When choosing studio monitors for a small room you shouldn’t always be concerned with the size of your speakers. Most people consider having large studio monitors in a small room to be a bad idea. The truth is that bigger monitors in confined spaces don’t necessarily cause acoustic issues. You can simply put the volume down and have your monitors match the frequency of a smaller pair. As a matter of fact, you are at an advantage with bigger monitors since they reduce distortion at low volumes.
In smaller rooms, you generally have issues concentrated in the low end. Smaller monitors help mask these issues since they are not as audible when compared to everything else. While that is a good characteristic, if you choose monitors that are too small (less than 5 inches), you will not be able to hear the low end itself and anything that needs to be addressed in your mix won’t be audible. This is where having smaller monitors puts you at a serious disadvantage and we don’t recommend them as a viable solution.
You’re not blasting Rock ‘N Roll and neither are you at a DJ party! You’re producing music and for that your monitors don’t have to be turned up all the way, they are not designed with loudness in mind. Their purpose is to be flat and clear! For small rooms, you can totally buy a 5 to 8 inch monitor, and we recommend doing so if you work with genres such as EDM or Electronic music where you have tracks that are heavier on bass. However, if you don’t do bass heavy stuff then 5 inch monitors work just fine as well, but anything smaller than that is really not recommended!
In addition to the size of your monitors, it is a good idea to invest in acoustic treatment. A room’s acoustic issues are directly proportional to the reverberant nature of various surfaces present in your room. Sound waves bounce off these surfaces and you hear things such as echoes. You want to carefully setup your room in a way that sound signals don’t bounce off parallel surfaces. Set up your desk accordingly in a spot where you get the least reverb and any parallel walls need to be taken care of (treated for acoustics).
You can also drastically reduce unnecessary reverb with better monitor positioning. Positioning will always have a huge impact on the sound response inside your room and you’ll have a much superior monitoring experience by positioning your speakers in the near field!
Finally, choose the monitors that deliver the best neutral listening experience! Don’t worry about anything else other than the output. Whether you get an 8 inch or a 5 inch monitor, you want it to be as real as possible, without any color. An accurate flat response should always be your first priority.
Best studio monitors for Small Room Reviews
Mackie offers a wide range of entry-level monitors, as well as more professional equipment such as the MR series. The MR28, in particular, has earned itself a reputation as one of the best active studio monitors on the market. It features an 85W class AB amplifier that works in tandem with the 8-inch woofer and 1-inch silk-dome tweeter to produce remarkable clarity and dynamic lows. It also has a remarkable frequency response of 38Hz-20kHz.
In terms of build quality, the cabinets appear to be vinyl-wrapped MDF that delivers sharp edges with no tear-out. It also provides additional internal bracing which helps prevent vibration while still offering a smooth low-end response.
Straight out of the box, we knew that the MR824 was a fantastic monitor for small rooms. It includes a logarithmic waveguide to reduce reflections and diffractions that color your mixes, which guarantees better stereo imaging and a larger sweet spot. It also offers acoustic alignment to provide an incredibly balanced sound across the frequency spectrum. The monitor also features a customizable frequency control setting for auditory space control, plus a boost/cut filter for the highs. Regarding the inputs, it has balanced XLR and TRS connections as well as an unbalanced RCA connection, allowing you to incorporate your monitor into several studio settings.
The MR28 is larger than the other monitors reviewed in this article, and size really doesn’t have much of an impact for mixing/producing in a small room. For instance, using too much low frequency in your small environment will distort your perception and impair your ability to decide how much low end is needed for your mix.
After multiple sessions of testing in a smaller room than what we are used to, we can confidently say that the monitor performs wonderfully. It is superb for almost any music genre when properly situated, and it provides an outstanding response. However, we must point out that the MR824 is quite heavy, and large if you have a relatively small studio room, so make sure you set them properly to get the most out of them!
The monitor is equipped with an acoustic space switch, and a high-frequency switch on its rear to keep the monitor’s response as flat as possible. This allows you to optimize your monitor so that it performs ideally in your environment. Throughout our testing, we chose to put the MR824’s versatility to the test. With the help of the frequency control switches, the monitor almost sounded the same in both smaller and larger studio rooms (Both rooms were treated).
The MR824 also sounds fantastic at the normal sound level, but it truly shines at low volumes. They are as flat as monitors should be all around; the top end is pristine and the bass is just delightful to listen to. We have yet to find a music genre that does not sound good on the MR824!
