If you’re looking to get a pair of studio monitors and you’re wondering if 5 inch speakers would suffice, or if it would be worth investing into larger or smaller monitors then you should know that 5 inch is the bare minimum size we recommend for studio monitors.
In general, with smaller monitors (below 5 inches) you have trouble with the low end. They eliminate too much of it. Some people consider that to be a good thing, but it really isn’t because at the same time you won’t hear any issues in the low end. This defeats the purpose of getting monitors in the first place, because you want them to give you a true playback so you can eliminate all issues in your tracks.
People get larger monitors (8 inches or more) if they want them to be louder or if they’re looking for a better bass response. This is not always the case though. Modern monitors have come a long way and even 5 inch monitors can give you a very good output. You just have to be careful in your selection, not all monitors are made equal.
The 5 inch monitors in our list don’t lack bass response and won’t eliminate your low end. You won’t have to compensate or use headphones for referencing (it is a good idea to use headphones regardless of monitor size but you won’t have to use them to make up for the lack of bass response). It is recommended to switch between your monitors and headphones to see how your mix sounds and how it holds up altogether.
Good 5 inch monitors work well for casual listening or mixing, you may get a subwoofer if you really want one but it isn’t a requirement. You don’t want your monitors to color your tracks, you want them to give you a flat response and play your tracks as accurately as possible.
There’s also a common misconception that smaller monitors are good for small rooms. That is not true at all! You will be fine with a 5 or 8 inch monitor even if you have your studio set up in a closet. Simply turn the volume down (75-85 dB SPL is a good target) and that’s that. You’re not going to be in a small space for the rest of your life, and larger monitors will give you a better low end as well as eliminate any distortion that smaller monitors won’t.
You do want to be conscious of your budget, so decide a cap upfront, but remember that the cheaper you go the worse the output will be. Anything below $400- – 500 per pair is not going to give you the output you are looking for, there are exceptions but price is in most cases tied to higher quality. If you don’t have the budget, it may be best to wait it out before you can afford something high quality.
Finally, you can invest in the best monitors but if you’re not paying attention to acoustic treatment and you have a room that isn’t treated then sound is just going to bounce off surfaces. You should at the very least treat any walls or objects that come into immediate contact to get the best possible output.
Best 5 inch Studio Monitors Reviews
Kali Audio IN-5
The Kali IN-5 is a three-way studio monitor featuring a 5-inch woofer, a 1-inch coaxial tweeter, and a 4-inch mid-range. Inside the box, you’ll find the monitor, measuring a width of 206mm, a height of 383mm, and a depth of 282mm, with a total weight of 23lbs. You’ll also find a power cord, rubbers for the feet of the monitor, and the product manual. The IN-5 powers its drivers using Class-D amplifiers, supplying a total of 160W (80W LF, 40W HF, 40W mid-range). It also has a maximum SPL peak of 115dB and a frequency response that ranges from 39Hz to 25kHz. On the rear of the monitor, you’ll find a dip switch reference guide, eight dip switches, a volume control dial, an XLR input, a TRS input, and an RCA input.
As for the sound quality, we found the IN-5 to provide an incredible bass with a very comprehensive stereo image. It was honestly hard to believe that a 5-inch monitor would sound so fantastic, especially at the IN-5’s price range. Its unique design allows the tweeter and woofer to perform less work, resulting in less distortion and more headroom across the frequency range.
We also found the coaxial architecture of the tweeter and the midrange to provide a lifelike stereo image. Consequently, we were able to hear the various instruments in the mix to feel three-dimensional, which exposed small details in complex mixes with accuracy. We really liked the dipswitches feature since it offered great value, adding to the sound quality experience. It allowed us to tweak the high and low frequencies to our preference while also adjusting the sound to the acoustics of our room. Furthermore, we tested the boundary EQ setting by placing the monitor near a wall, and it performed admirably.
With regards to the low frequency, the IN-5 offered a powerful and punchy bass like no other. It produced subwoofer-like bass which was really impressive for a 5-inch monitor. Furthermore, we found the monitor to be very flat and truthful as it highlighted any flaws in mixes we had already made. This will speed up your music production/mixing since it will eliminate the guesswork.
The Kali LP-6 and the Kali IN-5 look similar at first, however, the IN-5 gives far greater value in terms of performance. For one, the IN-5 features a different architecture with its extra midrange driver. This allows for a larger power outage and a better overall sound quality. For instance, this design reduces off-axis diversion, which is common on two-way monitors (like the LP-6), providing an incredibly detailed stereo image. We really noticed the difference with this improvement since we were able to move around within different corners of the room while preserving the same sound quality. As for the power outage, the IN-5 outputs a power of 160W which is double the LP-6’s output (80W).
