If you’ve got a home recording studio or project studio, you know how valuable space can be. Real estate is prime for all your audio gear, instruments, computer workstation, acoustic treatments, and more. This is where rack-mountable studio monitors can be a smart solution.

Rack-mountable studio monitors, as the name suggests, are monitors specifically designed to be mounted in a standard equipment rack. This allows you to save space by mounting your monitors off your desk and integrating them seamlessly into your existing rack setup.

Beyond the space-saving benefits, rack-mount monitors come with other advantages over their standalone counterparts:

However, there are a few things to keep in mind when selecting rack-mountable monitors:

To help you find the right rack-mounted monitors for your studio, we’ve put together this list of the top 5 rack-mountable studio monitors available today based on critical performance, features, and overall value.

1. Genelec 8320 AMC – Accurate Imaging and Mix-Ready Performance


The Genelec 8320 AMC is an active monitoring system purpose-built for rack mounting. This high-end monitor packs Genelec’s trusted acoustic design into a compact, rack-ready 2U enclosure.

Key Features:

Sound Quality:

Given its pedigree, it’s no surprise the 8320 delivers excellent clarity, imaging, and detail. The all-aluminum Minimum Diffraction Enclosure minimizes coloration allowing you to hear the true mix. Even in the nearfield, the imaging is precise with a wide sweet spot. The RMSTM Room Management System reduces room modes for accurate low-end response down to 38 Hz. From lush vocals to booming lows, the Genelec maintains accuracy.

Ideal Uses:

This is a professional grade monitor ideal as the main set of nearfields in studios needing quality rack-mounted reference monitoring. It’s also great for mobile rigs and post-production setups needing compact but uncompromising sound.



2. Presonus E8 XT – Compact with Fat Low End for the Price


This lightweight powered 8-inch monitor squeezes impressive bass response into a super slim 1U rack enclosure. Part of Presonus’ Eris monitor line, the E8 XT gives you accurate sound in a accessible rack-mount form factor.

Key Features:

Sound Quality:

Given its size, the E8 XT sounds surprisingly full and spacious. The Kevlar woofer delivers strong, focused lows down to a claimed 35 Hz. The silk dome tweeters render crisp highs without harshness. Overall the sound is quite balanced and smooth across the spectrum with suitable depth for nearfield monitoring. Imaging is also coherent if a bit diffuse when extremely close-up.

Ideal Uses:

Due to its compact 1U size, lighter weight, and fair price point, the E8 XT fits well in home studios and mobile racks needing quality sound on a budget. It also works as a supplementary monitor for tracking or mixing while traveling.



3. Focal CMS50 – Pristine Imaging and Neutrality


This compact active monitor from Focal combines neutral sound with flexible mounting options. With a sleek contemporary design, the CMS50 delivers the renowned Focal studio sound in a rack-ready form.

Key Features:

Sound Quality:

The CMS50 produces clean, articulate sound with stunning imaging precision. The coaxial driver aligns perfectly for coherence across the entire frequency range. Details come through with clarity and realistic transients. While compact, the bass has surprisingly good extension down to 45 Hz. Overall the tone is smooth and balanced suitable for mixing.

Ideal Uses:

This is a very versatile monitor great as both main or secondary/rear monitors in project and home studios needing accurate imaging. Also works well for audio editing and mastering.



4. Yamaha HS5I – Compact with Room Control for Accuracy


Part of Yamaha’s iconic HS Series, the HS5I puts refined 5-inch reference monitors into a rack-friendly form factor. With built-in acoustic controls, they deliver surprising bass response despite the small size.

Key Features:

Sound Quality:

While compact, the HS5I pack a punch thanks to the rear bass ports and acoustic controls. The lows feel developed and full, avoiding thinness. The high end remains crisp without excessive graininess. Overall the frequency response feels quite natural with a smooth midrange. The stereo image locks in nicely when properly positioned.

Ideal Uses:

A great option for home studios and multimedia setups thanks to the balanced sound and acoustic controls. Also solid for adding rear monitors to an existing HS monitor-based studio.



5. Mackie MR524 – Flexible Placement at an Affordable Price


This compact powered monitor combines vintage looks with modern connectivity and acoustic design. The MR524 adapts Mackie’s proven studio monitors into an affordable rack-ready package.

Key Features:

Sound Quality:

Despite the vintage vibe, the MR524 delivers clean modern sound. The bass feels punchy and extended, while the highs remain smooth. The midrange is natural if slightly forward. Imaging is coherent when positioned properly. While not completely neutral, the fun sound works well for tracking and mixing.

Ideal Uses:

Great for home/project studios that need quality powered monitors with flexible rack mounting options. Also works for multimedia use thanks to the USB playback connectivity.



