The Best Stage Monitors - Powered Speakers Under $500

The Highest Rated Powered Stage Monitors

Disclosure

We recommend all products independently of 3rd parties including advertisers. We earn advertising fees from:
• • • • •
Sweetwater
• • • • •

Amazon

As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.
• • • • •

PA System Guides

We have a range of guides related to PA systems which you will find helpful:

Stage monitors allow performers to hear themselves on stage. As such, choosing a stage monitor should have the same importance as choosing your main FOH (Front of House) speakers, probably even more so, given the impact that stage monitors have on performance.

Here we present you with the highest rated stage monitors in the sub $500 range, updated for October of 2020. The biggest change in this update is that it now only features active / powered speakers (passive monitors have been removed), divided into two price categories, this way the guide can better cater to current market demands.

Note that while alternatives like in-ear monitors are available, many still prefer the coverage and practicality of floor monitors.

The Best Stage Monitors Under $500 - Powered & Passive

Best Powered Stage Monitor Speakers under $300

These are market leading powered speakers that are highly rated as floor monitors in the sub $300 price range. Some of them are also great FOH speakers.

Behringer Eurolive B205D

90
GEARANK

90 out of 100. Incorporating 1550+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$228
Behringer Eurolive B205D 5.25” 150 watt Powered Floor Monitor

The Behringer Eurolive B205D is the smallest and lightest in this list, weighing at just 7 pounds, equipped with just a 5.25" LF driver, and a 150W amplifier which may seem way under-powered compared to the others. But reviews reveal that the projection of this monitor is just enough for small stages and venues.

It is ideal as a stage monitor for vocalists and keyboardists thanks to its mic stand mountable design. It's also a great speaker for small-scale public address - just plug a microphone directly into the B205D and you're ready to be heard. And since it has front mounted controls, making on fly changes to your sound is possible without the need for a technician's help.

Speaking of controls, the 3-channel mixer gives you mic and line inputs, including RCAs for music players. And the 3-band EQ lets you fine-tune your sound easily.

Whether you're looking for a convenient stage monitor or a portable PA system, the Behringer B205D is a solid choice.

Features:

  • LF Driver: 5.25"
  • Power Rating (RMS): 125W
  • Power Rating (Peak): 150W
  • Frequency Range: 105Hz-10kHz
  • Maximum Peak SPL: 112dB
  • Inputs: 1 x XLR, 2 x XLR/TRS Combo, 2 x RCA
  • Outputs: 1 x XLR (Mic/Line)
  • Mounting: Floor Wedge, Pole
  • Weight: 7 lbs.

Pros
Aside from its obvious budget friendly price advantage, the Behringer Eurolive B205D is well loved for its portability, as stated by majority of reviewers. Many are also pleased with how it sounds, in terms of both projection and quality. From small cafes to a Las Vegas rock band stages, the general consensus is that it gets the job done quite well for the size. The ability to be mounted on a mic stand is also a plus, allowing the performer to better hear the sound coming off the speaker, and giving them easier access to the onboard controls which include a 3-channel mixer and EQ.

Cons
There are a few out-of-the-box defects reported, while some report having problems within a year of buying. These can still be covered by warranty so it's not necessarily a deal breaker. But it would still pay to handle and setup this compact active speaker carefully, specifically when mounting it on a mic stand, you don't want it to fall down during a performance.

Overall
Easily the best value compact stage monitor on the market today, since you can save a lot by buying this unit, we recommend that you also get a mic stand to get the most benefit.

Harbinger VARI V2312

90
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$250
Harbinger VARI V2312 Powered PA Speaker 12" - 2000W

The Harbinger VARI V2312 is a powered speaker that has enough power and projection for FOH (front of house) use, but has built-in DSP that allow for different voicings, including a floor monitor voicing that tweaks the sound to emphasize sonic clarity and nuances.

With its 2000W class D amplifier and 12" speaker, this stage monitor provides quite a lot of headroom for the money. And with its 3-channel design that feature Bluetooth connectivity, this speaker is also more than capable of doubling as a portable PA system when needed, which again ups the value that you're getting.

Another cool feature of this speaker is its Smart Stereo routing, which lets you easily control a pair of VARI V2312 from one master unit.

