Today, you will explore the best available far-field studio monitors of 2023.
A new solution for an immersive, theatrical mixing experience is emerging. Find out why post-production studios are moving to Fair-Field over multiple Mid-Field monitors.
The requirements of a film mixing studio involve simulation of cinema to ensure translation when the film goes into distribution, which means SPL-calibrated surround speaker configurations. And often, to match the hefty requirements, several mid-field speakers are used per channel.
In contrast, far-field monitors are designed to have larger drivers, wider spectrum bandwidth, and exceptionally high-powered amplification. So, they are used along the perimeter of a large room and stay at least 15ft away from the listener.
They use the entire room space to project low frequencies, so top-notch treatment with resonance dispersion is essential. However, this method of sound reproduction results in a much more accurate and comprehensive listening experience. With their extraordinary high-SPL amplifiers, far-fields are being employed to replace traditional multi-mid-field monitoring configurations, resulting in cohesive frequency response and elimination of phase issues.
Now let’s take a look at the six of the best far-field studio monitors available today:
The 6 Best Far-Field Studio Monitors 2023
1. ADAM Audio S6X
Designed for large control rooms and film production studios, the S6X is a 7-drivers configuration delivering full-bandwidth audio with an unsurpassable dynamic range.
This active studio monitor employs one handcrafted X-ART tweeter, two X-ART midranges, two 7.5″, and two 12″ woofers, powered by seven PWM amplifiers totaling 2,250 watts. The result is a four-way sound reproduction system delivering ADAM Audio’s hallmark flawless clarity and high-resolution audio at extraordinary SPL.
The seven drivers have been arranged symmetrically on the front in an extended D’Appolito configuration. This arrangement, along with the crossover slopes employed, results in highly consistent sound reproduction at the horizontal center position, free of time alignment issues caused by lobe-tilting. The configuration also minimizes vertical sound radiation and reflection, resulting in significantly better spatial imaging in any multichannel setup.
- Seven Drivers
The S6X has seven drivers arranged in a calculated way to even out dispersion patterns and eliminate interference from vertical early reflections. The drivers are mounted on an aluminum-made honeycomb-core panel that optimizes integration into the cabinet. This regard for stability gets rid of any noise or vibrations.
- Extraordinary Bandwidth
With the 12″ subwoofers coupled with the spectacular cabinet engineering, the S6X delivers low-frequency reproduction as low as 23Hz, while staying flat. This marvel still keeps the bass tight and distortion-free. The high end of the spectrum is just as stunning with its reproduction up to 50kHz, making it an unparalleled sonic revelation of every nuance in your audio material.
- Control Panel
The control panel at the back of the cabinet has an input sensitivity control (±10 dB), shelving filters, and three parametric EQs. A certified Dolby X-Curve filter engages a 3dB per octave roll-off starting at 2kHz designed to help simulate theater/cinema sound during film mixing. The three EQs can be applied as a group or individually for better sonic reliability and control.
- PWM Amplification
This studio monitor employs authoritative 2,250-watt audio amplification via seven dedicated PWM amplifiers — one for each driver. The 12″ subwoofers are powered by 500W each, while the rest have anointed 250W amplifiers each. This amplification configuration allows for peak sound pressure levels above 130 dB without distortion or compression.
Character & Sound:
ADAM Audio has built a solid reputation as a connoisseur of pro audio manufacturing. With decades of research since its establishment in 1999, the company has built an arsenal of custom drivers that deliver preeminent sonic reproduction fit for world-class audio studios.
The S6X main monitor is designed to reproduce a ruler-flat frequency response, and it certainly delivers. The high-powered PWM amplification system combined with its meticulously-engineered driver arrangements produces flawless, high-quality audio at any sound level for professional multichannel setups.
ADAM Audio’s continuous research on modern technology and materials has helped it achieve and elevate studio monitor engineering standards. The S6X’s resilient materials, well-engineered construction, and high efficiency make for an uncompromised monitoring system, which leaves nothing as guesswork for the sonic realm.
2. Neumann KH 420
Often better known for their microphones, Neumann manufacturers equally as well-researched and developed studio monitors known for excellent bass response and smooth highs.
Neumann classifies the KH 420 studio monitors as both mid-field and far-field since this model’s working distance is between 5 to 10 ft (1.5 to 3m). Moreover, at a fairly manageable weight of around 77 lbs (35 KG), the Neumann KH 420 is one of the lightest far-field studio monitors on this list. Not to mention that it costs about half as much as most far-field studio monitors.
