Electronics and Computers

14 Best Budget Studio Monitors Under $200 – $500 in 2018

Best Budget Studio Monitors Under $200 and Under $500

Studio monitors are a must-have thing for any music recording and mixing studio. Without the studio monitors, you can’t adjust your music to suit all kinds of players like TV, Hi-Fi speakers, etc.

Best Studio Monitors

Even if you are just starting out to be a musician, you definitely need one of the best studio monitors to streamline the process of audio mixing. Without it, you would never be able to compete with the professionals and would not even make a mark in this ever-growing music industry.

Studio monitors are made especially for the purpose of giving you a detailed audio, better imaging, a flat frequency response, less coloring; giving you the ability to pay heed to even the minor details of the audio and correct it as per needs.

If you are just a beginner, you don’t specifically need the best of the best quality studio monitors. For catering the need of beginners and semi-professionals, we have created a couple of lists of best studio monitors under $200 and under $500. Being a beginner, it is almost impossible to choose a certain equipment.

You can’t go on to spend thousands of bucks in the start…

…You need a starting point!

We UNDERSTOOD Your Problem!
We understood this problem of the beginners and the ones who are just upgrading to a better studio monitor. The monitors that we have reviewed here are some of the best and cheap studio monitors under $200 and $500 which come at par with their bigger and expensive brothers. Thus, you don’t have to worry about the quality as we have got it covered for you!

To give you a slight view we have arranged two tables for you below. We have not mentioned any tedious details, just a slight overview as what the product offers.

Comparison Table for Best Budget Studio Monitors

 

Under $200:

PRODUCT DIMENSIONS (w x h x d) WEIGHT FREQUENCY RESPONSE PRICE
Yamaha HS5 6.7 x 11.2 x 8.7" 11.7 lbs. 54Hz - 30kHz View Price
Rockville APM6W 8.5” x 12.6" x 10” 22 lbs. (pair) 50Hz - 20kHz View Price
KRK RP6G3-NA Rokit 6 11.4" x 13.1" x 8.9" 43.5 lbs. 38Hz-35kHz View Price
JBL 305P MKII 11.75" x 7.3" x 9.1" 10.43 lbs. 49Hz - 20kHz View Price
PreSonus Eris E4.5 6.42" x 9.45" x 7.09" 17 lbs. 80Hz - 20kHz View Price
BEHRINGER STUDIO 50USB 8" x 10" x 7" 14.3 lbs. 55Hz - 20kHz View Price
Edifier R1280T 5.75" x 9.5" x 7.0" ~11 lbs. 75Hz - 18kHz View Price

Under $500:

PRODUCT DIMENSIONS (w x h x d) WEIGHT FREQUENCY RESPONSE PRICE
Yamaha HS8 9.8" x 15.4" x 13.1" 22.5 lbs. 38Hz to 30kHz View Price
KRK Rokit RP10-3 14.4" x 12.8" x 21.5" 46 lbs. 25Hz-30kHz View Price
PreSonus Sceptre S6 13.2" x 9" x 12.2" 18.8 lbs 52 Hz-20 kHz View Price
Edifier S2000 Pro 8" x 13.5" x 10.5" ~40 lbs. 48Hz~20KHz View Price
IK iLoud MicroMonitors 7.09" x 5.31" x 3.54" 3.9 lbs. 55Hz - 20kHz (-3dB), 45Hz - 22kHz (-10dB) View Price
Focal Alpha 80 15.6" x 11.3" x 13.7" ~22 lbs. 35Hz - 22kHz View Price
AvantonePro MixCubes 6.5" x 6.5" x 6.5" 7.13 lbs. 90Hz-17kHz View Price

Before getting right into the details of the products, let’s clear some basic questions…

What are the Studio Monitors?

In layman terms, I would describe Studio Monitors as:

Speakers that are designed solely for the sole purpose of accurate audio reproduction by minimizing the distortion hence to produce unchanged playback of the recorded material
  • Using studio monitors, the audio is monitored for any distortion or coloring which can’t be monitored using Hi-Fi speakers because they tend to boost the bottom-end and top-end to provide a more powerful and crisp audio.
  • Unlike Hi-Fi Speakers, Studio Monitors are specially designed for music recording and production. The most notable feature common to all studio monitors is that they provide flat frequency response which means that they give ‘uncolored’ or accurate reproduction of audio.
  • For mixing of audio, you need a proper balance between every instrument. The minute differences in audio can only be caught using accurate speakers and only then one can produce a great blend of music.
  • Most of the beginners start their audio mixing career using headphones, but if you need sensational quality of work then you are definitely going to need some of the best studio monitors.

Difference between Studio Monitors and Regular Speakers?

Studio Monitors vs. Hi-Fi Speakers: There are more than a couple of differences between studio monitors and regular/party speakers. Let’s get right into the detail!

  • Hi-Fi Speakers are designed for the sole purpose of giving a good listening experience by enhancing the bass, mids and high frequencies. On the other hand, studio monitors are designed to provide an ideally flat frequency response for a wide range.
  • The sound projection of studio monitors is a lot less than the regular speakers. This is done to minimize the coloring of the audio quality because of reverberations from the room. Thus, studio monitors provide an unadulterated sound for accurately mixing of music.
  • Regular speakers are mostly passive while the studio monitors are usually active (exceptional for a few). We have covered this in detail in our guide below (Active vs Passive Speakers).