Features:

  • LF Driver: 12"
  • HF Driver: Not Specified
  • Power Rating (RMS): 1000W
  • Power Rating (Peak): 2000W
  • Frequency Range:40Hz-20kHz
  • Maximum Peak SPL: 126 dB
  • Inputs: 3 x XLR, 4 x TRS
  • Outputs: 1 x XLR
  • Mounting: Pole, Floor Wedge
  • Weight: 35 lbs.

Pros
Owners of this speaker describe it as being clean and loud, able to handle a wide variety of sound sources from speech to different music styles. Sound techs, bands and DJs are impressed with the VARI V2312's performance as a stage monitor, commending it for its good overall sound quality. Value for money is another often commended trait, especially when considering its DSP and Bluetooth compatibility.

Cons
There are a few owners who feel that bottom end is lacking.

Overall
If you're looking for a versatile budget friendly powered speaker then check out the Harbinger VARI V2312.

Samson RSXM10A

91
GEARANK

91 out of 100. Incorporating 40+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$253
Samson RSXM10A Powered Stage Monitor 10" - 800W

Samson is a brand that known for providing quality musical equipment at affordable price points. Case in point is the RSXM10A, which for the price gives you a stage monitor with an all-wood cabinet.

At its core is an 800-Watt Class D amplifier, which drives a 10" woofer and a 1" tweeter.

To make this stage monitor more compact, went for a coaxial speaker configuration where the tweeter sits right in front of the woofer. This configuration also allows for a more focused sound especially when listening right in front of the speaker's sweet spot.

Finally, while the RSXM10A is designed to be a dedicated stage monitor, it can be used as a FOH speaker complete with pole mounting and an FOH switch.

Features:

  • LF Driver: 10"
  • HF Driver: 1"
  • Power Rating (RMS): 800W
  • Power Rating (Peak): 1600W
  • Frequency Range:55 Hz to 20 kHz (-3 dB)
  • Maximum Peak SPL: 130 dB SPL @ 1 m
  • Inputs: Balanced XLR, 1 x 1/4"
  • Outputs: Balanced XLR Out
  • Mounting: Pole, Fly, Floor Wedge
  • Weight: 46 lbs.

Pros
The Samson RSXM10A is described as a warm sounding monitor speaker, and this endears it to musicians, especially guitarists who use guitar processors. It also has a reputation for sounding good for vocalists and acoustic guitarists, and is working really well in many settings from churches to event venues. Quiet operation is another one of its strength, to the point that some use it as their monitor for home recording.

Cons
With its 10" speaker, don't expect this to sound as full sounding as bigger monitors.

Overall
The Samson RSXM10A is a great deal for those looking for a straightforward instrument/vocal monitor.

Behringer Eurolive B112D

92
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$293
Behringer Eurolive B112D 1000 watt Powered PA Speaker

At publication time this was the Highest Rated Powered Stage Monitor Under $300.

Behringer knows how to balance price and quality, to the detriment of the competition. A good example of this is the B112D, which for the price gives you a 12" woofer, a 1.35" tweeter and a 1000-Watt amplifier with built-in DSP for speaker protection.

While it doesn't have multiple voicings, it does come with 2-band EQ controls, which you can use to shape the sound to match the venue and the sound source.

All these features are packed inside a lightweight plastic cabinet, which makes the B112D a good portable stage monitor.

Features:

  • LF Driver: 12"
  • HF Driver: 1.35"
  • Power Rating (RMS): Not Specified
  • Power Rating (Peak): 1000W
  • Frequency Range: 50Hz - 20kHz
  • Maximum Peak SPL: 127dB
  • Inputs: 2 x XLR/TRS Combo
  • Outputs: 1 x XLR
  • Mounting: Pole, Floor Wedge
  • Weight: 27.1 lbs.

Pros
There's no stopping the many high ratings that point to the B112D's overall quality. Most users appreciate its fuller sound, which make it work nicely for rock musicians, DJs and many more. There are also plenty of comments speaking about the nice headroom that it has.

Cons
Not many complaints from users other than a few experienced owners who are not impressed with its sound.

Overall
The Behringer B112D is a budget friendly monitor for those who are looking for one with 12" woofers.

