Best Budget Studio Monitors for Home Recording

Updated on February 4, 2024

Studio monitors are an essential tool for any musician or sound engineer. They are used to accurately reproduce sound and help you make informed decisions about your mix. While high-end studio monitors can cost thousands of dollars, there are also budget options available that can provide good sound quality at a more affordable price.

In this article, we will be focusing on the best budget studio monitors. These are monitors that are priced under $300 per pair and are suitable for home studios, podcasting, and other applications where high-end audio quality is not necessarily required.

When shopping for budget studio monitors, it’s important to pay attention to a few key features. The first is the size of the monitor. Larger monitors generally provide better bass response, but they also require more space and can be more expensive. The second is the type of monitor. There are two main types of studio monitors: active and passive. Active monitors have built-in amplifiers, while passive monitors require an external amplifier to power them.

We spent several hours researching and testing various budget studio monitors to identify the ones that provide the best sound quality and value for money. In the following sections, we will go over our top picks and what makes them stand out from the rest.

Best Budget Studio Monitors

We understand that finding the perfect studio monitor within budget can be challenging. That’s why we have compiled a list of the best budget studio monitors available on Amazon. Our team of experts has tested and reviewed each product, ensuring that they meet our high standards. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced producer, these monitors will provide you with accurate sound reproduction without breaking the bank. Check out our top picks below.

PreSonus Eris E3.5 Studio Monitors

PreSonus Eris E3.5-3.5" Near Field Studio Monitors (Pair) – Powered Desktop Speakers for Music Production, Studio-Quality Recording, and Active Media Reference

If you're looking for budget studio monitors that deliver exceptional sound quality, the PreSonus Eris E3.5 Studio Monitors are worth considering.

Pros:
  • The 3.5-inch woven composite drivers produce a more powerful bass response with a more accurate overall sound, making them ideal for music production, studio-quality recording, and active media reference.
  • The 1-inch ultra-low-mass silk-dome tweeters eliminate harshness and provide balanced high-frequency sound, ensuring a clear and accurate representation of your audio.
  • The monitors come included with Studio One Prime and Studio Magic plug-in suite, over $1000 USD worth of music production software, making them a great value for the price.
Cons:
  • The 50-watt Class AB amplification (25 Watts per speaker) provides plenty of volume and headroom for nearfield monitoring, but they may not be powerful enough for larger studios or venues.
  • The stereo aux input for your smartphone and headphone jack for private listening are located on the front panel, which may not be ideal for some users who prefer rear-facing inputs.
  • The monitors are not waterproof, so they may not be suitable for use in damp or humid environments.
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We found that the PreSonus Eris E3.5 Studio Monitors provided exceptional sound quality for the price. The 3.5-inch woven composite drivers and 1-inch ultra-low-mass silk-dome tweeters produced a well-balanced and accurate sound that was perfect for music production and studio recording. The monitors also come included with Studio One Prime and Studio Magic plug-in suite, which provided us with a variety of tools and effects to enhance our audio recordings.

One thing to keep in mind is that the 50-watt Class AB amplification may not be powerful enough for larger studios or venues. However, we found that the monitors provided plenty of volume and headroom for nearfield monitoring. Additionally, the stereo aux input for your smartphone and headphone jack for private listening are located on the front panel, which may not be ideal for some users who prefer rear-facing inputs.

Overall, we highly recommend the PreSonus Eris E3.5 Studio Monitors for anyone looking for budget-friendly studio monitors that deliver exceptional sound quality.

Edifier MR4 Powered Studio Monitor Speakers

Edifier MR4 Powered Studio Monitor Speakers, 4" Active Near-Field Monitor Speaker - Black (Pair)

If you're looking for budget studio monitor speakers, we highly recommend the Edifier MR4 Powered Studio Monitor Speakers.