Bottom Line:

Studio Monitors are specially designed for producing accurate short-range sounds for proper mixing of audio while the Hi-Fi speakers are made for the sole purpose of enhancing the listening experience by increasing the sound projection, bass, and other features.

Guide to Buying the Best Studio Monitors:

Although the main purpose of studio monitors is to give you a distortion-free and accurate sound representation to help you in correctly mixing so that your mix translates well to headphones, TV or any other listening instruments. But there are some other technical features which you should also know apart from this.

In this guide, I have covered each and everything in detail which you must consider before buying a studio monitor for your home-based studio. The understanding of these features will surely help you in deciding which studio monitor to buy. If you already know this information then you may skip it and have a look at our budget-friendly studio monitors reviewed below the guide.

Size of the studio monitor:

Size of differenet studio monitors
Size Comparison of Different Studio Monitors

You will have to your room size and desk space into consideration before buying a studio monitor. They come in many sizes and shapes. Smaller studio monitors will work best for those who have smaller space available on their desk or room. In smaller rooms, smaller monitors proved to be more valuable in mixing of audio.

I would restrict you from not buying a monitor just based on the fact that you have lesser space, but I advise you to make more room to set up your monitor.

Speaker Size:

Apart from the whole size of the monitor, considering the size of the speakers i.e., woofer and the tweeter is also important. Studio Monitors come in different woofer sizes like 5” inches, 8” inches etc. The bigger the size of the woofer the deeper the bass will be. If you are buying a studio monitor to produce some bass-rich music, then you should go for the monitor having a bigger woofer size.

Frequency Response:

 frequency response example
Frequency Response Example

Paying heed to the frequency range and response (measured in Hertz) of any studio monitor is very important to make sure that it can handle a wide range of frequencies to handle your mixing needs. For most of the recording work, a frequency between the range of 50Hz to 20kHz is adequate. The studio monitors are always designed to give flatter frequency response. In simple terms, this means, what goes in comes out without any change. The flatter the frequency response the accurate and pure the audio.

“Speakers that are designed solely for the sole purpose of accurate audio reproduction by minimizing the distortion hence to produce unchanged playback of the recorded material”You should always check the frequency response charts of the studio monitor which you are going to buy. Remember: “Flatter, the better”

Power Rating:

Monitor’s power rating is an important feature to consider before buying it. Most of us don’t pay heed to this but let me tell you this, it is an important feature and should not be ignored at all.

Just to be clear, The speaker doesn’t generate power, the amplifier does. This is an important thing to remember before buying a passive studio monitor. The power rating for speakers that you mostly see refers to how much power the speaker is designed to receive from an amplifier. If the power is higher than the set rating, the speaker may get damaged.

However, most of the studio monitors are active (built-in amplifier). Check out our guide on how to choose the right amplifier.

In studio monitors, a higher wattage generally represents the detail of the sound. You will be able to make better and accurate adjustments to your compressors, gates or other instruments. Higher wattage monitor will give you more headroom to help you correct your mix.

This is the most important thing to consider when you are working with music peaks of a kick drum. Most of the time these transients are seen to require much more power. For example, you have a 100 watts amplifier, and the peak requires 200 watts, then you will be 100 watts shy of the pure result which will definitely result in distortion of true sound.

I don’t compel you to always check for highest power but just to keep in mind the more wattage will produce more dynamic range apart from a high volume of course.

  • Single-amp

In a single-amp, a crossover network is provided which divides the output of one amplifier – thus sending the appropriate frequencies to the woofer (low frequencies) and to the tweeter (high frequencies.

  • Bi-amp

In a bi-amp configuration, the crossover network comes before the two separate amplifiers which are then used to power the woofer and the tweeter separately.

  • Tri-amp

A studio monitor is said to be in a Tri-amp configuration if it divides the signal in three ways to feed the amps that are then used to drive the high-, mid- and low-frequency speakers individually.

Bottom Line: If all other things are kept equal, a bi-amped or tri-amped is more likely to sound better than a mono-amped monitor with same total power. Moreover, a bi-amp and tri-amp monitors have a flatter and hence more accurate frequency response. By driving each speaker (woofer and tweeter) separately, they are able to produce their frequency range more precisely.

Cabinet Design

The design and structure of the cabinets in studio monitors has a direct effect on sound quality. It should be made of a rigid and stiff material to prevent it from adulterating the sound.

Studio Monitors Enclosure

There are generally two types of cabinets or enclosures seen in studio monitors.

  • Closed Cabinet:

In closed cabinet systems, the damping properties of the system along with the resonant frequency of the drivers affect the low-frequency response of the studio monitor system.

  • Ported or Reflex Cabinet:

Ported Studio Monitor
Ported Studio Monitor Example

It has a small hole cut into the cabinet and a port tube attached to the hole. This improves the low-frequency or bass and also increases the efficiency while reducing the size of the cabinet.

