Best Studio Monitors - Under $200 - Under $300 - Under $500

Studio Monitor

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As an audio engineer for over 15 years I can assure you that having good listening devices is the most important thing in the art of mixing.

Practicing your craft on substandard speakers will not only make it hard to make critical mix decisions but affect how your mix translates across other people's listening devices. Having a pair of great studio monitors makes it easier for you to perceive every nuance in the sounds you work with. It also enables you to make critical decisions faster than you would on anything less than the best.

For our 2019 update, we introduce several new contenders in the under $200 which is perfect for small home or project studios. Some contenders from the previous update make their return but how will they stack up to newer models in the market?

We have separated our selections into four categories: The first three are according to specific price ranges and the fourth is a section dedicated to supplementary monitoring that we couldn't just leave out due to its utility. Ready to upgrade your studio? Here we present to you The Best Studio Monitors - Under $200, Under $300, and Under $500.

The Best Studio Monitors

The Best Cheap Studio Monitors Under $200

Having a limited budget doesn't mean you have to compromise. Studio monitors at the sub-$200 range has technology that has trickled down from high-end speakers from a few years ago. Technology like JBL's Image Control Waveguide which was previously seen on their high-end audiophile components are now on their affordable studio monitor line. If you're still starting out or looking for a secondary pair of monitors that won't break your bank, we have you covered in this section.

NB: All street prices listed below are for single monitors - not pairs

PreSonus Eris E5

90
GEARANK

90 out of 100. Incorporating 450+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$125
PreSonus Eris E5 70W 5.25" Powered Studio Monitors

The Presonus Eris E5 appears smaller than other studio monitors with 5" diaphragms but don't let that fool you: the diaphragm on the Eris is actually 5.25". This subtle increase in diameter allows the woofer to output slightly more low frequencies while shouldering more range before the tweeter handles them. The crossover frequency is at 3khz. This means that the woofer needs to be built to handle a wider range of frequencies than your average monitor.

Specifications:

  • Driver: 5.25” Woofer, 1" Silk dome Tweeter
  • Amplifier: 45W LF, 35W HF
  • Inputs: 1 x XLR, 1 x 1/4" TRS, 1 x RCA
  • Frequency response: 53 Hz - 22 kHz
  • Crossover Frequency: 3 kHz
  • Enclosure: Ported
  • Controls: Volume, MF Control, HF Control, Low Cut, Acoustic Space
  • Dimensions: 10.24" x 7.68” x 7"
  • Weight: 10.2 lbs

Pros

Many users note that the speakers have great clarity despite being on the lower end of their budgets. A lot of them were looking at more expensive offerings but when they tested out the Eris E5, they were hooked. The E5 shines in smaller spaces, as seen by the number of users who have it in their project/bedroom studios. The front firing bass port also takes care of any bass resonance problems behind the speaker.

Cons

Sweet spot is said to be narrow and not ideal for listening "in the room" with clients. This is good if you're a solo musician or songwriter that doesn't need to show off a mix. Less than ideal if you're aiming to go pro and have to mix with people in the room.

Overall

The Small Eris E5 can sound bigger than it looks without introducing too much of the room's inconsistencies. Get it if you operate out of a small room or project studio and want some low midrange fidelity in an affordable package. While it's not a high-end Genelec or Focal, it offers great price-to-sound quality that will make you forget you're mixing on sub-$150 monitors.

Behringer Nekkst K8

90
GEARANK

90 out of 100. Incorporating 10+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$139
Behringer Nekkst K8 150W 8" Powered Studio Monitor

Designed by KRK founder Keith R. Klawitter, The Behringer Nekkst K8 has a bit of pedigree behind it. Using new technologies and engineering, The Nekkst K8 brings a lot to the table at a surprisingly affordable price.

Specifications:

  • Driver: 8" Woofer, 1" Tweeter
  • Amplifier: 150W total
  • Inputs: 1 x XLR, 1 x 1/4", 1 x RCA
  • Frequency response: 40Hz to 20 kHz
  • Crossover Frequency: 3 kHz fixed
  • Enclosure: Ported
  • Controls: Input Sensitivity, HF shelf, LF shelf, Room Compensation
  • Dimensions: 15.5 x 10.3 x 12.4"
  • Weight: 19.2 lbs

Pros

Studio engineers that use them note how the speakers are a great value because of the sound quality. While not the flattest sounding speaker, it doesn't flatter bad mixes and is still able to sound good for playback. Low midrange is said to be rich but not as bloated as some KRK models by the same designer.

