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Best Budget Studio Monitors


Everyone has those speakers that they love to listen to music through. It could be for casual listening or you could be heavily involved in editing your own music or a client’s project. With that in mind, you would want to have the clearest monitors to hear those nuances that could be the subtle groove that drives the song. But the ever looming word that haunts every musician and producer… BUDGET. We cannot all afford the newest ATC 15” $20,000 speakers. But we all have to start somewhere. That is why we are going to take a look into some of the best studio monitors to get on a budget of a max of $600.

Best Reasons to use Studio Monitors

Studio Monitors VS Just Regular Speakers

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 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 verses pro is looking at one of the higher rated speakers available on Amazon.

Edifier R1700BT

The Edifier R1700BT is an example of consumer level speakers. They have a great sound as you can see by the many high reviews of happy customers but when you look at the details you can easily see why they are not pro. First if you look at the back of the speakers you see they daisy chain power as well as signal flow.

Now if you were working with pro monitors you would want each speaker to have its own individual power draw. The signal flow also needs 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. To look even further into the details, the frequency response range of the Edifier R1700BT goes from 60Hz to 20k Hz (20,000). Even though the human hearing spectrum only goes from 20Hz to 20k Hz, 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

It was mentioned earlier that monitors should 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 Speaker Signal Flow

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.

Active Speaker Signal Flow

Active monitors are monitors that have their own power supply. The reason this is not worth is or a low budget system is that is simply is not low budget. 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.

Best Options to Look For

Within the price range of $600 or less you will find some different options that can prove to help you. Usually when looking at a specific model of monitor, there are going to be different size cones. With a larger cone comes louder sound capabilities as well as better low end response and representation. Most of the time, the largest speaker cone one can get in a pair of monitors under $600 would be 6-8 inches. After that, you would want to know what the connections for the speaker will be. For these cables, you would not want to cheap out. So you may want to factor cables into your budget. With better cables comes better signal flow and less chance of deterioration of value or frequency. When it comes to frequencies, you want to have the widest range of response from your monitors so as to have the best representation for your ears.

Top Model Choices

Presonus Eris E Series

 

Eris E5

Presonus has been building itself up as a name in recording. Mainly known for their interfaces, they also work with monitors. I included both sizes that you could afford a pair of for less than $600 so as to give you options. On the link provided both monitors are sold as either a pair or a single monitor. Buying as a pair would possibly save some hassle when it came to shipping.

Model Image Price Cone Size Tweeter Size Total

Power

Frequency Response Power Supply Input Weight
E5 $149.90 5” 1.25” 80W 53Hz – 22kHz IEC XLR, TRS, RCA 10.2 lbs
E8 $249.95 8” 1.25” 140W 53Hz – 22kHz IEC XLR, TRS, RCA 22.2 lbs

Best- for travel
It is given this title due to its smaller size and overall weight being less than that of others in the list.

JBL MKII

MKII 305P

 

Model Image Price Cone Size Tweeter Size Total

Power

Frequency Response Power Supply Input Weight
305P $149.90 5” 1” 82W 43Hz – 24kHz IEC XLR, TRS, RCA 10.2 lbs
306P $199 6.5” 1’ 112W 39Hz- 24kHz IEC XLR, TRS, RCA 15.95 lbs
308P $249.95 8” 1” 112W 37Hz – 24kHz IEC XLR, TRS, RCA 20.73 lbs

JBL has been a name in the pro audio sector for many years with a presence in the high end monitors as well as other studio gear. The MKII series has been marked as high quality speakers, and provide a sleek look to any desk it sits on. The frequency response range section has 2 options for each of the aforementioned speakers. The reason for this is that the frequency response will change with a setting on the monitor itself. The input sensitivity can be set to +4dBu or -10dBv. The +4dBu is the one with a smaller response range and the -10dBv option has the wider range for more detailed editing.

Best- for bedroom mixes
This labeled as such due to its sound spread and ability to provide quality sound in many different environments.

Yamaha HS

Yamaha HS5

 

Model Image Price Cone Size Tweeter Size Total Power Frequency Response Power Supply Input Weight
HS5 $199.99 5” 1” 70W 54Hz-30kHz IEC XLR, TRS 11.7 lb.
HS7 $299.99 6.5” 1” 95W 43Hz-30kHz IEC XLR, TRS 18.1 lb.

Yamaha has been one of the go to monitors in professional studios since the early days of music production. Although these have only been available since 2013, you can be sure they come with a stamp of approval from this esteemed company.

Best- for detailed frequency work
This is labeled as such due to its higher frequency response over every other monitor on this list.

Focal Alpha

Focal Alpha

Focal Alpha 50

Model Image Price Cone Size Tweeter Size Total Power Frequency Response Power Supply Input Weight
Alpha 50 $299 5” 1” 55W 45Hz-22kHz IEC XLR, RCA 16.1 lb.

Focal is a creator of wonderful, high end studio monitors. Although it is the smallest and least expensive of the Alpha series, the Alpha 50’s do not lack the quality that Focal is known for.

Best- adaptability
These monitors have been labeled as such due to their overall quality and dependability.