A pair of quality small studio monitors would be an essential set of audio equipment if you planned to set up a tiny recording studio in your home or even out of your tiny bedroom. It is beneficial to get a pair of small studio monitors if you only have limited space on your desktop. You were slightly left behind if you are still using the built-in computer speakers. At the very least, you will need an affordable and simple pair studio monitor setup to power up your system that suitable for recording studio at bare minimum standard.
Buyer’s Guide: Things To Consider When Buying Small Studio Monitors
There are many types of desktop-size studio monitors that are varying in price, size, specifications, sound quality, response frequencies and features. Thus, you will need to do your research and identify the one that most suitable one.
Most small-size studio monitors are suitable for handling and portraying the mid frequencies sound. Due to its smaller LF drivers (Woofers), its sound projected are more emphasis on the clarity of the mid frequencies. And it’s the sound frequencies that vocals and music instruments (guitar, piano, violin) generated. If you tend to use it for heavy sounds such as the drum or DJ applications, you will need the best studio monitor that have the bigger woofer to handle those lower frequencies and heavy mix bass sounds.
Monitor Positioning & Placement
Every studio monitor may have their sweet spot placement and position where you will be able to listen to its fullest detail in a certain position. The larger the studio monitor, the wider the sweet spot range. In the matter of fact, the small studio monitor will have limited range of its sweet spot. Thus, you have to find the optimum position carefully to take the most advantages of that particular pair of the studio monitor. You can refer to its manual to adjust its position correctly.
A pair of high-quality monitor speakers should sound and portray the sound as precise and accurate in the balanced mix across all the frequency range. The sound projected must be detailed enough so that you can hear nearly every detail of the sound. And you can listen to your mix clearer while engineering your music with fuller frequency range.
The frequency response defines the frequencies range that the monitor can portray. As we have just discussed previously in the “Speaker Size” section, the frequencies range well depends on the size of the LF and HF drivers (Woofer and sub-woofer). The wider the frequencies, the more types of music and sound the best studio monitor can handle. If you are into the DJ, R&B, heavy metal and electronic kind of music, you will need the best studio monitors that utilize the bigger LF & HF drivers. But, in some cases, most studio monitors with wider frequency response might hinder you from mixing the mid-range frequencies accurately. Because this kind of monitors normally portrays more heavy and deep bass sound that will cover up most of the detail midrange frequency sound.
If you are going to use this small studio monitor for vocal and acoustic instruments purposes, I think that the smaller studio monitor with flat-response will suit for vocal, acoustic instrument applications.
The material that made up the monitors does play a major role affecting its sound quality. There are studio monitors that are made of Kevlar, paper, aluminum alloys, wooden and others. You should be wise to choose the right one regardless of the fancy marketing proclamations.
The power rating of the speaker size and the amplifier determine the volume limit of the monitor system. For smaller studio monitor, you will want the monitors that have modest volume loudness for better mixing and monitoring experience. The sound will be distorted and murky if you play the volume too loud.
Most Recommended Small & Compact Studio Monitors For Home / Bedroom Studio & Portable Studio Setups
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1) IK Multimedia’s iLoud MTM (Portable & Small Room)
For their compact size, this IK Multimedia’s iLoud MTM powered studio monitors gives incredibly detailed sound. It comes with built-in ARC room calibration technology, which compensates for the deficiencies in the acoustics of your room for more precise and amazing monitoring experience, which is possible. Also included is the tiltable stand, these monitors are impeccable for the desktop purpose where you are crippled by space in studios.
This micro monitor from iLoud took the world by surprise with its bass performance produced from a 3″ speaker which ‘defied physics.’ But this is not all. It also offers, with bass response down to surprising 40Hz, making it great for modern music styles.
Debuting with this iLoud MTM is IK’s patent-pending PRL™or Physical Response Linearization system, which employs a meticulous model of the enclosure’s design, materials, and constructions, along with the electro-mechanical dimensions of the real units, to tweak the performance of the system in real-time. The result is an impressive “firm,” well-adjusted, and defined low end, which can exceed the sound of the speakers even twice this monitor size.
