I live in an apartment myself, I produce music sometimes fairly loud and I never had problems with the neighbors! in this article I will show you the best studio monitors for your apartment.
My Number One Pick: The Best Studio Monitor for YOUR Apartment
(click the links to to see Amazon’s current pricing).
If you’re in a hurry, stop right here and purchase one of these two. Either the Yamaha HS5 or Yamaha HS7, they both are a solid choice. The HS5 are the ones I currently use in my own Home-Studio apartment.
Both the HS5 & HS7 provide excellent sound quality and won’t disturb the neighbors. If you produce bass-heavy music, opt for the larger HS7 otherwise purchase the smaller but great HS5.
That said, you will absolutely need either monitor stands or isolation pads for to minimize sound leakage. Grab a pair of the Auralex Acoustics Studio Monitor Isolation Pads
If you still need more information, such as: What to look for in a studio monitor,where to position them but also which audio interface, cables or what type of acoustic treatment works best stick with me, and together we will explore the details. Enjoy!
If you ever wondered if studio monitors can be used for everyday music listening and gaming you should read this article “Are Studio Monitors Good for Music“.
3 things You Must Look Out For When Buying Studio Monitors
1. Sound Quality
The most important feature to look out for in a studio monitor is sound quality. We want an accurate representation of the music without the speaker coloring our sound in any way. That means that we don’t wish added bass, treble or mid frequencies.
Commercial speakers, on the other hand, do (and must) color the sound for it to appear more pleasing to the general audience. But studio monitors are not made for the general audience. They are made for people like you and me that write, produce, or mix music seeking an honest and accurate representation of our music.
We don’t want our monitors to misguide us, thinking that there are certain frequencies present when their not there. Ideally, we would like the monitor to have a flat frequency response.
2. Frequency Response
Frequency response is the measurement of the output signal of each individual frequency. In other words: Frequency response is the full spectrum of sound a monitor can reproduce, the frequencies that the monitor can portray.
Frequency response is measured in hertz and kilohertz.
Typically humans hearing ranges between 20Hz and 20KHz, the age of a person usually determines our hearing range as older you get the less you’ll hear. The good news is that most of us won’t ever notice any difference since, in most cases, the hearing loss percentage is minimal.
As we mentioned before, ideally, we want a monitor with a flat frequency response. If, however, your producing bass-heavy music, you need a monitor that CAN reproduce the low-end spectrum. If this is the case, you either need to purchase a subwoofer or big studio monitors with a 7-inch speaker (or larger) on them.
Of course, You can still hear the low-end frequencies from smaller sized speakers (such as 5 inch), but you’ll miss the sub spectrum; that is frequencies that go bellow 40-50Hz.
3. Speaker Size
Both studio monitors with small or big speakers can equally represent the mid and high frequencies, but the advantage large speakers have is that they can reproduce a wider lower range. In other words, they have a bigger bass.
Now considering I’m writing this article with people who want studio monitors in their apartment, a huge low end may not always be the best option; because the low frequencies may disturb your neighbors. But if you decide to opt for large studio monitors, you will ABSOLUTELY need a pair of good monitor stands or isolation pads to minimize sound leakage and avoid getting complaints from your neighbors.
We will talk more about isolation pads, speaker stands, monitor cables, and sound cards later in this article.
5 Steps For Correct Monitor Positioning
If you want to achieve the best mixes and the best productions, you must know where to place your studio monitors.
1) Correct Monitor Positioning: Avoid Walls
If possible, place your speakers at least 7 to 12 inches away from walls with an optimum distance of 2-3 feet away from the walls. Keeping this distance helps us minimize unnecessary audio-reflections and other unwanted issues such as phase cancellation. If you follow this rule, you will have better productions and cleaner mixes.
2) Correct Monitor Positioning: Form a triangle
For the best listening experience, you need a sweet spot, (and no, I’m not talking about candy) 🙂
A sweet spot provides the best listening experience between two speakers.
This can be in any environment, such as a home studio or even a live concert. Finding the sweet spot is relatively simple. You only need to form an equilateral triangle between yourself and the speakers, meaning you should have an equal distance between the speakers and an equal distance between yourself and the speakers. In practice, this forms an equal triangle.