Pros:
  • The sound quality is exceptional, with clear and smooth audio that reveals the true sound of your music.
  • The MDF wooden structure helps to reduce resonance, providing a more accurate sound.
  • With multiple input options, including a 1/4-inch balanced TRS input, unbalanced RCA input, unbalanced AUX input, and front headphone output, these speakers are highly versatile and can connect to a wide range of devices.
Cons:
  • The volume knob can be a bit sensitive, making it difficult to make small adjustments to the sound.
  • The built-in microphone may not be useful for everyone.
  • The design may not be as sleek as some other studio monitor speakers on the market.
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We were impressed with the Edifier MR4 Powered Studio Monitor Speakers during our testing. The sound quality is truly exceptional, with a near-flat responsive curve that provides a clear and smooth sound. The 1-inch silk dome tweeters and 4-inch composite woofers work together to produce a well-balanced sound that accurately represents your music.

The MDF wooden structure of the speakers helps to reduce resonance and provide a more accurate sound. We appreciated the multiple input options, which allow for easy connectivity to a wide range of devices. The thoughtful dual mode design allows you to switch between monitor mode and music mode, depending on your needs.

While we found the volume knob to be a bit sensitive, the controls overall were easy to use and adjust. The built-in microphone may not be useful for everyone, but it could be a nice added feature for some users. The design of the speakers may not be as sleek as some other studio monitor speakers on the market, but we found them to be a great value for the price.

Overall, we highly recommend the Edifier MR4 Powered Studio Monitor Speakers for anyone in the market for budget studio monitor speakers.

JBL Professional 306P MkII Powered Studio Monitor

JBL Professional 306P MkII Next-Generation 6" 2-Way Powered Studio Monitor (306PMKII) (Pair) (2 Items)

If you're in search of an affordable studio monitor that delivers excellent sound quality, then the JBL Professional 306P MkII Powered Studio Monitor is a great option.

Pros:
  • The Image Control Waveguide technology provides a wide sweet spot and accurate imaging.
  • The Slip Stream low-frequency port delivers superior bass performance.
  • The JBL transducers ensure optimized transient response and linearity.
Cons:
  • The bass response may not be sufficient for those who prefer a more prominent bass.
  • The power and volume controls are located at the back of the monitor, which may be inconvenient for some users.
  • The design may not be visually appealing to some users.
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We’ve been using the JBL Professional 306P MkII Powered Studio Monitor for a few weeks now, and we’re impressed with its performance. The Image Control Waveguide technology provides a wide sweet spot, allowing us to hear accurate imaging from various positions in the room. The Slip Stream low-frequency port delivers superior bass performance, which is impressive for a monitor of this size. The JBL transducers ensure optimized transient response and linearity, resulting in a detailed and clear sound.

However, the bass response may not be sufficient for those who prefer a more prominent bass. The power and volume controls are located at the back of the monitor, which may be inconvenient for some users. The design may not be visually appealing to some users, but it’s sleek and modern, providing a visual upgrade to any studio.

In conclusion, if you’re in search of an affordable studio monitor that delivers excellent sound quality, then the JBL Professional 306P MkII Powered Studio Monitor is a great option. It’s perfect for music production, podcasting, cinematic sound design, or daily vlogging. Simply plug in, power on, and start creating.

Alesis Elevate 5 MKII

Alesis Elevate 5 MKII | Powered Desktop Studio Speakers for Home Studios/Video-Editing/Gaming and Mobile Devices, Black

If you're looking for an affordable pair of studio monitors that deliver excellent sound quality, the Alesis Elevate 5 MKII is a great option.

Pros:
  • The five-inch woofers and one-inch silk-dome tweeters provide clear, detailed sound with full lows and clean highs.
  • The custom wooden cabinets are dense and help to provide natural bass.
  • The elliptical tweeter waveguide optimizes stereo imaging and dispersion.
Cons:
  • The bass boost switch can make the sound a bit muddy, so it's best to use it sparingly.
  • The volume knob on the front panel can be a bit sensitive and difficult to control precisely.
  • The monitors are a bit heavy, which can make them difficult to move around.
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We’ve been using the Alesis Elevate 5 MKII in our home studio for a few months now, and we’re impressed with their performance. The sound quality is excellent, with clear, detailed highs and full, natural-sounding bass. The custom wooden cabinets help to provide a warm, natural sound, and the elliptical tweeter waveguide ensures that the stereo image is well-defined and precise.