Compared to its predecessors, the new Mackie MR824 is a huge improvement! For one, you can now fine-tune its low-frequency (if you have them situated near a wall) using the Acoustic Space control. This makes it a great option for small rooms since you can easily configure the settings to your liking.
Moreover, it now features a high-frequency filter for dialing high frequencies. Both of these features will translate your mixes precisely in any room! Also, the MR824 now accepts unbalanced audio inputs over an RCA jack and balanced audio inputs over the XLR jack. In other words, the MR824 outperforms its predecessor in the smaller studio room, while still preserving the outstanding sound quality that you’d get in a larger studio room.
All this praise does not imply that the MR824 monitor is perfect. For one, the MR824 is rear-ported, which means its bass does not feel as tight as it should when not positioned properly. However, the M824 worked wonderfully by using the frequency control settings to reduce excess escalation. Still, it is preferable to position them properly (away from a wall or corners) for maximum performance.
Furthermore, the MR28’s highs may be too bright for some. This did not appear to be a disadvantage for us, as it is primarily a personal choice. We found the highs to be decent as they sounded clear and pristine.
All things considered, the MR824 is a great monitor for your small room. It is a great bang for the buck as well. Its sound quality is where it performs above its price point since it offers incredibly useful features, such as frequency control options to optimize the monitor in your small environment.
Mackie MR824 Benefits
The sound quality on the MR824 is incredible at its price point.
The monitor offers a logarithmic waveguide which results in a larger sweet spot and better stereo imaging
It includes options for tailoring the sound to your environment such as the frequency control settings
Incredible build quality
Mackie MR824 Drawbacks
The MR824 is rear ported so the bass doesn’t feel as tight as it should
Some may find the highs too bright but you can easily, but this is just personal preference.
The Adam T5V is Adam’s entry into the small room production/mixing market. It is a low-cost two-way nearfield monitor designed for compact control rooms. It offers a 5-inch woofer with a U-ART 1.9-inch ribbon tweeter crafted by Adam. The U-ART tweeter is the company’s latest type of tweeters for budget production in small rooms as it employs a ribbon element that produces silky highs.
On the backside, you’ll find a bass port, a power switch, an IEC-socket, an unbalanced RCA input, a balanced XLR input, a level control, high frequency, and low-frequency boost, and cut switches for room compensation. It features an astounding frequency response of 45Hz-25kHZ and highly efficient 70W Class-D amplifiers which deliver 50W to the woofer and the remaining 20W to the tweeter (70W total). This allows the T5V to attain a maximum SPL of 106dB. They also have the perfect size for small studio room production.
We really liked the high and low-frequency switches as they can help address frequency issues that you’ve got in your small room. For instance, if your desk is situated near a wall, the low frequencies will tend to accentuate, especially considering that the T5V is a rear-ported monitor. However, using the low-frequency switch, the frequency issues at the low-end of the spectrum can be reduced to a minimum.
Moreover, the extended frequency response that goes down to 45Hz makes the T5V a great option for nearfield monitoring in a small room without the need for a subwoofer. On the other end of the spectrum, the frequency can also range up to 25kHz which enriches the sound field with amazing details giving it a three-dimensional feel. This also allows you to mix and produce on these monitors without listening fatigue.
As for the sound quality, the Adam T5Vs sound incredible especially given their size and price. Throughout our testing, we were able to hear small details on our tracks that we would definitely overlook with low end monitors. The lows provide just enough juice for a small environment, the mids feel accurate, and the highs are pristine.
For testing purposes, we used our small room studio which is around 6 square meters, and the T5V produced just enough power. We were able to monitor at low levels to hear how much low-end is needed for our mixes, and then turn the volume up to listen to details or spot any flaws in the mix. Even at maximum volume, there is no distortion from the bass. As for the vocals, they sounded real and sincere, but with a hint of sugarcoating. Only in this case did the T5Vs stray from the tendency of brutal honesty but they are still truthful, without compromising other details in your mix.
Compared to the A5X, the T5V offers Class-D amplifiers for both its tweeters and woofers. However, the A5X only features Class-D amplifiers for the woofer and a Class A/B amplifier for the tweeter. While amplifier comparison can be very intricate, as one type of amplifier may not be better than another, the T5V’s temperature can stay at 1 or 2 degrees Celsius above room temperature. In other words, you can keep the T5V on without the worry of power consumption. On the hand, the A5X can reach a temperature of 45 degrees Celsius.
