In this article, we provide you with a list of reviews of the best budget studio monitors available in 2021. All the monitors featured here are under $200, which makes them a cheap, ideal option for beginners or those who are on a budget.
Here are the best budget studio monitors under $200:
- KRK Rokit 5 G4
- JBL 305P MkII
- JBL Control 1 Pro
- M-Audio AV42
- Monoprice Stage Right 5″
- PreSonus Eris E4.5
- Mackie CR3
- Samson MediaOne BT4
- Pioneer DM-40
- Rockville APM8
1. KRK Rokit 5 G4
The all-around best budget monitors
KRK has been making best-selling audio equipment for over 30 years, and has re-engineered their studio monitors in a new series – Generation 4 (G4) – to optimize their monitors, so that they are a great choice for mixing any genre in any environment.
Although just one studio monitor is around $155-$180 (depends on where you buy), the active KRK Rokit 5 G4 studio monitors are easily one of the absolute best ones you can choose from on this list.
If you do not have it in your budget to buy a pair, a single one should be fine as long as you mix in mono. Mixing in mono has a lot of benefits, so if you do have to use just one studio monitor, it should not cause problems as long as every once in a while you are referencing your song with either headphones or a pair of studio monitors, as opposed to just one.
The KRK Rokit 5 G4’s feature matching Kevlar drivers, an onboard EQ with a visual screen, and a scientifically designed enclosure. Kevlar drivers are something that is pretty common with more high-end, top-rated studio monitors. They ensure that the sonic quality is the same no matter what frequencies are playing. They also keep your ears from getting fatigued as quickly so you can work longer.
The Kevlar drivers produce extremely clear audio that is also accurate in terms of reproduction. There is no coloration added by these studio monitors whatsoever.
As for the onboard EQ, it is a graphic EQ with a LCD screen. The reasoning for this EQ is so you can tune the monitors to match your room acoustics. If you do not have a well-treated room, you are not going to get an accurate sound representation when playing music through your monitors. However, using a graphic EQ like the one included in the KRK Rokits can solve a fair amount of room treatment problems.
Moving on, the KRK Rokits are extremely sturdy and have been built with very high-quality materials, which also translates to providing a better, more accurate sound. These studio monitors sound amazing and have a frequency response range of 43 Hz to 40 kHz. They are powerful and handle all frequencies nicely and put out a great amount of accuracy.
|Image credit: KRK Check Sweetwater||
If you want a high-end pair of monitors, the KRK Rokit 5 G4’s are easily one of the best options. While two monitors will hurt your wallet if your budget is less than $200, they are extremely well worth it. They sound amazing and I would recommend them to producers of any skill level, whether you are an entry-level producer or a pro.
2. JBL 305P MkII
Amazing studio monitors optimized for low end
The JBL 305P MkII studio monitors are another higher priced monitor, but extremely well worth it if you are looking to purchase monitors that will last you many years without having to upgrade.
A single monitor pushes the under $200 budget coming in at around $150, so these will be ones that a single monitor will suffice if you are mixing in mono until you can get the other one. If you need the pair and do not want to wait to buy it, you can probably find a used pair on music gear websites or eBay.
JBL is an industry standard, and you can tell why when using their products. The active amplified 305Ps boast a 5-inch woofer, a frequency response rate of 49 Hz to 20 kHz (so you could benefit from a subwoofer).
These studio monitors also have EQ controls on the back, so you can adjust your low and high frequencies to get the most out of the monitors with the acoustic treatment of your room. The port on the back of each monitor is tailored specifically for low end frequencies with something called Slip Stream technology to ensure that low frequencies will not overload the woofers.
It is similar to a built in limiter in the way that it works, but it also provides another exit for the low frequencies to come out of, so the subs do not override and distort your audio. Slip Stream technology also aids in providing an accurate bass representation when you are mixing at low levels.
The JBL 305P MkII studio monitors provide rich low end and clear high end without adding coloration. The sweet spot of the monitors is really broad, so no matter where you are in the room you will get a very accurate representation of your mix, thanks to the Image Control Waveguide. That means it is great for big studios.
