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After some new monitors but on a budget?
What’s the difference between active and passive speakers?
We’ve rounded up the best studio monitors you can find for under $100 & $200!
Music is an art form and it takes a keenly trained ear to produce high-quality tracks. The best way to hear music in its truest form is through a studio monitor (in a well-treated room).
Professionals and sound dabblers alike can benefit from studio monitors over traditional hifi setups.
This studio monitor buying guide lays out the top products under $200. We considered design, sound, and build quality to span the options from low end to high end. We also look at some “honorable mentions” under $100 and answer some of the most common questions regarding studio monitors.
Counting Down The Best Affordable Studio Monitors (Under $200)
Considering studio monitors that balance quality and affordability, performance needs to be the priority. Design is great and all, but you’re looking for features that will deliver the most accurate sound possible within your budget.
There are plenty of affordable studio monitors out there, but what we’re here to do is show you the best. Affordability doesn’t have to mean something you “settle for”. Instead, you’ll be happy to find that all of these studio monitors deliver excellent quality sound and offer lots of functionality for the price.
Let’s hit our top choices so you can get to rocking your perfect studio setup!
Eris E4.5 active monitors boast 4.5" woofers and 1" silk-dome tweeters. Ideal for gaming and home video production, the Eris E4.5 delivers studio-quality sound yet is compact enough to fit almost anywhere.
This pair of monitor speakers yields some great power and offers decent adjustability for mid to high frequencies. The controls are located on the back of the monitor. You’ll find adjustments for midrange, HF, high pass, and acoustic space. On the top, you get a silk dome tweeter for delivering balanced highs.
No matter what you’ll use these monitors for – be it music, gaming, or podcasting – you’ll get great performance and high-quality sound. A silk dome tweeter and Kevlar low-frequency driver ensure the frequency response is wide enough for you to hear the lowest lows and highest highs.
Alesis Elevate 5 studio speakers enable you to listen to mixes, masters and multimedia content with impressive clarity and warm, full sound. Elevate 5 speakers bring out every detail of your sound, unencumbered and crystal clear.
This set of monitors will deliver clear and warm sound with lots of detail and a natural tone. While the Alesis Elevate monitors are a passive set, they also include an easily accessible volume knob on the front of each speaker.
You’ll get a nice flat sound but you can also boost the bass from the control panel when you really need to focus in on the low frequencies. They’re a bit large, but will still fit into most setups easily. The build quality is sleek with its high-density MDF enclosure.
You’ll only be able to get one monitor for this price due to the size and quality of the materials. KRK monitors are excellent “reference” speakers for A/B comparisons with other speaker setups. I would recommend this option if you already have studio monitors but need something solid to act as “fresh ears” when you need to check your mix.
Regardless, they are great for home studios and small spaces as the high output sweet spot is around 6 feet.
Clearer sound, wide range, and lower harmonic distortion are all features of this detailed studio monitor. The best this device has to offer is accuracy, power, and ease of use. While the 3D specs may seem gimmicky, it’s unlikely this will have a detrimental effect on your production.
What Are The Best Studio Monitors Under $100?
We’ve explored some great monitors under $200, now let’s slash our price range in half to find the best budget studio monitors under $100. Wait, is this even possible?
You might be shopping “low-end” but that doesn’t mean that’s the quality you’ll get. What you’ll find here are smaller options that work better when paired with a studio-quality subwoofer monitor.
There is a headphone output on the back and you can connect two devices with AUX simultaneously. The tone can be adjusted with the bass, treble, and volume dials on the side of the speaker. You also get a convenient remote to save you the trouble of digging around the back of the unit every time you need to make an adjustment.
This budget buy cranks out an impressive frequency range and comes in a selection of speaker sizes. Adjust the volume, power, and plug in your devices to the front of the speaker. No need to reach around to access the back or side!
Mackie has an excellent reputation in the industry for providing durable and reliable products at very reasonable prices.
This single studio monitor is incredible quality for the price. It reproduces transients cleanly and has a spacious sweet spot. In terms of inputs, you have the choice between balanced XLR and 1/4″ TRS.
In this 5” two-way studio monitor, JBL have included their image control waveguide which provides a full-room experience with “bottomless” depth and the presence of subtle details you might otherwise miss.
You might not even need a subwoofer to accommodate this monitor thanks to the supreme frequency response range!
