The Best Passive Studio Monitor

The Best Passive Studio Monitor

Quick answer:

ATC SCM20PSL Pro mk2 – top-quality passive studio monitors that are the optimal choice for stereo as well as multichannel monitoring configurations. Get these if you’re looking for something you can enjoy listening to, as well as for working on your audio.

Avantone Pro CLA10 – well-built passive studio monitors with a great reputation among professionals for clearing out a lot of troubling frequencies.

Avantone Pro MixCubes – similar to above, but especially suited for mixing midrange frequencies.

Studio monitors are part of any studio that takes itself seriously, and proper sound mixing and editing can take place while using a decent pair. As for the best passive studio monitor characteristics, we’re looking for the most natural sound than the other alternatives, all while giving detailed and accurate sound recreation across the frequency range.

In this article, we’ll show you the best options available on the market.

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Table of Contents


About Our Top Choices

ATC SCM20PSL Pro mk2

ATC SCM20PSL Pro mk2
See price @ Sweetwater

More details…

These are a great choice for someone who is looking for top-quality, great sounding, passive studio monitors that come from a widely-known and well-respected manufacturer. These monitors are sturdy and are the optimal choice for stereo as well as multichannel monitoring configurations.

Pros
  • Top-quality
  • Flexible in use
  • Great-sounding
Cons
  • Not exactly budget friendly

Avantone Pro CLA10

Avantone Pro CLA10
See price @ Amazon / @ Sweetwater

More details…

If you’re someone who is looking for well-built passive studio monitors that will help you to make your mix sound better, due to bringing out all the nasty frequencies in your audio for you to clean up, these are a great choice. However, these monitors don’t reproduce low bass, so keep that in mind.

Pros
  • Affordable
  • Favored by users
Cons
  • Doesn’t have low bass

Avantone Pro MixCubes

Avantone Pro MixCubes
See price @ Amazon / @ Sweetwater

More details…

Avantone Pro MixCubes is a great choice for someone who is looking for very affordable, well-built speakers that emphasize the midrange. Note that they won’t let you find issues in the low-end and highs, so only get these if you plan on working on midranges. You need other speakers for lows.

Pros
  • Extremely affordable
  • Smooth sounding
  • Well-built
Cons
  • Doesn’t have low bass and highs

Top 6 Best Passive Studio Monitor

  1. ATC SCM20PSL Pro mk2
  2. Avantone Pro CLA10
  3. Avantone Pro MixCubes
  4. ATC SCM12 Pro
  5. Auratone 5C Super Sound Cubes
  6. Reftone LD-3 Passive Ref-Cubes

Best Passive Studio Monitor Reviews


ATC SCM20PSL Pro mk2

ATC SCM20PSL Pro mk2

Pros
  • Top-quality
  • Flexible in use
  • Great-sounding
Cons
  • Not exactly budget friendly
See price @ Sweetwater

If you’re looking to upgrade your studio and don’t mind spending an extra buck, you should stop your searching at ATC SCM20PSL Pro mk2. These studio monitors are truly the best in class, but as they are made in the UK from state-of-the-art components, so they’re expensive.

Best features and specs

These monitors have 2-way passive studio monitors of the highest quality that have proprietary drivers that expose every tiny detail in the mixes and deliver maximum transparency at every volume level. These monitors have a 6.5″ Super Linear Mid/Bass Driver and 1″ Dual Suspension S-Spec Tweeter and they’re bi-ampable, with 2 pairs of binding posts/4mm banana jacks. These monitors require a power amplifier of 75-300 watts.

User impressions

Users say that the ATC SCM20PSL Pro mk2 is extremely good in reproducing all of the frequency ranges in extreme detail. They sound smooth in the top end, smooth, and easy to listen to across the frequency range.

What we think

When your aim is to build a recording studio that would be for ages and pass along as your legacy, then it would be rather a well-thought choice to acquire studio monitors of the highest quality possible. We like that these monitors appear to be the solution for that. Also, Billy Woodman, the founder of the ATC company, keeps us amazed each time when the company announces new studio monitors to the market.

Bottomline

ATC SCM20PSL Pro mk2 is a great choice for someone who is looking for top-quality passive studio monitors that come from a widely-known and well-respected manufacturer. These monitors are sturdy and are the optimal choice for stereo as well as multichannel monitoring configurations. Also, they include ATC’s 6-year limited warranty. The only downside is that they are not for every budget, if you’re not ready to invest that much, you should better check other entries on this list.