Additionally, the JBL 305Ps are made really sturdily and do not struggle to put out a good amount of power even with being pretty compact in size.
|Image credit: JBL Check Sweetwater||
The JBL 305P MkIIs are a stellar choice for your studio. If you make bass-heavy music and struggle with managing your low end, the JBLs are a good option to check out. If you have a large studio, they are also optimized to sound great in big rooms, so you will want to take a look at them if that’s the case for you.
The 305Ps are great sounding, easy to set up, and have the cutting edge technology that will make your studio sound amazing and highlight your mixing skills.
3. JBL Control 1 Pro
Consistent, controlled and compact
The JBL Control 1 Pro studio monitors represent the next generation in high performing, compact studio monitors. With the latest innovations in technology being used for these monitors, they will not disappoint you or hurt your wallet if your budget is under $200.
The passive Control 1 Pro monitors feature a 5-inch woofer and a .75-inch tweeter. A subwoofer will more than likely be desired for use with these monitors, as their frequency response range is from 100 Hz to 18 kHz. The monitors are compact and rugged, but their compact size can lead to more bass rumble.
The JBL Control 1 Pro studio monitors house magnetically shielded transducers, which makes them a great option if you have a smaller setup that’s more prone to electromagnetic field feedback, buzzing, or hissing with other magnetically sensitive gear.
The Control 1 Pro monitors feature a professional crossover network and professional drivers that allow the monitors to meet extremely demanding audio applications when in the studio or even outside performing or using the monitors as a loudspeaker.
Steep crossover slopes allow for extreme sonic performance and high consistency and balance between the low and high frequencies being put out. Sonic Guard overload protection keeps the monitors from being overloaded with low or high frequencies, preventing them from potential damage from being played at extremely loud levels of volume.
All this being said, the monitors sound really good for being as small as they are, and the audio performance can be described as being very transparent and accurate. The highs are clean and the lows are smooth and rich.
|Image credit: JBL Check Price on Amazon||
If you need a powerful pair of monitors great for beginners to advanced producers, the JBL Control 1 Pro studio monitors are a great choice. They handle loud playback volumes well and are good for any setup. Although you may need a sub to use with them, they handle bass well and are very clean.
4. M-Audio AV42
A good middle-of-the-road option for under $150
The M-Audio AV42s are a decent middle-of-the-road passive studio monitor set for their price. They’ve got a 4-inch woofer and 1-inch tweeter, so the bass handling will be more stable than a smaller 3-inch woofer, but definitely not as good as studio monitors with an 8-inch woofer.
The frequency response range for the AV42s is 75 Hz to 20 kHz, which personally leaves me wanting more, but it will still do the job well. If you make a lot of bass-heavy music, you will definitely benefit from a subwoofer paired with these studio monitors because the lowest frequency response sits at 75 Hz, leaving out a lot of the sub frequencies that you can ‘feel’.
The AV42s are pretty lightweight, which means they may be good to travel with, but because of how lightweight they are, with the size of their woofers you may deal with more rumbling or buzzing from the MDF enclosures when playing bass-heavy music at louder volumes.
The AV42s are almost a hybrid between computer speakers and high-end studio monitors. They are small enough to fit in with a computer set up, but are powerful enough that they would outdo computer speakers any day. Overall, the M-Audio AV42s deliver rich bass and smooth top end.
The tweeter in these things is a silk dome tweeter which is something that is found mainly in more expensive studio monitors, so you are getting a bit of that extra quality in the monitor build even if they are a lower priced studio monitor pair.
Along with their OptImage IV tweeter guides, the AV42 studio monitors are fitted with a headphone output, so if you need to do some close listening and pay attention to more detail while mixing, you can do that without plugging into your audio interface.
|Image credit: M-Audio Check Sweetwater||
If you do not care too much about bass response or if you plan to get a subwoofer, these affordable studio monitors by M-Audio will be fine for you. Keep in mind that they require a power source, which can be achieved through an amplifier or simply plugging them into a wall.
They are a good middle-of-the-road pair and they sound very nice, especially for the price. If you are a producer or DJ who travels often you will enjoy these studio monitors and be able to take them with you on the go. They would also be good studio monitors for beginners.
