If you make beats and are looking to get a pair of studio monitors, then you should know that they’re an absolute requirement for serious music production. They give you the ammo to transition from the beginner level to pro right away. Unlike guitar driven, metal, or rock producers, a lot of Hip Hop/EDM producers and DJs are used to headphones. While headphones are great for referencing, your mixes will turn out a lot better if you use monitors. Listening to your tracks on a more advanced medium will take your production to a whole new level.
Studio monitors are not cheap. You should be prepared to spend at least $500 on a pair of good studio monitors, more high end ones are expensive, but in most cases worth it. Don’t go for anything below 7 inches (some 5 inch monitors are okay but most are not), if you get something smaller then you’ll eventually have to upgrade to a new pair. With smaller monitors, your tracks will not sound like they are supposed to unless you also get a subwoofer (lack of bass and low end).
If your budget allows, an 8 inch pair is ideal for a home studio. If you get a good size monitor then you won’t have to spend more money on a subwoofer. Getting a good sound out of a subwoofer isn’t easy either, it takes some work and experience. You should also know that every monitor ends up sounding different. Cheaper ones add color to your sound which is not ideal. You want monitors that are neutral (especially in the nearfield), so you don’t have to spend a lot of time learning your monitors.
Cheaper monitors also have bad listening levels. While all speakers have a sweet spot, cheaper ones are not going to be accurate unless you turn the volume up quite a bit. This may not be the best situation for everyone, sometimes it’s nice to be able to mix without blasting your speakers at full volume. Good monitors are accurate regardless of volume. This is why an 8 inch speaker is not a bad idea even if you have a smaller space, you can simply keep the volume down and have more accuracy while mixing and mastering.
Finally, acoustic treatment is a very important element that cannot be ignored. It’s not only about the sound coming out your monitors, but also the actual room that you’re in. Reverberant surfaces are a big no! if you spend a lot of money on good monitors but place them in a small room with a lot of echo then you’re just setting yourself up for failure. Without room treatment you’re going to have bad judgement while mixing.
Best Studio Monitors for Hip Hop Reviews
Kali IN-8 V2
The Kali IN-8 V2 is a tri-amped active studio monitor which features a three-way system. It is the largest out of the IN-series measuring 285mm wide, 242mm deep, and 441mm tall, with a weight of 25lbs. The monitor offers a frequency response that ranges from 37Hz to 25kHz, a headroom of 20dB, and a max SPL peak of 117dB.
As for the drivers, the monitor includes an 8-inch Poly-coated paper woofer, a 4-inch poly-coated paper mid-range, and a 1-inch textile tweeter, all of which are powered through Class-D amplifiers for a total wattage of 140W (40W MF, 40W HF, 60W LF). Furthermore, the monitor features a front-ported enclosure which allows for flexible room positioning and an incredible low-end extension.
The backside of the monitor offers a volume knob, a brief dip switch guide, a TRS input, an RCA input, an XLR input, and eight dip switches. We found the dip switches to be an incredibly useful feature as they featured a variety of EQ settings in a small design. For instance, switches 1 to 3 may be used to alter the boundary EQ settings, switches 4 and 5 to change the LF trim, switches 7 and 8 to change the HF trim, and switch 8 to activate/deactivate the RCA input.
In terms of sound quality, we found the IN-8 V2 to produce an incredible low-end, which is the most important frequency range for hip hop. Furthermore, its low-noise port tube allows air to escape from the monitor at the same velocity, producing a strong bass with little chuffing. The monitor also demonstrated a very accurate sound with incredible separation between the various instruments of the mix. This resulted in a three-dimensional stereo image, which is what we found most impressive about this monitor. For testing purposes, we listened to some of the most complex hip-hop mixes, and the IN 8 V2 portrayed them very well, creating a very lifelike stereo image in the stereo field.
Additionally, because of its three-way configuration, which reduces some of the load on the tweeter, the monitor can produce more headroom with less distortion throughout the frequency range. On the other hand, the mids and highs sounded clean and smooth without being exhausting to listen to, enabling you to work for long periods without the need for breaks between sessions.
When comparing the IN-8 V2 and the IN-8 (its predecessor) side by side, it was clear that the V2 was a great improvement. Because of the more potent DSP, which provides smoother high-frequency tuning, the IN-8 V2 also now has a wider frequency response of 37Hz-25kHz compared to 39Hz-25kHz for the original IN-8. We also found the V2’s drivers to be better than the original IN-8, which provides an overall better transient response. While testing the monitors, we could also feel that the IN-8 V2 is significantly more pleasant to listen to. This is because the IN-8 produced 12dB more self-noise than the IN-8 V2.
