M040 monitors are simply amazing. Their price is a bit high, but their sound is impressive and very detailed. I would recommend them with confidence.
Free music downloads at http://www.sakisgouzonis.com/music.html
I thought maybe the Barefoot speakers are going to be the dream non affordable speakers?!
KRK is the best frfr
Thinking to Buy Yahmaha HS8, Do I need to buy HS8s(Sub) too? or you don’t really need a sub? Would you prefer it over Genelec M040 ?
any alternate in price of Yamaha HS8 ?
I recently bought a pair of Yamaha MSP5 and they are absolutely superb, with excellent clarity and detail. The only issue is that they only go down to 80Hz, so I’m seriously considering the addition of a Yamaha HS8 subwoofer. Far better than the awful pair of JBL LSR305 that I bought and returned for a refund.
Yeah, the JBL’ were awful cause you had them a few inches from the wall in the small room. Whined about it on gearslutz, and dismissed the advice given by people more experienced on the subject than you. The only reason the MSP5 work better is because they’re front ported.
Any one selling used monitors plz
I also need used monitors and midi controller can anyone help
Yes, Behringer are very underated I agree. Ive tried 6 pairs of different brands/ models in my time. But looking back I preferred KRK RP6 and Alesis M1 for writing because they have a coloured sound that is fun to work with. The Yamahas are very revealing yes, but the eight inch are too boomy and big for a small/ medium size room, the 5 inch are awesome, can get amazing mixes out of them if you get used to the,, but yes not much low end for dance music. I now have Behringer 1030A and they sound really clear, flat and have a really solid bass end, but not too flat, they have a hint of roundedness to them. Bargain for £185!!! However I wish I had some KRKs sometimes because of the warm, colour to them which makes music making fun again!
If I was buying now I would buy the Yamaha HS6 or the new KRK RP6, or both!!
This article should be renamed. “Best Budget studio monitors for home studio producers”. Also, I dont agree with some of the conclusions. The A7X is far from “unforgiving”, and their “reveling honesty” is anything but. IMO of coarse. They sound nice, yes, but accurate I think not.
Any “real” monitors in this list?
Barefoot / PMC / ATC / Focal / Unity Audio ?????
EVE Audio is a good monitoring to 😉
Absolute Scam List…. No dynaudio ?
Hard to take this list seriously when you post the krk’s, any one that has listened to those speakers knows how colored they are….. Absolutely terrible monitors for mixing a good replacement would have been the jbl’s, dynaudio, or eve would have been a much better replacement. And who ever said that the Yammy’s are bad for dance music, LOL you must be deaf.
No Dynaudio ? Yikes!
Best of the best….
Where is Dynaudio Acoustics ?
HELLO EVERYONE !! what i should buy Yamaha hs8 or Genelec M040?
We have barefoot in every studio room we have for a reason …. save your money, get a loan.. and buy barefoot
Number 12: PMC TwoTwo
Just sold my pmcs. But still cranking out great mixes with my cache of monitors: ns10m’s, Dynaudio 6, sometimes I’ll pull out my Mackie hr824, I find they pair will with my ns10m for some production styles. My new favorite is my scepter s6’s . They are the closest thing I’ve heard under 1200 bucks to the original adam line.
except for maybe the ATCs the Geithain RL906 will kill all these other options. And for the bigger Geithains like the RL944K it really is game over. Once you go coax you cant go back
I’m doubting between the:
I Don’t compare the prices. But really want to have the best mixing speaker. I’m coming from KRK ‘5s now and wanna go the next level with mixing dance music. What would you guys recommend between these three? Is it just a matter of preference or is one the best one for your buck?
Nice List but Quested is missing ; )
Well, you all seem to forget that the room makes 70% of the sound… So no matter how good your speakers, if your room sounds like sh… you will not be able to hear a thing.
what a relief. The very first set I just bought a couple weeks ago. 🙂
they didn’t mention m audio – http://www.riddimtree.com
Klipsch rf 7????
For the price (and in its price range) the Adam A7x are the best monitor you can get for a typical room. They have so much more detail over the white cone yamahas that are popular (I’ve got HS50’s here too and heard the others). You can hear when you pan something on the Yams it’s either left, right, or centre very little spatial resolution and clarity and overall just very ‘flat’ but in sort of harsh way (not nice to mix on for long). On the A7x you can follow the panning with your ears, very 3D like with every tiny step, this is great for proper placement of elements, proper levels/balance and also front to back depth (verb and eq). Much better than the HS-80/HS8 etc as these tend to mush up in the mids, sure you can mix on them and it’s a battle to make it sound good, which is the point I guess, BUT the ‘battle’ can be seriously frought with ear fatigue and demoralization and even then you don’t always end up with a ‘perfect’ mix, just one that sounds decent on the Yamahas (but may still have bass or highs issues). On the A7X you get a fine representation of everything from top to bottom, without fatigue or harshness, but honest enough to not lie to you. You still have to WORK on the A7Xs to make your mixes shine, but you can actually HEAR things like small eq changes, placements etc much much better so you can work faster and more accurately and also not blow your ears out in the highs for a day.
Now we want ‘flat’ detailed, not flattering monitors and I feel the A7x straddle the line between detailed enough to HEAR what you are actually doing, flat enough to not make you think your mix is better than it is, but nice sounding enough to keep your motivation/mixing vibe going for a long time.
How your room is will of course reflect (pun intended) your view of any monitor, esp rear bass port v front bass port and how you place them, things like that, but for me the Adam A7x are the killer monitors in the sub <£1000 (pair) market. If they have flaws they are minor flaws vs every other monitor in that range, and their pros outweigh their cons.
They are nice enough to mix, compose and even sort of master on. Not too many mid-range NF's monitors can be good in as many areas as the A7x's are imo.
for good reason.
alesis monitor one’s (passive’s) have been money makers in my studio for years. Get a mix to stand out on these and it will translate to the real world like hotcakes. 95% of listeners are not listening to music on speakers that cost $1000 each. OF course nothing wrong with the above mentioned monitor. The ATC’s are especially amazing. Have tracked some mixes on those at a friends studio.
You don’t need a sub for the HS8 – low end is plentifull on those speakers. Don’t know the Genelecs…
7 grand for the ATC SCM25A? Nice I will have 3. One for my home, one for my office and one for my dog.
Unity THE ROCK M-III