When choosing nearfield monitors, you should be aware that these monitors are designed so you can listen to your tracks in close proximity. They are built that way because, in recent times, studios have gotten smaller than what they used to be. Most modern studio equipment also costs a lot less than it did back in the day. Because of that, people have now switched to Nearfield monitoring as opposed to Midfield or Fairfield monitors.
Nearfield Monitors are a bit more expensive because they are a lot more accurate. You’re going to be making your mixing decisions so you want to go for something that offers a neutral playback that is high quality and precise. You’ll get a flatter signal and hear every single detail of what is being played and what is clashing with what.
You also want a pair that is extremely directional (an important characteristic of nearfield monitors), which means that you’ll have to sit in front of the monitors to hear your tracks properly. This shouldn’t be an issue since you’ll be sitting at your desk anyway. However, you’ll have to be mindful of your positioning to get the best possible output. This isn’t hard to figure out, you can experiment and see what angles give you the best results. Try adjusting the speaker height, EQ and other controls available to you.
In addition to positioning, you want to decide on a budget, your space requirements and how loud you want your monitors to be. All of these are important considerations. Don’t get a monitor below 5 inches. Anywhere between 5 to 8 inches is ideal. Even if you have a small room, you can still get a monitor that is bigger. You don’t have to turn it up all the way, just keep the volume at an appropriate level, this will also give you the added advantage of lower distortion levels.
You also want to keep in mind your monitor’s bass response. More bass driven monitors are good for Hip Hop, Electronic, EDM and DJ type of musical styles. Whereas a more even bass response is a requirement for alternative, rock, metal or other types of guitar driven music. It all comes down to what it is you want to do with your monitors. However, good nearfield monitors, such as the ones we have reviewed in this guide, will give you a smooth playback that is free from any genre limitations.
Finally, treat your room as much as possible. You can spend a ton of money on your monitors but if your room isn’t properly treated and you have a lot of reverberant surfaces then your end result is always going to be poor. An untreated room is a producer’s nightmare! You don’t have to start out with expensive treatment, just be careful with positioning and cover any direct walls that get in the way. You can then slowly expand your room treatment.
Best Nearfield Monitors Reviews
Adam Audio T8V
The T8V is Adam’s nearfield 8-inch entry-level monitor which expands on the T-series’ product line. It is a bi-amplified active studio monitor which features an outstanding frequency response of 33Hz-25kHz with an SPL of 118dB. Inside a box, there’s a single monitor that is 400mm tall, 250mm wide, and 335mm deep. The monitor weighs a little over 21 lbs. As for the design, the monitor includes a U-ART ribbon tweeter, an 8-inch polypropylene woofer, and an HPS waveguide.
On the backside of the monitor, you’ll find HF and LF switches (for room compensation), a volume control knob, 1 XLR input, 1 RCA input, and the reflex bass port. The T8V also boasts in-built Class-D amplification to power the drivers, delivering 70W to the woofer and the remaining 20W to the tweeter (for a total of 90W).
Who would’ve imagined that plastic (polypropylene) would sound as fantastic as in a carefully crafted monitor like the T8V? The polypropylene woofer provided great linearity in the nearfield monitoring distance, without feeling overbearing or creating unnecessary noise. On the other hand, the tweeter provides pristine, non-fatiguing highs. They are designed scrupulously to move the air pressure in a way that offers very clear and smooth high frequencies. Furthermore, the HPS waveguide molds the tweeter’s output into a more audible sound, preventing major room reflections, while also providing an incredible sweet spot.
After unboxing the monitors, we set them up in a nearfield setting with ample breathing space for the rear bass port. We then used pink noise to warm up and calibrate the monitors before beginning our tests, and the results were fantastic! After playing some of our favorite songs, we can assure you that their sound quality is remarkable. They produced superb clarity even in complicated mixes, giving the stereo field a three-dimensional sensation. In other words, you can hear elements in your favorite songs that you’ve never heard before. This also allows you to identify any flaws in any mixes you’ve created, which provides far more accurate results
Furthermore, the low-end goes down to 33Hz which eliminates the need for a sub-woofer to a certain extent, and the highs are very pristine without feeling harsh. We also managed to playback music for hours on end without feeling any ear fatigue, so if you’re the type to work on your music for continuous hours, the T8V is a great choice! We also used the EQ settings to tailor the sound to our liking, which can be incredibly useful. We should also highlight that the volume goes really loud, thanks to its Class-D amplifiers and high wattage output. As a result, we were impressed with the T8V’s sound quality, which offered exceptionally loud sounds while maintaining the same level of fidelity.