Too much technical details? Well, Let me simplify things for you!

If you want to set up your home-based stereo system near the walls or corners then I would recommend you going for the closed cabinet designs. In other condition, the ported design will work just fine giving you a true quality of audio.

Positioning:

Positioning of Monitors

Placement is yet another thing you want to know. You should place your studio monitors so they form an equilateral triangle with your ears or head. This means to place them as far apart as possible from themselves and also from your sitting position.

What will happen?

This will result in much more accurate frequency response cleaner sound to come which makes it super easy for you to mix the audio.

Woofers and tweeters:

Another thing common to almost all the best studio monitors is that they all have woofers and tweeters i.e multiple drivers to handle both the low and high frequencies respectively. Using crossover the frequency is split up into two and fed into the woofers and tweeters. In the active monitors, sometimes both the woofers and the tweeters are driven by using only one amplifier. There are some examples in which they are driven using separate amplifiers. 

Price:

We know the deal.

The more the money, the better the product.

Well, it is also true in the case of Studio Monitors. The more the money you have, the accurate and powerful monitor you will get for your studio. If you are short on budget but have a great passion of audio mixing, then don’t go anywhere else as we have for you the best studio monitors under $200 that will surely help you kickstart your career.

Types of Studio Monitors that you should know:

Active Monitors Vs. Passive Monitors

The main difference between the “Active” or “Powered” Monitors and “Passive” monitors is that the Active monitors have a built-in amplifier, designed just right to drive the drivers. While in the case of Passive monitors, there is no built-in amplifier and you would have to buy the amp yourself separately.

Active models have certain advantages over the passive models. They have an optimized power amplifier for each driver, accurate and precise crossovers, driver-protection circuitry and so on.

However, sometimes to lower the cost of these powered monitors, low-quality amps, and power supplies are used. You should not worry because we have listed some of the best studio monitors that too under $200 to meet your needs and giving you a quality product overall.

Using passive monitors you can adjust yourself the amp with the drivers to produce what you need. I would not advise buying a passive monitor if you are just starting out with audio mixing. However, one advantage that the passive monitor has over the active one is the room of upgradability. The fact that speakers and amplifiers can be bought separately provides you with an opportunity to slowly upgrade the components to the best-quality gear possible.

Near-Field Vs. Far-Field Adjustments

As the name implies, near-field means sitting as close to the speaker as you can while keeping the correct distances of like 3-5 feet and by making an equilateral triangular pattern between the speakers and your head. Near-field obviously reveals more details, better imaging, high-quality definition, and all the other things that you want to correct in your mix. This adjustment comes in handy when the room is not properly dealt for unwanted coloring. If you are buying for your own room studio, then these will do the work for you!

Far-field implies that you are sitting a little farther from the monitors, so you get more room sound and unwanted coloring. You will be hearing more of a sounds stage audio and obviously fewer details and quality.

The common misconception among the beginners is that the studio monitors having smaller woofer sizes are near-field while the larger speakers are far-field.

This is not the CASE!

There are a number of examples out there of larger speakers designed for near-field audio listening!

Without further ado, let’s get right into the reviews…. First up…

Best Studio Monitors Under $200:

1- Yamaha HS5Editor’s Choice:

Overview

Yamaha HS5 Best Studio Monitors under $200

The reason for mentioning Yamaha HS5 first in the list is because this speaker instantly made a mark when it first came into the market. This gave an overall boost to the Yamaha HS series which boasted optimized amplifiers and transducers. We have also reviewed its bigger brother, Yamaha HS8 in our “Best studio monitors under $500” list.

This is the smallest of the HS series having a woofer of 5” inches and 1” tweeter. With the arrival of this monitor, it made it super-easy for the beginners to establish their own home studio with a little investment.

The lows are as low as 54Hz and go up to 30kHz. This monitor gives a fairly flat-frequency response as shown in the pic below.

Yamaha HS5 Frequency Chart
Yamaha HS5 Frequency Chart

Yamaha HS5 features a bi-amp in which separate amps are used for both the drivers. This further ensures that it gives a flat frequency response over a wide range of the sound spectrum.

The cabinets are designed to decrease the resonance and give a detailed audio output. Yamaha has adopted an advanced noise reduction technology in the making of the ports, to reduce the air vibrations causing coloring of the overall audio.

Due to its smaller size, we would recommend using Yamaha HS5 to be used in small and closed studio rooms to get the most out of this small beast. You will need a sub-woofer if you want to create a bass intensive music.

What’s inside

  • Amplifier: A bi-amp setup of 45W LF, 25W HF.
  • Driver: 5″ inches Woofer, 1″ inches Tweeter
  • Inputs: 1 x XLR, 1 x 1/4″ TRS
  • Frequency response: 54Hz – 30kHz
  • Crossover Frequency: 2 kHz
  • Enclosure: Ported
  • Dimensions: 6.7 x 11.2 x 8.7″
  • Weight: 11.7 lb

Pros and Cons of Yamaha HS5:

Pros
  • Better controls
  • Great Design
  • Awesome frequency response
Cons
  • Not so good performance at the bottom of frequency range

 

2- Rockville APM6W Powered USB Monitor:

Overview

Rockville APM 6w Front

Rockville APM series comes in three different sizes of woofer; 5 inches, 6.5 inches and 8 inches named APM5W, APM6W and APM8B respectively.