3) Correct Monitor Positioning: Monitor Orientation
Most speakers are placed vertically; however, some models will perform best when placed horizontally.
Take as an example the famous YAMAHA NS10, which, more often than not, you will find in a horizontal placement.
However, most manufacturers include the necessary information regarding speaker placement in the documentation. If you own a set that should be placed vertically, it should be a mirror image of each other, also always keep the tweeters on the outer side.
Of course, feel free to experiment and discover what works best in your studio environment.
4) Correct Monitor Positioning: Proper Driver Height
To properly hear what is happening in the higher frequency range, you should directly aim the tweeter at your ear. To achieve that, the tweeter needs to be at the same height as your ear. One thing to pay attention to is to set the driver height at your relaxed sitting position. Simply sit as you always sit behind your desk and avoid unnecessary and unwanted back straining.
5) Correct Monitor Positioning: Ballance your speakers out
It’s important that you place your monitors at the center of your wall; this gives us a more balanced listening experience. Also, try to keep your speakers at the same distance from each side of the room (left and right). If your room has a rectangular shape, always choose the longest wall, this will eliminate most wall reflection issues.
As mentioned above, your studio monitors should have an equal distance from each side of the room. But they should NOT have the same distance from the back wall. Doing this will give you better acoustics!
Small VS Big Studio Monitors For Apartment
If you are wondering if you should purchase small or big studio monitors. It doesn’t really matter. You can use both!
There is a misconception that you should only place small speakers in an apartment; the reason for this, is that people believe that small speakers won’t disturb the neighbors. Of course this is not true.
The truth is that both large and small speakers can produce a high-volume that could disturb your neighbors! It’s up to you if you decide to crank up the volume or keep your listening experience at a relatively low level.
The second misconception most people believe in is that: large studio monitors produce more bass and will disturb your neighbors. This is also false.
Whether it’s true that large speakers produce more bass, its also true that you can prevent the base frequencies from traveling through the walls by using monitor isolation pads or monitor stands.
Best Apartment Studio Monitors Under $200 (a pair)
Presonus Eris E4.5 (click on the link to visit Amazon)
If you’re on a tight budget, these 4.5-inch monitors are your best choice.
Of course, the PreSonus Eris E4.5 are entry-level studio monitors, don’t expect the sound quality you find in more expensive monitors. Their low end is decent, and they sometimes can smooth out higher freequencies; this results in a lack of clarity. Again for this price, they are absolutely your best choice and 100% better than you standard stereo speakers you currently have at home.
Best Apartment Studio Monitors Under $500 (a pair)
YAMAHA HS5 (click on the link to visit Amazon)
For this price, the HS5 is hard to beat. They give you excellent value for money and supreme audio & build quality! Also the YAMAHA HS5 is directly related to the legendary YAMAHA NS10.
Some of the features that come with the HS5:
- The HS5 feature a 5-inch cone woofer and a 1inch dome tweeter
- They produce low distortion sound with a well-defined bottom
- They have a 54Hz to 30kHz frequency response
- Width: 6.7″.
- Depth: 8.7″.
- Weight:11.7 lbs.
- 70 W bi-amp.
- Bass reflex system.
I can guarantee that these speakers are the best you can get at this price range. They are very clear and accurate in the high and mids. They lack in the low end, but this should not come as a surprise considering their size. That said if you don’t produce bass intensive music, buy them! If you do need the extra bass opt for a larger monitor such as a 7 inch one or combine the HS5 with a Subwoofer.
The mixing engineers out there will be happy to know that the HS5 has an EQ selection on the back. This allows you to improve your mixes by emulating how small speakers sound.
KRK RP5 Rokit 5 G4 Professional (click on the link to visit Amazon)
(click on the link to visit Amazon)
The KRK RP5 G4 is a popular choice amongst music professionals. They provide great hi’s, mids, and low frequencies. Yes, it has only a 5-inch cone, but they have a satisfying low end. They are definitely impressive.