Cons

Most negative reviews come from people who use these outside the intended use. One user noted the lack of low end at a party (despite them having enough for reference and mixing). It is safe to say that these are indeed intended only for the studio and to some extent, home hi-fi.

Overall

The Nekkst K8 improves upon the founder's original plans for his original company KRK. The sound signature may feel familiar for those accustomed to KRK monitors but with a more refined lower midrange. Get it if you're looking for a great sounding 8" woofer monitor with a rich low mid frequency push.

PreSonus Eris E8

91
GEARANK

91 out of 100. Incorporating 200+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$149
PreSonus Eris E8

The Eris E8 is a bi-amplified studio monitor with an 8" kevlar weave woofer and a 1.25" silk dome tweeter. The kevlar weave is designed to minimize extra reflections from the surface of the cone to more accurately project low and low midrange frequencies.

Specifications:

  • Driver: 8" Woofer, 1.25" Silk Dome Tweeter
  • Amplifier: 75W LF, 65W HF
  • Inputs: 1 x XLR, 1 x 1/4" TRS
  • Frequency response: 35 Hz - 22 kHz
  • Crossover Frequency: 2.2 kHz
  • Enclosure: Ported
  • Controls: Volume Range, MF Control, HF Control, Low Cut, Acoustic Space
  • Dimensions: 15.12" x 9.84” x 11.77”
  • Weight: 22.2 lbs

PreSonus Eris E8 Frequency Response Chart

PreSonus Eris E8 Frequency Response Chart

Pros

Users note the sound to be clear, crisp, and high quality. It is exceptionally revealing of bad mixes and low bitrate playback files. The acoustic tuning options were a welcome feature for those with less than ideal rooms.

Cons

For an 8" speaker, some users noted the low frequencies to lack sub-harmonic punch. This job is usually handled by a separate subwoofer.

Overall

If you're looking for an 8" Studio monitor for your moderate to large sized control room but want clarity over low frequency punch, the Eris E8 is the ideal candidate especially when paired with a subwoofer.

JBL 305P MkII

90
GEARANK

90 out of 100. Incorporating 175+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$149
JBL 305P MkII 5" Powered Studio Monitor

JBL takes a spot in this list with the 2nd iteration of the 305, carrying over its best features while mixing in improvements that include improved transient response and linearity, new boundary EQ controls to reduce environment induced low-frequency anomalies, and improved enclosure material (15mm MDF). At its core is JBL's 5" woofer and 1" tweeter, with JBL's proprietary Image Control waveguide that allows for easier sweet spot positioning.

Specifications:

  • Driver: 5" Woofer, 1" Tweeter
  • Amplifier: 41W LF, 41W HF
  • Inputs: 1 x XLR, 1 x 1/4" TRS
  • Frequency response: 49Hz - 20kHz (±3dB), 43Hz - 24kHz (-10dB)
  • Crossover Frequency: 1725Hz
  • Enclosure: Ported
  • Controls: Input Sensitivity, Boundary EQ, HF Trim, Volume
  • Dimensions: 11.75" x 7.3" x 9.1"
  • Weight: 10.43 lbs.

JBL 305P MkII Frequency Response Chart

JBL 305P MKII Frequency Response Chart

Pros

The JBL 305P MKII's strong point is its sound quality, which many consider as incredible when considering its price point. Many users specifically mention its highs and midrange to be very life-like, and they report that it helped them hear nuances that they were not able to with their old monitors. The speaker's build quality also gets a lot of thumbs up.

Cons

Some users complain that the low-end is lacking, but given its small 5" woofer, this is to be expected. There are also a few who note that it distorts when pushed hard, but this is more of a physical limitation than a problem.

Overall

If you're looking for a great value studio monitor that performs well even in untreated rooms, the 305p MKII is a great choice. Low end may be lacking but in rooms with less than stellar acoustics, a conservative low frequency output prevents unrealistic low frequency projection.

ADAM Audio T5V

92
GEARANK

92 out of 100. Incorporating 20+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$200
ADAM Audio T5V 5" Powered Studio Monitor

At time of publication the ADAM Audio T5V was the equal highest rated studio monitor under $200 along with the Yamaha HS5.

For those in the know, ADAM Audio has been making waves in the recording industry the past decade with their innovative designs. Using proprietary ribbon tweeters, wave guide and baffle designs, the company has made it's way to professional recording studios around the world. With the T5V, ADAM's lowest priced offering, they hope to break into the home/project studio and pro-sumer market.