Because of all of these improvements, IN-8 V2 provides a better overall distortion. For comparison, the IN-8 V2 showed a distortion of 0.88% as opposed to the IN-8’s 1.1%. Apart from that, the IN-8 V2 has all of the positive characteristics of the IN-8, including the impressive three-way design, dipswitches, and a strong front-firing bass port.
However, this appreciation does not imply that the IN-8 V2 is flawless as we’ve come across some of its downsides. For one, we felt that the mid-range sounded a little bit overblown, which slightly takes away from the lows and highs. While it took us a while to figure out the level at which the mids start to fluctuate, we were able to compensate for this issue by mixing our music based on the mid-range level.
Additionally, we found the EQ settings to require some adjustment to fit our studio’s acoustics. However, for a novice user, this change might not be as simple. It wasn’t as big of a problem but getting used to the dipswitches takes a little while. This drawback also depends on your preferences and the characteristics of your space, so you might not need to change anything in the monitor’s EQ settings. However, because the dipswitches offer so many practical functions, we strongly advise that you learn to use them.
Therefore, the Kali IN-8 V2 is a superbly well-balanced monitor as it provided excellent flatness, powerful bass, and superb stereo image. The monitor was a remarkable 8-inch nearfield monitor since it seemed very neutral and balanced with no exaggeration in any frequency.
Kali IN-8 V2 Benefits
The monitor includes practical EQ setting using dipswitches
The output sound is flat, making it an excellent choice for music production
The unit demonstrated a three-dimensional stereo image, which was the monitor’s highlight.
The IN-8 V2 offers powerful low-end, which is essential for hip-hop music
Kali IN-8 V2 Drawbacks
Inexperienced users may find the dipswitches confusing
Mid-range feels somewhat overblown
PreSonus Eris E8 XT
The PreSonus Eris E8 XT is the largest of the XT series measuring at a width of 247.65mm, a height of 406.4mm, and a depth of 292.1mm with a total weight of 23lbs. It is a bi-amplified studio monitor which includes an 8-inch woven composite LF driver and a 1.25-inch silk dome HF driver. The Eris E8 XT boasts a frequency response of 35Hz-22kHz with a max peak SPL of 105dB and a crossover frequency of 2.2kHz.
The monitor’s drivers are powered through Class AB amps which deliver 75W to the LF and 65W to the HF for a total wattage of 140W. The monitor also has a vinyl-laminated MDF front-ported enclosure, which increases its durability and allows for flexible positioning. As for the inputs and controls, the monitor features a TRS input, an RCA input, an XLR input, a power switch, a High-Frequency knob, a Gain knob, a Mid-Frequency knob, a Low Cutoff switch, and an Acoustic Space switch.
As for the EQ controls, the acoustic space switch allows for sound compensation if the monitor is near a wall or a corner. The Mid Frequency control enables you to easily adjust the monitor’s frequency response. This setting is also responsible for the monitor’s flatness. However, unless you wish to hear the sound from the perspective of the customer, we do not suggest you adjust this EQ. On the other hand, the HF knob is similar to the treble control on a typical stereo. For instance, if the high-frequency brightness seems too high or low, you may easily change it to your preference.
Sonically, we found the Eris E8 XT to produce an incredible sound with an impressively flat response. After setting up the monitor, we evaluated the monitor based on some symphonic music as it includes several instruments which require most of the frequency spectrum. We found the sound produced by the monitor to have defined high frequencies and accurate low frequencies, without being overhyped. This makes it an excellent choice for hip-hop music production as it portrays music as intended, especially the bass, without providing any coloring to your mixes.
We tested some of the mixes that we had produced on the E8 XT on a pair of old speakers, and the music translated really well, which is an important aspect in music production since the listener’s audio device might vary from one listener to another.
Compared to the Eris E8, the Eris E8 XT feels like a decent successor. For one, the performance of the new E8 XT has been slightly enhanced by its newly designed structure. For instance, the addition of an EBM waveguide to the E8 XT has contributed to a broader sweet spot, a significantly more accurate stereo image, and a better surface reflection. However, the Eris E8 offers a wider frequency response of 35Hz-22kHz compared to the 35Hz-20kHz on the E8 XT. Other than that, both monitors provided somewhat similar sound quality and output wattage.