Mackie Thump12A

90
GEARANK

90 out of 100. Incorporating 225+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$300
Mackie Thump12A Powered Speaker 12" - 1300W

Generally speaking, stage monitors do not require as much low-end as FOH. Still there are particular instruments and musical styles that require a bit more bass in their monitors, and this is where the Thump 12A comes in with Mackie's proprietary Dynamic Bass Response technology - that allows their speakers to have a bit more low-end than what others have to offer.

At 1,300 Watts, and with a 12" woofer, the Thump 12A has more than enough volume for handling FOH, let alone stage monitoring duties.

It has a 2-channel mixer with Vita preamps that can handle various sound sources from mics, to instruments to line level signals, thanks to its Wide-Z input technology.

Other features include 4 speaker modes including one for stage monitoring, and it comes with built-in projection and thermal limiters.

Features:

  • LF Driver: 12"
  • HF Driver: 1.4"
  • Power Rating (RMS): Not Specified
  • Power Rating (Peak): 1300W
  • Frequency Range: 50Hz-23kHz (-10dB)
  • Maximum Peak SPL: 126 dB
  • Inputs: 2 x XLR-1/4" Combo
  • Outputs: 1 x XLR (Mix out)
  • Mounting: Pole, Floor Wedge
  • Weight: 29.1 lbs.

Pros
Great sounding is a common description used in reviews, and these reviews come from a wide variety of users, including keyboardists, DJs, announcers, guitarists, bassists and many more. There are even reviewers who rate it highly after using it as a stage monitor in big venues that can sit thousands. Another key factor for the high ratings is the Thump 12A's pricing, which is quite affordable given its specs and performance.

Cons
There are a few who wish for more EQ control instead of the speaker modes. The extra bass response can also be a turn off for those who are looking for more midrange and treble clarity.

Overall
If bass response in a monitor is important to you, then the Mackie Thump12A will fit you nicely.

Best Powered Stage Monitor Speakers under $500

Many high quality FOH (front of house) speakers in the $300 to $500 price range work just as great when used as stage monitors, thanks to built-in DSP that tweaks the voicing to meet the needs of stage monitoring. In this section, you'll see the best of these versatile speakers.

Mackie Thump15A

96
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$350
Mackie Thump15A Powered Speaker 15" - 1300W

Who would need a stage monitor with a 15" woofer? Our research into actual market responses show that there are many - including drummers, bassists, keyboardists, DJs and more. And this need is addressed by the Mackie Thump15A, with its 15" LF driver that better emphasizes low frequencies compared to its smaller siblings.

But aside from its bigger woofer, everything else about this speaker follows the same specs and configuration as the Thump 12A, including having a 1,300 watt Class D amplifier and Mackie's Dynamic Bass Response technology.

Other features include 4 speaker modes and built-in thermal limiter for speaker protection.

Features:

  • LF Driver: 15"
  • HF Driver: 1.4"
  • Power Rating (RMS): Not Specified
  • Power Rating (Peak): 1300W
  • Frequency Range: 32Hz-23kHz (-10dB)
  • Maximum Peak SPL: 127 dB
  • Inputs: 2 x XLR-1/4" Combo
  • Outputs: 1 x XLR (Mix out)
  • Mounting: Pole, Floor Wedge
  • Weight: 34.8 lbs.

Pros
The Mackie Thump15A is rated highly for its great balance of cost, durability and sound quality. Users are simply blown away by the sound they are getting from the speaker given the money they spent. And while it gets many of its reviews for its outstanding performance as a main FOH speaker, it gets plenty of thumbs up as a stage monitor for drummers who use electric drums, keyboardists and electronic musicians, DJs, bassists and even guitarists who uses guitar modeling processors. Durability is also another important factor as to why many recommend the Thump 15A, with some reviewers sharing stories of the Thump 15A surviving various falls and hits.

Cons
This is not a good stage monitor for those who prefer more treble and mid-range emphasis over bass.

Overall
If you're looking for a monitor with extra emphasis on bass frequencies then the Mackie Thump15A is highly recommended.

QSC CP8

97
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$400
QSC CP8 Powered PA Speaker

At publication time this was the Highest Rated Powered Stage Monitor Under $500.

The CP8 features QSC's brand of premium sound quality at a more accessible price point, and its ability to reproduce sonic details and nuances make it ideal for stage monitor use.