Avantone Pro CLA10

Avantone Pro CLA10

Pros
  • Affordable
  • Favored by users
  • Good sounding
Cons
  • Doesn’t reproduce low bass and highs
See price @ Amazon / @ Sweetwater

If you have always dreamed of acquiring Yamaha’s NS10M but never got the chance, with Avantone Pro CLA10, your dream can finally come true. These speakers are modern day reworks of NS10M, and on top of that are affordable, and have the most positive ratings among musical engineers and sound producers.

Best features and specs

Being a dedicated recreation of NS10M, you almost can’t tell from the original because these monitors sound just like the original ones would. They have a mid-heavy sound that exposes every shortcoming of your mix. If your mix sounds good on these monitors, be sure that it will sound at its absolute best everywhere else.

User impressions

Users like Avantone Pro CLA10 because these monitors do their job as advertised. Users emphasize that the sound has improved while they’re using these monitors, though speakers sound rather harsh, that’s quite normal because they aren’t for pleasure listening. Also, you have to have a good power amplifier, at least 150W.

What we think

It’s truly something when the manufacturer goes an arm and leg to reconstruct the ideal in every detail possible. Guys from Avantone did a really outstanding job while making Avantone Pro CLA10, as these monitors are sonically and physically identical to NS10M. Not only that, but they also have tested these monitors for hours all around the world to make sure that there is no less than outstanding performance.

Bottomline

If you’re someone who is looking for well-built passive studio monitors that will help you to make your mix sound better, due to bringing out all the nasty frequencies in your audio for you to clean up, these are a great choice. However, these monitors don’t reproduce low bass, so keep that in mind. Note that you need an amplifier of at least 150W.


Avantone Pro MixCubes

Avantone Pro MixCubes

Pros
  • Extremely affordable
  • Smooth sounding
  • Well-built
Cons
  • Doesn’t represent correctly low-end and highs
See price @ Amazon / @ Sweetwater

Avantone Pro MixCubes are the recreation of the Aurotone speakers that are well-known among many music producers around the world. These passive studio monitors feature a linear driver that is very close to the original one. Also, these speakers are the cheapest entry on this list.

Best features and specs

Avantone Pro MixCubes offers you great and well-thought design and high-built quality. The frequency response of these speakers is in the range of 90 Hz to 17 kHz. And it will go nicely with the amplifier of 10W to 200W.

User impressions

Users say that Avantone Pro MixCubes are their top choice for mixing as they work perfectly as a setup for a small-spaced studio. These speakers easily emphasize all issues in the midrange that the mix has. Users noted that the speakers don’t do a good job of representing the low end, which makes it difficult to judge anything that happens in the mix at that range.

What we think

These speakers will definitely help point out all the nasty midrange stuff we hate that, somehow, pops up on random crappy speakers, tablet, phone, or laptop speakers. After mixing on these speakers you will have the confidence you need to publish your tracks, and that’s what we like about these speakers.

Bottomline

Avantone Pro MixCubes is a great choice for someone who is looking for very affordable, well-built speakers that emphasize the midrange. Note that they won’t let you find issues in the low-end and highs, so only get these if you plan on working on midranges. You need other speakers for lows.


ATC SCM12 Pro

ATC SCM12 Pro

Pros
  • Compact
  • High-quality
  • Accurate
Cons
  • Not for every budget
See price @ Sweetwater

If you work at a small or medium studio and want to upgrade your monitors take a look at the ATC SCM12 Pro because these speakers offer you excellent quality and deliver outstanding clarity from low-end to highs.

Best features and specs

These speakers have 2-way passive studio monitors that contain CLD bass/midrange driver, SH25-76 dual-suspension tweeter, and gold-plated binding posts. Additionally, you get an ATC 6-year warranty.

User impressions

Users like the ATC SCM12 Pro because these are high-quality and accurate speakers that don’t hype anything. Users emphasize that these speakers don’t produce any distortion whatsoever, so you hear what you get. The low-end that comes from these speakers is very balanced unless you’re into very heavy bass music.

What we think

What we really like about these passive monitors is their outstanding drivers, manufactured exactly up to the standards of ATC. Guys from ATC did their job on the highest level, so that said drivers would give you smooth and even frequency response.

Bottomline

ATC SCM12 Pro is a great choice for someone who is looking for compact, accurate, and high-quality passive studio monitors that are well-built and give you balanced sound and clarity within all frequency range. Note that these speakers might not be for every budget. Also, you need an amplifier of 75-300W.


Auratone 5C Super Sound Cubes

Auratone 5C Super Sound Cubes

Pros
  • Accurate
  • Affordable
  • Well-built
Cons
  • Slightly less well-balanced
See price @ Sweetwater

If you want to get to know the speakers that were extensively used by many music producers in the 70’s and 80’s, then take a look at the Auratone 5C Super Sound Cubes. These passive studio monitors give you a flat response, they’re known for their portability and impressive power handling.