Although we were pleased with the Eris E8 XT’s performance throughout our tests, there were some downsides that we came across. For starters, we found that the EQ knobs on the E8 XT lack detents, unlike those on other premium studio monitors. Although it wasn’t that big of a downside, having knob detents is a simple, yet effective feature that would have been appreciated as it provides better tuning accuracy. Furthermore, the monitor might seem somewhat big, especially if you’re upgrading from a 6-inch or 7-inch monitor. Other than that, the monitor worked wonderfully as it demonstrated incredible sound quality and practical EQ settings.
All things considered, the Eris E8 XT delivered outstanding performance considering its price. It is a well-rounded monitor as it demonstrated superb frequency outputs over the whole frequency. It is also quite versatile because of its EQ settings, which makes it a great option for producing hip-hop music.
PreSonus Eris E8 XT Benefits
The monitor works incredibly for hip-hop music production since they are relatively flat.
It has a remarkable transient response and amazing sound quality.
It features an EBM waveguide with an improved surface reflection, a detailed stereo image, and a large sweet spot
The Eris E7 XT is incredibly adaptable as it has a wide variety of EQ settings.
PreSonus Eris E8 XT Drawbacks
The monitor is relatively tall for an 8-inch woofer studio monitor
Since there are no detents to restrict the knobs’ rotation, they are challenging to use.
KRK Rokit 7 G4
The ROKIT 7 G4 is KRK’s first 7-inch studio monitor designed to include modern features such as DSP room tuning and 25 graphic EQ settings on an LCD. It is an active bi-amplified studio monitor which features a 7-inch Kevlar cone woofer and a 1-inch Kevlar dome tweeter. The RP7 G4 offers Class D powered drivers, delivering a total wattage of 145W. Its rear side includes a ¼ -inch XLR/TRS combo jack input, a volume knob, and an LCD eq display.
The volume knob may also be used to alter system settings as well as to select from a variety of EQ combinations to correct any flaws in your listening environment. Furthermore, it comes with a mobile app that facilitates level matching, subwoofer level control, and monitor placement while also displaying real-time spectrum analysis. Additionally, the ROKIT 7 G4 boasts a max peak SPL of 110dB with a frequency response of 42Hz-40Khz.
As for the sound quality, the ROKIT 7 G4 provided decent performance as it demonstrated great lows with fluent highs. According to our tests, we found the monitor to function effectively in various environments, even if the acoustic treatment isn’t perfect. This is because it includes DSP and a calibration program, both of which aim to negate acoustic flaws in your surroundings. The high-end was also respectable as it sounded detailed and transparent without being piercing.
Furthermore, the monitors produced excellent sound when we turned them up loud but with slight coloration. This makes them a great option for casual listening, but not as viable as some of the other options for music production. We also found the mids to be a bit lacking by default. However, using the mobile app, we were able to easily adjust them to our preferred level, and they sounded excellent.
As for the low end, the monitor demonstrated a powerful bass which is one of the most important instruments for the hip-hop music genre. Moreover, the ROKIT 7 G4 provided a broad, dynamic sweet spot due to its enhanced high-frequency waveguide. This allowed us to hear the slightest details, even in complex mixes, from anywhere within the studio.
Compared to the previous generation (ROKIT 5 G3), the ROKIT 7 G4 looks somewhat similar. However, in terms of sound quality, we found the ROKIT 7 G4 to be a great improvement. The ROKIT 7 G4 demonstrated a more powerful punch, with better highs when compared to the ROKIT 5 G3. The new ROKIT 7 G4 monitor now boasts Class D amplification, unlike the Class AB on the G3 product line, resulting in a punchier output.
Additionally, the materials that make up the drivers have also been improved as they now use Kevlar cones, unlike the Aramid Glass Composite driver on the 5 G3. This allows the G4 studio monitors to provide a more defined output with better accuracy. As for the specs, the 7 G4 offers a wider frequency response of 42Hz-40kHz with a higher max peak SPL of 110dB compared to the 45Hz-35kHz and 106dB respectively on the 5 G3.