The three-way monitor features a 10″/265mm bass driver, a 3″/75mm mid-range driver, and a 1″/25mm tweeter with a protective black metal grill. Arranged vertically in their proprietary waveguide design that you can also see in their previous model, the K+H 0410, the drivers ensure long-throw and turbulence-free sonic reproduction. Similarly, the two stylish triangular front ports add to the monitor’s bass extension, bringing it as low as 25 Hz.
- Integrated Amplifier
The KH 420 features a built-in amplifier circuit with an amp for each driver. A 330W amp powers the bass woofer, a 140W amp for the mid-range driver, and a 140W amp for the tweeter. Furthermore, the circuit has an optional limiter feature to protect the drivers. At its full output, the studio monitor consumes about 800W.
- Rear Panel Controls
The rear panel of the KH 420 features several controls to modify the studio monitor’s sound and appearance. You’ll find a 4-position bass, low-mid, and treble acoustic control to reduce room coloration. Similarly, you’ll find a single-band parametric EQ with frequency, resonance, and gain control. The EQ also features a frequency range control, which helps you fine-tune your frequency selection without tediously careful knob-dialing.
In addition to the above features, you’ll find input gain and output level controls. And the panel also has a display dimmer, which controls the brightness of the LED logo on the front panel. It’s a handy control to change the appearance based on your studio’s aesthetics.
- Superb Sonic Reproduction
Neumann has combined various techniques to ensure exceptionally low harmonic and intermodulation distortion. These include using a neodymium magnet and fabric dome for the mid-range driver, a proprietary sandwich cone woofer, magnetic shielding, etc., for the bass driver. Moreover, similar modeling and research went into the cabinet design and bass ports.
Similarly, the monitor’s waveguide technology offers a respectable 35° near-flat horizontal dispersion with about 60° of workable dispersion. You’ll find a slight improvement in the dispersion when orienting the studio monitors horizontally. Overall, the low distortion, adequate dispersion, and excellent stereo imaging will allow you to monitor your mixes with confidence and accuracy.
Character & Sound:
Even out of the box, the KH 420 sounds pristine, accurate, and controlled. The bass sounds tight and distortion-free, whereas the treble sings without causing fatigue. Furthermore, the deep and wide imaging of the monitor adds to its unforgiving ability to extract even the innermost detail of your mix. Having said that, well-made mixes and your work’s progress become clear and fatigue-free.
The KH 420 offers a flat frequency response of 26Hz to 22kHz (±3 dB). In a ±6 dB scale, the bass extension goes down to 25 Hz. While the bandwidth is shy of the full 20Hz to 20kHz range some far-field monitors boast, the KH 420 remains quite adequate. Furthermore, if you require an even better range, you can add the Neumann KH 750 DSP subwoofer, which goes as low as 18Hz (±3 dB).
Neumann offers DSP effects in the KH 420 studio monitors to aid with setting up when used with the KH 750 subwoofer. These include automatic room correction using the Neumann MA 1 microphone, software, and an iPad app called Neumann.Control for setup, operation, and room correction.
The pristine sound quality, respectable frequency response, controlled bass, and excellent imaging, alongside the affordable price, make the KH 420 an outstanding choice for a moderately compact control room. It’s also a superb choice for surround mixing and sound design studios, where the KH 750 subwoofer could be the ideal LFE channel.
3. Ocean Way Audio HR3.5
Based on the commended HR4S model, the HR3.5 studio monitor is one of the best far-field monitors with an extraordinarily wide audio dispersion thanks to its peerless design.
Ocean Way Audio was founded by multi-Grammy Award-winning engineer/producer and studio owner Allen Sides. It began as a company to manufacture custom monitor speakers for the Ocean Way recording studios. And the HR3.5 is a 2023 design based on their older but commercial HR4S design from 2015.
The studio monitor features two time-aligned 12″/305mm bass drivers, one 8″/203mm mid-range driver, and a 1″/25mm tweeter. Ocean Way Audio has arranged these drivers in the proprietary CNC Composite dual/hybrid waveguide system, which gives the monitor a unique appearance. Furthermore, it ensures unusually detailed imaging and wide directivity.
- CNC Composite Dual/Hybrid Waveguide
Ocean Way Audio HR3.5’s waveguide is a stone-cast design that gives the speaker a vertical appearance like a typical near-field monitor speaker. Of course, the main difference is the dual horn at the top for the mid-range speaker and the tweeter.
