Here are the best of the currently available affordable studio monitors which are perfectly suited for home recording setups - Updated for 2014.
Home recording gear continues to become more accessible and affordable, which means we are getting more quality at lower price points. Now studio monitors that can be had for less than $200 are more than capable of handling home recording. Even if you already have expensive speakers, you can still benefit from these smaller speakers because they will you hear what your music will sound like in the real world, which are currently dominated by mobile music players with their small speakers and earphones.
To save you from the hassle of sifting through many monitors, here are the cream of the crop based on recommendations, reviews, feedback and popularity.
JBL's popularity as a speaker manufacturer is unquestionable, and so it is natural to expect great things from even its smaller products like the LSR2325P.
For its size, this speaker provides an impressively wide sweet spot, thanks to the specially designed speaker positioning and curves. Users rave of its clarity, articulate sound and sonic transparency, which simply outperform other monitors within its price range. The LSR2325P is Bi-Amplified and comes with a 5" woofer and a 1" soft dome tweeter, and it operates really well within its frequency range of 43Hz-20kHz .
Connectivity options include a balanced XLR, balanced 1/4" TRS, and RCA connectors. These allow for versatile connections from professional mixing consoles to everyday music devices. Other features include level control, low and high frequency trim controls and a neoprene rubber bottom pad. This studio monitor is highly recommended, not just by us, but by everyone that happened to try or buy the LSR2325P. Manufacturer: JBL | Retail Price: $150 | Get the latest LSR2325P price and reviews at Amzon.com
KRK Rokit 6
The KRK Rokit 6 Gen 2 is a popular studio monitor, especially among DJs. You can easily spot these speakers in many home studio or DJ setups, and it is quite a staple in Instagram DJ gear photos. The Rokit 6 Gen 2 is hard to miss because of its distinctive yellow, Aramid composite woofer-cone.
This powered studio monitor is popular because of its reliably transparent tone, input versatility and distinctive look. Following modern monitor design, the KRK Rokit is bi-amplified, with a 1"tweeter and a bigger 6" woofer that covers frequencies from 48Hz to 20kHz. Easy integration into your setup is provided by its RCA, 1/4" and XLR inputs.
Another nifty feature of this studio monitor is the skid-proof pad in the bottom, which also doubles as vibration dampener. Aside from hitting the sweet spot in terms sonic quality, Rokit 6 Gen 2 also hits the sweet spot in terms of pricing and quality balance. Manufacturer: KRK Systems | Retail Price: $200 | Get the latest Rokit 6 price and reviews at Amzon.com
Presonus Eris E4.5
This relatively unknown gem can easily match the sonic quality of more expensive monitors, it has satisfied those that were lucky enough to test its impressively accurate sonic response.
As expected, this speaker system provides transparent sounds with flat response. Instead of hyping up the sound to hide flaws, the Eris E4.5 will let you hear inherent problems clearly, so you can work on improving your mix. This is achieved via their specially designed Kevlar low frequency transducers, low-mass silk-dome tweeters, and responsive Class AB amplification.
What makes Eris more flexible when compared to other monitors in this price range is the built-in "Acoustic Tuning" feature. This will let you adjust the high, mid and low frequency cutoffs to match the acoustics of the room that you are monitoring in. There's even a a three position "Acoustic Space switch" that lets you filter frequencies below 800Hz to compensate for the bass boost that occurs when you setup the monitors near a wall or corner. The Eris 4.5 is among the most versatile studio monitors in the market, ideal for musicians that mix and produce music while on the go. Manufacturer: Presonus | Retail Price: $200 | Get the latest Eris E4.5 price and reviews at Amzon.com
Behringer Behritone C50A
The Behringer Behritone C50A is a great mono monitoring system that lets you listen to how your mix will sound like on "lo-fi" players. It is based on the old Auratone speaker, a cheap cube speaker with a 5" full range driver that became popular in the '70s.
Like the Auratone, the C50A lets you hear your mix from the stand point of reality - behaving like stock TV and Car speakers, and it does a good job of sounding "bad". Within the frequency range of 90Hz-15kHz, the Behritone C50A can help you discover problems in your music production that would otherwise be missed, making it a great tool even for studios with the best set of monitors.
Finally, the C50A monitor has a classic appeal that is easy on the eyes, matching the speakers vintage voicing. Because of this, the speaker also doubles as an aesthetic furniture for your studio. Manufacturer: Behringer | Retail Price: $130 | Get the latest Behritone C50A price and reviews at Amzon.com
M-Audio AV 40
Because of its simplistic design, this affordable studio monitor can easily double as a computer or multi-media speaker, and I can understand why. It is not just designed for monitoring and mixing, instead it sits comfortably between, bearing studio quality audio with computer friendly size and controls.
The AV-40 is highly recommended for entry-level studio use because of its simplicity and sonic clarity. Its size do limit the frequency response (85Hz-20kHz) and bass, so producers that rely on that might need an alternative, but for everything else, this humble studio monitor can get the job done. Even picky listeners appreciate its detailed high frequencies.
After a day's worth of mixing and recording work, the M-Audio AV-40 can also double as a great speaker system for playing video games, or for listening to your favorite music while you relax. This monitor plays as hard as it works, ideal for hobbyists and those that are starting to setup their home studio. Manufacturer: M-Audio | Retail Price: $120| Get the latest AV 40 price and reviews at Amzon.com
Alesis M1 Active 320 USB
For its price, the Alesis M1 Active 320 powered monitor speakers pack some nifty features, giving you the best value for your hard earned bucks. Aside from providing great flat response for studio monitoring, this pair of speakers can also double as a multi-media speaker, and it comes with built-in USB audio interface for plugging instruments to your computer.
Convenience is also its key feature, being USB powered, this speaker will help reduce cable clutter while still delivering great sounds. It delivers 16-bit/44.1-48kHz audio quality with a frequency response of 80Hz-20kHz, ideal for small treated rooms. To make up for its small size, the Alesis M1 Active 320 comes with a nifty Bass Boost switch for reasonable low frequency enhancement - great when listening to finished tracks.
Its most impressive feature however is the multiple I/O ports, where it works both as a studio monitor and as an audio interface. You can connect various electronic instruments and multi-media players for easy computer recording. For its price, this is a very sweet deal from Alesis and one that can help many musicians that want to record without incurring additional costs. Manufacturer: Alesis | Retail Price: $79 | Get the latest M1 Active 320 price and reviews at Amzon.com
Yamaha's experience with various aspects of music production allows them to build affordable gear with impressive quality. The HS5 powered studio monitor is one such example, providing professional level monitoring with a frequency range of 54Hz to 30KHz, at a price point that even beginners can afford.
The designers knew that accuracy is the most important consideration for monitors, and so they ensured that sonic coloration and alteration are avoided. Instead of enhancing the sound, HS5 simply reproduces the sound as flat and transparent as possible. This means you get to hear your tracks "warts and all", so you can make the right decisions while mixing.
This nearfield reference monitor lives up to its design philosophy, providing high resolution sounds while maintaining a naturally flat response. Many claim that this is the cleanest sounding studio monitor in the market today, and we agree. Manufacturer: Yamaha | Retail Price: $180 | Get the latest HS5 price and reviews at Amzon.com
We have checked high and low to provide you with the best cheap studio monitors, but if you feel that we have missed something, you can let us know via the comments section.
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