Typically, a smaller woofer size might lead to a lower bass definition, however, this wasn’t the case with the IN-5. Even though the IN-5 has a smaller woofer size, it demonstrated a more defined bass than the LP-6. This is due to its unique architecture which provides great clarity in the mid-to-low range. In terms of frequencies, the LP-6 offered a higher max SPL of 112dB compared to the 115dB on the IN-5. In addition, both offer similar frequency responses ranging from 39Hz to 25kHz.
As we’ve learned from our experience with studio monitors, no product is flawless, and the Kali IN-5 is no exception. For one, the tweeter emits a faint buzzing sound, when no signal is passing through the monitor, which is more prominent than other monitors. However, it’s still not that load. We’ve heard far worse buzzing sounds at this price range, so it’s still bearable. Furthermore, we found that the low-end was insufficient by default and needed to be adjusted using the dip switches. This change, while straightforward for a professional, may throw off an inexpert. This downside relies on your room’s properties/your preference, meaning that you might not need to adjust anything in the monitor’s EQ settings.
Overall, the IN-5 is one of the best 5-inch studio monitors on the market. It is an all-around monitor, which provides pristine highs, powerful lows, and incredible mids. Its viability across the frequency spectrum was impressive for a 5-inch, making it a great bang for the buck.
KALI AUDIO in-5 Benefits
The monitor’s response is flat, meaning that it accurately portrays your mixes as intended
The unit has a unique architecture (three-way system) which reduces the off-axis divergence.
The IN-5 is very viable as it features dipswitches that allow for incredible combinations for your mixing experience
It features a loud and punchy bass, while also preserving its neutrality
KALI AUDIO in-5 Drawbacks
The tweeters emit a faint buzzing sound when no signal is passing through the monitors
Beginners might find the dip switches somewhat overwhelming to use.
The Yamaha HS5 is an active bi-amplified studio monitor featuring the iconic white woofer from the legendary NS10. As for the design, the HS5 is 170mm wide, 285mm tall, 222mm deep, and 11.7lbs heavy, with an MDF rear-ported enclosure. The backside of the monitor offers a bass port, a balanced XLR input, a balanced ¼-inch TRS input, ROOM CONTROL and HIGH TRIM switches, a power switch, and a volume knob.
The monitor also features a decent frequency response of 54Hz-30kHz, a well-crafted enclosure designed to reduce unwanted resonances, and an incredible mounting system. Additionally, the HS5 boasts integrated Class D amplifiers, which power the drivers by delivering 45W to the woofer and 25W to the tweeter for a total of 70W.
As for the EQ controls, the ROOM CONTROL adjusts the low frequency of the monitor by compensating for unnecessary low frequencies generated by your environment. When the switch is set to , the frequency response is flat. The [-2 dB] option reduces the frequency range below 500 Hz by 2dB, while the [-4 dB] setting reduces the frequency range below 500 Hz by -4dB.
On the other end of the spectrum, the HIGH TRIM controls the high frequency of the monitor. When the switch is set to , the frequency response is flat. The [+2 dB] setting increases the frequency range above 2 kHz by 2 dB, whereas the [-2 dB] setting decreases the frequency range above 2 kHz by -2dB.
The HS5 delivered the clean and crisp sound that we’ve come to expect from Yamaha. It also provided great neutrality with a flat response as it accurately represented various mixes without sounding lifeless. We tried using an acoustic foam to dampen some of the resonant sounds, and it paired up well! On top of that, the EQ settings on the HS5 were a true highlight.
We were able to adjust the high frequency to our liking through the HIGH TRIM switch and remove excess low frequencies using the ROOM CONTROL, both of which add to the sound quality. We also liked the value the HS5 provided for its price, however, we should mention that you might need a subwoofer if you’re producing certain music genres (808s/hip-hop). Nevertheless, we were really satisfied with HS5’s sound quality, especially considering it’s a 5-inch monitor.
Because of the competition, Yamaha opted to enhance the HS50M with its upgraded version, the HS5. Performance-wise, the HS5 provides tighter low-end which is mainly due to the redesigned cabinet. Furthermore, we also found the highs on the HS5 to be smoother and more accurate than the HS50M. We believe that this is because the tweeter on the HS5 is slightly larger than on the HS50M.
Furthermore, the HS5 offers a wider frequency response than the HS50m (55Hz-20kHZ), with the HS50m providing a 1kHz crossover frequency higher than the HS5 (3kHZ HS50m compared to the 2kHZ for the HS5). As for the EQ settings, the HS5 only features the HIGH TRIM and the ROOM CONTROL switches from the HS50m. The MID EQ and the LOW-CUT settings have been removed, which was reasonable since studio monitors must provide nothing but a flat response. Both monitors sound equally loud as they both boast Class-D amps with the same power outage.