The prices of APM5W and APM6W are below our mark of $200 while the APM8B is slightly above this price range. We will here talk more about the APM6W and will give a comparison between these three monitors.

The best thing about the Rockville APMs is that they come in pairs. Thus, you don’t have to spend the money on buying the other half. Both the monitors are bi-amped having a separate amplifier to drive the woofers and tweeters.

Each of the monitor/speakers has 175 watts of peak output and 67.5 RMS watts, thus giving you a sum total of 350W of power. APM5W and APM8B feature 250W(125+125) and 500W (250+250) watts of peak power.

Rockville APM 6w Back

The speaker gives a fairly flat frequency response over a wide range. The frequency range is from 50Hz-20kHz, quite less as compared to Yamaha HS5 highs of 30kHz!

To give the monitors a sleek design, the controls are shifted towards the back. The most prominent thing about the controls is that it has a USB port thus saving you from using a TRS jack.

We would recommend using it for DJ practicing or for mixtape recording.

What’s inside:

  • Amplifier: A bi-amp setup of 175W amplifiers
  • Driver: 6.5″ inches Woofer, 1″ inches Tweeter
  • Inputs: 1 x XLR, 1 x 1/4″ TRS
  • Frequency response: 50Hz – 20kHz
  • Peak Power/RMS: 350W/175W per pair

Pros and Cons of Rockville APM6W:

Pros
  • Sound quality is great
  • Great design and build quality
  • USB Port
Cons
  • Treble controls are not so good
  • May produce hissing sounds

 

3- KRK RP6G3-NA Rokit 6 G3:

Overview

 KRK RP6G3 Rokit 6 Front Side

If you just go on any online store and search for “best studio monitors” the monitors that are surely going to catch your attention if the KRK Rokit 6 G3. This is by far the most popular studio monitors line up by KRK and comes as a single unit.

KRK Rokit 6 is not good only in terms of its unique design and an attractive yellow woofer but also knows for its performance. This monitor will give you a true bass response and detailed highs and lows with a price range just under $200. The monitor also has curved edges which are specially designed to reduce the distortion from diffraction.

Frequency Chart of Rokit 6

KRK Rokit 6 Generation 3 features a 1” inch dome tweeter which provides response up to 35kHz and a 6” inch glass-aramid woofer providing frequency response starting from 38Hz. The frequency response chart of KRK Rokit G3 is given below.

KRK RP6G3 Rokit 6 Back Side

It features 73-watts bi-amped Class A/B amplifiers offering a greater headroom with minimal distortion, thus giving you a clear midrange and clear stereo image.

What’s Inside:

  • Driver: 6″ Woofer and a 1″ Dome Tweeter
  • Amplifier: 48W LF, 25W HF (Total 73W)
  • Inputs: 1 x XLR, 1 x TRS, 1 x RCA
  • Frequency Response: 38Hz-35kHz (-10dB)
  • Enclosure: Front Ported

Pros and Cons of KRK RP6G3-NA:

Pros
  • Amazing bass response
  • Highs also sound great
  • Great build-quality
Cons
  • A little bulky compared to its other counterparts

 

4- JBL 305P MKII:

Overview

JBL 305P MkII Front

JBL is also one of the leading manufacturers of studio monitors. With 305P MkII, it takes the lead over some other studio monitors.

 

JBL 305P MkII features some top of the line transducers and with JBL Image Control Waveguide, it offers clear details, accurate imaging that will surely enhance the working capabilities of your studio. The monitor is capable to work with a woofer to produce a deep bass response at all playback levels. The speaker is fairly loud with peak SPL of 108dB.

JBL 305P offers an 82W (41W LF and HF each) bi-amped Class-D amplifiers to power the 5” woofer and a 1” tweeter. The frequency response of 305P MkII is between 49Hz-20kHZ. It features a new and improved boundary EQ controls to reduce the coloring from the room reflecting the sound and other low-frequency distortions.

JBL 305P MkII Back

The enclosure is ported and features a sleek and modern outlook. This is surely going to add attractiveness to your home studio.

 

What’s inside:

  • Driver: 5″ Woofer and 1″ Tweeter
  • Amplifier: 41W LF, 41W HF (Total 82W)
  • Inputs: 1 x XLR, 1 x 1/4″ TRS
  • Frequency response: 49Hz – 20kHz
  • Enclosure: Ported
  • Dimensions: 11.75″ x 7.3″ x 9.1″
  • Weight: 10.43 lbs.

Pros and Cons of JBL 305p MKII:

Pros
  • Deep bass response
  • Better frequency response (flatter)
  • Crisp Highs
  • Build quality is exceptional
Cons
  • The material attracts dust

 

5- PreSonus Eris E4.5:

Overview:

Presonus Eris 4.5 Front

You just can’t forget PreSonus Eris E4.5 when discussing the cheap studio monitors. This series has always proven to be a friend of the beginners, offering such a great build, great performance at such a short price.