Specifications:

  • Driver: 5" Woofer, 1.9" Diameter Equivalent ribbon tweeter
  • Amplifier: 50 W LF, 20W HF
  • Inputs: 1 x XLR, 1 x RCA
  • Frequency response: 45 Hz - 25 kHz
  • Crossover Frequency: 3 kHz
  • Enclosure: Ported
  • Controls: Input Sensitivity, Gain, High-Shelf, Low-Shelf
  • Dimensions: 111.7" x 7" x 11.7"
  • Weight: 12.6 lbs

ADAM Audio T5V Frequency Response Chart

ADAM Audio T5V Frequency Response Chart

Pros

Excellent stereo imaging and separation are what users are saying in their positive reviews of the T5V. For such a small monitor, the placement of layers is precise and clear. High frequencies are always what ADAM monitors excel at and according to various user and expert reviews, it is one of its strongest points.

Cons

Some users found the small size to be lacking in low frequency response. This is a common tradeoff. ADAM Audio recommends having a subwoofer to go with the T5V.

Overall

People have waited years for a more affordable ADAM monitor and they have done it; a great sounding studio monitor that offers you a healthy serving of the best ADAM has to offer from their top tier ranges. Get it if you want in on the ADAM sound. Avoid it if you don't plan to get a subwoofer. For that, it's better to go up to the T7V instead.

Samson Resolv SE8

90
GEARANK

90 out of 100. Incorporating 30+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$200
Samson Resolv SE8 Powered Studio Monitor (Pair)

Following up after their successful Resolv A-series Monitors, Samson launched their next-gen SE series in 2014 to great praise from the audio engineering community for its value for money.

Specifications:

  • Driver: 8" Woofer, 1.25" Tweeter
  • Amplifier: 75W LF, 25W HF
  • Inputs: 1 x XLR, 1 x 1/4" TRS
  • Frequency response: 40Hz-27kHz
  • Crossover Frequency: 3.19kHz
  • Enclosure: Ported
  • Controls: HF Trim, Volume
  • Dimensions: 16.25" x 12" x 11.2"
  • Weight: 25 lbs

Pros

Low frequency projection is nice and punchy according to several user reviews. It has been a long hallmark of the company to have fast resolution in their drivers (hence the name Resolv). This means that transients like kick drums wont smear. Others applaud it's value for money especially since it's a monitor with an 8" woofer.

Cons

Negative reviews for the Resolv SE8 usually note that the bass may be too much for smaller studios. Other complaints question the build quality, with one report of the front rattling with high bass frequency content.

Overall

If you're looking for an affordable 8" woofer equipped studio monitor, the Resolv will satisfy even the pickiest of bassheads. Avoid it if your space is small since too much low frequency output will clutter up your perception when speakers are placed in a small room.

Yamaha HS5

92
GEARANK

92 out of 100. Incorporating 450+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$200
Yamaha HS5 5" 70W Powered Studio Monitor

At time of publication the Yamaha HS5 was the equal highest rated studio monitor under $200 along with the ADAM Audio T5V.

While the smallest of the Yamaha HS series, the HS5 still puts out clear and accurate sound with its 5" woofer and 1" tweeter. The 5" woofer stays true to the heritage of the original Yamaha NS-10 monitor speakers. The smaller form factor also makes Yamaha's brand of sound and build quality more accessible for smaller studios and for those with limited budgets. The unit's Room Control feature is designed for calibration in small (and usually enclosed) studio spaces.

Yamaha HS5 Specifications:

  • Driver: 5" Woofer, 1" Tweeter
  • Amplifier: 45W LF, 25W HF
  • Inputs: 1 x XLR, 1 x 1/4" TRS
  • Frequency response: 54Hz - 30kHz
  • Crossover Frequency: 2 kHz
  • Enclosure: Ported
  • Controls: Level, Room Control, High Trim, Power
  • Dimensions: 11.2" x 6.7" x 8.7"
  • Weight: 11.7 lbs.

Yamaha HS5 Frequency Response Chart

Yamaha HS8 Frequency Response Chart

Pros

The Yamaha HS5 continues to get favorable reviews, mostly from home studio owners impressed with the improvements it brought into their production process. Sound quality gets praise, along with reliability and value for money. The neutral response, which is a hallmark in classic Yamaha monitors, is liked by many users have have grown used to the sound of the original NS-10.

Cons

Lack of volume and low frequency punch came up a few times, while there are some who advise that you save up for the bigger HS7 or HS8, or get the matching Yamaha studio subwoofer.

