I can think of a bunch of brands that are rated better than Mackie. But what you really need to do is visit a music store and listen to them yourself. That's the only way for you to decide what sounds best TO YOU.
Event makes some nice ones (20/20bas should be in your price range).
I would never buy anything without hearing it, and the only opinions I listen to are ones based out of fact. If you are going to listen to an opinion, demand an explaination.
Consider this: I like Dual concentric speakers like the tannoy 8 or 10" model, here's why.
When sound projects from a speaker cab with more than one driver, the drivers are all a different disance from you. Sound travels at a certain speed and therefore if speakers are at a varying distance, it will take longer for sound from the farther speaker to reach your ears. When designing crossovers for speakers, a compensation must be made for this, and other factors in order to "line up" the sound. There is a difference between good crossovers and bad crossovers especially in this area. The dual concentric is a design which covers the full spectrum of sound from one cenetral point, thus eliminating the issue mentioned above.
I am not suggesting you buy these, unless they fall within your budget. If they do, then tannoy makes good models that I reccomended above. I do own alesis monitor ones, which are a conventional speaker and I find them to be excellent, and economical.
I just wanted to point out that the -"wow these are really good you should buy it right now"- :s: testimonials are okay, but if you are going to listen to someone, demand a sensible explaination, and then keeping that in mind, go and listen for yourself.
Also it may do you some good, (if you are inexperienced at choosing speakers), to read up on what makes a good speaker good, how to read and understand the graphs and charts issued with the speaker, and some ideas on how to listen to a speaker.
You can buy audiophile cd's which are designed to audition a speaker system, and these discs come complete with instructions.
Can I suggest that you consider buying active speakers (ie ones that incorporate an amplifier)? The benefits are numerous but include optimised interfacing between the amps and the speakers, optimised crossovers, efficiency and speaker protection. If money is no object I would recommend DynAudio (which I use) or Genelec. I agree that dual cocentric speakers have advantages of their own (I used to use Tannoy Ardens and miss them dearly) and they too should be seriously considered. The September issue of Sound On Sound has a couple of monitor reviews, and they usually review monitors monthly, so that is a good resource. But as someone said earlier, the only true judge is your own set of ears. Bear in mind that how the speakers sound where you hear them may not be the same way they sound at home or at your studio. So take a couple of your favorite CDs with you when you go to listen before buying, since you will be familiar with how they sound.
Originally posted by kinetic:
[QB] Can I suggest that you consider buying active speakers (ie ones that incorporate an amplifier)?
This is also a good idea. There are manufacturers that offer this type of amp/speaker combo, other than genelec or dynaudio, at a lower price. Genelec is one of the best you could get though.
The merit to this concept is in the amp. To understand this you must first understand that an amp does more than just amplify a signal. An amplifier is also responsible for damping the speakers motion. This varies depending on impedance matches, mainly, but it is not the point of my discussion. An 8 ohm rating on a speaker simply states a nominal impedance. The speaker will actually show real resistance any where from close to a dead short, to 50 or 60 ohms, depending on the frequency being reproduced. Impedance mismatches can cause distinct differences in tone. Both at low frequencies, and high ones. To understand this, just tap a woofer with your finger, then turn off the amp and try it again. You'll see my point.
Because of this, there is a "best" amp for a certain speaker.
If you don't get an active monitor that's o.k. too, just make sure you get help choosing the right amp.