The main reason for mentioning The PreSonus Eris E4.5 in our list is because it comes in pair and has a price of less than $200.

The Eris4.5 features a 1” inch low mass silk-dome tweeter and a 4.5” inches woofer both amplified using a Class A/B amplifiers. The monitor offers a frequency response between 70Hz to 20kHz and has a fairly flat frequency curve. Not so great for lows.

The internal has been designed in such a way so as to nullify the resonance. The monitor offers a peak SPL of 100dB max. For accurate acoustic tuning, a cluster of controls is provided at the back of the monitor.

The speaker provides ample controls at the back when you are mixing in rooms with highly reflective surfaces. For use with other subwoofers, a “Low-Cutoff” control is provided to coordinate the bass output correctly with other subwoofers.

Presonus Eris 4.5 Back

We recommend buying a pair of PreSonus Eris E4.5 if you are too low on the budget but in dire need of good studio monitors. You may have to buy a separate subwoofer if you want to mix some bassy audio. Otherwise, you are good to go.

What’s inside:

  • Driver: 4.5″ Woofer and 1″ Tweeter
  • Amplifier: 25W LF, 25W HF (Total 50W)
  • Inputs: 1 x XLR, 1 x 1/4″ TRS
  • Frequency response: 80Hz – 20kHz
  • Peak SPL: 100dB @ 1 meter away
  • Dimensions: 6.42 inches (w) x 7.09 inches (d) x 9.45 inches (h)
  • Weight: 17 lbs.

Pros and Cons of Presonus Eris E4.5:

Pros
  • Build quality is good
  • Ample control features
Cons
  • Not so good bass response
  • You may need a separate subwoofer for lows
  • Audio may distort at high volumes

 

6- Edifier R1280TBest Studio Monitors under $100:

Overview

 Edifier R1280T front

Edifier R1280T makes it into our list of budget studio monitors with its retro looks and well-designed wooden enclosure. The retro design ensures that these go well with the overall outlook of the bookshelf.

Now, let’s come to the main features…

Edifier R1280T comes equipped with 13mm silk dome tweeter and 4” inch woofer. The speakers also feature 2 x AUX inputs and RCA outputs, giving you the ability to connect two devices at a time. R1280T also comes with a remote using which you can control the volume or just set it to mute. Bass and treble controls are provided on the monitor itself which can be adjusted from -6db to +6db.

Edifier R1280T back

As far as the sound is concerned, for a monitor under $100, it’s really impressive! The frequency response is from 75Hz to almost 18kHz of high. The only drawback we encountered is that the audio becomes distorted at high volumes, and there’s also no headphone jack. The total power output value is 42W RMS (21W+21W for R/L).

In short: Sound is pretty good considering the price in mind.

If you are really short on budget but still needs a decent studio monitor/speaker for your bookshelf or for simple audio mixing, then we would recommend you to go for Edifier R1280T. This is the best studio monitor under $100 that can fulfill your needs in such a short budget.

What’s Inside

  • Driver: 4″ Woofer and ~0.5″ (13mm) Tweeter
  • Power Output (RMS): 21W + 21W HF (Total 42W R/L speakers)
  • Inputs: RCA x2, AUX x2
  • Frequency response: 75Hz – 18kHz
  • Dimensions: 5.75 inches (w) x 7.0 inches (d) x 9.5 inches (h)
  • Weight: ~11 lbs.

Pros and Cons of Edifier R1280T:

Pros
  • Nice retro design
  • Balanced audio
  • Adjustable bass and treble
  • Build quality is good
Cons
  • Distortion at high volumes
  • May produce hissing sounds

 

7- BEHRINGER STUDIO 50USB:

Overview:

 Behringer Studio 50USB Front

Behringer is another go-to brand if you want cheap and affordable studio monitors for your home studio…

…Behringer Studio 50 provides just that!

It comes in pair and is equipped with a total of 4 amplifiers (2 on each monitor) and is truly bi-amped to give you the high-definition audio and a clear acoustic pattern over a wider range of frequency.

Having two monitors, that too under the price range of $200 makes it super-easy for you to mix audio to adjust it with every other media player.

Behringer Studio 50USB comes equipped with 5” inches woofers and a 1” silk dome tweeter providing you ample and clear highs and lows. The woofer is designed with a “deformation-resistant cone” which makes the woofer to provide the exquisite bass, but still, it doesn’t do justice sometimes.

As the name suggests, Behringer Studio 50USB comes equipped with a USB port which you can use to directly connect it to your computer. It also contains XLR and TRS ports.

 Behringer Studio 50USB Back

Overall, the design is good, if not up to the mark. You may consider going for Yamaha HS5 or Krokit 6 if you want good quality but those do not come in pairs.  

What’s inside:

  • Driver: 5″ Woofer and 1″ Tweeter
  • Power:: 150W
  • Inputs: 1 x XLR, 1 x 1/4″ TRS
  • Frequency response: 55Hz – 20kHz
  • Peak SPL: 100dB @ 1 meter away
  • Enclosure: Ported
  • Dimensions:8 inches (w) x 7.0 inches (d) x 10 inches (h)
  • Weight: 14.3 lbs.