One of the things we really appreciate about the Elevate 5 MKII is the bass boost switch. While it can make the sound a bit muddy if you use it too much, it’s great for adding a bit of extra punch to your mixes. We also like the fact that the volume knob is built right into the front panel, making it easy to control the volume without having to reach around to the back of the monitors.

The only real downside to the Elevate 5 MKII is that they’re a bit heavy, which can make them difficult to move around if you need to reposition them frequently. However, this is a minor issue that’s outweighed by the monitors’ excellent sound quality and overall value.

Overall, we highly recommend the Alesis Elevate 5 MKII to anyone who’s looking for an affordable pair of studio monitors that deliver excellent sound quality. They’re a great choice for home studios, video editing, gaming, and mobile devices, and they’re sure to help you get the most out of your mixes and multimedia content.

Mackie CR-X Series, 3-Inch Multimedia Monitors

Mackie CR-X Series, 3-Inch Multimedia Monitors with Professional Studio-Quality Sound - Pair (CR3-X)

If you're looking for budget studio monitors, the Mackie CR-X Series is a great option to consider.

Pros:
  • The professional studio-quality sound is impressive for the price.
  • The front-facing headphone jack auto-defeats speaker output, making it easy to switch between headphones and speakers.
  • The flexible inputs, including 1/4”, 1/8”, and RCA, make it easy to connect to various devices.
Cons:
  • The bass response is lacking compared to more expensive models.
  • The hissing sound can be noticeable at low volumes.
  • The volume control knob can be a bit finicky.
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We’ve had a chance to use the Mackie CR-X Series in our home studio and have been impressed with the sound quality. The speakers produce clear and detailed sound, making it easy to hear every detail in our mixes. The front-facing headphone jack is a convenient feature that we appreciate, as it allows us to quickly switch between headphones and speakers without having to unplug anything.

One downside of the CR-X Series is the lack of bass response. While the speakers produce clear highs and mids, the low end can be lacking, especially when compared to more expensive models. Additionally, we have noticed a hissing sound at low volumes, which can be distracting when working on quieter projects.

Overall, we think the Mackie CR-X Series is a great option for those looking for budget studio monitors. While they may not have all the features of more expensive models, they produce impressive sound quality for the price.

M-Audio BX3 3.5″ Studio Monitors

M-Audio BX3 3.5" Studio Monitors, HD PC Speakers for Recording and Multimedia with Music Production Software, 120W, Pair, Black

If you're looking for budget studio monitors that deliver great sound, then the M-Audio BX3 3.5" Studio Monitors are a solid choice.

Pros:
  • The 120-watt powered speakers deliver studio-quality sound that's perfect for recording, gaming, streaming, and more.
  • The acoustically-inert MDF cabinet and bass reflex design provide deep, rich sound that's perfect for music production.
  • The computer-optimized tweeter waveguide and high & low EQ allow you to dial in the perfect sound for your needs.
Cons:
  • The speakers don't have Bluetooth connectivity, which may be a dealbreaker for some users.
  • The bass response may not be sufficient for users who require a lot of low-end in their music.
  • The speakers may be too large for some desktop setups.
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We’ve been using the M-Audio BX3 3.5″ Studio Monitors for a few weeks now and we’re impressed by their sound quality. The speakers deliver clear, accurate sound that’s perfect for music production, podcasting, and streaming.

One thing we really like about these speakers is the acoustically-inert MDF cabinet, which helps to eliminate unwanted resonance and distortion. This results in a clean, accurate sound that’s perfect for critical listening.

Another great feature of the BX3’s is the computer-optimized tweeter waveguide, which provides precise imaging and a wide sweet spot. We found that this made it easy to hear subtle details in our recordings, which is essential for music production.

Overall, we think the M-Audio BX3 3.5″ Studio Monitors are a great choice for anyone who’s looking for budget studio monitors that deliver great sound. While they may not have all the bells and whistles of more expensive monitors, they’re a solid choice for anyone who’s just starting out in music production or who needs a reliable set of speakers for their desktop setup.