Additionally, the woofer on the A5X complements the music quality of its tweeter exactly, whereas the T5V’s tweeters really stood out. In terms of sound quality, the T5V is more of a budget speaker for small rooms, but still there is little to no difference when it came to the quality. The Adam A5X costs more than twice as much as the T5V, therefore the T5V’s ability to attain a similar sound quality to the A5X really is something. Both sound incredible and you could listen to them for hours without ear fatigue.
A slight downside we faced while using the Adam T5V is the back-sided LED power indicator. It would’ve been more useful to place the LED power indicator on the front of the monitor. Another drawback is that the volume knob on the rear lacks a notch to prevent accidental twisting. It was first irritating to use, but we became accustomed to it with time. It wasn’t much of a drawback, but we would have liked a more practical volume knob with a notch.
In conclusion, the Adam T5V is an incredible monitor. For its price point, you are getting an amazing speaker suitable for everyday usage. Adam has taken features and knowledge from its high-end studio monitors, and is now allowing budget-conscious clients to experience a high-quality monitor, making the Adam T8V a great option for small studio production!
Adam T5V Benefits
The monitor offers an amazing tweeter for its price point.
The speakers are brutally honest, which means they are precise and will point out any flaws in your mix
The sound quality for its price point is amazing.
It features flexible room compensation settings, making it a great option for producing in a small environment.
Adam T5V Drawbacks
The LED power indicator is on the rear of the monitor.
The volume knob doesn’t have a notch to prevent accidental twisting.
PreSonus Eris E5 XT
The Presonus Eris E5 XT is a bi-amplified active studio monitor, one of Presonus’s new XT series. It is the upgraded version of the budget-friendly Eris E5 studio monitors, which is why we decided to give the pair a shot. Inside the box, you’ll find a power cable, isolation foam to help with vibrations, and the monitor itself.
The E5 XT’s design is particularly eye-catching, with a clean matt black finish and a blue Kevlar cone. We also appreciate how the bass reflex port is located on the front of the monitor, allowing for more flexible placement and extra low-end. It also offers a decent frequency response that ranges from 48Hz to 22kHz, and a total wattage of 80W supplied by Class AB amplifiers to deliver up to 102dB SPL.
On the rear of the monitor, you’ll find a gain knob, mid-frequency adjuster, high-frequency adjuster, low cut-off switch, and an acoustic space switch. It was great to see these features on the Eris E5 XT, especially because you might not have a lot of auditory treatment if you’re on a tight budget. This also makes it easier to use them in a smaller space as they allow for tailoring your sound to your room. You also get a balanced TRS and XLR inputs, an RCA unbalanced input, and an input switch to switch between the connections. They are also relatively small in size, so they can basically fit anywhere!
It offers a 5-inch woven low-frequency transducer that cooperates with the enclosure to provide fantastic lows and consistent dispersion patterns. It also features a 1-inch silk-dome high-frequency driver which boasts accurate transient production. Most importantly, it has an EBM waveguide that decreases reflections, resulting in a crystal-clear sound and a comprehensive stereo image.
In terms of sound quality, the Eris E5 XT sounds incredible for its size. The low-end sounds detailed with no port noise issues, which is common in the Eris E5 XT’s price range. The high-end feels pristine and immaculate, thanks to the soft dome tweeters. The high-end also does not feel fatiguing as we were able to listen to them for hours while testing. The EBM waveguide really stole the show during our tests, as it provided a wide sweet spot and a very detailed stereo imaging. Another outstanding aspect is the absence of self-noise. We had to get within a 2-inch range of the monitor to hear a slight hiss.
Although the Eris E5 XT and the E5 look somewhat similar, the Eris E5 XT offers a lot of new features. First of all, the E5 XT improves the sound quality by adding an EBM waveguide for the tweeter, a larger bass reflex port, and a better enclosure. Moreover, the Eris E5 XT also provides useful features from the E5 and improves them. It features the auditory tuning settings that made the E5 incredibly viable. It also offers the safety features that the E5 had such as the subsonic protection, RF interference protection, over-heating, and soft startup safety. In terms of design, the E5 XT looks more modern. In other words, the E5 XT is a better-looking version of the E5 with better features and superior sound quality.
As for the drawbacks, the E5 XT produces an unpleasant hum and hiss when connected to a desktop using an RCA cable. For testing purposes, we try to use every input available on the monitor, and the RCA connection did not sound good. We initially assumed that the problem was from the desktop, so we tried other PCs but the problem remained. However, other inputs worked perfectly fine and we were able to mix great music with remarkable sound quality. Another slight drawback is its performance. For its price point, the E5 XT performed wonderfully, however, there are a lot of better alternatives on the market if your small studio room is treated well. If your room is untreated, then the Eris E5 XT is a great choice!