Overall

If you're looking to mix with monitors with a brutally honest upper midrange like the original Yamaha NS-10 monitors, The HS5 is for you. Look elsewhere if you want low end punch without a subwoofer.

The Best Studio Monitors Under $300

No longer in the "budget" category and more into the "entry-level" or "prosumer" category, this price range offers more recent technology for your growing studio needs. Flexible room compensation options, better electronics and better materials for drivers and enclosures are usually what you'd expect in this range.

NB: All street prices listed below are for single monitors - not pairs

ADAM Audio T7V

94
GEARANK

94 out of 100. Incorporating 100+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$250
ADAM Audio T7V 7" Powered Studio Monitor

Adam Audio studio monitors are recording community favorites due to their X-ART Ribbon tweeter technology and fast transient response. Their proprietary ribbon design is carried over from their "A" series to the more affordable "T" line. The T7V Features a U-ART Ribbon tweeter capable of a extending high frequency projection of up to 25khz.

Specifications:

  • Driver: 7" Woofer, 1.9" Diameter Equivalent ribbon tweeter
  • Amplifier: 50W LF, 20W HF
  • Inputs: 1 x XLR, 1 x RCA
  • Frequency response: 39 Hz - 25 kHz
  • Crossover Frequency: 2.6 kHz
  • Enclosure: Ported
  • Controls: Input Sensitivity, High Shelf, Low Shelf
  • Dimensions: 13.7" x 8.3" x 11.5”
  • Weight: 15.7 lbs

ADAM Audio T7V Frequency Response Chart

ADAM Audio T7V Frequency Response Chart

Pros

Users note that the high frequency reproduction to be the best they've heard in this price range. This is useful for balancing cymbals, synths and other layers with intense high frequency content. Despite the extended high frequencies, users note that it never becomes shrill or fatiguing. The clear highs also contribute to a great stereo image and strong phantom center for mono tracks.

Cons

None that are crucially detrimental. One user was disappointed that the T7V does not have a power indicator light.

Overall

If you've been following the company for a while, you would know that their "A" series monitors are becoming modern studio standards. Many hit records of the 2010s were mixed on the A series from Country to Metal. Get the T7V if you're looking for crisp high frequencies. If your room is small or untreated, the high frequencies might not be directed properly.

Focal Alpha 50

94
GEARANK

94 out of 100. Incorporating 80+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$299
Focal Alpha 50

Many professionals and experienced studio owners swear by the Focal brand, so it's not surprising for them to secure a spot in this list. While many of their products have premium price tags, the Alpha 50 makes their brand of quality more accessible. What's unique about this monitor is its low directivity design, which goes against the usual sweet spot focused design that other manufacturers follow. This means that the sound coming from its 5" woofer and 1" dome tweeter are distributed more across the room. Another feature of the Focal Alpha 50 is its automatic standby mode, which conveniently turns off the speaker after 30 minutes of inactivity.

Focal Alpha 50 Specifications:

  • Driver: 5" Woofer, 1" Dome Tweeter
  • Amplifier: 35W LF, 20W HF
  • Inputs: 1 x XLR, 1 x RCA
  • Frequency Response: 45Hz-22kHz (-3dB)
  • Enclosure: Ported
  • Controls: Sensitivity, LF Shelving, HF Shelving
  • Dimensions: 12.3" x 8.7" 10.2"
  • Weight: 16.1 lbs.

Pros

Most of the reviews rave about the speaker's uncolored, clear, lively, and balanced sound. Many describe the sound as tight and attested that this monitor helped reduce their ear fatigue when mixing long hours. Some even say that this bottom-of-the-line speaker (at least for Focal) can outclass more premium alternatives.

Cons

There are a few users who recommended getting a sub woofer to get the most out of the Focal Alpha 50. While some complained about the standby mode, and wish that it could be disabled.

Overall

If you want to dip your toes in Focal's signature sound and clarity, the Alpha 50 is a good starting point. It carries over the brand's best qualities like clarity and dynamic transparency over to a more affordable price point.

Yamaha HS7

95
GEARANK

95 out of 100. Incorporating 1100+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$300
Yamaha HS7 Powered Studio Monitor

At time of publication the Yamaha HS7 was the highest rated studio monitor between $200 and $300.

