Best Budget Studio Monitors of 2021

Dave Mostert
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But I know what you’re thinking, “Linking studio monitors to a DAW is not the same as listening to live music”. On the other hand, how well is your room treated? Is it bright? Are the walls painted? Is there a lot of colored diffusers on the windows? Is there carpet under the speakers? All of this impacts how your studio monitors will sound.

If you’re not going for the most expensive studio monitors, there are several good options available.

You must also take into account how you’re going to be using them. Will you be producing music with a dedicated studio, live mixing or sound designing? Do you need flat speakers or speakers with a small amount of coloration?

Most importantly of all, have you isolated them from the rest of the room acoustics?

Below are reviews of the best budget studio monitors you should consider buying in 2021.

NameCategoryProduct
Yamaha HS5 Powered Studio MonitorBest OverallYamaha HS5 Powered Studio Monitor
Edifier R1280T Powered Bookshelf SpeakersBudget PickEdifier R1280T Powered Bookshelf Speakers
JBL Professional LSR310S -Channel Studio SubwooferUpgrade PickJBL Professional LSR310S -Channel Studio Subwoofer

1. Yamaha HS5 Powered Studio Monitor

Our rating: 9 / 10

Yamaha HS5 Powered Studio Monitor

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Pros:

  • Versatile and great for various purposes
  • Excellent sound and quality
  • Easy to set up
  • Affordable but high-end product
  • Great build quality with a solid aluminum housing
  • Good amount of bass with a noticeably clean midrange and crystal clear upper-end
  • Compatible with (and comes shipped with) a power supply
  • Good amount of connection options, including XLR, 1/4” and RCA
  • Easy and convenient to adjust the monitor settings
  • The near-field position of the monitor works well for monitor wedge applications

Cons:

  • May not be the best choice for more complex and demanding projects
  • You can get a slightly better sound for the same price
  • You have to spend time to set them up right
  • Doesn’t go to really high volume levels

Yamaha HS5 comes at 20Hz to 45kHz with a smooth frequency accuracy of +/-1.5dB, and it also has a wider dispersion angle than its competitors. The peak output of each speaker is 104 dB and the low end extends to below 30Hz on the HS5 powered studio monitors.

2. Edifier R1280T Powered Bookshelf Speakers

Our rating: 9 / 10

Edifier R1280T Powered Bookshelf Speakers

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Pros:

  • For the price, it would be hard to beat
  • Decent overall sound quality
  • Bass is powerful and can be turned up
  • Line and Phono input available
  • Cables provided
  • Good quality speakers for the price

Cons :

  • Not a perfect fit for all studios
  • Metal grills that aren’t adjustable
  • The construction isn’t necessarily durable

3. JBL Professional LSR310S -Channel Studio Subwoofer

Our rating: 8 / 10

JBL Professional LSR310S -Channel Studio Subwoofer

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4. Mackie Studio Monitor

Our rating: 8 / 10

Mackie Studio Monitor

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Pros:

  • Extremely high sound quality
  • Most affordable and best studio monitors of 2020
  • External protection over the speakers
  • Free of lead and mercury.
  • Great design
  • Long cable
  • Two-year warranty.
  • A very good choice for beginners.

Cons:

  • Although these woofers are superb, they are still not better than the Focal range.

If you are a professional recording artist, you would need a matching studio monitor. A good studio monitor is the one that doesn’t only give you high quality sounds but also give you crystal clear sounds. The Mackie studio monitor offers all of those features and much more.

These Mackie monitors are extremely high quality in terms of their tones. However, they are not as effective as your high-end studio monitors. Although those are not as affordable, they produce a more powerful sound. This product produces crisp sounds along with a solid bass. This is a perfect studio monitor for beginners.

This is a CAD engineered studio monitor. This feature gives you a special look from your average studio monitor. This feature makes the studio monitor look way better than its competitors.

