Back when I was first starting my home studio, I didn’t even know what studio monitors were. Once I found out, it seemed like a daunting task to even figure out how to hook them up. Related:What are studio monitors?
In reality, it’s a fairly simple process. Pretty much all active monitors on the market today come with a balanced XLR and TRS input. “Active” simply means there’s no need for separate amplification. The amp is inside. All you need is something like an audio interface to power the monitor. What does an audio interface do?
You’d simply purchase 2 sets of balanced XLR to TRS cables. In my studio, I have the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 which connects to my JBL LSR 305’s via these cables. Both of the balanced TRS cables go into the back of my 2i2, while the XLR ends plug into each of the monitors.
There are other ways to hook them up. You could use RCA to XLR, or RCA to TRS. The former is unbalanced while the latter is balanced. I always recommend using balanced cables because they use 2 signal wires plus a ground wire, in effect reversing the polarity and cancelling out any noise.
Both have a tight, flat, and clean sound. Very neutral.
The HS8 has more bass, but it’s still a pretty accurate monitor. There’s less bass on the HS7 and it’s more accurate I would say.
Both are very revealing. If your mix sounds good on these, it will translate extremely well to other sources.
Both require minimal changes required after initial mix-down. Very accurate and true. Again, keep in mind that you’ll have to kind of under compensate for the bass more on the HS8 than you would with the HS7.
Both have extremely solid construction. Built like the Rock. The Rock says. Keep in mind the HS8 is heavier at 22.5 lbs. vs. 18.1 for the HS7.
The HS8 is not as good in smaller rooms. Big rooms advised. These aren’t quite as accurate as an HS7.
The design of the HS8 and HS7 is roughly the same, though the HS8’s are a bit heavier at 22.5 lbs. Both are Black and White, and both are Active monitors like we discussed before.
Both have a High Trim EQ Switch and a Room control switch. The HS8 has more total power at 120W, while the HS7 comes in at 95.
Both have balanced XLR and TRS inputs. A main difference is the bass. The HS8’s bass definitely digs deeper, so if you’re in a smaller room it’s going to be overkill, especially with no room treatment. I would say if you have a large room, the HS8 is ideal as long as you plan on using some bass traps and acoustic panels.
You could get away with using the HS7 without treatment, but it’s not really recommended. These will do better in medium sized rooms. If you were to use them in a small room, definitely get some bass traps and panels. If not, the sound (and especially the bass) will bounce around and contribute to an inconsistent and shoddy final mix down.
Be aware the HS8’s have a lot more bass, and are preferred without an amp. They also require more room treatment because of their huge footprint and sound. These may not work very well in small bedroom studios, but Acoustic Sound Treatment goes a long way.
The HS8 has an 8″ woofer
The HS7 has a 6.5″ woofer
Both are rear ported, so placement is critical. We’ll get into that in a bit!
The Yamaha HS8 studio monitor a pretty beefy son of a gun, to put it mildly. You may remember my Yamaha HS5 vs. KRK Rokit 5 article. The 8 is simply a bass heavier monitor, that also happens to be a lot bigger and heavier (physically) overall.
Both of the HS8 and HS7 monitors have a rock solid build though. The only thing to keep in mind is your studio space. If you have a smaller space to work with, the HS7 is probably your best bet.
The HS8 is a huge monitor, sitting 15.4″ tall and 9.8″ wide.
The HS7 is a bit shorter at 13.1″ and 8.3″ wide.
Take a quick measurement of your space and see which will fit better! The last thing you’d want to do is buy the HS8 and find out there’s no room for it.
The sound of both is very accurate overall, but the HS7 is better for reference purposes. The HS8 is still fantastic, but you’ll need to be more careful with it’s bass response when mixing down a track.
I’ve been making beats off and on since 2007. If I had to choose a monitor for mixing, I would definitely go with the HS7. It’s going to sound more true, while the HS8 will be a bit boosted which isn’t ideal.
Even with that said, if you’re in a small room, I wouldn’t opt for the HS7 as it will sound a bit too “big” for the room. If you’re in a tiny to smaller sized space, the LSR 305 is top dog for sure. I’ve had a pair since 2014 and I love them.