Compared to the Adam T7V, the T8V provides several specs improvements. Even though both monitors include U-ART woofers, the T8V offers better response at louder volumes. The frequency response on the T8V is wider having 33Hz-25kHz compared to the 39Hz-25kHz on the T7V. Moreover, the T8V provides 20W more in terms of total power (70W for T7V and 90W for T8V). In terms of size, the T7V is 347mm tall, 210mm wide, 293mm deep, and weighs only 16lbs, which is notably smaller than the T8V. Also, the T8V now has an SPL of 118dB compared to the 110dB on the T7V.
As for the T8V’s drawbacks, there are a few we’d like to touch on. For one, the T8V does not feature an LED power indicator on its front panel, which might not be as practical. The volume knob is also on the backside of the monitor which might be annoying sometimes. We are aware that you’re most likely to keep the volume at max level and adjust it using an audio interface, but it might be somewhat inconvenient if you’re using them on their own. Therefore, if you need to make modifications, you’ll probably need to go to the rear of the monitor. It took us some time to get used to it, so it wasn’t that much of a drawback. Furthermore, they take up a lot of room. This may not seem like a big deal if you already have enough space for them, but if you don’t, you may have to consider another monitor.
All in all, the T8V is one of the greatest monitors on the market for its price point. We were really satisfied with its performance throughout, especially considering its price. The T8V offered various incredible features of its more expensive variants, and remarkable sound quality, making it a fantastic choice for nearfield monitoring.
Adam Audio T8V Benefits
The monitor didn’t have any tweeter hiss which is common in T8V’s price range
They are very honest and detailed, which means they give a three-dimensional sensation and will identify any errors in your mixes
It offers very loud sounds, especially for a nearfield monitor
A very wide frequency response which eliminates the need for a subwoofer
Adam Audio T8V Drawbacks
The Volume knob and the LED power indicator are located on the backside
The T8V requires a lot of room to function well, which may not be ideal for everyone.
Kali Audio LP-6 V2
The Kali Audio LP6 V2 has a reputation for being one of the best nearfield monitors for the money, so we decided to give the monitor a shot to see what all the hype was about. It is an active bi-amplified studio monitor featuring built-in Class-D amplifiers that supply 40W to the woofer and 40W to the tweeter (80W total). It offers a frequency response of 39Hz-25kHz with a max SPL of 115dB. As for the design, the enclosure (vinyl-wrapped MDF enclosure) is front ported which provides flexible room positioning.
The monitor is 360mm tall, 222mm wide, and 260mm deep, and weighs a little north of 15 lbs. For the inputs and controls, the monitor offers Dip switches (8 switches), an XLR input, an RCA input, a TRS input, and a volume control knob. For ease of use, the monitor includes a quick reference guide for the Dip switches on its back. Briefly, switches 1-3 control EQ boundary compensation, switches 4 and 5 adjust the low-frequency trim, switches 6 and 7 adjust the high-frequency trim, and switch 8 toggles the RCA input.
In terms of sound quality, the LP6 V2 is impressive with how clear and transparent it sounds. We really liked its waveguide as it consistently reflected the output sound. This allowed for three-dimensional-sounding music, an incredibly detailed stereo image, and a wide sweet spot. We were able to hear the left channel output clearly from the right-most side of the room! The low-end also feels powerful, without any sense of boominess. When situated properly (at a nearfield distance of 2.9m), the audio sounds clear without any exaggerated bass or overhyped high frequencies. This makes them a great option for nearfield monitoring and sound mixing. We played some of the mixes we produced using the LP6 V2 on other devices, and the audio translated almost perfectly!
The EQ controls feature is also a plus as it provided great versatility. You can easily adjust the dip switches from the back of the monitor to tailor the sound to your liking in almost any treated environment. The high-end was also incredible as it sounded very pristine and detailed without causing any ear fatigue. We were able to test the monitor for continuous hours without any break sessions, which is very crucial, especially for nearfield monitors as they have to be at a close distance from you. Furthermore, the 20dB headroom guarantees that the transient peaks in the SPL, such as kick drums and low-frequency demanding effects, are correctly produced with little to no distortion.
After the release of the Kali LP6, kali spent their time refining their craft and improving on the flaws of the LP6. The second wave of the LP6 fixed many of the audio issues that the first generation suffered from making it an excellent successor. Visually, both generations have the same look with the only apparent difference being the cone having a matte finish which may or may not be more appealing to you. Now for the technical differences, first of all, the first generation had noticeable hiss which made listening to them unpleasant, this was a major deal-breaker for these monitors and the main reason they weren’t well-received on their release. We’re glad to say that the hiss was almost completely eliminated without affecting the sound quality in any way.