The result of this complex design is its 40° vertical dispersion and 100° horizontal dispersion thanks to the mid-range-woofer-turned-horn design. While the dispersion isn’t completely (±2 dB) flat towards the sides, it’s still an extraordinary feat. Hence, the HR3.5 makes for a fantastic choice for your studio.
- A-4100 Amplifier
The HR3.5 ships with Ocean Way Audio’s rackmount amplifier named A-4200 with 3,400W power per channel. The amp features both balanced analog and digital inputs at a 96kHz sampling rate and 24-bit depth. Hence, you will have noise-free performance.
The unit has four amplifiers inside, one for each driver. Per channel, there are two 2,400W amps for the bass woofer, one 500W amp for the mid-range driver, and one 500W for the tweeter. These ensure an admirable maximum peak SPL of 120 dB.
- Flat Spectrum
Despite not occupying a huge space in your studio, the HR3.5 can produce an extraordinarily flat frequency spectrum. The lower end of the spectrum is an impressive 20 Hz, whereas the high end reaches 22 kHz. Furthermore, the large headroom of the amplifier ensures distortion-free performance at any position of the spectrum.
Character & Sound:
As you’d expect, the CNC Composite Waveguide system allows everyone in your studio to listen to each element of the mix from anywhere in the room. Furthermore, the mid-range and tweeter horns improve the flatness of the mid and high frequencies, which are often the trouble areas for most studio monitors. So, the HR3.5 is a phenomenal choice if you’re after a wider dispersion.
That said, despite the huge power of the amplifier, the studio monitor’s loudness is better suited for medium-large control rooms rather than massive studios. Although, if you’re interested in surround sound, these time-aligned studio monitors should prove exquisite.
Expertly designed by Ocean Way Audio, the HR3.5 has tighter bass and smoother trebles compared to many studio monitors. Moreover, the reach of its frequency spectrum is unequivocally sterling. And since you can mount the model on soffits or keep them standalone, it should fit your every need as an engineer.
4. PMC MB3 XBD-A
The MB3 XBD-A is a unique studio monitor with a dedicated cabinet for the bass, bypassing the need for a subwoofer.
With over thirty years of experience, the British manufacturer PMC has crafted some of the best sonic reproduction technologies in their various lineups of studio monitors. Their products have been used in such settings as BBC studios, James Newton-Howard’s studio, Sony Mastering, Teldex Studios, Studios 301, etc. And the MB3 XBD-A is among their best studio monitors yet.
This studio monitor is technically an expanded edition of their MB3 model, a three-way far-field monitor. The version we’re discussing adds another cabinet with a 12″ bass driver below the three-way monitor. Hence, the model features two 12″/305mm bass drivers, one 3″/75mm mid-range driver, and a 1.35″/34mm tweeter.
- ATL Technology
The Advanced Transmission Line (ATL) is a porting technology. With a calculated design, it places the bass port at the end of a long, highly damped tunnel. The tunnel absorbs all the unwanted mid and high frequencies but allows the sub-bass to exit in phase with the speakers’ sound. Hence, it allows even a smaller cabinet to have a bass extension otherwise considered far-fetched.
Furthermore, PMC adds its Laminair technology to the ATL technology, which reduces the turbulence at the exit of the transmission line. It eliminates air noise, allowing only the music to pass through. Furthermore, smoother airflow means better transients and accuracy in the bass.
- Outboard Amplifier & Control
A proprietary DSP-controlled Class-D amplifier powers the MB3 XBD-A studio monitor called Power 2400, carefully designed to reduce distortion and maximize resolution. The unit contains four individual amplifiers per channel: two 2400W for the low-frequency drivers, one 550W for the mid-range driver, and one 275W amp for the tweeter. Furthermore, the amplifier’s companion hardware, Control 1200, features analog XLR inputs alongside a 96kHz digital input. This unit connects two Power 2400 amplifier units for the stereo speakers.
- Remote Control
You’ll also receive a wired RJ45 desktop remote control hardware that allows you to access the DSP effects presets of the studio monitor, input modes, setup, and EQ-tuning. Of course, you can also do most of these from the speaker’s rear panel. However, having a remote control allows you to fine-tune your speaker’s sound from your seat without reaching behind the monitor speakers.
As you might expect from a studio monitor combined with a subwoofer, the frequency range of this model is 20Hz to 25kHz. The subwoofer adds an extra 3dB of headroom in the bass region, allowing for comprehensive sonic propagation even in a large studio setting. Furthermore, its outstanding precision, stereo image, and responsiveness will allow you to hear even the smallest details in your audio effortlessly.