5. KRK RP5G3 ROKIT 5 G3 2-Way Powered Studio Monitor

Our rating: 7 / 10

KRK RP5G3 ROKIT 5 G3 2-Way Powered Studio Monitor

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Pros:

  • Pairs well with various guitar pedalboards
  • Incredible sound quality
  • Great price point
  • High-powered with very good frequency range
  • Great addition to a recording setup
  • Great for hearing mixes and overdubs
  • Great for various genres – rock, pop, etc.

Cons:

  • You will need to purchase your own speaker stands
  • The volume knob is located on the back of the speaker
  • Can be tricky to assemble

These monitors are affordable and fit well with pedal boards, and a great addition to your home recording studio. They have a decent frequency, loud enough without any distortion if you play quietly. The sound quality is amazing and they are very well made. They are lightweight as well, which makes them easy to move if you have to move them.

The only caveat that we’ve come across is that you will need to buy your own speaker stands. These speakers are a good fit for a high-level and professional recording studio.

6. KRK RP5G3W-NA Rokit 5 Generation 3 Powered Studio Monitor

Our rating: 7 / 10

KRK RP5G3W-NA Rokit 5 Generation 3 Powered Studio Monitor

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Pros:

  • A very affordable pair of near-field studio monitors
  • Crisp, detailed audio
  • Frequency response of 50Hz-20kHz
  • Portable
  • Size, compact – good choice if you have limited space in your studio
  • On-board volume control

Cons:

  • Not suited for mid to low-end mixing and mastering
  • Clamp these onto a riser to produce clearer highs

Great value, small footprint, good sound.

If you want an affordable pair of near field monitors, the Rokit 5 G3 is an excellent choice. Why? Because it packs some serious performance into its relatively small frame. And with a frequency response of 50 Hz – 20 kHz, these monitors have a sound that’s critical for understanding how the various frequencies in the mix will translate to a speaker system.

7. JBL Professional LSR305 First-Generation 5" 2-Way Powered Studio Monitor

Our rating: 6 / 10

JBL Professional LSR305 First-Generation 5" 2-Way Powered Studio Monitor

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Pros:

  • Affordable cost
  • Adequate bass response for smaller rooms
  • Easy-to-read display
  • Balanced audio response
  • Smooth and natural sounding
  • Accurate bass
  • Accurate midrange
  • Accurate treble
  • Great for mixing
  • For all genres

Cons:

  • Very prominent low-end. If not placed in right location, low-end can be disruptive and overpower the mix.
  • Very directional so place appropriately.

8. Presonus E4.5-4.5" 2-Way Near Field Studio Monitor

Our rating: 6 / 10

Presonus E4.5-4.5" 2-Way Near Field Studio Monitor

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Pros:

  • Excellent bass sound
  • Comes with a 1-inch silk
  • Excellent build quality
  • Coated cloth tweeter

Cons:

  • A bit heavy, and takes up more space
  • Might not be suitable for smaller flats and apartments
  • Requires a stand for raised setup

Listed here are the top near-field studio monitors that are currently available at an affordable price. These are top-rated professional near-field studio monitors that offer exceptional performance. These speakers are used by audiophiles and producers in their home or recording studio.

The Presonus Eris E4.5, in particular, is fairly affordable, and it also offers the best value for money as compared to all the other models of studio monitors available in the current market. It comes with features like high-frequency response and low-frequency thump that is comparable to a pair of high-end studio monitors. The accuracy is phenomenal, and the clarity and accuracy of sound is great.

The speaker drivers are four inches, and the speakers come with a tweeter of one inch. It also has a canopy horn that produces a wide soundstage. The two-way operation is made possible by the medium dome tweeter and 5-inch woofer. The woofer has a swivel mount so that you can adjust it.