Pros and Cons of Behringer Studio 50:

Pros
  • Fairly accurate sound
  • Control over tweeter is a good addition
  • Good Design
Cons
  • Bass is not up to the mark sometimes

Best Studio Monitors Under $500:

Until now we have discussed some of the best studio monitors under $200 for budget buyers who are just starting out to be an audio mixer.

Now we are gonna enlist 7 best studio monitors under $500 for semi-pros who want to upgrade their previous gears to step things up. As expected from an expensive monitor, these will have a bigger woofer for better bass response and high-quality tweeters also. You might not need a separate subwoofer if you have one of this thus saving you money.

Expect these to be bigger and heavier in size and weight.

Without further ado, let’s get right into the reviews…

1- Yamaha HS8 Studio Monitor:

Overview:

Yamaha Hs8 Front Side

Here’s the second mention of Yamaha HS series. We have discussed Yamaha HS5 in detail and it’s now time to unveil the specifications and performance of HS8. Yamaha has been a go-to choice for most of the customers because of their high definition audio reproduction, clear highs, and lows with good control features.

Yamaha HS8 takes things further up to a new level where Yamaha HS5 fails to reach. It features an 8” inches woofer and a 1” inch silk dome tweeter. Bigger woofer allows for more headroom and better bass response than HS5. Yamaha HS8 offers a frequency response of 38Hz – 30kHz.The drivers are driven by a bi-amp system providing a total of 120W (75W  LF + 45W HF).

The frequency response is quite flatter as compared to Yamaha HS5.

 Yamaha Hs8 Frequency Response Chart

The unit is provided with ample “Room Controls” and “High Trim” response controls to suit any given room conditions. It also features an XLR and TRS inputs.  

Yamaha Hs8 Back Side

If you want a better quality, better imaging and details and that too for a price tag of just over $300, then we would definitely be going for Yamaha’s HS8.

What’s Inside:

  • Driver: 8″ Woofer and a 1″ Dome Tweeter
  • Amplifier: 75W LF, 45W HF ( Total: 120W)
  • Inputs: 1 x XLR, 1 x 1/4″ (TS)
  • Frequency Response: 38Hz to 30kHz
  • Enclosure: Ported
  • Dimensions: 9.8″ x 15.4″ x 13.1″
  • Weight: 22.5 lbs.

Pros and Cons of Yamaha HS8:

Pros
  • Reliable
  • Nearly Accurate audio reproduction
  • Great Build quality
  • More headroom
Cons
  • For bass heavy audio mixing, you may need a separate subwoofer.

 

2- KRK Rokit RP10-3:

Overview:

KRK Rokit RP10-3 Best Studio Monitors under $500

KRK Rokit RP10-3 takes the lead with its unique “True 3-Way Design” having a separate driver for mids…

Yes, You heard it right!

Rokit RP 10 features a total of 3 drivers; a 10” Aramid Glass Composite woofer for lows, 4” midrange driver made of same material as a woofer and a 1” soft dome tweeter. This 3-way design further makes the whole frequency spectrum to be more clear, accurate and an astonishingly neutral mids.

Unlike other near-field monitors, RP 10-3 is said to be a mid-field studio monitor with the optimal operating distance of 1m-4m obviously depending upon the size of the room, it’s acoustical features and orientation of speakers.

The speaker is Tri-amped, providing a separate power to all the three drivers separately. The active 3-way crossover system equips the unit with accurate and flatter frequency response. The total amplifier power rating is 140W (30W HF + 30W MF + 80W LF). Frequency response chart can be seen as under:

Furthermore, the design of the front firing port along with a curved baffle is made in such a way so as to eliminate the distortion due to diffraction, turbulence and boundary coupling.

KRK Rokit RP 10-3 is provided with ample controls and connectivities. It is fitted with an XLR and 0.25” line inputs. Volume control is provided at the back with the range from -30dB to +6dB.

The separate mid driver for mid-range frequencies definitely gives it an edge to other studio monitors under this range of $500. As this is a mid-field speaker so you better have a lot of spare space to get the most out of these speakers. You won’t find a better speaker than this one under this price range.

What’s Inside:

  • Driver: 10″ Aramid Woofer, 4″ Aramid MF Driver, 1″ Dome Tweeter
  • Amplifier: 80W LF, 30W MF, 30W HF
  • Inputs: 1 x XLR, 1 x 1/4″ TRS, 1 x RCA
  • Frequency Response: 25Hz-30kHz (-10dB)
  • Enclosure: Ported
  • Controls: Volume control range (-30dB to +6dB)
  • Dimensions: 14.4″ x 12.8″ x 21.5″
  • Weight: 46 lbs.

Pros and Cons of KRK Rokit RP10-3:

Pros
  • Separate driver for mids
  • Great volume range
  • Crisp highs and mids
Cons
  • Bigger size
  • Require a larger space for best experience

 

3- PreSonus Sceptre S6:

Overview:

Presonus Sceptre S6 Front

PreSonus Sceptre S6 is yet another great choice for semi-pros. Sceptre S6 has been superbly engineered to meet the growing needs of audio mixers. With “CoActual technology” it has been designed in such a way that it provides a point-source sound along with a timely signal processing to provide the user with even the tiniest of the details and better symmetry.