Character & Sound:
The MB3 XBD-A studio monitor is easily one of the best speakers ever built. Thanks to the dual-woofer and ATL technology, it has a completely flat frequency range of 20Hz to 25kHz. And you can keep it freestanding or mounted on soffits and even install them horizontally or vertically. Furthermore, if you’re interested in surround setups, you can purchase a matching LFE channel monitor, MB3 XBD-C-A, as well.
The studio monitor has excellent horizontal dispersion, enough to efficiently cover a recording desk and most of the studio room. Similarly, the extraordinary 3,225W amplifier per channel drives the speakers to create a maximum SPL of 129 dB. Overall, whether you’re looking to monitor your song mixes, mastering sessions, or sound design sessions in a Dolby Atmos setup, you cannot go wrong with the MB3 XBD-A.
With incredibly clean sound, build quality, and unmatched accuracy, the MB3 XBD-A will prove an immediate asset to its owner. Furthermore, the desktop remote control unit allows an engineer to set up the speaker without tedious maneuvers. However, as incredible as the studio monitor is, the price may set it beyond smaller studios.
5. Genelec 1235A
A pioneer among the crowd, Genelec puts forth a new iteration of their time-honored 1035 model from the late 80s.
The Genelec 1235A is one of the best far-field studio monitors offering plentiful power and clarity for even the largest studio and control room. The monitor sports a pair of 15″/380mm low-frequency drivers, two 4.9″/125mm mid-range drivers, and one 1″/25mm tweeter.
Compared to the iconic 1035 models from the late 80s and the 90s, the new 1235A studio monitors add 96kHz processing and Smart Active Monitoring technology, which we’ll talk more about below. And when purchasing the speakers, you’ll receive an outboard amplifier called RAM-XL, a 3U rack-mountable device, alongside some cables.
- Waveguide & Dispersion
Any large studio requires the widest possible dispersion angle to make sure everyone in the room hears the same thing as the engineer does. Genelec’s Directivity Control Waveguide technology, developed back in 1983, strives to serve this requirement. And they have succeeded!
The DCW technology offers superior stereo imaging, more direct sound than reflected to avoid room coloration, better driver sensitivity, and lower distortion and baffle diffraction. Furthermore, the vertical dispersion reaches close to 15° with a near-flat frequency curve, whereas the horizontal dispersion reaches up to 25° near-flat and 50° in a ±6 dB scale.
- RAM-XL Amplifier
The RAM-XL is Genelec’s proprietary power amplifier for the 1235A studio monitor. It features two digital active crossovers alongside other signal processors like driver protection limiter, delay (latency), and equalizer. After the crossovers divide the audio spectrum into three sections, each is processed by an individual Class D amplifier.
The two bass drivers receive 1000W power each, the two mid-range drivers receive 400W each, and the tweeter receives 250W. The result is a peak SPL of 135 dB and a long-term maximum SPL of a whopping 124 dB!
- Smart Active Monitor Systems
The SAM Systems technology allows you to calibrate your studio monitors to fit the acoustics of your room using Genelec’s GLM software. Once you connect your monitors to your computer using a CAT5 LAN cable, the software commands what changes to make to the latency and frequency spectrum. And the Genelec 1235A studio monitor can process the audio right inside the speaker. Although, you’ll need to purchase a kit with the proprietary calibrating microphone to use this software.
That being said, if you’d rather not use the GLM kit just yet, you can still adjust the speaker’s room response to an extent using the rear switches. The back of each speaker contains switches to control the bass roll-off, bass cut-off, and a three-band fixed-frequency EQ. Furthermore, you can find out how best to set the speaker up depending on your speaker installation in the operating manual.
Character & Sound:
Genelec clearly gives an admirable amount of priority to ensuring their speakers provide everything an engineer could look for. So, the 1235A studio monitor is no different, no matter the aspect you use to judge it. First, it offers outstanding clarity and loudness, reaching a peak of 135 dB SPL, thanks to its terrific amplifier and expert speaker design.
Similarly, the speaker shows no compromise in its frequency spectrum range or flatness. Genelec has crafted a flat frequency response from 31Hz to 20kHz (±2 dB). In a more lenient scale, the full frequency response is 29Hz to 26kHz, where Genelec has placed a first-order cutoff filter at each end. To summarize, there’s no doubt you’ll get a fully uncolored sonic experience alongside a clear stereo image while working on your mix.
No matter your intended use, the Genelec 1235A studio monitor is a tremendous choice. It’s based on the iconic 1035 model, which, like the 1235A, was a soffit-mountable far-field studio monitor. Further, if you happen to own the hallmark model, you can upgrade to the 1235A using a handy retro-fittable kit.
