Best Studio Monitors Under 500 Dollars: Don’t Waste Your Money
Hey everyone, welcome to Blue Buzz Music. I see you want to build a legit music studio, but don’t want to break the bank. Well, here is the list of the best studio monitors under 500 dollars, which won’t leave you disappointed.
Listen, studio monitors are an essential component of any music studio. I realize that you may have studio headphones already, and maybe a set of Logitech speakers.
First, turn your speakers off and don’t turn them on until you listen to the final, mixed, and mastered version of your beat or track. Just use your studio headphones, please.
I’ve already written a guide on which headphones give you the best bang for the buck, go check it out if you haven’t purchased a pair yet.
Ready to rock?
Best Affordable Studio Monitors for Beginners
Let me explain why you want both studio monitors and headphones. They are both good on their own, but they kind of complete each other.
It’s all about having two reference points. Let’s say you make a trap beat (they are the most popular kind of beats these days and are not going anywhere anytime soon)
One of your fans will play the track at the gym on their headphones while working out. Another one will play it at a party through a massive speaker. Therefore, you want to make it sound good for both, you feel me?
When using just one reference point, headphones let’s say, you make it sound good to someone who is playing it on their headphones. The reason to this is the distance between the sound output and your ear.
With headphones, it’s a few inches. However, with studio monitors, it’s a few feet. The difference is huge, trust me. I always catch myself liking the bass melody on my headphones a lot more than on my monitors.
It’s all about the distance! Now let that sink in for a minute.
If you want to just use your headphones, for now, it’s all good. Still a lot better than just using your laptop’s built-in speaker or something. However, we are talking about producing industry quality beats here.
If you want to step your game, you need to invest in a pair of monitors at some point.
Let’s get to the list.
1) Mackie CR4
I know these are not Yamaha or KRK quality monitors. The reason they are on the list is a great price and quality correlation.
Yeah, that’s right, it’s one of those sweet bangs for the buck people are looking for. They offer a wide frequency range of 80 Hz to 20 kHz, which is very similar to more expensive monitors such as KRK.
Mackie CR4 let you plug-in an aux chord or your headphones into it, which is convenient if you don’t have an interface.
Not all monitors offer front-panel control, but these do. It comes quite handy as well.
The package also includes the isolation pads that you put your Mackies on, which go at $15+ on Amazon.
Overall, they are not perfect, but for just over $100, the value is insane.
* More About Mackie CR4.
2) M-Audio BX5 Carbon Black 5″
I already talk about M-Audio and quality this brand provides in my article about affordable MIDI keyboards for beginners.
As I mentioned it there, the guys have been around for a very long time and they provide quality products for both beginners and professionals.
At the different price point, of course.
They have this really budget version, AV32, which is just not that good quality-wise overall. However, it’s still a lot better than having no monitors at all.
For your reference, take a look at M-Audio AV32 here.
Studio monitors I want to talk about are BX5 though. Even though pricier, you get a lot more functionality with them as well.
I should probably mention that they are sold separately, not as a pair. I would say it’s more expensive this way, but you pay for flexibility.
They are equipped with 5″ woven Kevlar low-frequency drivers, which guarantee a flat and authentic response.
The Class A/B amplification (bi-amplified, 70 Watt) pretty much means high power and less noise, when monitoring your tracks. With how saturated music these days is, it’s definitely a must-have.
You also get a bunch of switches to calibrate M-Audio according to the environment (so-called Acoustic Space Control). You need the calibration to adjust it to any environment you may be mixing or producing in.
Lastly, the dome tweeter. That’s the little circle on the top of your studio monitors (baby woofer). It helps when you are setting up the stereo imaging/looking for the “sweet spot”.
* More About M-Audio BX5 Carbon Black.
Overall, not too bad, hey? Alright, what’s next?
3) PreSonus Eris E4.5
Have you ever heard of PreSonus? I have heard of them here and there but didn’t realize they are that big. Considering they were founded in 1995, they ended up settling down in the music industry pretty well.