5. Monoprice Stage Right 5″
Powerful monitors for long work hours
Monoprice is a company that strives to find you solutions to all your audio needs, including studio monitors. The Stage Right 5″ powered monitor speakers are a good cheap set of monitors with a flat frequency response. They are professional quality, and great for use when recording, mixing, and even mastering.
These Monoprice studio monitors are powered (active) which means you will not need an amplifier to power them, instead the power comes from a battery or other internal power source from within the monitors.
Something neat about these Monoprice monitors is that they are bi-amped. That means that each monitor uses two internal amps, one for powering the woofer and another one for powering the tweeter. You can get some incredibly loud, clean, crisp sounds out of these monitors without causing distortion.
As for the specifics of the hardware, the Stage Right monitors are equipped with a 1-inch tweeter designed with magnetic shielding, and a 5-inch woofer with a Kevlar fiber cone with magnetic shielding, rubber surround, and a high temperature voice coil.
Kevlar drivers allow more low end, make basses and kick drums hit harder, and handle more power without causing ear fatigue from listening for long periods of time. Magnetic shielding prevents your monitors from picking up interference (hissing, crackling, and other feedback) from the electromagnetic field.
A rubber surround will reduce and absorb any rumble from low frequencies, and a high temp voice coil allows you to play loud volume audio from the monitors for a very long time.
Another feature of the Stage Right monitors is a selector switch on the back of each monitor. This switch allows you to adjust the high frequency bias. You can choose between -2 dB, -1 dB, completely flat, or +1 dB shelving. These settings will only affect frequencies above 3000 Hz.
The high frequency bias switch helps to adjust the response of the monitors based on the characteristics of the room you are mixing in. Because of this, you can always achieve a flat, accurate response when using the monitors in a bright environment where the high frequencies need to be attenuated, or a more absorbent environment where you may need a high frequency boost.
These studio monitors sound really good and are very high quality for being under $200 for a pair.
|Image credit: Monoprice Check Price on Amazon||
The Stage Right by Monoprice are a great low budget choice if you do not want to compromise audio quality just to get more power out of studio monitors. These monitors give you the best of both worlds and allow for powerful, accurate sound reproduction no matter the environment.
They’d be great for beginners and even professional producers who want some extra power without having to rely on an external power source.
6. PreSonus Eris E4.5
The best cheap monitor option for music production
The Eris E4.5 studio monitors by PreSonus are one of the best budget home studio monitors you will find. They are the best-rated, most popular budget studio monitors on Amazon and many other music gear websites, which only confirms how great they are.
Made with studio sound quality and price in mind, the Eris E4.5 studio monitors feature a 4.5-inch woofer and a 1-inch tweeter that are both active. The woofer is made from a woven composite and the tweeter is a silk dome one, so you will be getting really good-quality sound out of it, especially with the high end frequencies.
The woofer is a little smaller than most, but the acoustic tuning controls on the back assist in giving you the flexibility to tailor the sound to fit your room. Because you get these extra controls, this means that these studio monitors will work a bit better than others in poorly treated rooms.
Not only do you get acoustic controls to aid in getting you a great sound in poorly treated rooms, you also get a feature that allows you to completely flatten the frequency response to facilitate accurate mixing and referencing.
The frequency response range of the Eris E4.5 studio monitors is 80 Hz to 20 kHz, so you will likely need a subwoofer for the low frequencies if you want to ‘feel’ the bass frequencies, but if that’s not one of your priorities then you should be fine without subs. Additionally, the Eris E4.5s have a headphone output for detailed, close up listening without having to plug into your audio interface.
|Image credit: PreSonus Check Sweetwater||
I would say that the Eris E4.5 studio monitors by PreSonus are a great choice for smaller home studios and beginners, as well as seasoned professionals due to their acoustic tuning controls and more compact size. It is not often that you find such high-quality, inexpensive studio monitors that pack a punch like these ones.
Definitely take them into consideration before turning to some higher end options. You will be surprised at how nice they are!