If I were to upgrade, I’d go with the HS7 and add some bass traps and foam panels to the walls and corners, as I’m in a medium sized room.
The differences between the HS7 and 305 really just come down to woofer size and treble. The bass on both reaches down to 43Hz, but the high end on the 305 hits 24kHz vs. 30kHz for the HS7.
The bass on the HS8 digs a little deeper at 38Hz.
I would say both excel with:
Audio/Video post production.
Guitar performance (Critical listening).
Honestly, you’re going to enjoy them with most genres. I wouldn’t stress over this part.
Now that we have a good idea about how they sound, let’s look at set up!
Set Up & Placement
As alluded to in the open, hooking these up shouldn’t be complicated.
Let’s go over what you’ll need first:
2 studio monitors of your choice.
An audio interface. This is the middle man between the sound you hear and the monitors. It effectively powers the monitors via a clean digital to analog conversion and amplifier. So basically, something like the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 is what we would call an interface with built in preamps and a clean A/D conversion. You could also opt for a standalone preamp, but it’s not necessary. Related:Preamp vs. Interface I would just go with an interface to start!
Balanced XLR to TRS cables. We discussed earlier why balanced cables are preferred. We want to cancel out any noise and using balanced cables effectively does that by using reverse polarity to achieve the desired effect.
Plug the TRS ends into the back of your Interface, while also plugging the XLR ends into the backs of both of your monitors. Everything should be off at this point.
Plug your Interface into your PC via USB. The device should be recognized. If it’s not, don’t panic! Just go to the companies website and find the appropriate driver. 99% of the time that will fix the issue.
After it’s recognized, go into your Sound panel and set the device as default. This will ensure that the sound comes from out of the monitors and not something else that you have (i.e. a separate headphone amp or something).
A big decision on which monitor to buy depends largely on your studio space. Do you have a small room or a large room? If you have a small room, you may consider the HS5 or JBL LSR305. Check out the best affordable studio monitors for more on those 2! If you have a larger room, the HS8’s may be for you. The HS7’s also do well in smaller to medium sized rooms.
Make sure to purchase balanced cables to avoid noise/ground floor issues.
If you don’t want a sub-woofer, the HS8’s are the go to option as long as you have a larger room. Keep in mind that a sub-woofer really isn’t necessary with either of these. If you were to use the HS7’s as a fun monitor, you could opt for the sub. But then, why not just go with the HS8.
Never buy monitors with drivers larger than 5″ before your room is treated. This is a general rule of thumb from my experience.
Both of these monitors have tremendous sound quality, a great build, and enough features to keep you happy. Both are great reference monitors, but the HS7 is the more accurate of the 2. The HS8 is also great, but should only be purchased for large rooms employed with Acoustic Sound Treatment.
How do they stack up against each other?
Similarities & Differences
Both are flat, accurate, and revealing. If your mix sounds good on either monitor, it will translate well to any source.
Both have almost an identical look and color.
You won’t need an amp with the HS8’s at all, while you may opt for one with the HS7. Just know that the HS7 doesn’t necessarily need one, and will sound good regardless.
The HS7’s may be flatter overall than the HS8’s because the bass is leaner. It’s still deep and tight, but doesn’t hit quite as hard.
The HS7 is more even sounding across the spectrum and more balanced. The HS8 may fatten the sound a bit.
The HS8 has a more defined low end but less mid-range, while the HS7 has a better mid-range and is more even all around.
Frequency response. We talked ad-nausea about the bass, but for clarity’s sake: The HS7 goes down to 43Hz while the HS8 goes to 38Hz. A subtle difference there.
The HS8’s have slightly more total power than the HS7’s.
Stu is determined to provide the truth about all things audio, and strives to deliver excellent content to you the reader! In his spare time, he likes to fish, paint, play guitar, attend church, take photos, record videos, graphic design, and more. His attention to detail and perfectionist attitude are what allow him to excel, but it can be both a blessing and a hindrance at times.