To aid in optimizing the monitoring for any room’s particular acoustics, this monitor features an incorporated acoustic auto-calibration, which is derived from IK’s prize-winning ARC™ System, and also included are IK’s reference ARC™ microphone, which automatically adjusts the frequency response regarding the position. The user simply needs to set the monitor, place the mic in the desired listening position, & then push the button to immediately get the custom calibration, which is specific to a listening environment. It also comes with low-frequency extension control and high and low-frequency trim control to modify the response to go well with individual tastes.
It is perfect for the small studio that is lack of proper room acoustic treatment. It is weighted at 8.8 ounces with the dimensions of 5 x 6 x 10 inches. It is considered one of the best portable studio monitors for the users who always needed to get their projects done on the move in unpredictable studio environments daily.
Pros: Advanced acoustic auto-calibration features that most micro-studio monitors don’t have. You can bring the iLound MTM wherever you go and work on your music on the go as you can use its auto-calibration function to bring out the most optimized monitoring quality in any environment.
Cons: Sound quality can be easily swallowed in the large open place.
2) IK Multimedia iLoud Micro Monitor (Portable)
This iLoud Micro Monitor is a high-end set of studio monitors that is small enough to carry around and the best part; it does come with Bluetooth connection functionality. Thus, it’s a set of quality portable studio monitors that you can ever find on the market currently.
Regarding its size, it’s only with the height of 7.09 inches and width of 3.54 inches. You can easily fit it into your bag and carry it around wherever you go.
It’s loud enough for a small room studio setup. It is very good at projecting flat frequency response sound with detailed mid-range frequency and moderate bass sounds.
By far, the iLoud Micro Monitors are the most sought-after small and portable studio monitors for those who want to have a high-end quality sound monitoring out of the miniature set of studio monitors. To bear the sound quality consideration in mind, if your desktop or workstation space has being a big issue to you, you can use the iLound Micro monitors set to replace those bulky ones.
All the controlling interfaces and buttons ( EQ switches, rear-mounted volume knob, and Bluetooth pairing button) are housed at the left-hand speaker. And both speakers are TRS 1/8″ and with RCA inputs.
The iLoud Micro Monitors utilize drivers of 3″ woofer, 3/4″ tweeter and a bass reflex port for each speaker. And it does feature 50W RMS with bass response down to 55Hz. Thus, you will be able to enjoy a wider range of frequencies response despite it’s mini in size.
3) Genelec 8010A PM (Portable)
Just like the iLoud Micro Monitor that we have reviewed above, the Genelec 8010A Studio Monitor is another professional and high-end portable studio monitor with Bluetooth connection capability and other great features sitting side-by-side with the iLoud Micro Monitor.
It only weights at 3.3 lbs and considered as one of the best lightweight, and portable studio monitors set that you can carry around wherever you go. It’s slightly bigger than the iLoud Micro Monitor with the dimension of 7.67 inches x 4.76 inches x 4.5 inches. It utilizes drivers of 3” Woofer and 0.75” Dome Tweeter.
With the amplifier of 25W LF and 25W HF. It is capable of handling the Frequency Response of 67Hz-25kHz (-6dB) and also with the crossover frequency of 3kHz. I find that its mid frequencies are quite accurate and well-balanced in a mix.
Distortion is relatively low and capable of portrays mid and high frequencies sound in clarity. But the major issue of this monitor is that its capability of handling the low-end frequencies sound isn’t good enough. And you will need an additional subwoofer to rectify this weakness if needed.
4) Yamaha HS5 Powered Studio Monitor (For Small Room)
The Yamaha HS5 Studio Monitor is the successor of the legendary NS-10 family, which is discontinued since it was launched back in the early 1980s. Being weights at 12 lbs with the dimension of 7″ x 9″ x 12″. It’s not quite a portable kind of monitor you can comfortably carry around. But could be a set of good studio monitors that fit into any corner of your home/bedroom studio. This is a 2-way bass-reflex bi-amplified nearfield studio monitor that utilizes the 5″ cone woofer and a 1″ dome tweeter. This built-up enable it to handle the frequency response range of 54 Hz – 30k Hz.
Furthermore, being packed with several advanced features such as low resonance enclosure design, room control & high TRIM response controls, advanced noise reduction technology, latest transducers, the high-performance 70W Amp unit and the capability of XLR & TRS phone jack inputs to accept balanced and unbalanced signal.