7. Mackie CR3
A high-quality steal for just under $100
While I normally do not recommend going this cheap when it comes to buying monitors, the Mackie CR3s are the top-rated, best studio monitors under $100. These are pretty cheap, but that does not mean they are low quality or bad. They have a more professional build quality that you might see on more expensive monitors, with good-quality components in a small package.
The Mackie CR3 studio monitors feature 3-inch woofers and a .75-inch silk dome tweeter. Like most standard studio monitors, the Mackie CR3s have a headphone jack and an AUX input for quick headphone referencing and computer connectivity if you do not want to go through your audio interface.
The monitor cabinets themselves are made from birch wood, so even though the price of a pair of these studio monitors is incredibly low, even the cheapest on this list, you are not giving up sound quality at all. The woofer delivers rich low end and the tweeter is not thin sounding and does not leave you wanting more out of it.
More specifically, the sound of these monitors can be described as being clean and clear with no distortion and a high level of frequency representation accuracy.
Along with sounding great and being budget priced, the Mackie CR3 studio monitors feature a volume control on the front for quick adjusting even without an audio interface, so if you do not have an audio interface handy (when traveling, etc), it will not be a problem when controlling the monitors.
They also have a speaker placement switch, so you can switch which side the monitor with the volume knob is on, which leaves you more freedom when setting up your mixing desk or music station.
There are also special ports on the monitors made specifically to handle bass frequencies to prevent you from getting distortion and low end rumble. These monitors are passive, so you will need an amplifier for them, but because they are already cheap, it should not set you back too much.
The frequency response range is 80 Hz to 20 kHz due to the woofer being only 3 inches, so you will definitely want a subwoofer for these.
|Image credit: Mackie Check Sweetwater||
If you are okay with buying monitors that have passive amplification and you do not have too big of a budget, these will be fine for you. They are a cheap yet decent set of studio monitors, nothing too fancy, they will definitely get the job done, but because of their smaller frequency range I would definitely suggest something more expensive first.
They are not a bad choice at all, and do not skimp on quality, but if the width of the frequency response matters to you a lot, it is worth it to get a subwoofer or look at a different pair.
8. Samson MediaOne BT4
Flexible Bluetooth connectivity
The Samson MediaOne BT4 studio monitors are some great multi purpose monitors that offer better modern technology features than other studio monitors do.
The Samson MediaOne BT4 monitors are active powered monitors equipped with Bluetooth connectivity. This comes in handy if you do not have an audio interface, because you can easily connect your laptop, phone, or tablet.
The MediaOne BT4 studio monitors are equipped with 4-inch copolymer woofers and 1-inch silk dome tweeters. Each received 20 watts of power, which is quite a bit lower than the average 50 or so watts for other monitors, but keep in mind that these monitors are more of a hybrid between studio monitors and computer speakers, and they also are a bit smaller than other monitors.
These studio monitors also feature precision tuned cabinets with rear end ports. The ports allow for easy cooling of the monitors while providing a rich, robust low end and dispersing the bass frequencies more, so they do not become overwhelming or exaggerated.
On the front side of the monitors is a front panel LED power indicator, a headphone output for listening to more detailed audio when you need to, a stereo input, and also a level control knob. The MediaOne BT4 monitors have a flat response and are accurate without adding coloration.
|Image credit: Samson Check Sweetwater||
Although there is bound to be a little lag and somewhat of a quality reduction in terms of audio, they are a great budget option for producers and music enthusiasts who make music on their personal devices like tablets and smartphones or like to make music on the go.
They would probably be best suited for producers who have a small studio or use their bedroom to produce. Beginners especially will love these monitors.
9. Pioneer DM-40
Punchy active powered studio monitors
The DM-40 studio monitors from Pioneer are another surprisingly good active budget studio monitor speakers. The DM-40s are based off of technology used in Pioneer’s other line of speakers and monitors used for DJing.
I was fairly impressed with these, mainly because of their especially wide frequency range. What I am most impressed with is the fact that the soft dome tweeter is only 3/4 of an inch, yet it can accurately produce up to 30 kHz of frequencies.
The 4-inch fiberglass woofer bottoms out at 70 Hz, which is not too bad, but leaves a lot of room for a subwoofer if you think purchasing one is necessary to complete your studio monitor setup.
