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Best Budget Studio Monitors

Want to jump straight to the answer? Our choice for the Best Budget Studio Monitors is the Focal Alpha 50!

One of the most important tools that any engineer or producer can have is their monitors. We’re not talking about screens on the desk, but the speakers they listen through. Being able to accurately hear your music as you mix it is extremely important and is also the reason why the best studio monitors are so expensive. They take detailed and intricate builds to create an accurate representation of your music. 

Quicklook: Best Budget Studio Monitors

Why Should I Use Studio Monitors?

One of the first questions people will ask is, “What is the difference between just using a normal pair of speakers and studio monitors?” When it comes right down to it, it is all about quality. There are 2 levels when it comes to audio, and that is Consumer and Pro. Consumer-level is made for casual listeners looking to just enjoy the music. They want it to sound great, but the level of quality is still lower than what you would want to do when fine-tuning and EQ-ing the instruments in the mix. One of the best examples of consumer versus pro is looking at one of the higher-rated speakers available on Amazon.

Now if you were working with pro monitors, you want the signal flow to have at least 2 channels going from the source individually to each monitor for pro standards. The reason being is that then you can work with panning the mix in a stereo setting. With the signal flow also, you would want to go through a higher quality cable more capable of transferring the most data to the speakers, a cable such as XLR or TRS.

Many speakers on a consumer-level only have a frequency range spanning 60-70 Hz to 20 kHz. Even though the human hearing spectrum only goes from 20 Hz to 20 kHz, you still want a larger range for fall off. This being said, if you want the best quality sound, you would want something that can provide quality beyond what you are looking for thus making an even more superior product.

Active vs Passive

In general it is best if monitors have their own power supplies. This is to send the cleanest power to each monitor as well as avoid any grounding issues. There is however an alternative that can be used but is not effective for a low budget setup. This is the use of a power amplifier to passive speakers.

Passive Signal Chain
Passive Signal Chain

Passive speakers are speakers that do not have their own power supply built into them so they rely on a power amplifier through which the signal is sent. For this method to be credible, you need to purchase extremely high-quality power amplifiers that will not color the sound in any way or cause some sort of analog distortion, the same goes for the monitors. In this day and age, most modern studios do not even use passive monitor systems and will rely solely on active speakers.

Active Signal Chain
Active Signal Chain

Active monitors are monitors that have their own power supply. Everything is housed within the bodies of the speakers themselves, the only thing lacking is the signal itself. 

Best Budget Studio Monitors

  1. Presonus Eris E3.5 Pair
  2. Rockville Apm5b and Apm6b
  3. JBL 305P MKII
  4. Kali Audio LP-6
  5. Focal Alpha 50
  6. Yamaha HS5

For each of these price sections, we are looking at the price for a pair of the best budget studio monitors and not just one single monitor. 

Under $200

1. Eris E3.5 Pair – Presonus

Eris E3.5 Pair – Presonus

An interesting feature of these monitors is that the left speaker powers both of the monitors. This makes powering them much easier to do as you only need one outlet. According to Presonus, it is “the only monitors in its class with acoustic tuning,” and it’s true. They have 2 gain knobs to control the low and high frequencies. The 2 controls cross over each other at2.8 kHz. This means the low-end control stops at 2.8 kHz and begins for the high-end control. 

Best for: Travel

Price: See on Amazon

Cone Size: 3.5 in.

Output Power: 25 Watts

Frequency Response: 80 Hz – 20 kHz

Power Supply: AC

Input: RCA, TRS

2. Apm5b and Apm6b – Rockville

Apm5b and Apm6b – Rockville

Just as the Eris monitors, you have one speaker that powers both with the Rockville Apm5b and Apm6b. The frequency response built into these is impressive, especially for the price. You also have volume controls as well as 2 boost and cut switches for bass and treble frequencies. Want to give your studio a unique and sleek look? There are also classic wood and white finishes for your Rockville monitors.

Best for: Output Power for the Money

Price: See on Amazon

  • Cone Size: 
  • Apm5b – 5 in.
  • Apm6b – 6 in.

Power:

  • Apm5b – 125 Watts
  • Apm6b – 175 Watts

Frequency Response: 

  • Apm5b – 50 Hz – 20 kHz
  • Apm6b – 50 Hz – 20 kHz

Power Supply: IEC

Input: ¼”, XLR, RCA, USB

Under $300

3. 305P MKII – JBL

305P MKII – JBL

These monitors are the beginning of a professional feel. I have multiple friends who use these in their own setups, and I also have listened through these myself. They have a great sound and can really improve what you hear over smaller and less expensive monitors. You also have the option down the line to get their subwoofer extension that pairs beautifully with these monitors. JBL is a trusted name in the live world as well as in the studio so you know you have a brand you can trust on the end of your signal chain. 

Best for: Beginner Pros

Price:  See on Amazon

  • Cone Size: 5 in.

SPL Max: 108dB

Frequency Response: 

  • -10 dB – 43 Hz – 24 kHz
  • ±3 dB – 49 Hz – 20 kHz

Power Supply: IEC

Input: XLR, ¼” TRS

4.  LP-6 – Kali Audio

LP-6 – Kali Audio

After its start in 2018, Kali Audio has quickly built a name for themselves, striving for the best product by giving it their best, and it shows. Their reliable and affordable monitors are perfect for small home studios with a clean design coming in white and black. With their Dual-Layer Voice Coil, you can expect nothing but clarity coming from the high end, this is why they have such a high-frequency response compared to others on this list. 

Best for: High Frequency Clarity

Price: See on Amazon

Cone Size: 6.5 in.

SPL Max: 112dB

Frequency Response: 39 Hz – 25kHz

Power Supply: IEC

Input: RCA, ¼” TRS, XLR

Under $600

5. Alpha 50 – Focal

Alpha 50 – Focal

Focal is a high-end audio provider that recognizes that not everyone can afford their expensive products. They released the Alpha series as a low-end version of their monitors that are still high quality. These are my monitors of choice and I have used them on countless projects in my own home studio. I can say from experience these provide clarity that outmatches almost every other monitor in this price range. 

Best for: Sound Quality 

Price: See on Amazon

Cone Size: 5 in.

SPL Max: 103 dB

Frequency Response: 45 Hz – 22kHz

Power Supply: IEC

Input: XLR, RCA

6. HS5 – Yamaha

HS5 – Yamaha

Yamaha is an industry-standard when it comes to studio monitors. You will see Yamaha in so many studios from home studios to professional studios. They can be used as the primary monitors or even reference monitors to see how the sound translates. Listening through these provides a clear sound, and just to up the appeal, Yamaha also offers it in all white. Also like other monitors we have looked at, there are 2 switches to help control high and low-end frequencies to best match how they respond to the room you are in. 

Best for: Studio Standards

Price: See on Amazon

Cone Size: 5 in.

Power: 70 Watts

Frequency Response: 54 Hz – 30 kHz

Power Supply: IEC

Input: ¼” TRS, XLR

Monitor Your Progress

If you choose to use a pair of these budget studio monitors, listen to your old mixes. Better yet, compare new mixes to your old ones. See if you can notice any differences in the quality of your work. I can guarantee that you will hear new sounds with these monitors compared to your old ones, and with that comes more ability to mix and edit your tracks.

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If you’d like to learn more about the production process, check out this section of Audio Assemble to see reviews and comparisons of plugins and software that will work beautifully with your new budget studio monitors. 

Soundtrap by Spotify FREE Trial

Soundtrap is available as a completely online DAW powerful enough to produce music at a professional level. The Studio makes projects are available as collaborative efforts for band members or producers. An affordable option, that comes with a 30-day free trial.