How to Choose Rack-Mountable Studio Monitors for Your Setup

If these top 5 options have you considering rack-mounted monitors for your studio, here are some factors to weigh as you assess your options:

Match Monitors to Your Specific Usage

Consider what you will primarily use the monitors for to select the right specifications:

Also decide if these will be your primary studio monitors, or supplementary monitors for additional rooms/setups. This affects how strictly you need to adhere to precision reference-level sound.

Determine Active vs. Passive Design

For most home/project studios, active monitors provide a simpler inflated option. But advanced users may favor the open-ended expandability of a passive rack monitor system.

Select the Right Physical Size and Configuration

Consider the dimensions of your rack and room to choose the appropriate monitor size and layout:

Check Connectivity for Your Configuration

Most rack monitors include XLR and TRS connections to easily connect to audio interfaces. Many also add:

Having flexible input options allows for simple integration in your specific rack setup and workflows.

Factor in Weight, Mounting, and Hardware

The physical mounting requirements are also important considerations:

Listen Firsthand Before Buying

With studio monitors, it’s always ideal to listen firsthand before purchasing if possible. This lets you assess factors like:

Even if buying online, try to listen first at a local pro audio store if able. Failing that, read through reviews carefully to learn how the monitors measure up sonically.

FAQs About Rack-Mountable Studio Monitors

Let’s go over some of the most frequently asked questions about rack-mountable studio monitors:

What are the benefits of rack-mounted vs standalone monitors?

The main benefits of rack-mounted monitors include:

Are rack-mounted monitors worse for acoustics than standalone?

Not necessarily, although close placement to walls can further emphasize reflections and room modes. Some techniques to optimize acoustics with rack monitors:

How do I determine the right size/configuration for my needs?

Consider factors like:

A single 8-inch monitor, or a stereo pair of 5-inch, should suit many home studios well.

What connectivity options do rack-mount monitors typically have?

Common connections found on rack-mount studio monitors include:

Having options like XLR, TRS, and RCA allows for flexible connectivity in different studio setups.

Can I adjust the angle/positioning of rack-mounted monitors?

Rack-mounted monitors are typically more limited in physical adjustability than standalone monitors. However, some models like the Mackie MR524 include tilting mounting brackets. Third-party brackets can also add more angle options. Really optimal positioning may require separate satellite stands instead.

Are rack monitors more difficult to plug in/wire up?

Rack-mounted monitors do often require a bit more planning and setup since:

However, with proper cable management and layout planning, rack monitors can end up very neat and accessible. So setup difficulty depends heavily on your particular rack design.

What kind of enclosure is best for rack-mounted monitors?

Common rack monitor enclosure materials:

No single ideal construction exists – benefits vary case by case. Rigidity and damping are most vital.

How do I know if a rack monitor will fit my equipment rack?

Always check technical specifications like:

Test fitting monitors or using rack blanks can help avoid issues down the line. Leave room for ventilation around monitors.

Should I work with acoustic treatment with rack monitors?

Even with rack-mounted monitors, acoustic treatment can make a substantial difference by:

So while room correction features in monitors help, physical acoustic treatment pays off. Focus on early reflection points and bass traps.

What should I look for in amplification with rack-mounted monitors?

Key factors for rack monitor amplification:

Low noise, sufficient power, and clean amplification allows rack monitors to deliver their best performance.


Mounting studio monitors in a rack opens up valuable workspace while neatly integrating monitoring into your studio ecosystem. While rack-mounted monitors present some additional considerations compared to standalone monitors, the right model can provide quality sound along with unique advantages.

The key is first carefully analyzing your specific studio needs and setup. Determine if you require extremely linear reference monitors, or if more flexible multimedia designs could suffice. Factor in physical dimensions and mounting requirements to ensure monitors fit your existing rack.

Arrange to audition short-listed monitors in person when possible to make sure the sound quality meets your critical listening needs. This helps choose monitors tuned for your particular use case rather than relying on specs alone.

With the proper research and planning, rack-mounted monitors can deliver superb audio fidelity within arm’s reach. They eliminate the need for bulky separate monitor stands while integrating beautifully into your studio ecosystem.

The top picks presented above represent the cream of the crop to get you started. Models like the Genelec 8320 AMC and Focal CMS50 provide genuine studio reference sound in a conveniently small package. More affordable options from Presonus, Yamaha, and Mackie also impressed with their value.

So if you’re looking to reclaim some space and minimize monitor clutter, give rack-mounting your monitors a try. Just be sure to choose the right monitors and plan mounting carefully. With quality rack-mounted reference monitors in place, you can finally get the most out of your studio real estate while benefiting from their seamless integration and focused sound.

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