The tweeter is a soft dome style with a DECO2 convex diffuser to ensure that audio is dispersed equally and without coloration or distortion in the high end frequencies. They provide a more high energy sound with great accuracy and they also have a huge sweet spot, ensuring that you will be hearing a good representation of your audio no matter if you are standing or sitting.
One feature that is not on any of the other monitors is that the ports are on the front of these ones. This can create an exaggerated sense of bass frequencies since all of the low end is coming out of the front, rather than some of it being dispersed out the back. It does, however, provide a punch and a tight bass kick that you can ‘feel’.
If you put the monitors close to a wall, because the port is in the front and has grooves to reduce air friction, none of the energy of the bass will be absorbed, so you are not going to lose any mix quality with these monitors.
The Class AB amp and time alignment of the Pioneer DM-40 monitors ensures that they are balanced with no crossover, and the build design of them reduces resonance and external diffraction.
Overall, the DM-40s are a simple, but quality pair of budget near field monitors that sound awesome for their price point.
|Image credit: Pioneer DJ Check Price on Amazon||
If you need monitors that will be able to detect the airiness of vocals in the extra high end of the frequency spectrum, these are a good choice. I can easily say that they are a solid studio monitor pair under $200 that are well worth considering for your studio. They would be good for beginners or intermediate producers who have developed their ear a bit better.
10. Rockville APM8
Affordable bi-amped studio monitors
Rockville is not a super well-known company, but their monitors are superb. The APM8 studio monitors are absolute powerhouses. Each monitor is bi-amped, which means that one amp is powering the tweeter, and one amp is powering the woofer. Each monitor gives you a whopping 250 watts of power, so these things can get extremely loud.
The Rockville APM8 monitors are made from premium quality materials. If you are an audiophile, you will appreciate their construction. The monitors have a wooden enclosure made from the finest MDF wood, rather than plastic. Wood facilitates better sound characteristics than other materials, hence why professional studios are made from wood rather than plastic or cheap particle board.
The enclosure is pretty thick, being half an inch all around except for the front panel that is 1-inch thick. The thickness of the wood helps carry out sustain and sonic qualities. All the controls are kept on the back of the monitors to give them a professional look.
There is a port on the rear of the monitors that allows for bass frequencies to exit without exaggerating the low end in your music. The port also enhances the sound by dispersing it more thoroughly. The tweeter in these monitors has a curved bezel which provides crystal clear audio and no distortion.
A class D amplifier is used to get the most efficiency out of the monitors. The tweeters are Ferro fluid enhanced 1.5-inch neodymium silk dome tweeters, which are extremely high end. They can handle a lot of heat which enables the monitors to be used at high volumes for long periods of time. The tweeters provide, clear, clean audio with just the right amount of brightness, but not so much that it colors the audio.
These monitors have a huge 8-inch woofer. It is very clear and punchy thanks to the polypropylene cone. Rubber woofer surrounds help to eliminate distortion and rumble.
The electronic crossover network is very advanced and filters out unwanted frequencies from each component to enable the monitors to be extremely loud without distorting. The frequency response of the crossovers is extremely accurate.
All controls are on the back of the monitors which includes a volume control, a bass control, and a treble control. It keeps the design looking elegant and modern, but it may become a hassle if you need to change the volume quickly and aren’t using an audio interface.
Speaking of audio interface, there is a headphone output and also a USB port. The reasoning behind the USB port is, so you can select the monitors as an output on your computer, bypassing an audio interface completely. You will still get true stereo sound and it can solve a lot of problems with latency and lag. The frequency response of these monitors is huge, at 30 Hz to 20 kHz.
|Image credit: Rockville Check Price on Amazon||
The APM8 studio monitors by Rockville are an absolute machine. If you want something that plays super loud and still sounds awesome, get these. They are ideal for beginners, intermediate producers, and pros. You will not be disappointed by their quality of both the design and the audio representation.
Beginner’s guide to studio monitors
Here are some guidelines you should follow and things to consider when buying studio monitors. Obviously, at a higher price range, you will get a better, flatter and wider frequency response out of studio monitors, but that does not mean that cheaper monitors are bad or useless.