To sum up, the Yamaha HS5 Powered Studio Monitor is a quite a good monitor speaker that suitable for the small room studio for professional users.
5) PreSonus Eris E3.5 – 3.5″ (For Small Room)
PreSonus Eris E35 – 3.5″ is one of the top brands on the market today. The reviews about this monitor speak volumes about it. This monitor is considered to be a true monitor for gaming, multimedia, watching movies, or studio recording. Its sleek design is of industrial studio quality. It comes with protections from RF interference, Over-temperature, Output-current limiting, and it has turn-on/off transient. It also features 3.5-inch woven composite drivers that could produce a very powerful bass response and very accurate sound. It also comes with an acoustic tuning. This allows you to get awesome and pristine sound quality within the studio. Its crossover frequency is 2.8 kHz. It’s one of the best studio monitors that catered for small room.
The thing that sets apart the Eris Active Studio Monitors from other monitors is that it can create very accurate mixes that sound awesome when played on different playback systems, iPod headphones, computer speakers, and on TV commercial soundtracks.
Each of the twin monitors of Eris is rated at 25W. The sound quality produced by these two monitors are accurate. Its frequency response, especially, in the highs and mids is flat, although the low end usually produces muddiness due to its driver size. The Eris is surely good for small rooms studio under 60 to 70 sq. ft. If you are a tyro in music production, you should consider buying this entry-level monitor.
6) KRK RP5G3 ROKIT 5 G3 5″ 2-Way Powered Studio Monitor (Small Room)
The KRK Rokit G4 (Generation 4) is the most advanced compact speaker system that KRK built to cater the professional studio-grade monitoring applications. Unlike the previous G3 series models that are more toward casual monitoring and listening experiences.
The distinctive quality of these monitors is that they produce more pronounced bass, although you can readily tone down the bass a bit if you want to. These monitors surely appear to be powerful, although the mid frequencies seem to be a bit sacrificed. These monitors are surely heavier than those of the JBL; hence, if you want portability, you should not opt for these speakers. These Krk Rokit speakers also make use of proprietary waveguide technology that is optimized for greater stereo imaging. This KRK Rokit G4 studio monitor is more suitable for those professional music producers that work on their music in smaller space.
7) JBL Professional 1 Series, 104 Compact Powered Desktop Reference Monitors (Portable & Small Room)
Packed with 60 W of class D power-driven dual-concentric 4.5″ speakers They are acoustically adjusted for perfect desktop placements, coming with three sets of inputs to have room for a variety of devices. Musicians and recordists at Sweetwater are firm believers of JBL’s compact monitoring solutions. One can turn to JBL monitors, where even a full-sized set of monitor speakers are not the best of the solutions.
The JBL 1 Series 104 consists of a pair of monitors, which are apt for both critical and consumer referencing and therefore making it optimal for desktop applications. Because these speakers are also useful for home-recording studios, video editors, podcasters, who have an eye for sound and anyone and everyone looking for accurate, nonetheless portable monitors with limited budget.
A 0.75″ high-frequency driver and a 4.5″ low frequency driver is located in a coaxial design, whereas a 60-watt amplifier distributes 30 watts of Class-D power to every speaker. Place the monitoring level, which is at the front-panel volume button on the master speaker, and one can get accurate sonic representation regardless of volume. The frequency ranges from 60Hz to 20kHz, but the presence of low frequency port in the low registers to judge bass content better.
For budding engineers, video editors, or podcasters looking for reference audio at a low price, this JBL 1 Series 104s are the one you should consider.
If someone is looking to make the best use of the limited spaces with a pair ultra-compact speaker with high-quality sound on a budget, then these speakers are worth digging into.
8) Behringer MS16 Powered Studio Desktop Monitors (Portable)
The Behringer MS16 Powered Studio Desktop Monitors set is another affordable desktop monitor set that which is very suitable for multimedia in conjunction with vocal and music monitoring applications. It is weighted at 7.7 lbs with the size of 5.9″ x 5.5″ x 9.4″ in dimension. It utilizes the 4″ Woofer and high-resolution tweeter which is powered by two 8-watts amplifiers.