Yamaha continues to be the go-to brand for studio monitors in the entry to mid-tier market. Yamaha monitors are easy to spot, with their distinct white colored cone woofers; an element carried over from their legendary NS-10 speaker. Yamaha's signature sound is a flat low midrange, tight low frequencies and a brutally revealing upper midrange spike that makes eq mistakes painfully obvious. It has a 6.7" woofer paired with a 1" dome tweeter mounted on vibration damping material to eliminate unwanted resonance for distortion and coloration free sound. Another notable feature is the use of bigger magnets and matching advanced magnetic circuit design. Finally, the HS7 comes with room and high-trim switches for adjusting the sound to the acoustics of your listening area.

Yamaha HS7 Specifications:

  • Driver: 6.7" Woofer, 1" Dome Tweeter
  • Amplifier: 60W LF, 35W HF
  • Inputs: 1 x XLR, 1 x 1/4" (TS)
  • Frequency Response: 43Hz-30kHz (-10dB)
  • Crossover Frequency: 2kHz
  • Enclosure: Ported
  • Controls: Level Knob, Room Control Switch, High Trim Switch
  • Dimensions: 13.1" x 8.3" x 11.2"
  • Weight: 18.1 lbs.

Yamaha HS7 Frequency Response Chart

Yamaha HS7 Frequency Response Chart

Pros

The Yamaha HS7 is well received for its "flat" response, which many describe as very natural sounding. The highs and mids are described as very clear and transparent while the low end is just right for most mixing/mastering scenarios. There's also quite a lot of rave about its solid build, including the feel of the knobs.

Cons

There are no notable concerns about the sound, but one user was annoyed by the overly bright LED light.

Overall

The HS7 bridges the gap between their two models, the HS5 and the HS8. If you feel that the HS5 is a bit lacking on the low frequencies but don't want to get a sub, The HS7 is a good pick as long as your room is treated enough to dampen resonance.

The Best Studio Monitors under $500

At this price range, most companies offer their flagship models. This means that tech here is either cutting-edge or where lower end models get some of it trickled down to them. Other companies with more expensive offerings seat their "prosumer" to "home professional" offerings here. For other brands, this is where they present speakers with larger woofer diameters and enclosure sizes.

NB: All street prices listed below are for single monitors - not pairs

Yamaha HS8

95
GEARANK

95 out of 100. Incorporating 600+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$350
Yamaha HS8 8" 120W Bi-Amp Powered Studio Monitor

At time of publication the Yamaha HS8 was 1 of the 3 equal highest rated studio monitors between $300 and $500.

This means that Yamaha was the only company to have a highest rated studio monitor in every price range we researched for our October 2019 update.

Thanks to the success of the now legendary NS10 studio monitor, Yamaha continues to enjoy a favorable position in the near field monitoring market. As proof, they have secured multiple recommendations in this guide due to the high ratings their monitors get. The bigger 8" woofer allows for more headroom and low end response, while the room and high-trim controls will let you adjust the sound to fit into different studio sizes. There's nothing special when you look at the spec sheet, but Yamaha made all these small parts work together seamlessly - resulting in outstanding monitoring experience that's reflected by its high ratings and expert recommendations. It also helps that the HS8 is relatively affordable, you'll have enough cash to spare to buy other important studio gear.

Yamaha HS8 Specifications:

  • Driver: 8" Woofer, 1" Dome Tweeter
  • Amplifier: 75W LF, 45W HF
  • Inputs: 1 x XLR, 1 x 1/4" (TS)
  • Frequency Response: 38Hz to 30kHz
  • Crossover Frequency: 2kHz
  • Enclosure: Ported
  • Controls: Level Knob, Room Control Switch, High Trim Switch
  • Dimensions: 9.8" x 15.4" x 13.1"
  • Weight: 22.5 lbs.

Yamaha HS8 Frequency Response Chart

Yamaha HS8 Frequency Response Chart

Pros

Accurate and reliable are two prominent descriptions that people use to describe the Yamaha HS8. Compared to their previous affordable monitors, many found the improvement to be dramatic. While those who have more expensive monitors are perplexed as to how close the HS8 is, in terms of quality. Other commendations point to its value for money and longevity.

Cons

There are a few users who complain of interference from other devices. Some also find that it lacks low end, especially for bass heavy musical styles. It may also be too large for smaller studios and may affect accuracy due to reflections and resonance. For smaller and untreated rooms, the HS5 may be a better pick.

Overall

The Yamaha HS8 is a good safe middle ground for those who want quality, reliability and versatility. As always mentioned,it carries the legacy of the NS-10; a monitor know for its flat and revealing frequency response. A cool looking white finish Yamaha HS8 version is also available at Amazon.

Genelec 8010A

95
GEARANK

95 out of 100. Incorporating 125+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$350
Genelec 8010

At time of publication the Genelec 8010A was 1 of the 3 equal highest rated studio monitors between $300 and $500.

