One of the most important things for hip-hop and rap producers is making sure your tracks sound crisp and clean during the mixing process. That’s why high quality studio monitors are a necessity.
In this article I’ve selected the best speakers for hip hop and rap musicians, each one providing power, clarity and of course plenty of bass!
4 Best Studio Monitors for Hip Hop & Rap Music
JBL’s 305P MkII monitors are a nearfield option perfect for hip hop production. Utilising the advanced features from their popular 7 Series, JBL created a set of powered speakers which boast rich low end and decorative highs.
It’s highly important to be able to hear every individual part of your mix when making hip-hop, as one problematic frequency can ruin the whole track. With accurate stereo imaging thanks to an innovative waveguide, the 305P MkII monitors are well balanced.
Another notable feature is the MkII’s broad sweet spot. This means that you don’t have to be sat in the acoustically-perfect mixing spot to hear a clear representation of your music.
Using JBL’s patented Slip Stream low-end port, these monitors give you a surprisingly crisp low end even at low volume levels. With a built in HF trim switch, you can take some harshness out of the higher frequencies if required.
2. Yamaha HS8
The Yamaha HS8 monitors feature the iconic white-centered woofer design which the manufacturer is well known for. I personally use the HS7’s which are a smaller version, and I’m delighted by the detail they provide.
Yamaha has installed the HS8’s with high performance drivers and a solid mounting system. The drivers deliver brilliant audio performance that is complemented by the mounting system and the acoustics it provides.
With extra thick tweeter frames, you get accurate and smooth bass response even when the monitors are cranked up to their upper limits.
The HS series features extra large magnets. This helps to deliver a thick, beefy sound with a tightly controlled flux field and clarity across the whole frequency range.
With built-in room control, you can take the HS8 monitors out of your studio and still get optimal response without known the exact acoustics of the room you are mixing in.
The next set of monitors for hip hop and rap music on our list is the ADAM Audio T7V’s. These affordable speakers feature a 7 inch low-frequency driver which gives you clean and powerful bass tones all the way down to 39Hz.
Adam Audio’s patented U-ART accelerated ribbon tweeter provides sparkling highs. The tweeter has a broad, balanced dispersion pattern which is backed up by precise waveguide, widening the monitor’s sweet spot.
You’ll be able to hear the drums knocking in your hip-hop beats with these monitors. They are capable of reaching an impressive 110db in volume, so cranking up the mixes isn’t an issue.
If you’re looking for high quality monitors specifically for making rap music, there are few which boast better value for money than the Adam Audio TV7’s.
I’ve been admiring the growth of Kali Audio for some time now, and the LP-6 is a well respected studio monitor which is ideal for hip-hop and rap. Don’t let the modest price tag fool you, the LP-6 provides a great deal of accuracy and detail.
With a completely flat frequency response, these monitors don’t produce any distortion even when pushed towards their limits. There’s ample headroom with the LP-6, and for a 6.5 inch speaker it boasts impressive rumble in the bass-frequencies.
These monitors include an integrated Class D power amp, multiple balanced XLR and TRS inputs and along with an unbalanced RCA input so you don’t need to worry about connectivity.
The low-noise port tube installed at the bottom of the monitor allows all of the air to exit the speaker at an equal velocity, avoiding the common issue of turbulence from port tubes.
The Most Important Features for Hip-Hop & Rap Monitors
Hip Hip is a unique genre in many ways, so the monitors you use for producing and mixing in the style are likely to be different from ones used for other genres.
Mixing hip-hop is very different to mixing rock or jazz, for example. Therefore, you need certain features and capabilities from monitors when making rap music, due to the common frequency ranges used in the genre.
More Bass Please!
The first thing we need to ensure is that the speakers have adequate bass frequency response. Subs and 808 bass are commonly used in hip-hop so we need the monitors to get down to at least 40kHz in order to get a clear representation of the track’s low-end.
Due to the prominence of low-end bass frequencies in rap and hip hop, you must choose a set of studio monitors that can reproduce this.
In some ways, the bass-producing capabilities of a monitor are linked directly to the size of the speaker cone, specifically the woofer. It requires more power for a speaker to produce low-end frequencies, therefore bigger cones tend to do it better.
Small studio monitors which lack power aren’t likely to be able to provide you with an accurate representation of your hip-hop track’s bassline, kick drum, and sub. This might be OK if you’re simply making demos, but it will hinder your final mixing process.
Therefore, it’s important to look for monitors which have a frequency response that can facilitate 20hZ or at the most 40hZ. This is the sub-bass frequency range that will prove vital to the final sound of your productions and tracks.
This may seem obvious, but you must choose studio monitors that aren’t too big for your recording space. It might be tempting to opt for the beefiest set which reaches the loudest volumes, but in most cases, this isn’t necessary.
Making hip-hop music is often a dynamic process, as I’m sure you know. One minute you’re sequencing your hi-hats, then suddenly a vocal melody comes into your head and you’re rushing across to your mic to lay it down before it’s forgotten.
Taking measurements of the space you have available and checking that the studio monitors will fit is essential, especially for rappers and producers. This will keep your space comfortable and organized so that the creative process isn’t interrupted.
Check Your Cables
Due to the attention to detail, it requires to make hip hop and rap, you must get the cleanest signal possible to your studio monitors. Using balanced cables to connect them to your interface or mixer is a great way to do this.
If your cables are sub-par or damaged, you might be missing out on clearly hearing certain frequencies in your hip hop tracks, which could result in them sounding different when you listen back on other speakers or headphones.
Monitors with Flat Frequency Response
I’d also recommend looking for monitors which have a mostly flat frequency response. It’s common in pop music to want some enhancement in the high-mids, as that’s where the color of the track comes through.
In hip-hop, there’s generally less emphasis on the higher frequencies and more on the tight bass. Some monitors will boost certain frequencies, so it’s worth checking that this isn’t too extreme as it may distort your mix.
Hopefully you’ve not got all the information required to decide which of these monitors is best suited for your rap and hip-hop productions. Some of the options are more high-end than others, and although it’s usually true that you get what you pay for, with studio monitors, it really comes down to your personal preference.
A good thing to do when you get a new set of speakers is to listen to some of your favorite tracks though them, and make notes of how each aspect sounds. You can then use this as a blueprint for your mixes while you get accustomed with your new monitors.