Buying studio monitors for the first time is a daunting task. They are so many opinions online about what's good and what's not. The truth, however, is that all branded manufacturers like Yamaha, Adam, or Neumann provide exceptional monitors at reasonable prices.
With any monitor you purchase and set up at home, your ears will adapt to the sound very quickly, and you will become accustomed to the monitor’s nuances regardless of manufacturer, make and model.
There are very few people in the world who can hear a monitor and say, “Ah yes, that is a pair of KRK RP5s with the low-frequency filter turned down 2dB”. Don’t get analysis paralysis when reading advice on forums on which monitors are ‘best.’ It’s all a matter of taste, and your ears adjust in no time.
You will adapt to any new monitor sound quickly while mixing - this is one reason why many home studio owners have two sets of speakers - even if the second pair is low end, like mine! - so that your ears don't get too used to the main monitors. In mixing, a change is as good as a rest!
In my own Studio, I use a pair of Yamaha MSP7s. I chose these because I wanted something close to the famed Yamaha NS10s, and on paper, and according to the manufacturer, and a few reviews, these were the way to go.
One reason I chose the Yamaha brand is because of their dedication to quality - I spent more than 10 years in Japan working with Japanese manufacturers, and their attention to detail for electronic and mechanical components is light years ahead of the rest of the world.
For the same reason, I highly recommend the Yamaha HS8s - they are next on my ‘to-buy’ list. The HS8s are a little smaller and would suit a ‘smaller’ space, or would be terrific as second monitors. Make sure you look at the HS8s, and not the HS5s. The HS5s lack a little low end for serious work (click to look at the HS8s on Amazon).
I like the way that my MSP7s don’t color my mix in any way. The first mix I played on the Yamahas sounded awful, and I thought I'd made the wrong choice until I played some commercially produced CDs through them and realized it was my mixing that was off and not the speakers. Now when I mix and get a good sound on the MSP7s, I know my mix is going places!
Mixing in a home studio has some limitations, and sometimes it's good to have something else in the toolbox to avoid wall proximity effects and to judge instrument levels without resorting to elaborate tricks. In my home studio, I use one Avantone mix cube. This is by far my best ‘add-on’ purchase I've made, and I use it at the beginning and end of every mix. Read more about the Avantone here.
As a ‘grot box’ alternative, I'd recommend the cheap and cheerful Behringer MS20s. These were actually my very first purchase when I started dabbling with music production all those years ago but they still have pride of place as my second monitor option - although having researched and written the review about the HS8s I think the Behringers maybe replaced this summer!
After finishing a mix, I will output to the Behringers, and I am often surprised how well they sound – and often they hint at a little problem not picked up on the main monitors.
It’s always beneficial to play your mix on as many systems as possible to check for compatibility. With the increased use of phone paired Bluetooth speakers, these little Logitech gems are my final tick in the box for mix release. There are plenty of other small sized speakers, but I stumbled across these on sale and find them great to listen to. Even at ‘full’ price they are a steal! (check the current Logitech X300 price on Amazon).
If you are looking for other home studio gear like Studio Controllers or Microphones, check out the WSS recommended gear page here.