To sum up, it’s not the high-end studio monitors for professional users. But, indeed, it’s more suitable for the amateur multimedia, vocal, and music monitoring users.
9) Mackie CR5 Multimedia Monitors (For Small Room)
This pair of monitors is the standard when it comes to monitors. This Mackie set of monitors comes with a pair of 5″ polypropylene-coated woofers together with 0.75″ silk tweeters. It also features Bluetooth connectivity that provides untethered media playback. You can use these monitors for monitoring as well as for casual listening to music. This set of monitors provides 50W of powerful, articulate, and clear stereo audio that offers a broad frequency range from 70Hz to 20kHz. Its tweeters are ferrofluid-cooled for awesomely reliable and distortion-free operation. Its front panel is conveniently designed with volume control, 3.5mm headphone jack, and 1/8″ stereo TRS input. The set also comes with added-value accessories. Hence, you receive everything that you need to begin playing music in a single box.
Mackie studio monitors are designed to produce a premium sound that doesn’t break your bank. These CR multimedia monitors surely deliver sterling performance as expected, and their designs are ideal for use in multimedia creation, home studio, AV post-production, and broadcast. Its ultra-packed design is surely very affordable. Additionally, the left speaker or monitor is passive while the right speaker is powered. Lastly, the Aux/headphone ports and volume controls are located on the right speaker.
10) Edifier R1280T Powered Bookshelf Speakers (For Small Room)
The Edifier R1280T Powered Bookshelf Speakers are contemporarily designed with a black wood look to retain its classic look that blends well with your modern computer, record player, or television. These speakers are equipped with the new features pertinent to modern powered speakers. These features include new inputs like a new coaxial, optical, and wireless Bluetooth inputs. With these speakers, you would surely experience HD audio sounds like never before.
These speakers feature a 4″ bass and 13-mm silk dome tweeter that produce awesome studio sound quality. It also comes with optical and coaxial inputs that enable fantastic connection to computers and TV. This set of monitors also comes with a remote control that allows you to adjust the volume readily and to toggle inputs from afar. The bass and treble controls are located on the main speaker’s side.
The wattage of these speakers is at 21W which is slightly lower compared to other sets of monitors. However, its frequency response is surely wider than that of the Eris 3.5. There is, however, no TRS input which is indicative of the fact that these speakers are designed for casual listening and not for music production. Although the performance is fairly flat due to the lack of XLR and TRS ports, the audio tends to shimmer when at higher frequencies.
Don’t expect, however, to get awesome bass reply with these speakers for you will be disappointed, specifically with the sub-bass bass. Moreover, its bookshelf design is prone to producing low echo, specifically in the bass range. The upside of buying this set of monitors is its Bluetooth connectivity. If you intend to casually make music, this one is surely a good choice.
Overall, it’s not the kind of portable monitor that you can carry it anywhere. In fact, it’s more suitable for the small casual home studio or bedroom studio that only have very limited space for all your studio recording gear and equipment.
11) Alesis M1 Active 320 USB (Portable & For Small Room)
The Alesis M1 Active 320 USB are stereo monitors that come with USB audio interface. They feature a 3-inch woofer and one-inch tweeter. They operate at 16-bit/44.1-48kHz recording and playback. They also feature 1/8-inch (3.5mm), RCA, together with 1/4-inch (6.3mm) inputs. These monitors also feature a front-mounted 1/8-inch stereo headphone output and switchable power supply. Furthermore, these monitors produce a full, rich acoustics characterized by frequency response of up to 20kHz.
It allows you to readily play audio even from your computer. You can also record the audio that goes into your computer. You simply must plug in your USB cable to the computer to do this. This process, however, doesn’t require any special driver. You can also use a Bass Boost Switch if you want to stress the bass frequencies.
As a substantial audio monitor, the M1 Active 320 USB can also serve as a handy audio interface for you can easily connect your mic pre’s, keyboards, guitar effects, standard CD, DJ Mixers, and tape players to the M1 Active 320 USB. Lastly, with the use of M1 Active 320 USB, you can surely expect a superb, full range sound quality for more accurate sound reproduction for your mixes.