Usually only found on the upper echelons of the market, Genelec is a brand trusted by many professionals and is used in many high-end studios. Thankfully, they have an entry in the sub $500 market, giving us the chance to experience what pros use, albeit in a smaller package. Speaking of small, this powered studio monitor houses a tiny 3" woofer and .75" tweeter, so expect less volume and low end from it than you would on larger speakers. This is the reason many users pair it with a Studio Subwoofer. With its volume limitation aside, its midrange clarity is very useful in small home studio situations, it is also an ideal portable solution for those who want to carry a studio monitor with them.

Genelec 8010A Specifications:

  • Driver: 3" Woofer, 0.75" Dome Tweeter
  • Amplifier: 25W LF, 25W HF
  • Inputs: 1 x XLR
  • Frequency Response: 67Hz-25kHz (-6dB)
  • Crossover Frequency: 3kHz
  • Enclosure: Ported
  • Dimensions: 7.67" x 4.76" x 4.5"
  • Weight: 3.3 lbs.

Pros

Those familiar with the bigger and more expensive Genelec monitors attest to the similarity of the smaller 8010's sonic quality. Many also commented that ear fatigue is not an issue with this speaker, thanks to its low distortion performance and its clean mids and highs. Portability was also seen as a plus for some users who do mobile recording setups or want to mix on familiar speakers away from their own studio.

Cons

Obviously, the low end will lack but it can get the job done for most music types. Those who need more bass can add a studio subwoofer.

Overall

Most people think "big studio" when they hear "Genelec" but the brand challenges that notion by offering a small but surprisingly clear and versatile monitor speaker. If you're looking for a portable studio monitor, or if you have a small studio space to work with, the Genelec 8010A is highly recommended.

PreSonus Sceptre S6

95
GEARANK

95 out of 100. Incorporating 20+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$500
PreSonus Sceptre S6

At time of publication the PreSonus Sceptre S6 was 1 of the 3 equal highest rated studio monitors between $300 and $500.

Just one look at the PreSonus Sceptre S6 and you'll notice its standout coaxial design, where the 1" tweeter is positioned front and center of the 6.5" woofer. Compared to traditional 2-way speakers where the two are separated, this back-to-back configuration allows for a more balanced dispersion. To better use this design, PreSonus equipped the Sceptre S6 with a dual-core DSP that handles crossover frequency adjustments. The 180W class D amplifier features an internal heat sink for longevity and performance. Controls include level adjustment knob, and pre-programmed "acoustic tuning" buttons that let you customize the resulting sound to match the room that you are using it in.

PreSonus Sceptre S6 Specifications:

  • Driver: 6.5" Woofer, 1" Dome Tweeter
  • Amplifier: 90W LF, 90W HF
  • Inputs: 1 x XLR, 1 x TRS
  • Frequency Response: 42Hz–23kHz (-10dB)
  • Crossover Frequency: 2.2 kHz
  • Enclosure: Front Ported
  • Controls: Level, Acoustic Space, HF Driver, HP Filter
  • Dimensions: 13.2" x 9" x 12.2"
  • Weight: 18.8 lbs.

PreSonusSceptre S6 Frequency Response Chart

Presonus Sceptre S6 Frequency Response Chart

Pros

Experts and users alike have mostly great things to say about the PreSonus Sceptre S6, with specific emphasis to its mid-range clarity and overall sound quality. Even those who were skeptical of the coaxial design report that it improved their monitoring/mixing experience. The linear throw of the speakers helped mixers feel a sense of depth from the stereo image unlike other designs they tried.

Cons

There are a few who wanted knobs instead of buttons for the acoustic tuning controls. There are also some experts who noticed subtle smearing in the lower frequencies because of its front ported design.

Overall

The Sceptre S6 is truly unconventional with it's design philosophy. The result is a clear midrange, large sweet spot and stunning stereo separation and depth. Get it if you tend to mix music with dense layers. If you need low frequency accuracy, the design may not be to your liking.

Supplementary Monitoring

Featured here is a top rated studio monitor that's popularly used for secondary referencing. These offer tighter response times in exchange for overall frequency response to make you hear transients and details better. They also approximate the frequency response of consumer-grade mono speakers to let you hear what your mix sounds like on other sound sources. Mono balancing is crucial for mixes to translate to mono sound sources like radios, phone speakers and public address systems

Avantone Pro Active MixCube (Pair Only)

93
GEARANK

93 out of 100. Incorporating 80+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$479
Avantone Pro Active MixCube

NB: At the time of publication these are currently only available from Amazon as a pair, however the Sweetwater link provides the option of buying a single monitor.