In terms of drawbacks, the ROKIT 7 G4 is not as honest as other monitors at its price range since they color your mixes (to a certain extent) to make them sound decent. You may still use them for music production, but you will have to learn these monitors as they do not respond in a particularly neutral way. Another drawback is that we found the tweeter to emit an audible hissing sound even when no signal is passing through the monitor. Other monitors in this price range produce significantly less hissing sound, which was rather disappointing. This was also upsetting because it offered great sound quality at higher volumes. At lower volumes, however, some might even find the hissing sound unbearable, but it will not affect your mixing outcome.
Therefore, the ROKIT 7 G4 is a decent studio monitor for hip-hop music production. With great sound quality and practical EQ settings, the monitor provided fantastic performance, especially for its price. The bass was fantastic, making it one of the best value studio monitors on the market for hip-hop production.
KRK Rokit 7 G4 Benefits
The monitor provides great lows and fluent highs
The unit offers DSP room tuning and several EQ combination settings
It offers a mobile app for real-time analysis.
Great monitor for casual listening
KRK Rokit 7 G4 Drawbacks
The tweeter emits an annoying hissing sound, even when no signal is passing through the monitor.
The monitor’s response is not as neutral as other monitors in this price range.
According to the scoring model, you’ll find the highest variance in the additional features, sound quality, and price to performance categories. You’ll also see that the Rokit 7 G4 falls short in all of these categories, which is the main reason for this wide variance. As for the other categories, the Rokit 7 G4 puts up a tough competition as it scored the highest in the frequency response and ties with its competitors in the wattage categories. But because of the lower scores, the Rokit 7 G4 does not offer as consistent results as its competitors. Therefore, the main competition here is between the IN-8 V2 and the Eris 8 XT as they rival each other in almost every category.
Compared to the Rokit 7 G4, the Kali IN-8V2 offered much more consistency throughout our tests. It also demonstrated incredible value for its price, which was impressive considering it is the most expensive out of its competitors. The monitor’s additional features stood out the most (score of 9) as it incorporated dipswitches which we are used to seeing on most of Kali’s monitors. It was, however, outperformed by both of its competitors in the frequency response category with a score of 7.5. This is not to say that its frequency response is bad. In fact, the IN-V8 offered a frequency response of 45Hz-21kHz, which is just enough for hip-hop production.
However, the Presonus Eris E8 XT remains a solid alternative as it also provided consistent results. The monitor also offered a decent frequency response of 35Hz-25kHz, which is also the lowest range of frequency response out of this lineup. The E8 XT also tied with the IN-8 V2 in the sound quality category with a score of 8, making it another great option for hip-hop production. As for the price to performance, the monitor provided a decent score of 8 in this category with a variance of 0.5 between it and the IN-8 V2.
Therefore, the best studio monitor for hip-hop is the IN-8 V2. The IN-8 V2 set a really high standard for the features category as it provided eight dipswitches that have a variety of practical uses. It also proved to be a fantastic all-around monitor as it accurately portrayed sounds across the frequency spectrum. As for its predecessor, the monitor was an obvious improvement as it now offers 12dB less self-noise, a smoother high-frequency response adjustment, and a higher frequency response. Consequently, these improvements also improve the sound quality experience and its practicality, making it a great choice for hip-hop production.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I mix using Headphones instead of getting Monitors for Hip Hop music?
You can, but headphones may sometimes lack the level of detail that you can get from a good pair of studio monitors. Headphones are best for referencing, but you should always do your mix on monitors and also try to play your mix on different mediums e.g. in the car, on your laptop speakers, headphones and so on.
What do I need to look out for when buying Studio Monitors for Hip Hop?
The criteria for selecting studio monitors is never genre dependent. You should just go for the highest build quality you can afford. A neutral response is an absolute must. Additionally, you want to get monitors that make you better at what you do. Every monitor has a certain character, you want to go with what you like so your music turns out the way you want it to.
Other than Studio Monitors, what else do I need for Hip Hop Production?
Depending on what you are doing, if you are just making beats and building tracks then you don’t really need anything else other than a DAW you are comfortable with. For vocals you are also going to need a mic, you may also need a midi keyboard if you want to not just use samples. Finally, an audio interface will be a requirement for hooking up a mic or any other instruments you may want to use (including monitors)
Can I mix Hip Hop music without Studio Monitors?
That’s never a good idea. In this day and age when electronics have become increasingly affordable, almost all home producers have a good monitoring solution. If you want your tracks to be of high quality then there is no way around studio monitors.s