Unlike the traditional design of placing the drivers separately, the engineers at PreSonus came up with a better idea of placing the 1” tweeter in front of the 6.5” woofer to save the sound from getting distorted easily and provide a symmetrical soundstage. The frequency response of Sceptre S6 is 42Hz-23kHz (-10dB). A 180W RMS Class-D bi-amp powers the drivers. The amplifier also has a heat-sink which increases the longevity and reliability of the whole unit. The monitor provides a continuous 109dB SPL.

As the tweeter is horn-loaded in design which is always prone to internal reflections, hence to reduce this 32-bit dual core DSP provides “Temporal Equalization” along with a number of impulse response filters to better handle the impulses generated by this design. This really helps to deliver crisps high and a better volume too.

Presonus Sceptre S6 Back

The monitor is provided with ample acoustic controls to fine tune the drivers to your liking. Moreover, Sceptre S6 also features a radio-frequency shielding to block unwanted noises, current limiting, and a over-temperature protection.

In short, this is a great studio monitor if you are willing to upgrade your previous gear. It has many added functionalities which are absent in other studio monitors we have seen.

What’s Inside:

  • Driver: 6.5″ Woofer and a  1″ horn-loaded Tweeter which acts just like a dome tweeter
  • Amplifier: 90W LF, 90W HF (180W RMS Class-D bi-amp)
  • Inputs: 1 x XLR, 1 x TRS
  • Frequency Response: 52 Hz-20 kHz
  • Cabinet: Front Ported
  • Controls: Level, Acoustic Space, HF Driver, HP Filter
  • Dimensions: 13.2″ x 9″ x 12.2″
  • Weight: 18.8 lbs.

Pros and Cons of Presonus Sceptre S6:

Pros
  • Mids are crisp
  • Temporal Equalization to reduce impulses
  • Heat-sink on amplifier
  • Excellent design
Cons
  • May lack in producing highs

 

4- Edifier S2000 Pro:

Overview:

 Edifier S2000 Pro Best Bookshelf Speakers

When it comes to design and aesthetics, nothing really beats the Edifier S2000 Pro. Edifier has always been keen in designing their components in a way that do not only sound good but also looks appealing to the eye. This retro design and a luxurious look will surely compliment any decor, Nothing is really extra in terms of specifications, but let’s dive into the details.

Edifier S2000 Pro is one of the top-notch near-field and actively powered studio monitors. It features a 5.5” woofers and flat 1” tweeters. The monitor boasts a frequency response of in the range 48Hz – 20kHz. The flat diaphragm is the reason behind the clear and crisp high frequencies. Using the advanced DSP crossover designs, the woofer has been designed in such a way so as to reduce the metal sound while giving precise lows.

Another great thing about S2000 Pro is it features Bluetooth 4.0 connection, along with aptX decoder that will provide you with lossless audio playback and save you from the hassle of wires. The monitor also has four pre-defined EQ settings and a number of treble, bass and volume controls. The monitor also comes with a remote using which you can modify all these settings sitting away from the monitors.

All in all, This is a great studio monitor/speaker for your bookshelf. The wireless connectivity along with remote control and sound quality is the reason that we have mentioned it in this list.

What’s Inside:

  • Driver: 5″ Woofer and a  1″ flat diaphragm Tweeter
  • Amplifier: Treble (12W + 12W), Woofer (50W + 50W) for two units.
  • Inputs: Bluetooth, RCA cable, AUX, XLR
  • Frequency Response: 48Hz~20KHz
  • Cabinet: Close Ported
  • Controls: EQ Settings, Volume Control, Treble Control, Bass Control
  • Signal to noise ratio dB(A): ≥94 dB(A)
  • Dimensions: 8″ x 13.5″ x 10.5″
  • Weight: ~40 lbs.

Pros and Cons of Edifier S2000 Pro:

Pros
  • Elegant design
  • Top-notch build
  • Bluetooth support
  • Flatter Frequency response
Cons
  • Output to a subwoofer is not provided

 

5- IK Multimedia iLoud:

Overview

IK iLoud MicroMonitors Front

These ultra-compact studio monitors may look odd at first sight, but believe me, they will certainly amaze you. The iLoud Micro Monitors feature the modern Bluetooth technology and high-quality amplifiers to drive the woofers to do the justice with audio mixing.

Inside these little black boxes is a 3” neodymium woofer along with a ¾” silk dome tweeter. The unit is capable of giving an almost flat frequency response in the range 55Hz to 20kHz. The enclosure is ported just like the other monitors. The unit also features a high and low-frequency controls to adapt to different room environments and minimizing the room interference.

iLoud Micro Monitors include built-in EQ mode to account for unnecessary and amplified bass and to provide a flatter frequency response. Don’t forget that they are near-field monitors and will suit you if you have a small studio room. A digital crossover whose frequency is set at 3.5 kHz is used which gives a flatter and detailed mids. The monitor is bi-amplified with a total power of just 25W (18W LF and 7W HF).