- 25 Visual graphic EQ presets
- KRKroom correction app (iOS + Android)
- Power: 35 W woofer 55 W – 20 W tweeter,
- 5″ Glass aramid woofer and 1″ glass tweeter
- Bi-amped Class-D amplifier
- Peak SPL: 104 dB
- Frequency range: 43 – 40,000 Hz
- Integrated backlit LC-display
- Combo input XLR / 6.3 mm jack balanced
- Dimensions (H x W x D): 285 x 190 x 241 mm
- Weight: 4.85 kg
Grab a pair of the KRK RP5 G4 here
Best Apartment Studio Monitors Under $900 (a pair)
- Yamaha HS7 (click on the link to visit Amazon)
(click on the link to visit amazon)
Even if I have their smaller brother (HS5), I absolutely love my Yamahas. Same as the smaller Yamaha HS5, the HS7 deliver great mid-range and high clarity that WILL surprise you.
These are a few of the features that come with the HS7:
- The HS7 feature a 7-inch cone woofer and a 1inch dome tweeter
- They produce low distortion sound with a well-defined bottom
- They have a 38Hz to 30kHz frequency response
- Room control and high trim response controls
- Dimensions (W x H x D): 210 x 332 x 284 mm
- Weight: 8.2 kg
On the back of the Yamaha HS7, you can adjust the output signal by adjusting the EQ parameters; they provide two adjustable settings:
- High trim switch (+/- 2dB at HF) /
- Room control switch (0/2/4 dB under 500Hz)
I have found the EQ control to be very useful since, with proper adjustment, you can replicate the sound of the mythical Yamaha NS10!
Okay, now that you have decided which monitors to buy, its time to consider the rest. I’m talking about the audio interface, cables, monitor stands, and acoustic treatment you will need. If you already have all of this, you can leave this article, but if you are not sure which ones will do the best job for you, then grab a cup of coffee, relax and follow me.
What Audio Interface Should I Use With My Studio Monitors?
The majority of professional music studios have high end and very expensive audio interfaces (in the thousands of dollars). But when it comes to a home studio setup, there are some really affordable options out there that deliver the same outstanding professional results without breaking the bank!
Best Audio Interface around $200:
1 Audient iD4 (click on the link to visit Amazon) This is the best cheap but premium audio interface money can buy!!
Best Audio Interface between 300 – $500:
2 Audient iD14 (click on the link to visit Amazon). Opt for this interface if you absolutely need two inputs.
1 Audient iD22 (click on the link to visit Amazon) My main interface and the best one you can buy in this price range. Opt for the iD22 if you need two inputs if you have two sets of speakers and need the additional features such as
Best Audio Interface Around $700:
Audient iD44 (click on the link to visit Amazon) Once again Audient is my personal favorite in this price range. The iD44 is an absolute beauty!
That said if you don’t need the extra features the Audient iD22 is more than enough!
But Mark, What Is Your Favorite Audio Interface?
If you haven’t guessed it already, my personal favorite (and the one I currently use) is the Audient iD22! I know for sure that it’s the best value-money combination with just the right amount of features without overspending. You can check my full Audient iD22 review right here
Before purchasing any audio interface please consider your budget and studio needs, with that said I hope you’ll opt for Audient 😛 (yes, I am a big a fan!!)
It’s worth noting that all Audient external interfaces feature a selection of high-end Class-A mic preamps. Still, the fantastic part is that you will find the same Class-A mic preamps throughout their entire product range.
In other words, the iD series (that is the 4,14,22, and 44 models); all feature exactly the same preamps that you will find in the Audient ASP4816 console. The cost of this console is a whopping $14.000 dollars (yes, you read that correctly, that is fourteen thousand dollars).
Also, each of the inputs has access to their own balanced insert points. The Audient’s monitor–control section is surprisingly comprehensive, with dim and mono switching, speaker switching, a polarity invert option, and even talkback, via one of the two mic inputs.
The only difference between the iD4, iD14, iD22, and iD44 is the extra features (more inputs, talkback, extra set of speaker outputs, etc.); otherwise, the build and sound quality are exactly the same. With that said, I must say I enjoy the additional features that come with the iD 22 compared to its little brothers.
Do You Need Extra Recording Inputs?
If you need extra inputs for recording drums or more than two sources simultaneously, you can purchase an ADAT Lightpipe connectivity. What the ADAT does is allow you to add a further eight input preamp sources. I would again recommend an Audient product, in this case the Audient ASP800 expander (click on this link for further information)
If you find the price of the ASP800 too high, consider purchasing the BEHRINGER Black (ADA8200).