These active + passive bookshelf speakers are equipped w/ 5.25" monitor speaker driver and 1" aluminum dome tweeter and feature 4-8 Ohm impedance / 50Hz-20kHz frequency response for full range stereo sound reproduction.
Don’t let the lack of an audio interface slow you down: these studio monitors can also connect via Bluetooth. Packed into each of these little speakers is a 4” copolymer woofer and 1” silk dome tweeter.
The satin black finish is stylish and sleek and the sound they pump out is lush and controlled. You’ll experience natural-sounding audio without any extra interference.
With the Samson MediaOne BT3 speakers, you can expect to get a luxe low end and a flat response. There’s not much more you need out of studio monitors, especially at this price range. These make a great choice for small room setups and beginner mixers.
7. Behringer 1C0BK Ultra-Compact 100-Watt 5” Studio Monitor Speakers
So, you’re ready to start outfitting your home studio or just upgrade your sound setup for any audio task at hand. There are a few things you’ll want to consider before choosing your favorite monitors on our list.
Performance Over Aesthetics
This may seem obvious, but think about what you’ll be using these monitors for. When you’re looking for something to check your boxes and still remain under $200, you might have to sacrifice something. If this is the case, it’s better to sacrifice on the design and aesthetics rather than the sound quality.
And remember, you aren’t aiming for studio monitors that sound good, you want monitors that sound accurate. Like a true friend, you want those monitors to tell you the good, bad, and the ugly.
Pay Attention to the Setup Recommendations
Often, the performance of a studio monitor is dependent on its location in a room. This means speakers sound different depending on where they are positioned and where you are sitting.
It seems funky, but it’s true – sound waves are really that particular. So check the recommendations for where your monitors should be set up. This may be on the manufacturers website, or you might find someone on YouTube has figured this out for you.
This guide is here to provide you with our top studio monitors for under $200, so we’re assuming you’re not after anything too pricey. But even within this range you may have a specific budget. If you can’t justify paying more for something, don’t.
It takes a range of investments to outfit your home studio. You might not be ready to sink a few grand into a set of M2 Master Reference Monitors, and you don’t have to.
Do You Need Passive or Active Monitors?
This difference is important to understand. A passive device will need an external amplifier hooked up to it, while an active device already has one built-in. Both options sound great, though many people prefer active as it simplifies everything.
Passive rigs will be less expensive and easier to upgrade in the long run, as you can do this in pieces. However, they will require more setup time and wiring.
Studio Monitor FAQ
Is it OK to leave studio monitors on?
It would not be the best choice to keep studio monitors on all the time. They’ll continue to consume power, even if they’re idle.
This not only has the capacity to wear down the monitor components at a quicker pace, but it can also cause the unit to overheat. If you’re aiming for getting the most from your dollar, shut those studio monitors off when they aren’t in use.
This term is defined as each speaker or monitor’s unique sound delivery style. What you’re looking for is a flat sound signature to represent all frequencies cleanly without any additional coloring.
Why do I need speakers with a flat sound?
It’s a bit misleading as “flat” sounds like it’s a bad thing when it comes to music. But what the term “flat sound” is referring to is the idea that the music you are hearing is as close as can be to the original sound. So when it comes to studio monitor speakers, flat is good!
Hifi and home theater setups will add some coloring to sound more “fat” or “sweet”. While there’s nothing wrong with this when watching tv or listening to your favorite songs, it’s very hard to mix and master music on these setups.
If you are able to make a mix sound good on monitors, there’s a better chance it will sound good on a variety of setups. This is not the case if you make your mix on “regular” speakers or your favorite gaming headphones.
Do I have to get a subwoofer?
Consider your intended use and the overall size of the room you’re working in. For the music and sound mixers out there, you’ll probably want a subwoofer to get the most out of your audio.
In a speaker, a crossover filter separates the lower and higher frequencies and sends them to separate speakers. The higher frequencies will be sent to smaller speakers (tweeters) and the other frequencies are sent to the main speaker (or perhaps to a subwoofer).
Crossover filters may also be used to send to two separate pairs of monitors. In a large studio setup, it’s not uncommon to see multiple pairs of monitors in use simultaneously.
If you don’t already have a pair of monitors, we have some news: your studio is in need of an urgent upgrade. We really hope this lineup of the best studio monitors under $200 is the ticket to get you there.
All that’s left to take your sound to the next level is finding the best set of studio monitors for you. This means you need to take some small common-sense steps – consider the size, cost, and features that appeal to you the most. But we’re confident there are at least a few options here you’ll really dig!