Best Cheap Studio Monitors For The Home Studio
Cheap Studio Monitors Won't Blow you Away (But they won't break the bank, either)
Man, those nice speakers are amazing, but what about those of us who have well, pennies, to spend on Studio Monitors?
As a lover of music (my wife's a talented classical pianist, and I sing) -- there is nothing I love more than an excellent pair of speakers.
I'll be really honest with you, if you've never been around studio monitors before, I encourage you to educate yourself and read my lens "Studio Monitors Buying Guide." Knowing what to expect and what you are looking for in a studio monitor can help you get more "bang for your buck" as well as help you get a monitor you will be truly happy with.
The #1 Pick...
As you'll see in the review below, this one seems to have the best balance of components in any reference monitor
You can use these to mix music, or just play Pandora through them and revel in its incredible sound.
Its the high fidelity speaker system your friends will envy and it moonlights nicely as a reference monitor for those intense home recording sessions you have planned. I like the sound. Other home audio enthusiast love the sound. You can't go wrong.
Studio Monitors You Can Be Proud Of
4" is too small
There are several studio monitors out there that have less than a 4" woofer. Unfortunately, you simply can't get enough volume out of a 4" woofer for it to be a true studio monitor. For this review I stuck with 5" woofers or larger.
High Quality Speakers are Expensive
You know that already. So when you are shopping for these cheap studio reference monitors just realize that you are buying a super-glorified speaker system. it will absolutely blow any normal computer speakers "out of the water". AND it will be durable enough to handle those pops and crackles that your raw mixes may have.
However, they won't have nearly the range, control, or quality of sound as a $500 studio monitor or $1000 Reference monitor will have.
So for those of you who can save up for a few more weeks, I'd encourage it.
For the rest of you I present this lens:
What Are You Looking For?
JBL LSR 2325P
An incredibly durable monitor
These monitors actually belong a league higher. However, they are such high-quality, felt they deserved a spot for your consideration.
At this price point you are going to run into a lot of monitors that are simply not up to the task. They tend to overheat and start distorting the sound.
The JBL brand name is one that you can rely on. They actually benchmark their speakers by cranking them all the way up and letting them play for 100 hours. Fe other manufacturers ensure that type of quality out of their product.
The downside with the JBL studio monitor is that you are only going to be able to afford one. So you could start with that, and then add the second one later on to complete your nearfield listening set up.
The JBL LSR 2325P has a 5" woofer tha is powered with 55 watts of power and a 1" silk tweeter with 35 watts. The silk is great because it gives the highs a more "airy feeling and the 5" woofer is a deep cone setup, allowing for accurate representation of lows down to frequencies of 43 Hz.
Has balanced XLR and 1/4" interfaces as well as an unbalanced (of course) RCA plug.
Both low and high frequency controls are available to help you adjust the sound so you can get an accurate representation in any room -- something that I've seen left out of even more expensive designs.
Mackie Mr5 Mk2's
With the Mackie Mr5's you are, first of all, buying the Mackie name and all of their experience in sound system creation.
Additionally, with 85 watts of power, you have more oomph than most of the other speakers we have reviewed. The woofer is 5.25" and the tweeter 1". Nothing too spectacular.
What IS spectacular is the bi-amplification circuitry. the Mackie combines their excellent amplification system with a carefully designed cabinet that ensures that you are getting the best sound possible for your money.
Probably the best thing about going with the Mackie's is that you will get a more true sound than most of the other speakers I've reviewed here. Flat sound means that you are hearing the mix just as it has truly been recorded. For this fact alone I would opt for the Mackies over the JBL or even the pricier KRK Rokits.
Of course, if you are going to be doing a lot of easy listening through your monitors, than you would probably prefer the M-audio's or Alesis.
It's a matter or preference
Alesis Monitor 1 Active 520's
The Monitor everyone is talking about.
The Alesis 520's are another really great value for the money, and one that receives excellent reviews.
It packs 75 watts of power, with 25 watts going to the 3/4" silk dome tweeter and 50 watts going to the 5" propylene woofer.
It also has three equalizer knobs for low mids and highs to enable you to adjust it to any room you are in.
At this price point (for the pair of speakers) I would put these near the top of the list, and a great monitor for audiophiles to consider. However, for mixing you may not like it as well as some of the others.
A better monitor to consider would be the Alesis Monitor 1 MK2. It really fills in all the gaps that the 520's fall short on. You have the little larger 6.5" woofers, and the 1" tweeter for bigger sound. It also handles a larger range, going as low as 45 Hz. The MK2 one the TEC award and is raved about on forums everywhere for its incredible sound. Of course, you'll pay a little more for this excellent budget monitor.
M-Audio BX5a Deluxe
More than You would Expect at this price
These M-Audios are probably one of the most-reviewed cheap studio monitor sets online.
And M-audio does a really good job of packing a lot into this little package.
To begin with they give you a high-quality 5" woofer that is crafted from both Kevlar and rubber. The 1-inch tweeter uses shielded silk so you get great, airy sound without sacrificing durability.
Some might say that it is a little under-powered with its 70 watts of power, but at this price point I would say that's about what you can expect. However, in this deluxe upgrade from their long-running BX5a system, M-audio cranks up the music and adds incredible circuitry to this cabinet. Basically, you are looking at a full Bi-amplification system with crossovers fully in place to keep the drivers from cross-talking and muddling up the sound.
Its because of this circuitry that the M-audio gets such high marks. Frankly, this is one of the best you can buy at this price point. Audiophiles will love it for its incredible sound and budding home studios can benefits from its studio monitor quality.
Keeps your eyes open for deals!
There are other monitors out there! From time to time you might find specials or other new, up-coming monitors.
As always, if you are buying online, make sure to buy from a reputable dealer that has a good warranty and return policy on the chance you decide the monitor you bought doesn't work for you.
Maybe you will find a great deal!
Amazon Search For Studio Monitors
Cool Studio Monitor Information
- More About Studio Monitors From Wikipedia
More about using studio reference monitors
- Forum Discussion on Ear Training For Studio Monitors
Studio Monitors have a different sound than other speakers and are designed to show th e"true colors" of th mix. Some ear training may be required to get used to the new sound.
- Studio Monitors Buying Guide
There's a lot to know about studio monitors. Here's a quick overview I put together to help you identifiy the correct sound and features that you will want in your studio moitor.