Another sound enhancement was done on the low end where kali improved bass response making its low-frequency reproduction much better than its predecessor. The final difference between the 2 models is the inputs where the V2 will only playback signals going through the TRS input which makes using the monitors with 2 different devices or using them for loop back not possible, unlike the V1.
As we’ve found out through our long experience with professional audio equipment, no studio monitors are perfect, and the Kali LP6 V2 is no different. Through our testing, we found that its low end was lacking and needed to be adjusted with the dip switches to achieve an acceptable level. This adjustment while relatively easy to achieve for a professional, especially with the use of the included guide, would throw off a new inexperienced user. Another sound-related concern we had was a slight hiss at loud volumes which, although way better than the first generation, was still noticeable.
Lastly, to maintain their competitive price, Kali had to skimp out in some departments and unfortunately, the case was one of them as it’s a vinyl-wrapped MDF case making it prone to peeling if subjected to heat or humidity which made us concerned with its longevity.
With that being said, the LP6 V2 is an incredible nearfield monitor. It offers a great value for its price which is what the unit is mostly known for. It is a well-rounded monitor, offering fantastic sounds across the frequency spectrum.
Kali Audio LP-6 V2 Benefits
The LP6 V2 is a very versatile monitor as it offers numerous features for high and low-frequency adjustments.
It has a great waveguide which provides a wide sweet spot, a detailed stereo image, and three-dimensional sounding music.
It sounds very clear and transparent with deep lows and pristine highs.
The unit provides great headroom which offers fantastic sounding lows without any distortion
Kali Audio LP-6 V2 Drawbacks
The low-end didn’t sound as strong by default, so you’ll have to manually change it using the dip switches, which may be perplexing for inexperienced users.
The monitor has a mild hiss at high levels, which might be unpleasant if you have sensitive hearing.
The enclosure is of vinyl-wrapped MDF which slightly decreases its durability when exposed to heat or humidity.
PreSonus Eris E7 XT
The Eris E7 XT studio monitor is said to be among the most versatile budget-friendly monitors. It is a bi-amplified studio monitor measuring 240mm wide, 365mm tall, and 242mm deep studio monitor (weighing 18.5 lbs).
On the backside, you’ll find a TRS input, an RCA input, an XLR input, an Acoustic Space switch, a Low Cutoff switch, a Gain knob, a Mid Frequency knob, and a High-Frequency Knob. As you can see, the E7 XT has a wide range of acoustic control options, making it versatile in different environments. The drivers are powered through Class AB amplifiers which deliver 75W to the Woven Composite woofer and 65W to the Silk Dome tweeter for a total of 140W. It also provides a frequency response of 42Hz-22kHz with a max peak SPL of 104dB and a crossover frequency of 2.5kHz.
As for the EQ settings, the product manual compares the HF knob to the treble control on a normal stereo. For instance, you can easily adjust the HF knob to your liking if they seem too high/low. On the other end of the spectrum, the Mid Frequency control allows you to make subtle changes to the frequency response of the monitor. This determines how flat your monitors will be. However, we do not advise you to modify this EQ (You want your monitor to be as flat as possible) unless you want to hear the sound from the consumer’s perspective. Furthermore, the Acoustic Space switch provides flexible positioning of the studio monitor in the room, however, since our monitors were far enough from the wall, we set the switch to 0dB and recommend you do so as well if you are in a similar situation.
With regards to sound quality, the Eris E7 XT offered decent performance for its price. After setting up the monitor, we played several mixes and the results were pretty good. The high-end was transparent and crisp, but the low-end is what really impressed us. It demonstrated extra punchiness, providing a subwoofer-like bass response.
The monitors also offered a full-range sound across the spectrum with a flat mid-range, an incredible bass, and pristine highs. Furthermore, the E7 XT felt really flat, making it an excellent choice for nearfield production/mixing. It provides no audio coloring, which means that if you can get your mix to sound good on them, they’ll sound good anywhere. We played some of our mixes that we had produced using the E7 XT on a budget-friendly speaker, and the sound translated incredibly.
Compared to its predecessor (Original Eris E5), the Eris E7 XT is considered a great upgrade. The new E7 XT provides a redesigned cabinet style which significantly improves its performance. For one, the front-facing bass port on the E7 XT is notably larger than that of its predecessor. This allows the E7 XT to provide a lower bass response than the E5 (42Hz for the E7 XT compared to 53Hz for the E5).
Furthermore, the E7 XT now features an EBM waveguide, resulting in a wider sweet spot, a much more detailed stereo image, and an effective surface reflection. In terms of specs, both monitors offered Class AB amplification, however, the E7 XT offered a much greater wattage. (140W for E7 XT compared to the 80W for the E5). The Eris E7 XT also now provides a better max peak SPL of 104dB compared to the 102dB on the E5.
