5 Best Budget Studio Monitors (REVIEW)

Adding the best budget studio monitors you can find to your studio is one of the best additions to your music production suite you can make. Headphones are all well and good, but being able to hear it as many of the people who buy and listen to your music will hear it will help you deliver the best possible product.

Budget studio monitors can be better than high-end ones in this regard. After all, the majority of people don’t have esoteric audiophile set ups. They have iPod docks, car speakers and laptops with built-in speakers.

Slightly lower-end studio monitors can help you get a more accurate reflection of the typical quality of a consumer sound system, whilst still possessing the reference levels you need in order to make a mix that will sound good no matter what.

At a Glance: Our Choice Of The 5 Best Budget Studio Monitors On The Market

Note: The links above take you to more information, current prices and customer reviews on Amazon. If you do purchase something we get a small commission, which has absolutely no effect on the eventual price that you pay.

Buyer's Tips: What to look for when buying the best budget studio monitors

  • Frequency range is important, but most studio monitors will have enough support of both bass and high frequencies to not be an issue unless you’re using extreme bass (in which case you will also need a studio subwoofer.) What will matter more is how good the monitors sound at either end. Looking at the frequency variation (the difference in decibels) will help with this. It’s normally expressed in the format of ± 2dB, which would indicate the sound at various frequencies can fluctuate by as much as two decibels. For budget studio monitors, a variation of ± 3dB is ideal.
  • Distortion will add unwanted noise to your audio. Choosing studio monitors that offer the lowest distortion is key, but keep in mind that consumer speakers can be as high as one percent, whereas the perfect studio monitors would offer less than 0.001 percent. The less distortion you have in the production stage, the better it will sound on consumer speakers.
  • Field distance will be a factor if you plan on making music for commercial purposes. Near-field monitors are better for replicating close distance (such as in a bedroom or car) listening, and far-field monitors are better for music that would be heard from speakers relatively far away, such as in a store, music festival or large stores.

There are many more factors which you should take into account when choosing the best studio monitors. For more information as to the specs you should be aware of when making your choice take a look here for a comprehensive guide.

Ok let's look at each product in more detail. To make things easier for you, we've added pros and cons for each one, as well as a video demonstration so you can see them in action. So without further ado, let’s take a look...

5 Best Budget Studio Monitors ​

1. KRK RP5G3-NA Rokit 5 (Editor's Choice)

KRK RP5G3 ROKIT 5 G3 5' 2-Way Powered Studio Monitor, Black

Produced by one of the most trusted companies in the industry, and offering a great deal of quality whilst being very affordable for a home studio setup. They’re one of the best value-for-money studio monitors.

  • Lots of headroom
  • Very low total harmonic distortion and noise
  • Doesn’t boost bass or highs to create fake frequency range
  • Doesn’t include cables
  • Automatically powers down if the volume isn’t high enough
  • Documentation is poor for setup

Let's take a look at this product...

2. M-Audio BX8 D2

M-Audio BX8 D2 8-Inch Active 2-Way Studio Monitor Speakers

A more powerful pair of studio monitors than the KRK with much higher wattage, but also far lower high frequency range.

  • Magnetically shielded to reduce noise from other electronic equipment in your studio
  • Balanced, clean and accurate sound
  • Has a kevlar woofer for better bass response
  • More expensive than the KRK despite similar quality
  • Quite large so you might need to invest in stands for them
  • The ¼” jack produces lower sound quality compared to the XLR

Let's take a look at this product...

3. JBL Pro LSR308 Studio Monitors

JBL Pro LSR308-PAIR Studio Montior

If neither the KRK or M-Audio seemed like the best budget studio monitors for you, these ones from JBL are an attractive third option.

  • Has a port in the back for bass
  • Clear and accurate audio representation
  • Pleasing aesthetic design
  • High frequency support is fairly low, topping out at just 24 kHz
  • One of the more expensive budget studio monitors
  • Very large compared to similar spec monitors

Let's take a look at this product...

4. Yamaha HS series Studio Monitors

Yamaha HS5 Powered Studio Monitor Pair Bundle with Two Monitors, TRS Cables, and Austin Bazaar Polishing Cloth, Bundle w/ Cables, HS5

Another solid offering come from Yamaha. Production using these monitors tends to translate very well into various low and high end sound systems used by consumers.

  • Unlike most budget studio monitors, the Yamaha HS series pair includes cables (not xlr, just ¼”)
  • Different versions, such as the HS7 and 8 are also available, giving broader range but also more expensive
  • Fairly restricted bass frequency range of 54 Hz
  • High degree of noise when not using high quality XLR cables

Let's take a look at this product...

5. Seismic Audio Spectra 8P Studio Monitors

Seismic Audio - Spectra-8P-Pair - Pair of Active 2-Way 8' Studio Reference Monitors - 95 Watts RMS - Studio Monitors

A great set of studio monitors for producing music if you want a representative audio response that doesn’t overemphasise bass or high ends, and also has a low level of noise to signal.

  • Has XLR / ¼” combo jack plus RCA inputs
  • Accurate sonic representation allows for better consumer end listening experience with poor frequency range speakers
  • One of the worst high frequency ranges, topping out at a measly 20 kHz
  • Very heavy for a pair of studio monitors in their class
  • The appearance looks a little cheap - but the sound quality is more important

So what are the best budget studio monitors?

One of the most widely regarded budget studio monitors is the KRK RP5G3-NA Rokit 5, and the overwhelming popularity of these studio monitors is a testament to how well they perform.

If for some reason these don’t take your fancy, the M-Audio and JBL Pro studio monitors are your next best bet, as they both offer fairly good frequency range, wattage and audio quality - especially when compared to other studio monitors in the same price range.

The Yamaha HS series is slightly different. Depending on your needs, either the HS5, 7 or 8 will be more suited to you, but the HS8 is pushing the limit of ‘budget’.

The Seismic Audio are probably the least attractive option of the five - but remember that this a best of the budget studio monitors - so they’re still a notch above the majority of comparably priced studio monitors.​

Featured image source: Matt Roberts / CC BY 2.0

Ged is Founder and Editor-in-chief at Zing Instruments. He’s a guitarist for London based gypsy jazz band ‘Django Mango’ and a lover of all things music. When he’s not ripping up and down the fretboard, he’s tinkering with his ’79 Campervan.

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