9. Adam Audio"F5 5"" Powered Studio Monitor"

Our rating: 6 / 10

Adam Audio"F5 5"" Powered Studio Monitor"

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Pros:

  • Very versatile – for monitors/subs alike
  • Work well for a variety of genres
  • Superb component quality
  • Very user-friendly
  • Solidly made
  • Amazingly refined sound
  • As close to perfect monitors as I’ve ever heard
  • Active subwoofer highly recommended
  • Unmatched low-end performance
  • Mind-blowing sound clarity and accuracy

10. KRK ROKIT 6 G3 6" 2-Way Powered Studio Monitor,

Our rating: 6 / 10

KRK ROKIT 6 G3 6" 2-Way Powered Studio Monitor,

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Pros:

  • Exceptional performance for the price
  • Designed using professional sound engineering standards and specifications
  • Three-way design that delivers a room-filling sound
  • Exceptional value for money
  • High-quality construction
  • Based on the popular Rokit series of monitors

Some music pros say that if you want a real reality check, then listen to your recordings on really good monitors. This is a pair of monitors that every artist should invest in, because it gives you the ability to hear things in your tracks that you wouldn’t otherwise.The KRK ROKIT G3 series comes with a lot of features that make it one of the best budget studio monitors available in the market.

With its wide frequency range and 3-way design, you’re always going to find that the ROKIT offers smooth sound. The smooth and extended highs, clear and defined mids, and optimal bass response are some of the benefits to this monitor.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What are the best budget studio monitors?

Here is how you will know if a pair of headphones is good or not: if you can hear the difference between the audio playing through the headphones and audio played in a room without headphones, you should buy greater headphones.

Keeping a budget in mind, this category is for:

  • Those that enjoy hooking their headphones up to a stereo receiver and playing music through their speakers
  • People who travel and want to take one pair of headphones with them that will work with any phone, iPod, PC, or whatever
  • Those who have limited space and want to use headphones with their computer
  • Inexpensive headphones that offer the very best quality

What are the best studio monitors under $100?

We strongly recommend the Behringer Truth B2030A, as it's one of the most balanced monitors for its price, if you’re on a tight budget that is. Are they perfect? No, but you can expect great things from these monitors. They're able to provide solid bass and clarity, above average mids, and great highs, despite their price.

For a more detailed review of the Behringer Truth B2030A read our full review here.

As a bonus, the monitors are easy to install and use, as they connect to any home stereo system using standard RCA cables on the back. The Behringer Truth B2030A houses two 5-inch woofers and a silk dome tweeter that can handle frequencies below 40 Hz and above 21 kHz. Although these monitors aren't perfect, they are one of the better monitor pair on a budget.

Which studio monitors should I buy?

Of course, there is no single correct answer to this question, but, at its core, picking the best studio monitors can be boiled down to personal preference. How much money should you spend? What speaker configuration is right for you? What sound signature do you prefer?

These are all questions you’ll have to answer for yourself.

Are expensive studio monitors worth it?

That depends. To some extent, the value of an expensive set of studio monitors has to be weighed against the benefits that you get from the budget ones.

Some folks can hear everything on the cheap monitors and so getting a nice set of studio monitors isnʼt worth the cost to them.

But even if you can hear everything you need to hear on the budget monitors, you may find that you need a more accurate set of studio monitors in order to produce music and sound that is true to your artistic vision. You may also find that you want to take your recordings further than the budget monitors will let you.

This is a decision you have to make for yourself, but keep in mind that expensive gear isn't suitable for everyone. Sometimes cheap gear works just fine.

Conclusion

Whether you want to record some music or just want some monitors for a gaming set-up, you will find plenty of options when it comes to choosing the best studio monitors. If you’re on a budget, it’s important to choose monitors that have a low distortion and a clear response. But don’t worry, the monitors we’ve chosen for you as the best budget studio monitors are sure to meet this criterion and more.

Our Recommendation

NameCategoryProduct
Yamaha HS5 Powered Studio MonitorBest OverallYamaha HS5 Powered Studio Monitor
Edifier R1280T Powered Bookshelf SpeakersBudget PickEdifier R1280T Powered Bookshelf Speakers
JBL Professional LSR310S -Channel Studio SubwooferUpgrade PickJBL Professional LSR310S -Channel Studio Subwoofer