As for the drawbacks, the E7 XT has some downsides that are worth mentioning. Regardless of the volume level, the monitors produce an annoying hum from the bass driver amplifiers. Unfortunately, self-noise is one of the most bothering downsides of a studio monitor, and there is no way to eliminate it. The hum was also relatively loud as we were able to hear it 1 meter away from the monitor. We assume it is a driver flaw, but we don’t know what’s causing it. Additionally, unlike other high-quality studio monitors, the EQ knobs on the E7 XT have no detents. We prefer having detents on the control knobs since it makes adjusting the knobs easier and much more precise. It wasn’t much of a drawback, but it is a great quality of life feature that we would’ve appreciated.
Overall, the Eris E7 XT offers excellent value for money. It proved to be a well-rounded monitor, with exceptional frequency outputs over the frequency spectrum. Its adjustable EQ settings make it quite adaptable, making it an excellent choice for nearfield monitoring.
PreSonus Eris E7 XT Benefits
The Eris E7 XT offers numerous EQ settings, making it very flexible.
It offers an EBM waveguide, which provides a wide sweet spot, comprehensive stereo image, and better surface reflection
It offers incredible sound quality with an impressive transient response.
The monitors are very flat making them a great choice for nearfield production
PreSonus Eris E7 XT Drawbacks
The E7 XT has an unpleasant humming sound that could not be removed.
The knobs are difficult to operate since there are no detents to control their rotation.
Based on the scoring model, the highest variance is in the Frequency Response, Wattage and Sound Quality categories. As you can see, the E7 XT has an impressive wattage score of 8.5, however, it gets overshadowed in almost every other category. In terms of frequency response and sound quality, the Adam T8V comes out on top scoring a 9 in both of these categories. The LP6-V2 however, strongly competes with the T8V as it provides somewhat similar results in almost every category.
It’s no secret that the LP6-V2 and the T8V are the main competitors in this lineup, with the T8V slightly outperforming the LP6-V2. This wasn’t much of a shock given the T8V’s higher price tag. The LP6-V2 manages to outscore its rivals only in the Additional Features category. Other than that, the T8V outperforms the LP6-V2 in every other category. It scores the highest in the frequency response and the sound quality categories along with price to performance, which is an indication of the value it provides for your dollar.
However, this isn’t to say that the LP6-V2 isn’t a viable option. As previously stated, the LP6-V2 was the T8V’s major competitor due to its similar performance. It has a lot of useful features, provides excellent value for your money, and decent frequency response. The largest difference between the LP6-V2 and the T8V across all categories was in the Sound Quality category, with a variance of 1, which isn’t as much. This makes the LP6-V2 a great alternative if you’re on a budget. However, if you can afford it, the T8V is an excellent choice as provides more consistency and better overall performance.
Overall, out of this lineup, the Adam T8V is the best nearfield studio monitor. It has a fantastic frequency response that goes all the way down to 33Hz, providing a subwoofer-like bass. It also has incredible highs with no ear fatigue and a variety of EQ options to customize the sound to your preferences. Because you need to be close to the monitor, this makes the T8V an excellent choice for nearfield monitoring and even music production! The T8V builds on the success of its predecessor by delivering more power output, a wider frequency response, and improved response at higher volume levels. With their great studio monitors, Adam had done it again, making the T8V an ideal choice for nearfield monitoring.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why should I choose Nearfield monitors over Fairfield or Midfield?
Typically, Nearfield monitors are a good solution for smaller places because they are meant for close proximity listening. With time, studio spaces have become more compact and people want monitors that will give them a flat output in a confined space. As a result, you will have to position yourself accordingly so you get the most accurate representation of your tracks.
How much should I spend on Nearfield Monitors?
They cost a lot more than other types of monitors. They’re a lot more accurate so you get what you pay for. A flat output is something most producers chase, and nearfield monitors give you a really accurate output. The more you spend, the more accurate your monitors will be. A good range is anywhere between $700 – $1200 for a pair. You’ll get something that will last you a long time, so think of this as a long term investment. You do not want to go cheap on monitors or your mixes are not going to turn out good.
What should I keep in mind before buying Nearfield Monitors?
Other than positioning and budget, you also need to think about your actual studio space. You can buy the best monitors on the planet but if your room isn’t treated, everything is a wash. You won’t get the accuracy nearfield monitors are known for. So make sure to invest a bit in room treatment, at least for surfaces that are directly in front of or in close proximity to your monitors.
How do I set up my Nearfield Monitors?
Monitors are pretty easy to setup. You can follow the guidelines provided in the instruction manual with your monitors. Otherwise, you can look up setup videos online for your specific model. Installation and set up is not complicated at all. It’s a pretty straightforward process that you shouldn’t have any trouble with.