As for the drawbacks, we came across some of the HS5’s downsides while testing them in our studio. We found that calibrating the HS5 can be somewhat limiting, especially considering that the woofer’s output wattage is only 45W. Furthermore, the HS5’s bass slightly suffers in treated settings but performs admirably in untreated ones. However, precise positioning and some mixing fundamentals will result in great outcomes. This is mostly a result of inexperience, so we recommend you read the product manual or consult an expert to get the best out of the HS5 in your treated room. Lastly, we expected the bass on the HS5 to be a bit punchier. It is indeed a 5-inch monitor, but monitors at this price range can offer a lower frequency response. Although great for a 5-inch monitor, we would’ve appreciated it if the bass was a bit more powerful.
Finally, the HS5 is an incredible monitor for its size. It provided incredible value for the money, and sounds decent in untreated rooms, while also providing a flat response. The HS5 is an incredible investment, which might be what you need to enhance your music production.
Yamaha HS5 Benefits
The monitor is very natural while offering a flat frequency response
The unit features amazing EQ controls which help in flexible positioning
The HS5 offers a well-crafted design that reduces resonance
It features a great mounting system
Yamaha HS5 Drawbacks
The bass slightly suffers in treated rooms
It feels harder to calibrate, which can be irritating for inexperienced users.
The bass lacks a little for a 5-inch monitor at this price range
KRK RP5 Rokit 5 G4
The KRK Rokit 5 G4 is the smallest in the G4 series featuring the iconic 1-inch yellow tweeter and 5-inch woofer. On its backside, the monitor offers an XLR/TRS combo jack, a volume knob, and an LCD EQ display. The volume knob also works as a dial for cycling through twenty-five room EQ combinations, minimizing and modifying any imperfections in your surroundings’ acoustics. It is also used to adjust system configurations such as screen brightness level and stand-by mode which are features we rarely see on studio monitors.
On top of that, the monitor has a mobile application that represents real-time spectrum analysis, which incredibly helps with monitor positioning, level matching, and subwoofer level adjustment. Furthermore, the drivers are powered by integrated Class-D amplifiers, delivering 35W to the woofer and 20W to the tweeter (55W Total). Additionally, the amps also cooperate with the brick wall to provide a richer, more balanced sound and wider dynamics. Finally, the monitor has a frequency response of 43Hz-40kHz with a max SPL of 104dB.
As far as its sound quality goes, the ROKIT 5 G4 delivered a powerful sound with incredible clarity. We found the high-end to be very comprehensive and pristine as it provided incredible separation between the mix’s instruments without sounding harsh. However, the bass extension is what really impressed us. Thanks to its front-firing bass port, the monitor delivered incredible low-end extension, while also allowing for placement flexibility. The low-end sounded amazing as it demonstrated a punchy bass, especially considering its size. We also found the isolation foam cushion component to be incredibly useful as it limited the vibration transmitted for improved definition, which adds to the sound quality.
Furthermore, the monitor sounds nice from both a distance as well as up close in small/medium spaces. For testing purposes, we tried both distances while keeping the monitors at ear level, and the results were fantastic. We also tested them with and without EQ settings and they sounded great. We found the EQ settings to work wonderfully as they offered a balanced and detailed sound. However, we must point out that the ROKIT 5 G4 had some distortion after the 90-94dB SPL, but it paired up really well with other audio equipment to minimize any ground issues.
Every generation, the Rokit monitors have incredible improvements over their predecessors, and the Rokit 5 G4 is no different. Compared to the Rokit 5 G3, the ROKIT 5 G4 is visually similar, with the G3 being 1lbs heavier. However, in terms of performance, we found the ROKIT 5 G4 to be a worthy upgrade. The bass feels punchier and less harsh, while the highs sound much more comprehensive than the ROKIT 5 G3. Furthermore, the G4 (43Hz-40kHz) has a wider frequency response than the G3 (45kHz-35kHz), and a different class amplification. The G3 offers Class AB amplifiers that supply a total of 50W, compared to the G4 that offers Class D amplifiers that supply a total of 55W. This makes the G4 slightly louder than the G3.
During our tests, we came across some of ROKIT 5 G4’s drawbacks that are worth mentioning. First, the monitors are not as flat as we expected them to be. We produced some mixes using the ROKIT 5 G4 and the results turned out slightly colored. This is an important aspect of music production since you want your monitors to be as flat as possible, so keep that in mind. We also found that adjusting the EQ controls on the monitors to be somewhat irritating since they are located on its backside. This was especially annoying if you’re trying to decide which one of the twenty-five EQ settings you’re going to use for your room as it takes some time to figure out. It gets better as you get used to it, but we would’ve appreciated it if the knob was font-sided.