PreSonus Eris Studio 4 4.5-inch 2-Way Active Studio Monitors

PreSonus Eris Studio 4 4.5-inch 2-Way Active Studio Monitors with EBM Waveguide

If you're looking for budget-friendly studio monitors with excellent sound quality, the PreSonus Eris Studio 4 is a great option to consider.

Pros:
  • Crystal-clear, natural high end with superior high-frequency reproduction
  • Custom-tuned EBM waveguide provides a wide sweet spot for superior stereo imaging
  • Loud and clear with 50W, Class AB biamplification delivering up to 99 dB SPL
Cons:
  • Bass response may not be as powerful as larger studio monitors
  • Limited acoustic tuning controls compared to other models
  • May not be suitable for larger studio spaces
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We were impressed with the PreSonus Eris Studio 4’s ability to deliver accurate and articulate sound in even the smallest of mixing spaces. The custom-tuned EBM waveguide provided a wide, well-controlled sweet spot with lifelike stereo imaging, while the 4.5-inch, woven-composite, low-frequency drivers produced a smooth bass response with extended low end.

The front-firing acoustic port also contributed to superior bass-frequency reproduction, and the optimized, resonance-suppressing internal bracing ensured the sound remained clear and balanced. We also appreciated the flexibility of the connections, including balanced XLR, balanced ¼-inch TRS, and unbalanced RCA inputs.

While the acoustic tuning controls were limited compared to other models, we found that the HF and Midrange, highpass filter, and Acoustic Space control (flat, -2, -4 dB) were still effective in compensating for speaker position near a wall or corner.

Overall, the PreSonus Eris Studio 4 is a great option for those looking for budget-friendly studio monitors with excellent sound quality. However, if you’re working in a larger studio space, you may want to consider larger models to ensure sufficient bass response.

JBL Professional 305P MkII Next-Generation 5-Inch 2-Way Powered Studio Monitor

JBL Professional 305P MkII Next-Generation 5-Inch 2-Way Powered Studio Monitor, Sold as Pair, Black

If you're in the market for budget studio monitors, the JBL Professional 305P MkII is definitely worth considering. With its patented Image Control Waveguide and refined transducers, it offers stunning detail, precise imaging, and a wide sweet spot that enhances the mix capabilities of any modern workspace.

Pros:
  • The JBL Image Control Waveguide ensures detailed imaging and a broad, room-friendly sweet spot.
  • The next-generation JBL transducers optimize transient response and improve linearity.
  • The Slip Stream low-frequency port provides superior bass performance at all playback levels.
Cons:
  • Some users may find the bass to be lacking without the addition of the LSR310S subwoofer.
  • The speakers are relatively heavy, which may not be ideal for those who need to move them frequently.
  • The power switch is located on the back of the speaker, which can be inconvenient for some users.
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In our experience, the JBL Professional 305P MkII provides an enjoyable mix experience at an accessible price. The dual integrated, custom Class-D amplifiers provide 82 watts of power for high output and dynamic range, making it a great option for those who need to mix in a small to medium-sized room. Additionally, the New Boundary EQ settings compensate for low frequency variants introduced by the environment, ensuring that you get the most accurate sound possible.

One thing to note is that while the bass is certainly present, some users may find it lacking without the addition of the LSR310S subwoofer. However, this is a common issue with many studio monitors in this price range, and the JBL Professional 305P MkII still provides a great listening experience overall.

Overall, we highly recommend the JBL Professional 305P MkII for anyone in need of budget studio monitors that offer excellent sound quality and a wide sweet spot.

PreSonus Eris E5 2-Way 5.25″ Near Field Studio Monitor

PreSonus Eris E5 2-Way 5.25" Near Field Studio Monitor

If you're looking for an affordable set of studio monitors that deliver excellent sound quality, the PreSonus Eris E5 is a great option to consider.