All in all, the E5 XT is a decent monitor for its price range. It offers great sound quality and a handful of useful auditory compensation settings. The EBM waveguide on the E5 XT is outstanding as it provides a better sweet spot and a clearer sound quality. Therefore, it is a great monitor for small studio room production.
PreSonus Eris E5 XT Benefits
The boxing package comes with an isolation foam which helps reduce vibrations
The acoustic settings are very useful as they are used to tailor the sound to your room
The waveguide provides decent sound quality and a great sweet spot
The monitor feels neutral and balanced.
PreSonus Eris E5 XT Drawbacks
The RCA cables do not work as they should when connected to a PC as they will produce a humming sound
The monitor works incredibly in untreated rooms, but if your room is treated enough we recommend better alternatives on the market.
According to the scoring model, you can see that this is a very close competition! There is barely any variance in the individual categories, and even the highest variance of 1.5 is quite low, which you’ll find in the additional features category. All contenders performed consistently, with the Eris E5 XT falling behind in all 3 out of 5 categories. There’s not much you can do with a relatively smaller budget. However, the E5 XT still managed to score the highest in the price-to-performance category with an incredible 9.5. It also scored second with a solid 8 in the wattage category due to its Class A/B amplification.
Throughout our tests, the MR824 and the T5V were pretty close. Both had same scores in the Price to Performance, Frequency Response, and the Sound Quality categories. But the MR824 outperformed the T5V, by a small margin, in the wattage and the additional features categories. The MR824’s lowest score was in the frequency response category, which was also the highest score in this category (tie with the T5V). This was really impressive as we rarely see such a consistently performing monitor.
However, this does not make the T8V or E5 XT bad by any means, but they just did not reach the standards set by the MR824 in certain aspects. In fact, the T8V provides the same sound quality and frequency response as the MR824, while costing less. It provided really useful features such as the frequency control options, scoring second with a decent 8. Nevertheless, we found the extra cost on the Mackie MR824 worth since it demonstrated its versatility really well.
All things considered, the best monitor for small room monitoring is the MR824. With the highest average score of 8.6, the monitor provides incredible value for its price, great wattage, and a handful of useful features all of which will help you achieve your best in a small studio. Its logarithmic waveguide was a highlight as it provided a very wide sweet spot, great neutrality, and a very detailed stereo image. It also offered a handful of improvements compared to its predecessor. During our tests, the Acoustic Space switch really showed its versatility as it allowed us to position the MR824 anywhere within the room while still providing almost the same sound. They are flat monitors, meaning that they are very honest. They will point out any flaws in your mixes, making them a great choice for your small room music production!
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need a Small Monitor for a Small Room?
This is actually a common misconception. You should not get small monitors at all! Regardless of your room size. Smaller rooms usually have sonic issues that are concentrated in the low end. In that regard, smaller monitors eliminate those issues. People consider this to be a good thing (which it is) however, they fail to realize that smaller monitors will also mask any issues in the low end and you will not be able to hear them. This is going to result in a bad mix, since your audio is partially disabled.
What is the main difference in choosing Studio Monitors for a Small Room vs a Large Room?
There is no difference at all! Room size has nothing to do with the size of your monitors. You can simply get 5 to 8 inch monitors and turn the volume down if you need to. This is also going to give you the added benefit of lower distortion levels. Monitors are designed to be accurate, they are not for loudness! You want monitors to be a decent size so you are able to hear everything properly.
What are the specifics for setting up Studio Monitors in a Small Room?
Since small rooms have close surfaces, you always want to position everything accordingly. Your furniture and desk placement is going to be vital in terms of how the sound comes back to you. Due to the reverberant nature of surfaces, you may also consider acoustically treating your room to get the best output possible.
Other than sound proofing/room treatment and positioning, you pretty much follow the same protocols as any other room. You want to position yourself in front of the monitors to hear them properly and get monitors that give you a flat output so you can hear your tracks as they are, without any color.
Do I need anything else for Monitoring in a Small Room?
It would be a good idea to also pick up a pair of good headphones. They’re always a nice addition, especially if you’re in a smaller room with other people close by. However, mixing on headphones does require a bit of ear development with regard to the difference in sound with monitors vs. headphones. In time, your brain will automatically adjust to the differences and you will compensate for the difference naturally.