Overall, the ROKIT 5 G4 is a great 5-inch monitor with great sound quality. It has handy auditory correction options, making it pretty versatile for a 5-inch monitor. Given its price, the bass along with its high-end was a standout, making the ROKIT 5 G4 a great overall studio monitor.
KRK Rokit 5 G4 Benefits
The monitor offers a punchy and dynamic sound
The drivers are carefully crafted to reduce listening fatigue
The foam cushion minimized vibration which adds clarity and definition to the sound quality
The unit features various EQ settings and a mobile app which helps you position them correctly
KRK Rokit G4 Drawbacks
The monitor provides coloring to the mixes which is not optimum for music production
Volume and EQ knob is located on the backside of the monitor.
According to our scoring model, the highest variance is in the wattage, sound quality, and the additional features categories. You can clearly see that the ROKIT 5 G4 outperforms its rivals in the frequency response category as it offers a slightly wider range. Other than that, it falls short in every other category, which was reasonable given its price. However, despite the high variance in the sound quality category, the IN-5 and the HS5 both stand out as they provide similar results, making them the top contenders for this lineup.
Throughout our tests, the IN-5 demonstrated amazing results. Its wattage was its most distinctive category as it outperformed its competitors by a large margin with a score of 9.5, due to its extra driver. The closest to the IN-5 in this category was the HS5 with a score of 8, which shows how viable the IN-5 is in this category. It also came up on top in the additional features category (score of 8.5) as it offered a wide variety of practical features.
The HS5 and the Rokit 5 indeed provided useful features, however, none were as practical as the IN-5. As for the sound quality, the monitor demonstrated amazing sound with incredible stereo imaging, which was somewhat similar to that of the HS5. Most importantly, even though it is the most expensive in this lineup, it still managed to score an 8.5 in the price to performance category, making it also a great bang for the buck.
Despite this, the Yamaha HS5 remains a decent alternative. While it does not have the same performance as the IN-5, it does provide an incredible score in the price-to-performance category. It also demonstrated amazing sound quality which was comparable to the IN-5. While testing, we can really feel the similar characteristics the IN-5 and HS5 have, with the IN-5 slightly overshadowing the HS5 throughout every other category (except price to performance). Therefore, if you’re on a budget, the HS5 is an incredible alternative with amazing sound quality and fantastic value.
As a result, the Kali IN-5 is the best 5inch monitor out of this lineup with the highest average score of 8.4. The monitor’s unique architecture was what truly propelled it to the top spot, as it allowed for incredible features, massive wattage, and excellent value. The IN-5 precisely depicted sounds across the frequency spectrum, making it an amazing all-around monitor. As for its predecessor, Kali really took a huge step forward by improving upon its predecessor’s drawbacks, providing a much higher wattage, a more clarified bass, and a greater SPL. Furthermore, it now offers excellent stereo imaging as it provided incredible separation between the instrument’s mixes. Therefore, the IN-5 is unquestionably one of the best 5-inch monitors in which we definitely recommend that you go for.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will 5 inch Studio Monitors be sufficient for my studio?
5 inch studio monitors are the bare minimum that we would recommend, so yes they will be sufficient for your studio setup, regardless of the size. Not all monitors are created equal but the ones reviewed in this guide are good make and models, tried and tested. They will give you an accurate bass response and a flat output. You won’t have to compensate by using headphones for referencing, although we would suggest that you use them anyway to see how your mix sounds. That is a good practice regardless of your monitor size.
Can I get Studio Monitors smaller than 5 inches?
Smaller monitors (under 5 inches) eliminate the low end. If you don’t hear the low end you won’t be able to fix issues in the low end, this will result in a bad mix. This is why smaller monitors are not suitable for anyone serious about music production. You can however get 5 or 8 inch monitors and if you’re in a smaller space, just keep the volume lower. Keep in mind that some 5 inch monitors also have this issue, so be careful with your selection.
How much should I spend on a pair of decent 5 inch Studio Monitors?
You would have to spend about $400 – 500 for a pair of studio monitors. Anything lower is not recommended, however there are exceptions. You should not go cheap on studio monitors, they are a huge part of your studio setup. You want them to be high quality or your tracks may not turn out like you want them to.
Other than Studio Monitors, what else do I need to do for better Sound Quality?
Once you have studio monitors covered, make sure you have an audio interface with good preamps and converters. A good audio interface can even make lower grade equipment sound good!
Apart from equipment, you also want to treat your room. An untreated room can be a nightmare. Your monitor output is not going to be accurate if the surfaces in your room are reverberant. At the very least, address anything that comes in direct contact (is close to) your monitors.