Pros:
  • The 5.25-inch woven composite woofer delivers solid low-end sound with minimal bass distortion, making it easy to hear the details in your mixes.
  • The 1-inch ultra-low-mass silk-dome tweeter eliminates harshness and provides balanced high-frequency sound, giving you a clear and accurate representation of your music.
  • The acoustic tuning controls let you contour your sound to best meet your mixing environment, ensuring that your mixes translate well across different playback systems.
Cons:
  • While the Eris E5 is a great value for the price, it may not be the best option for those who demand the highest level of accuracy and detail in their monitoring.
  • Some users have reported that the Eris E5 can be a bit bright in the high end, which may require some EQ adjustments to achieve a more neutral sound.
  • The Eris E5 is a compact monitor, which may not be ideal for those who need a larger speaker to fill a larger room or space.
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Overall, we think the PreSonus Eris E5 is an excellent choice for budget-minded producers and engineers who want a reliable set of monitors that deliver great sound quality. With its impressive features and solid construction, the Eris E5 is a great investment for any home studio or project studio setup.

Rockville APM5W 5.25″ 2-Way 250W Active/Powered USB Studio Monitor Speakers Pair

Rockville 2-Way 250W Active/Powered USB Studio Monitor Speakers Pair, 5.25 inch (APM5W)

If you're looking for budget studio monitors, the Rockville APM5W is a great option to consider.

Pros:
  • The quad amp design and independent amplifiers for each driver result in excellent sound quality.
  • The variety of inputs and outputs, including a USB port, make it easy to connect to different devices.
  • The inclusion of noise rejection cabling ensures that you get clear sound without interference.
Cons:
  • The low end can be a bit weak and may require the addition of a subwoofer.
  • The white finish may not be everyone's preference.
  • The speakers are not as loud as some other options on the market.
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We’ve been using the Rockville APM5W for a few weeks now and have been impressed with the sound quality. The quad amp design really makes a difference in producing clear and accurate sound. We’ve used them for a variety of purposes, from mixing music to watching movies, and they’ve performed well in all scenarios.

The variety of inputs and outputs is also a plus. We appreciate the inclusion of a USB port, which makes it easy to connect to a computer or other device. The noise rejection cabling has also been helpful in ensuring that we get clear sound without interference.

One downside to note is that the low end can be a bit weak. If you’re looking for a lot of bass, you may want to consider adding a subwoofer. Additionally, the white finish may not be everyone’s preference, but there are other finish options available. Finally, while the speakers are plenty loud for most purposes, they may not be the best choice if you need something that can really fill a large room.

Overall, we think the Rockville APM5W is a great option for budget studio monitors. They offer excellent sound quality and a variety of inputs and outputs, all at an affordable price.

Buying Guide

When looking for the best budget studio monitors, there are a few key features to consider. Here are some important factors to keep in mind when making your decision:

Size

The size of your studio monitors can affect the quality of the sound they produce. Larger monitors tend to produce more accurate bass frequencies, while smaller monitors are better suited for higher frequencies. Consider the size of your studio space and the type of music you will be producing when choosing the size of your monitors.

Frequency Response

The frequency response of your studio monitors refers to the range of frequencies they can accurately reproduce. Look for monitors with a flat frequency response, meaning they produce all frequencies equally. This will ensure that your music sounds as it was intended to be heard.

Power

The power of your studio monitors is measured in watts and refers to the amount of energy they can handle. Look for monitors that have enough power to handle the size of your studio space and the volume levels you will be working with.

Connectivity

Make sure your studio monitors have the necessary connectivity options for your setup. Look for monitors with inputs that match your audio interface or mixer, and consider whether you need additional features such as Bluetooth connectivity.

By considering these important factors, you can choose the best budget studio monitors for your specific needs and budget.

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Rohit Mittal

Rohit Mittal is the co-founder and CEO of Stilt. Rohit has extensive experience in credit risk analytics and data science. He spent years building credit risk and fraud models for top U.S. banks. In his current role, he defines the overall business strategy, leads debt and capital fundraising efforts, leads product development, and leads other customer-related aspects for the company. Stilt is backed by Y Combinator and has raised a total of $275M in debt and equity funding to date.