If you keep the following factors in mind when looking to buy studio monitors, you can greatly improve the sound that you get out of your monitors.
Monitors vs. speakers
When looking to buy a set of studio monitors, be sure to remember that you need monitors, not stereo speakers.
Studio monitors give you a flat frequency response which means that what you hear will be exactly what your mix sounds like.
Speakers, however, are made in such a way that whatever you hear will be pleasing to the ear. They usually have boosted bass and/or treble as opposed to a flat frequency response.
This means that speakers will give you an inaccurate depiction of what your mix will sound like. Stay away from stereo speakers and make sure you are getting studio monitors.
Keep in mind that you will need to buy studio monitors based on your room size. There are two different types of monitors in terms of size:
- near field monitors
- far field/soffit monitors
Near field monitors are good for exactly what their name suggests: listening from a close distance. Usually they are designed to be 4-5 feet away from where you sit at your desk in your studio.
This makes them ideal for home studios or bedroom studios that may not have proper acoustic treatment, as a shorter distance will reduce the reflections of the audio before it reaches your ears. Whether you are a seasoned professional or a beginner, near field monitors are extremely important to use.
Far field monitors are monitors that are set up for listening at a farther distance from your studio chair. Usually they are mounted on high stands or built into the music studio’s back wall. They are big and usually extremely expensive, so you definitely will not be finding them for $200 a pair or less.
They are ideal for large studios that are treated with acoustic panels. The main purpose of far field monitors are for checking the low end of the mix. 95% of the mix will be created on near field monitors, rather than far field monitors. If you are on a budget or your studio is not well treated with acoustic panels and bass traps, you will not need far field monitors.
Active vs. passive monitors
In order for studio monitors to produce sound, they need an amplifier.
Active monitors are monitors that have a built in amplifier. The amplifier in active monitors are matched specifically to the power needs of the monitors, which saves a lot of time and research into buying the right amplifier.
Passive monitors are monitors that will need to be plugged into an external amplifier. You can buy an external amp, but this will add to your expenses and it could take a little bit to find the right amplifier for your monitors. I wouldn’t suggest getting passive monitors unless you are a seasoned professional and have a bigger budget.
Tweeters and woofers
Most studio monitors will have two speakers: a tweeter and a woofer.
A tweeter is a speaker that handles all the higher frequencies, from 2 kHz to 20 kHz.
A woofer is a speaker that handles the lower frequencies, from 40 Hz to 5 kHz. The larger the size of your woofer, the better it will handle the lower frequencies. However, the ports will affect how the woofer handles the low frequencies as well.
Ports are holes in the monitor (usually in the sides or back of the monitor) that allow the sound to exit through somewhere else aside from the tweeter and woofer. If you choose a pair of monitors that have smaller woofers, the ports will contribute a big deal to how it sounds and help the woofers to handle the bass better.
You may be familiar with the term subwoofer. A subwoofer is just a woofer that handles frequencies even lower than a normal woofer, usually down to 30 Hz or lower.
Subwoofers are usually quite expensive. If you are on a budget, it will not be detrimental to the sound of your mixes if you do not have subwoofers, especially because it is imperative that you have a well-treated room if you are going to use a subwoofer. Bass traps will take care of low end problems.
How to buy on a budget?
If you have a budget of $200 or less, I definitely recommend checking out used studio monitors first. There is a greater chance that you will be able to find something higher quality for a lower price if it is used.
That being said, do not shy away from the lower priced new studio monitors. You may be surprised by how great some of these cheaper studio monitors sound. You can also consider buying just one monitor until you can afford another to complete a pair. You will have to mix in mono, though, which does have a lot of benefits.
The market is so big and can be really overwhelming to navigate, but in order to find the best studio monitors under $200, it will take some research and experimentation, and you would even benefit from testing some out.
I would say that if you want to buy a pair, the best cheap studio monitors that are out there right now are definitely the Rockville APM8 monitors. If you are looking to buy a single monitor, the best option in that case would be the KRK Rokit 5 G4 monitors. Either way, with both, you will definitely be satisfied no matter what you choose.