Overall, 1235A is a wise investment. And if you intend to use it for a surround system, the GLM software and the SAM Systems technology are absolute boons! Simply set up your calibrating mic, and let the software process each speaker in your Dolby Atmos setup to a perfect room response.
6. ATC SCM300ASL
The SCM300ASL provides an excellent frequency range and remarkable sound dispersion, making it one of the best far-field monitors available today.
In a larger control room, monitor speakers with exemplary accuracy, dynamic range, and uncompromising power are crucial. And the UK-based Acoustic Transducer Company’s masterfully-engineered proprietary drivers and amps ensure you hear every detail in your mix.
The SCM300ASL features a 1.25″/32mm soft-dome tweeter, a 3″/76mm super dome mid-range driver, and two phase-corrected SL 15″/381mm bass drivers. A rack-mountable 850-watt Class AB amplifier powers the monitor speaker. Furthermore, the amplifier’s 3-way crossover filters and four individual amps per monitor lend unrelenting power and accuracy.
- Outboard Amplifier
The SCM300ASL is powered by the proprietary P4 amplifier, a separate, rack-mountable amplifier set that powers each driver of the monitors. It includes rear-vented triple-fan cooling, which will run and generate some noise when the heat sink is around 30°C. Hence, ATC separated the amp system from the speakers, allowing you to install the amp in a remote location.
It has a built-in 3-way filter with crossover frequencies set at 380Hz and 3.5kHz. Furthermore, it powers the two bass drivers with 275W each (550W total), the mid-range with 200W, and the tweeter with 100W, resulting in a total of 850W per channel.
As with any well-designed far-field studio monitor, ATC hasn’t compromised in developing the ideal driver layout for the SCM300ASL. With ±80° of horizontal dispersion, this monitor pair will ensure that everyone in your studio room can hear an unbiased, scrupulous representation of your mix.
- Proprietary Mid-Dome
ATC has developed a unique mid-range speaker that the company has labeled the mid-dome. The main advantages of this tweeter-like design are its high dispersion and low distortion. So, you’ll hear even the most minute detail of your mix and master from a much wider sweet-spot thanks to the mid-dome.
Continuing on this topic, every ATC monitor speaker driver features this proprietary technology. For example, the woofer uses SL technology, which also lowers the distortion and keeps the coil cool. Hence, the drivers last an incredibly long time, making the SCM300ASL an insightful investment.
The SCM300ASL’s P4 amplifier sports two XLR inputs on its rear panel alongside an 8-pin speaker connector. ATC provides a 5m/16.4′ long cable for the speakers, but you could purchase a 10m/32.8′ cable from the manufacturer if necessary.
Character & Sound:
ATC’s founder Billy Woodman designed his first speaker after spending years with some of the best speaker engineers. He intended to build speakers that could generate the most audio detail and make them convenient to work with. So, you’ll notice that the features above prioritize lowering distortion and improving dispersion.
Hence, the SCM300ASL provides an extraordinarily flat and natural experience with virtually no distortion, even at its maximum continuous loudness of 121 dB SPL. Furthermore, the speaker design and the amplifier’s phase-corrected filters add to the absolute linearity from 50Hz to 12kHz (±2 dB). Of course, a traditional (more lenient) measurement shows a bandwidth of 20Hz to 20kHz.
ATC’s research and dedication lend the SCM300ASL state-of-the-art technology to ensure a cutting forte in sonic clarity. Furthermore, the amplifier features a FET soft limiter protecting drivers from extreme loudness. Whether you intend to mount the speakers on soffits or keep them free-standing, your studio will find this monitor an immediate asset.
Far-field studio monitors are speakers designed to be placed more than 6’5/2m from the listener. They are typically used for mixing and mastering audio in professional studios for accurate and balanced sonic reproduction compared to near-field monitors. Furthermore, far-field studio monitors have larger drivers and higher power ratings than near-field monitors, requiring careful acoustic treatment and positioning.
On our list above, Adam Audio’s S6X offers the most value in terms of sound quality and loudness, thanks to the seven-driver configuration and an integrated 2,250W amplifier. However, Neumann’s KH 420 studio monitor is a natural choice if you’re after a budget setup. It sounds fantastic and offers most features of monitors twice its price.
The other contenders on this list, like the ATC SCM300ASL and Genelec 1235A, are also curated choices. And I highly recommend giving them a try at your local professional music store or learning more about them online. I hope the article managed to ease your selection process by a notch and that you enjoyed reading it!
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