And they are just all over the place. Did you know they had their own DAW (digital audio workstation) called Studio One? Well, I haven’t and I am upset now! It looks like a great workstation to me.
Anyways, they also make interfaces and mixing/monitoring equipment.
Let’s get to their studio monitors PreSonus Eris.
These bad boys help you make your mixes pretty accurate, which means they will sound good on any playback systems. They have very similar to the above mention M-Audio dome tweeters and responsive low-frequency transducers.
That’s not everything though. They also have the Acoustic Space Control panel. Actually let me show you what it kind of looks like, cause it’s nothing complex at all.
So let me explain. Monitors are usually placed in 3 different ways, as shown on the picture above. Therefore the sound will travel differently. Also, it takes into account a couple other things.
For example, do you have reflective surfaces in your room, or have you install some kind of acoustic treatment? Well, depending on the answer you choose to use or not to use the midrange and high-frequency filters (also called controls).
You can also use a low cutoff in order to adjust the bass output.
The gain button is to reduce the noise in the signal-to-noise ratio by using the 3 inputs (see the picture above again, the inputs are RCA, TRS, and XLR respectively)
* More About PreSonus Eris E4.5.
Let’s move on, folks, no one likes reading too much about studio monitors, not even me. However, I have to cover every aspect of building a budget music studio, therefore, stay with me.
4) Pioneer DJ DM-40
You knew I had to pick Pioneer at some point, right? These guys bring so much nostalgia, I just can’t. Even now they pretty much dominate the DJ world, even though not quite as back in the days.
And yeah, of course, they have a line of studio monitors too, DM-40’s. To be fair, not the best in the game right now. I don’t think they’ve even been the best among monitors, but anyways.
We are looking at as many budget speakers as we can, so you have an idea.
The unique feature is that they turn off automatically after a certain time period. However, a few people reported the speakers to turn off in the middle of the session for no apparent reason.
Other than that, everything goes by the book. Headphone and Aux chord jacks, volume knob, 4″ woofers, and 3/4″ dome tweeter. You also get Class A/B amplifiers, which remove the distortion.
Nothing supernatural about these studio reference monitors. Good for the price, but there are cheaper alternatives with the same/better quality.
* More About Pioneer DJ DM-40.
5) KRK RP5G3 ROKIT 5
I know they are expensive, but no list without these monitors should ever exist. Why? Well, they are just something special. Look, go google studio monitors and scroll down. Tell me you don’t see KRK ROKITs in almost every single row.
They have quite the reputation in the industry. Not without the hype around them, but they are definitely one of the best affordable studio monitors for beginners.
You can’t compare them to $1000 Yamahas, for obvious reasons (if they were equal in sound quality to Yamahas, everyone would own a pair, right?).
However, they are one of the best bangs for the buck out there. You can’t ever call them industry standard, as there are so many better monitors, but we all know you don’t have a lot of money to spend.
Speaking about unique specs, I’d say they have the best frequency response on the list (45 Hz – 35 kHz at -10dB).
Other than that, they’re fairly similar to the rest. KRK ROKIT 5s have 5″ woofer and 1″ dome tweeter, their brand name waveguide, which is supposed to be unique (it’s not really anything special).
As I mentioned before, you do get one of the best value-price ratios out there.
* More About KRK RP5G3 ROKIT 5.
Conclusion: Best Studio Monitors Under 500 Dollars
If you are reading this far into the post about studio monitors, you must be an audiophile! It’s not as fun as picking a microphone or a midi. All this stuff seems so boring, I feel you, guys!
However, it’s an essential part of a music studio and you don’t want to waste your money and/or time picking the first thing you see on Amazon. Do a little research and you’ll be fine.
Let’s hope this will give you something to think about. Maybe take your time and do a little more digging. Or go to Amazon and read reviews.
I strongly discourage just reading the reviews without doing any other research, because you can always find bad reviews and get completely discouraged.
That’s what I used to do when I was picking the very first studio essentials of mine. If anything, just do the math. You see more than 80% of reviews are good – the product is probably worthy.
If you haven’t read my ultimate guide on how to build a studio when you are on the budget, make sure to check it out!