The Avantone MixCube is a mini reference monitor influenced by the Auratone 5c monitor speakers. The Auratone 5c has been around since the 70s and was a passive design while the Avantone MixCube is a modern powered speaker. The Mixcube emphasizes the midrange, mimicking the sound of basic sound systems like those found in televisions, mobile phones, car stereos, bluetooth players, laptops and more. Monitoring on these so-called "grotboxes" helps give you an additional reference point with regards to hearing your mix on consumer electronics. It sports a single 5.25" woofer, and produces sound without a tweeter, much like how most budget speakers are setup. There are no fancy controls either, so all you have to do is plug-in, get it in position and listen to your mix. Avantone assures that each unit is properly shielded so you can use it beside computers without worrying about interference. Finally, this speaker system comes in a 6.5" cube MDF cabinet that does not require much space, and it comes in black or cream color.

Avantone Pro MixCube Specifications:

  • Driver: 5.25" Woofer
  • Amplifier: 60W
  • Inputs: 1 x XLR/TRS Combo
  • Frequency Response: 90Hz-17kHz
  • Enclosure: Sealed
  • Controls: System Gain, Ground Lift
  • Dimensions: 6.5" x 6.5" x 6.5"
  • Weight: 7.13 lbs.

Avantone Pro Active MixCube Frequency Response Chart

Click here to download MixCube Frequency Response Charts.

Pros

Most users consider the MixCube as the ideal monitor for mono mixing, allowing you to audition tracks as you would with real-world media players. Many users felt that it makes for easier mixing of vocals, guitars, and other instruments that sit within the middle frequencies. Experts highly recommended it as a secondary monitor to complement your studio setup.

Cons

Because of its mid-heavy sound, mixing with the Avantone Pro MixCube won't have a full sound - but that's the point. There are a few who commented on the power supply being too bulky for the size of the unit, as the speaker itself is compact and light.

Overall

It is generally not recommended by the recording community to mix only on small speakers like the old Auratone 5c. Thankfully Avantone has tweaked the MixCube to be more versatile than its ancestor with a bit more extension in the lows and highs; making it a good emergency speaker set for on-the-go mixing aside from its intended purpose as a supplementary monitoring system. Get it if you already have bigger speakers at home or have fly-in mixing sessions with studios that have unfamiliar speakers. Avoid it if you're buying your first pair of monitors.

Things To Consider When Buying Studio Monitors

While most studio monitors are reasonably versatile, there's no one pair of monitors that can satisfy everybody, so you must find the ones that fit your needs and resources. The best studio monitor for you will depend mostly on type of music you're producing, your studio space, and your budget.

  • Speaker Size

    Most studio monitors have 2-way speakers where sound is divided into Low Frequencies (LF) and High frequencies (HF), and are sent to two different speakers. HF driver (also called a Tweeter) sizes are mostly the same at around 1", but there are greater variations in the size of LF drivers (also called Woofers), and this is important for you to consider. The general idea is that bigger woofers can handle more lows, while smaller ones can better represent the mid frequencies. In line with this, go for bigger woofers if you expect to mix bass-heavy songs, while smaller woofers are recommended if you put emphasis on clarity of the mids - where most of the vocals and instruments are.

  • Frequency Response

    This specifies the range of frequencies that the monitor can handle, and is usually directly related to the size of the HF and LF Drivers. Wider frequency response can handle more types of music, but these extra frequencies can compete for your attention, which may make you miss important sonic details. If you are into mostly DJ and electronic music, you'll want bigger monitors that can handle the added low frequencies that are usually associated with these styles. On the other hand, if you'll be working with acoustic instruments and vocals, the exaggerated bass can hinder you from mixing and balancing the frequencies properly, so its best to go for flat response studio monitors. We highly recommend having more than one set of monitors - for you to have more sonic references to work with.

  • Power Rating

    The power rating of the amplifier, with speaker size, dictates the headroom and overall loudness limit of the unit. For mixing, you want the volume to be just enough to cover your listening area, without getting it muddied or distorted. You also don't want to tire your ears easily, or disturb your neighbors - so loud is not better. Volume becomes an issue when you have someone else listening with you, or when you audition mixes that are expected to be loud - like rock and electronic music.

