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If you had to choose between buying cheap studio equipment and getting expensive ones, which way would you go? Chances are – you would buy whatever’s within your budget.
How about if someone was giving it to you for free? What would you do then? You would most likely go with the expensive gear. Reason?
The general perception is that there’s a direct correlation between how expensive an item is, and its overall quality and lifespan. While this may be true to some extent, it is not always the case.
Besides, not everyone has the luxury of spending thousands of dollars on high-end studio equipment, especially when you’re just starting. Plus, it doesn’t mean that there are no low-cost brands that carry high-quality equipment. You just need to find the right ones.
Lucky for you, we’ve tried and tested several different brands to bring you our top 8 picks for the best budget studio monitors for 2020.
1. Best Budget Studio Monitor for 2020 – #1 Bestseller
JBL has a legacy of producing high-performance sound equipment. The JBL Professional 308P MkII studio monitor builds on this long history of excellence to deliver an incredible amount of detail and exceptional sound-imaging, even in off-axis scenarios.
The best part is that it delivers a clear and crisp sound using the latest state of the art JBL technology at a very reasonable price-point.
- Cabinet dimensions: 16.5 x 10 x 12.1 inches
- System type: Powered 8″ Two-Way
- Peak SPL value: 112dB
- Coverage pattern: 120° x 90°
- Input type: Balanced XLR and 1/4″ TRS
- Great value for money
- Smooth high and low-frequency integration
- Above-average sound image consistency
- Doesn’t have a bass boost feature
2. Best Compact Budget Studio Monitor
The Mackie CR3 is a compact 3-inch studio monitor that delivers high-quality flat sound, at a pocket-friendly price. It is ideal for both beginners and professionals looking for a compact set of monitors that’s feature-rich and designed to offer extra flexibility.
- Cabinet dimensions: 6.2 x 5.5 x 8.2 inches
- System type: 3″ multimedia
- Amplification Type: Passive
- Output power: 28 Watts
- Input type:1/4″, 1/8”, and RCA
- It is a great option for entry-level mixing and mastering
- Exceptional sound quality
- Sleek, attractive design
- Doesn’t support bass frequencies
3. Best Versatile Budget Monitor
If you’re looking for a set of monitors that’s easy to use and easy to pair with other devices, then you’ll love what the Edifier R1280T speakers bring to the table. They are not only great for professional-level monitoring, but can also be used for music listening, watching TV, or gaming.
They deliver clear and crisp audio, with minimal distortion and highly-accurate sound imaging. The fact that they are low-cost as well is a definite plus.
- Cabinet dimensions: 6.9 x 9.5 x 5.8 inches
- System type: 4″ full range
- Amplification Type: Active
- Output power: 42 Watts RMS
- Input type: 2 x AUX
- Can be used for monitoring and music listening
- The two AUX inputs allow you to connect two devices at the same time
- Attractive wooden finish
- This particular version does not have Bluetooth connectivity
4. Best Budget NearField Monitors
Compared to others in its price range, the Presonus Eris near field studio monitors excel in performance, style, and quality. They deliver a natural and high-clarity sound that you would expect from higher-end models in the market. They truly offer the best value for money you can get.
- Cabinet dimensions: 6.4 x 5.6 x 8.3 inches
- System type: 3.5″ Two-Way
- Peak SPL value: 100dB
- Frequency response: 80 Hz – 20,000 Hz
- Input type: 1/8″ balanced XLR, 1/4″ TRS, and unbalanced RCA
- Supports acoustic tuning
- Superior sound quality
- Powerful bass response
- May produce a mild twitter hissing sound at higher frequencies
5. Best for Accurate Sound Image Capture
If you’re looking for a monitor that lays strong emphasis on the top to mid-range frequencies, then the M-Audio BX5 D3 offers all that and more. It has built-in Kevlar cones and low/high-frequency drivers to offer smooth waveguides for a clearer sound.
- Cabinet dimensions: 7.8 x 6.9 x 10 inches
- System type: 5″ Two-Way
- Power output: 100 Watts
- Frequency response: 52 Hz – 35,000 Hz
- Input type: XLR, 1/4″ and balanced/unbalanced inputs
- Compact, stylish, and robust
- Low and high-frequency drivers for superior amplifier output
- Enhanced and accurate sound-imaging
- Doesn’t have a high-frequency equalization option
6. Best Budget Studio Monitors for DJ Mixing
The Pioneer DJ studio monitors are an excellent choice for anyone looking to purchase their first set of monitoring equipment. They deliver a rich, versatile, and balanced sound, which is ultimately what you want when producing dance or electronic music.
- Cabinet dimensions: 15.6 x 10.8 x 13.5 inches
- System type: 4″ Two-Way bass reflex
- Power output: 2 x 21 Watts
- Frequency response: 70 Hz – 30,000 Hz
- Input type: RCA and Mini-Jack
- Excellent for DJing
- Sleek and stylish design
- Doesn’t have balanced Jack inputs
7. Best Budget Studio Monitor Headphones
The Audio-Technica ATH-M50 headphones are no doubt the most critically acclaimed studio monitors in the sound industry today. They are designed using cutting – edge technology to produce accurate vocals and tones with minimal noise interference and distortion. They are excellent for isolating sound in noisy environments.
- Dimensions: 11.4 x 10 x 4.1 inches
- 90° multi-directional swiveling ear cups
- Maximum power input: 1600 mW
- Frequency response: 15 Hz – 28,000 Hz
- Powerful bass frequency
- Excellent sound isolation and imaging
- Great value for money
- Bass sound may be slightly exaggerated
8. Best for Minimizing Listening Fatigue
The KRK RP7 Rokit is one of the top entry-level studio monitors around. It allows you to adjust its settings based on the acoustics of the room you’re in, using the DSP-driven room-tuning feature. It maintains frequency integrity across all levels while minimizing listening fatigue.
- Cabinet dimensions: 1 x 1 x 1 inches
- System type: 7″ two-way active
- Tweeter: 1” Kevlar fiber
- Frequency response: 42 Hz – 40,000 Hz
- Input type: XLR
- Has an app for acoustic optimization
- DSP-driven room tuning function to optimize acoustics
- Keeps unwanted vibrations to a minimum
- May not relay bass sounds in great detail
Don’t Compromise on Quality
In an ideal world, it would be great if you could access high-end studio equipment. The reality, however, is that you might have to find a low-cost alternative. Nonetheless, this doesn’t mean that you should compromise on quality either.
Keep in mind that you can always upgrade in the future once your production demands exceed the capability of your existing equipment. So, if you’re on the hunt for the best budget studio monitors, you can’t go wrong with any of the ones detailed in this guide. Start from where you are and work your way up. The journey will all have been worth it in the end.
Do you need a subwoofer with studio monitors? Should you get one? Check out our blog to put this age-old debate to rest once and for all.
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