Best features and specs

The Auratone 5C Super Sound Cubes are passive studio monitors that have a frequency response of 75 Hz to 15 kHz and impedance of 8 Ohms. Their driver is 4.5″ full-range, and the cabinet is sealed 5/8″ MDF.

User impressions

Users agree that the Auratone 5C Super Sound Cubes are great speakers that are very compact and affordable. They easily emphasize which issues exactly the mix has and make it crystal clear. Users say that these speakers do their job just fine, especially in the midrange. They can be run in mono so that it’ll help you greatly to balance the core of your mix.

What we think

What we like about Auratone 5C Super Sound Cubes is that these speakers translate your mix the way it is. Also, it has always been very easy to listen to everything that was played by these monitors, as well as mix on them, and make them translate the mix on everything else.

Bottomline

Auratone 5C Super Sound Cubes is a great choice for someone who is looking for well-built, accurate, and affordable passive studio monitors that come from a respected and well-known manufacturer.  Note that these speakers may appear to you as slightly less well-balanced as they want them to be.


Reftone LD-3 Passive Ref-Cubes

Pros
  • Affordable
  • Great-sounding
  • Extremely accurate
Cons
  • None
See price @ Sweetwater

Reftone LD-3 Passive Ref-Cubes ensure that you get full-range audio that sounds equally clear at low volumes, in midrange, and highs. You will be able to hear all nuances and issues of your mix in detail.

Best features and specs

Reftone LD-3 Passive Ref-Cubes have handcrafted wooden cabinet enclosure and full range driver that reproduces accurate low-end and clear midrange. These speakers are very compact and easily fit even in the smallest studio. These passive studio monitors handle amplifiers 15-300W at 8 Ohms.

User impressions

Users are quite impressed with Reftone LD-3 Passive Ref-Cubes due to the fact that these speakers represent the low-end and midrange of the mix in detail, they allow you to catch up on every tiny aspect that sounds not good. Users praise the exceptional clarity of these speakers, and some of the users even listen to music for their enjoyment because the quality is that good. Other users add that these monitors can be paired up with a specialty tube amp to spice some things up.

What we think

What we like the most about Reftone LD-3 Passive Ref-Cubes is that not only do they produce accurate midrange so that it’s extremely easy to catch all the issues and fix them, but also they are capable of producing a very detailed low-end as well.

Bottomline

Reftone LD-3 Passive Ref-Cubes is a great choice for someone who is looking for affordable, great-sounding, extremely accurate passive studio monitors that are a real joy to work with on editing and mixing stages as they make all issues visible.


Passive Studio Monitor Buying Guide

What is a passive studio monitor?

Passive studio monitors require an amplifier and crossover for your speakers to work, and passive monitoring systems are modular in nature.

Why would you need a passive studio monitor?

If you’re making music for a living, then it’s better for you to acquire passive monitors rather than active ones. Passive monitors require a sound engineer to control them. Also, these monitors are characterized by providing natural sound.

Important features

When choosing a passive studio monitor, you have to pay attention to accuracy, size, and wattage.

Accuracy

You should keep in mind that studio monitors prioritize giving you an accurate sound rather than good sound so that you will hear all areas that need extra work and issues if there are any.

Size

Generally, the larger the woofers are, the more low-frequency output you have. So, if you want to hear what is happening in the lower octaves, then you should look for the largest speakers possible.

Wattage

Wattage matters because the higher the wattage is, the more detailed sound across wider dynamic range speakers gives. So that you have more control over the sound without experiencing distortion. The lower wattage, the more likely you will experience distortion.

How to choose the right one for you?

When you are choosing the best passive studio monitor, you should make sure that you get flat and somewhat underpowered sound, the woofer size is big enough, and the wattage value is high.


FAQs

Can I use passive speakers as studio monitors?

Yes, you can. You need a dedicated amp to power them.

Can you power passive speakers with a mixer?

Yes, you can. In order for this to work, you need to turn the mixer on first, then the amplifier. When you finish working, you need to turn the amplifier off first, then the mixer.

Do passive speakers need an amp?

Yes, they do. Because they don’t have a built-in one, they require it to be connected to the amplifier via normal speaker wire.

Can you daisy chain passive speakers?

Yes, you can do it. You should bear in mind that when you’re daisy chaining passive speakers, the impedance loads will be higher, which may lead to thermal or mechanical failure. You can do it in parallel mode or in series.

Do active speakers sound better than passive?

It totally depends on your perception. Active speakers tend to produce more detailed sound, while passive speakers produce natural sound.

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