 IK iLoud MicroMonitors Back

In short, if you have a smaller working space then IK’s iLoud Micro will do the work for you. The sound is pretty accurate and detailed. They should be placed very near your head for a better working.

What’s inside:

  • Driver: 3″ Woofer and a 0.75″ Dome Tweeter
  • Amplifier: 18W LF, 7W HF
  • Frequency response: 55Hz – 20kHz (-3dB), 45Hz – 22kHz (-10dB)
  • Enclosure: Ported
  • Controls: Bluetooth, EQ, Volume
  • Dimensions: 7.09″ x 5.31″ x 3.54″
  • Weight: 3.9 lbs.

Pros and Cons of IK iLoud MicroMonitors:

Pros
  • Compact design
  • Portable
  • Cheaper yet provide clear sound
  • Rich bass
Cons
  • Not so great build quality
  • No XLR connection

 

6- Focal Alpha 80:

Overview:

Focal Alpha 80 Front

Just like most of the other studio monitors Focal’s Alpha 80 also features a 2-way driver configuration. These are powered studio monitors and have an amp of their own.

Alpha 80 is really a step up from the previous Alpha 65. As far as the drivers are concerned, there’s nothing special but a big 8” woofer along with 1” Polyglass tweeter. This makes the monitor to reproduce the frequencies between the range 35Hz – 22kHz (+/- 3dB) and the peak SPL is 109dB. The drivers are powered by 140W Class A/B Bi-amplifier.

Focal Alpha 80 also comes with a stand-by and a power-saving mode, thus if ever you went for a drink and forgot to turn off your speakers, the speaker will turn itself off after 30 minutes hence saving energy. The low directiveness of the monitors ensures that the volume remains the same everywhere.

 Focal Alpha 80 Back

The unit has a solid build quality and a bit larger in size so you may need more space to adjust these, and maybe a stand. Alpha 80s are known to maintain the tonal balance at any volume whatsoever.

What’s inside:

  • Driver: 8″ Woofer and a 1″ Tweeter
  • Amplifier: 100W LF, 40W HF (Total: 140W bi-amp)
  • Inputs: 1 x XLR, 1 x RCA
  • Frequency Response: 35Hz – 22kHz (+/- 3db)
  • Enclosure: Ported
  • Dimensions: 15.6″ x 11.3″ x 13.7″
  • Weight: ~22 lbs.

Pros and Cons of Focal Alpha 80:

Pros
  • Maintains Tonal Balance at different volume levels
  • Power-efficient
  • Heavy lows
Cons
  • More space needed
  • Lacks in producing highs – but not too much

 

7- AvantonePro Audio Active MixCubes:

Overview:

 Avantone Audio MixCubes

AvantonePro Audio Active Mixcubes although are really “mini” in size yet they offer great mids. These are a great pair of monitors if you want to check how will your mix translate to other mediums like TV, Hi-Fi speakers or car speakers. You may need a separate subwoofer if you really want to “bass things up”.

MixCubes are special in a way that they don’t have a separate tweeter for highs. Instead, it relies on its only 5.25” driver to do the magic. Surprisingly, it still gives a kick-ass competition to other monitors having a monitor. I, myself have not used it but what my friends tell is that MixCubes produce some top-notch mids and lows. The frequency response is 90Hz – 17kHz. Both of the units have a 60W Class A/B amplifier.

The design looks a bit outdated as this is inspired from the old 5C sound cubes. There also are not a lot of controls provided except System Gain and Ground Lift. So there’s that.

In my opinion, MixCubes are the best monitors for mono-mixing. Everything that lies between the mids, these little beasts handle those perfectly. What I have seen most professionals do is that they buy a pair of this for mono-mixing and vocals, and a separate setup for the rest. Now It’s up to you what you want!

What’s Inside:

  • Driver: 5.25″ Woofer
  • Amplifier: 60W
  • Inputs: 1 x XLR/TRS Combo
  • Frequency Response: 90Hz-17kHz
  • Enclosure: Sealed
  • Dimensions: 6.5″ x 6.5″ x 6.5″
  • Weight: 7.13 lbs.

Pros and Cons of Avantone MixCubes:

Pros
  • Accurate mids
  • Ideal for mono-mixing
  • Translates well to other media players
  • Compact
Cons
  • No tweeter
  • Lacks more control options
  • Only 1 x XLR/TRS combo inputs – nothing special

Conclusion:

Conclusively, I would like to add that I myself really like to add that there are no clear winners. But if you are in a hurry you better have a look at the following models:

Best Studio Monitors Under $200:

  1. Yamaha HS5
  2. Rockville APM6W

Best Studio Monitors Under $500:

  1. Yamaha HS8
  2. KRK Rokit RP10-3

That’s all folks. Share if you liked the article. Do comment if you happen to buy a studio monitor from our reviews!

About the author

Justin Parker

Justin Parker is a 26-year old blogger. He is a Software Engineer who loves Blogging. He likes to test out different products and to write reviews on it to help others in choosing the best product from the market!

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