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This year saw several exciting new monitors enter the market, while other recent favorites continued selling strong. With one exception, active monitors reigned supreme in 2022, including two-way and three-way designs, compact and streamlined cabinets, unique special-purpose models and advanced monitors with powerful DSP. If you’re shopping for monitors, you can’t go wrong with anything on this list of best studio monitors of 2022!
The Trio6 fits right into the Focal line with its cherry side panels and graphite-colored drivers, but this particular model comes with a few unique features that make it stand out. First and foremost, the Trio6 is a premium three-way active monitor, combining an 8-inch low-frequency driver, a 5-inch midrange driver and a 1-inch beryllium tweeter capable of reaching up to 40 kHz. Engaging Focus mode takes the woofer out of the equation, producing a limited frequency response that rolls off around 90 Hz—perfect for referencing how your mixes sound on smaller speakers. The baffle containing the isolated mid- and high-frequency drivers can be rotated for sideways placement, and the integrated bass reflex ports ensure consistent sound in either configuration.
This unconventional three-way monitor packs four drivers into a compact cabinet to achieve extended frequency response in a smaller-than-average “footprint” (see what they did there?). The front of the cabinet features a 4-inch aluminum-cone driver for detailed midrange and a 1-inch dual-ring tweeter that offers silky-smooth highs with a broad sweet spot. Two 8-inch paper cone woofers utilize Barefoot’s patented Dual-Force technology to eliminate cabinet vibrations and reduce unwanted distortion. Under the hood, Multi-Emphasis Monitor Emulation (MEM) technology emulates the sound of a wide range of classic studio monitors, giving you multiple points of view on your mixes.
One of the more affordable options on this list, the Kali IN-8 is a premium three-way monitor that looks like a standard two-way monitor thanks to its coaxial mid- and high-frequency drivers. The coaxial arrangement offers the benefits of a three-way design while providing point-source sound for the entire mid–high range, resulting in a more accurate stereo image than traditional three-way designs. Meanwhile, the 8-inch woofer delivers powerful low-end, augmented by a uniquely shaped bass port for bass extension down to 37 Hz. Class D amplification makes the IN-8 extremely efficient, which is a plus in any studio.
Although it sports a simple two-way design, the Dynaudio BM6A is a high-performance monitor optimized for pristine, transparent sound. A phase-aligned fourth-order crossover circuit splits the input signal at 2.2 kHz to feed two discrete 100W MOSFET amplifiers that power the 7-inch woofer and 1.1-inch tweeter. A low-frequency equalizer circuit offers a choice between extended, critical damped response or more conventional higher Q response for increased level but reduced low-frequency output. The electronics also include a sophisticated protection circuit that helps prevent accidental damage to the drivers without hindering transient response like traditional limiters sometimes do.
Using the latest in acoustic measurement and electronic simulation technologies, Neumann designed the KH 120 A to provide reference-quality sound in a small package for nearfield multichannel systems. The Mathematically Modeled Dispersion (MMD) waveguide provides ideal dispersion characteristics for linear response over a broad “sweet spot” in nearfield applications. The 5.25-inch composite sandwich woofer and 1-inch titanium fabric dome tweeter provide exceptional depth and detail from 52 Hz–21 kHz, perfectly complimenting the Neumann KH 750 DSP subwoofer for full-range sound. With an extensive range of mounting hardware available, the KH 120 A is ideal for surround and overhead placement in multichannel and immersive studios.
With impressive output and extremely linear frequency response, this three-way active monitor from ATC is suitable for both nearfield and midfield applications. The hand-built 7-inch carbon-paper cone woofer, custom 3-inch soft dome midrange driver and 1-inch soft dome tweeter combine to deliver transparent, reference-quality sound from 47 Hz–22 kHz. The three-way, 235W class A/B amplifier delivers crystal-clear frequency response even at high volumes (up to 109 dB SPL). All SCM Series monitors undergo individual frequency, gain and phase optimization at the ATC manufacturing facility, so you know you can trust what you hear. And, because these monitors are rack-mountable, they’re ideal for soffit mounting in midfield applications.
Genelec’s mid-priced active monitors are perennial favorites among studios that need solid performance in small spaces, and the 8330A is a prime example. Despite its compact size and smaller-than-average drivers (5-inch woofer and .75-inch tweeter), the 8330A delivers powerful, clear sound from 45 Hz–23 kHz. Proprietary technologies like the Minimum Diffraction Enclosure (MDE) and Directivity Control Waveguide (DCW) ensure precise frequency reproduction and imaging both on- and off-axis. The “brain” of the 8330A is Genelec’s Smart Active Monitoring (SAM) technology and Genelec Loudspeaker Manager (GLM) software, which provide automatic calibration and a host of useful features that allow this monitor to adapt to a range of environments.
Featuring ADAM’s signature X-ART ribbon tweeter and a new MLM woofer with sturdy but lightweight mineral fiber construction, the A7V spans an impressive frequency range of 41 Hz all the way up to 42 kHz. The rotatable HPS waveguide provides flexibility for vertical or horizontal positioning while retaining a smooth response and stereo image in either configuration. Unique among active monitors, the A7V utilizes both analog and digital amplifiers in its two-way design. A powerful yet efficient 110W Class D amplifier drives the woofer, while a 20W Class AB amplifier gives the tweeter a smooth, natural top-end. Many monitors include EQ switches, but the A7V gets high marks for its cleanly laid out rear panel with four adjustable bands of EQ and a three-position Voicing switch for even more options. The A Control software provides even more flexibility, including custom six-band EQ settings and automated calibration by Sonarworks.
Ideal for both nearfield and midfield monitoring, the Pulsar MKII from Ex Machina is an excellent option for small- to medium-sized rooms that require extremely accurate sound. Improving upon the Pulsar and Quasar models, Ex Machina has employed a range of cutting-edge electro-acoustic technologies to ensure optimal performance. Custom SEAS drivers, including coaxial mid- and high-frequency elements, provide impressive output across an extended frequency spectrum, comfortably reaching up to 32 kHz. Second-generation DSP boards feature improvements in every aspect, including better AD/DA chips for accurate clocking, while fifth-generation SHARC DSP takes advantage of ample computing headroom for improved proprietary calibration technology. Even the analog components have been optimized, providing a signal-to-noise ratio of 123 dB.
The only passive monitor to make the list, the Amphion ONE15 stands out in several ways. First and foremost, its passive design gives you the option to pair it with the amplifier of your choice, and its lightweight compared to active monitors makes it easier to mount and install. But the ONE15 doesn’t skimp on sound quality—its custom-designed 5.25-inch aluminum low-frequency driver and 1-inch titanium tweeter combine to provide clear and transparent mids, smooth highs and honest bass response. The ONE15’s sealed enclosure, high-density Corian waveguide and passive radiator deliver un-hyped sound that will help you make critical mixing decisions.
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