Best Cables to Use with Your Studio Monitors
When it comes to studio monitor cables, there are a lot of options out there. Instead of cheap ones I highly recommend you invest a couple of bucks more and buy quality cables that will last you a very long time.
Mogami Studio monitor cables
The best option (by far) and the ones I do use are the
Mogami GOLD TRS-XLR balanced. (click on the link to visit Amazon) I prefear balanced cables over unbalanced ones.
Or the Mogami GOLD TRS-TRS unbalanced. (click on the link to visit amazon).
Yes, they are not cheap, and I understand that they might not be for everyone. Honestly, I have used cheaper cables for years and rarely encountered any audio-problems.
That said recently, I did upgrade to the Mogami ones since my older (cheaper) cables gave up on me, but if you don’t have the budget at the moment, that’s okay! Simply pick another set, and you’ll be fine. Just make sure you DONT buy the cheapest pair of cables that you can find, at least consider the options that I present to you on this list.
Second on our list and an excellent alternative to Mogami is the Monoprice XLR Male to 1/4Inch TRS Male Cable (balanced), (click the link to visit amazon). Monoprice has two versions of the same cable the Premier Series and the Stage Right Series. Make sure you AVOID the Premier Series since they’re not good, instead opt for the Stage Right Series. They deliver better isolation from external sounds and have greater durability.
Treat Your Room
Treat your room acoustically; it creates a huge difference! You can have the most expensive monitors in your home studio, and they may sound mediocre just because the room lacks proper acoustic treatment.
That said, you DONT need to spend money and buy professional studio foam or other soundproofing material. Just make sure that you have in your home studio about 60-70% sound absorbent material. You can use books, a couch, curtains, pillows etc.
The remaining 30-40% can be hard surface reflective material. If you follow the 70-30 rule, you’ll be fine, and you probably won’t need to buy studio-foam.
Auralex Acoustics Studiofoam Wedges (click on the link to visit Amazon)
Auralex Acoustics SonoFlat Acoustic (click on the link to visit Amazon)
NOTE: Please DONT buy cheaper versions other brands offer UNLESS they are also 2″ thick. Most of the cheap stuff is only 1″ thick, which has a MASSIVE difference in sound! You have been warned 🙂 .
This level of treatment makes an unbelievable difference. You will experience a beautiful stereo image and hear the clarity of your studio monitors.
Treat Your Studio-Monitors
If you place your monitors on your desc, you will definitely need Monitor Isolation Pads!
Isolation pads prevent the low end of sounding muddy, and they improve the overall sound. Monitor stands or isolation pads are an absolute necessity you MUST have if you’re serious about producing music.
The most popular option is Auralex and then comes the rest. Consider your budget and opt for the best choice, the ones I list will all do the same job just fine.
Auralex Acoustics Monitor (click on the link to visit Amazon)
These are the ones I have.
Studio Monitor Isolation Pads by Vocalbeat (click on the link to visit Amazon).
Studio Monitor Stands
If you wish to place your monitors behind your desc, then you’ll need monitor stands. Again there are a lot of options available, but I already have done the research for you. These are the monitor stands you need:
(click on the link to visit Amazon)
The SMS6000 is very sturdy and easy to assemble. They have several different height adjustment settings, and they come with different feet to accommodate for either carpet or hard surface.
At some models, the bottom triangle can be a bit sharp, if that’s the case, place a small piece black duck tape. That would do the trick, and it’s bearly noticeable. In short, the On-Stage SMS6000 will do the job just fine!
However, if you want to go premium and buy the last set of monitor stands you’ll ever need, then try out the:
(click on the link to visit Amazon)
The Ultimate Support MS-90 is triple the price of the On Stage SMS6000, but the MS-90 also offers premium build quality and lifetime warranty. Evem the bolts for assembly are of very high quality!
I don’t personally own them, I have tried them out, and I can confirm that they are fantastic. The stands are very heavy in their own right, but if you wish, you can fill them with cement or sand to add extra weight.
I must say that only recommend them if you don’t mind spending about $200 for monitor stands. If you are trying to decide between spending the extra cash on studio monitors or monitor stands, I would definitely invest in the monitors. But if you have the budget go for the MS-90. If you do, they will be the last monitor stands you’ll ever need.