  • Positioning and Sweet Spot

    If you want to get the most out of your studio monitors, then you'll want to position them correctly and listen within their sweet spot position. Since each monitor has different baffle and wave guide designs, positioning to find the "sweet spot" will vary, so you'll want to read the manual and adjust your position accordingly. Speaker positioning is not fully covered here, but the video below can give you a good idea of its importance and application:

  • Mixing Environment

    The type of speaker to choose will also depend on your mixing environment as well. If your room is untreated (as in the case of a bedroom or home studio), it is best to choose smaller monitors and use headphones for checking low frequency balance. Untreated rooms tend to bounce sound and have uneven resonances that may affect your perception of frequency levels. Larger speakers with higher volume may introduce a phenomenon called "standing waves" in spaces with parallel walls. This phenomenon causes the low frequencies to either bloat and gather in one spot or disappear entirely depending on where you stand in the room. Having carpetting as absorbers and uneven surfaces like bookshelves near flat walls as diffusers can help but if you have no plans on fully treating your rooms, stick with speakers with woofers 5" in diameter or lower.

The Best Studio Monitor Selection Methodology

This guide was first published on February 4, 2016 by Alexander Briones and the latest major update was published on October 22, 2019 by Raphael Pulgar with contributions from Alexander.

The initial step was to look for the most popular and top rated sub $500 active studio monitors available from major USA based retailers. And for this 2019 update, we ended up including 35 of them on our short-list, along with over 3,100 relevant sources that include customer ratings, user/expert reviews, video reviews, forum posts and more. The Gearank algorithm processed this data to provide us with ratings out of 100 that reflects market sentiment. Finally we divided the list into three price categories, Under $200, Under $300 and Under $500. We've also included detailed descriptions and specifications for each studio monitor, along with pros and cons derived from reviews and important community discussions. For more information about our methods see How Gearank Works.

Comments

Interesting list of the best

Interesting list of the best studio speakers. I don't normally see the Mackie HR624mk2, the PreSonus Eris E5, and a couple other monitoring speakers on other best speakers lists. Never tried the two that I've mentioned either so I don't know if they really are great. I've tried majority of the monitoring speakers on other lists, like the Rokit 5, JBL LSR 305, Adam A7X, Yamaha HS7 (my favorite), Focal Alpha 80, Genelec M030A, Focal CMS 65, etc and they're all great as well. Currently I'm using the M-Audio BX5 D2 studio monitors but I'm looking to get a new set so maybe I'll give the PreSonus Eris E5 a try.

I'm glad you found our guide

I'm glad you found our guide interesting Mitch.

The reason our lists of recommended gear are sometimes different to other websites is because Gearank Guides are based upon detailed statistical and sentiment analysis of customer reviews, expert reviews, and forum discussions - a process which is enhanced by our use of the Gearank Algorithm.

This enables us find the gear that musicians actually rate highly themselves making us less susceptible to marketing influences than would otherwise be the case in many instances.

If you'd like to know more about our methodology then please read How Gearank Works.

take a look at the Samson

Take a look at the Samson Resolv series (SE6/SE8, RXA6). reference monitors with flat response at a very attractive price.

Thanks for the tip - we will

Thanks for the tip - we will include the Samson Resolv series of studio monitors in our data set when we next update this guide.

As promised, we did analyze

As promised, we did analyze the Samson Resolv range while we were working on the new version of this guide which was published today.

Unfortunately they didn't make the cut this time around, but you can see the Samson Resolv Gearank Scores in our music gear database.

No Yamaha HS5? They sound the

No Yamaha HS5? They sound the closest to the classic industry standard Yamaha NS10.

For those who are interested,

For those who are interested, if you want to avoid big dips in your response due to the comb filtering that occurs when the direct sound from high frequency driver combines with reflected sound from that same driver, try sandwiching a mirror on top of table tops or nearby flat surfaces to determine if you can see a reflection of the high frequency driver. If you can, then you need to move the loudspeakers, change the configuration of the table, or even change the angle of the table so as to eliminate the reflections. The effects of such early reflections are easy to verify by sweeping with a sine wave and observing on an RTA. Basically, if you want accurate response for mixing, you need to create a Reflection Free Zone for the mix position. Not very many people are hip to this technique, but it can really improve the accuracy of your monitoring.

Today we removed the JBL

Today we removed the JBL LSR308 Mark 1 from the recommended list above because it has been superseded and is no longer widely available in North America.

I don't know of the monitor

I don't know if the monitor comes in pairs or single for the price shown,i mean krk rockit 6.

The street prices above, and

The street prices above, and the prices at both Sweetwater and Amazon, are all for a single speaker.

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