It has a 1000W Class D 3-channel amplifier that drives an 8" woofer and 1.4" tweeter, all designed and built to QSC's strict quality requirements.

To achieve a clear sound that the brand is known for, CP8 comes with QSC's DMT (Directivity Matched Transition) and Intrinsic Correction DSP.

In addition to its dedicated floor monitor voicing, it comes with 5 other contour modes which include speech, dance and subwoofer ready modes.

Features:

  • LF Driver: 8"
  • HF Driver: 1.4"
  • Power Rating (RMS): 1000W
  • Power Rating (Peak): Not Specified
  • Frequency Range: 56Hz-20kHz (-6dB)
  • Maximum Peak SPL: 124 dB SPL @ 1m
  • Inputs: 2 x XLR-1/4" Combo (Mic/Line), 1 x 1/8" (Aux)
  • Outputs: 1 x XLR (mix out)
  • Mounting: Pole, Floor Wedge
  • Weight: lbs. 25.5 lbs.

Pros
Musicians of various backgrounds commend the QSC CP8 for its clear and clean sound, reviewers range from guitarists, singer songwriters, saxophonists, keyboardists, vocalists and many more. Some even use it as both main speaker and monitor for small venue performances. It also gets a lot of thumbs up for its sound quality to weight ratio, while others appreciate its solid build quality.

Cons
If you're looking for a deeper sounding monitor with more bass then this may not be a good choice.

Overall
The QSC CP8 is currently the highest rated powered stage monitor and for good reasons, do check it out if quality is your top priority.

Yamaha DBR10

96
GEARANK

96 out of 100. Incorporating 275+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$400
Yamaha DBR10

Although not quite the highest rated, the Yamaha DBR10 has been the most popular powered stage monitor with Gearank readers during 2020.

Weighing in at just 23.2 pounds, the Yamaha DBR10 packs quite a lunch of punch, with its 10" LF Driver, 700W (Peak) power rating and max SPL of 129dB.

And since it is also top rated PA speaker, it can serve as a reliable backup for your FOH speakers.

Its power, portability, flexibility, and Yamaha's reputation for quality makes for a potent mixture of practical traits that many are looking for in a stage monitor.

Features:

  • 10" LF Driver
  • 1" HF Driver
  • Power Rating (Continuous): 325W (260 LF | 65 HF)
  • Power Rating (Dynamic): 700W (500 LF | 200 HF)
  • Frequency Range: 55Hz-20kHz (-10dB)
  • Maximum Peak SPL: 129dB
  • Inputs: 2 x XLR/TRS Combo, 1 x Stereo
  • Outputs: 1 x XLR
  • Mounting: Pole, Floor Wedge
  • Weight: 23.2 lbs.

Pros
Most commendations point to its clean sound, good projection and portability. Many acknowledge experiencing a big jump in sound quality improvement after switching to the Yamaha DBR10, which is quite special considering its affordable price point, and its light weight. While it does work great as FOH mains and side fills, experts have noted that it works even better as a floor monitor, with its clarity and quiet operation - especially for vocals and acoustic instruments.

Cons
The rating would have been higher if not for some users who wanted more bass and projection from its compact 10" speaker, they should have known better and bought something bigger. An expert reviewer cautioned that it can't handle too much lows, but said that this is a physical limitation rather than a fault on the speaker - and it would not be an issue for most musicians when used as a stage monitor.

Overall
If you are looking for a quality monitor that's light on your back and your bank, then definitely get this one.

Electro-Voice ZLX-15P

96
GEARANK

96 out of 100. Incorporating 750+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$499
Electro-Voice ZLX-15P Powered PA Speaker - 1000W

Electro-Voice continues to make a name for themselves, thanks to their good quality-to-price ratios as exemplified by the ZLX-15P.

Driving its 15" woofer and 1.5" tweeter is its built-in Class-D powered amplifier section, rated at 1000W. This configuration makes this speaker viable as a FOH speaker, but it also works well as a stage monitor, thanks to its floor-friendly wedge cabinet profile.

Another cool feature of theZLX-15P is its built-in DSP, which gives you the ability to choose between 4 presets (music, live, speech, and club), which tunes the speakers for use in different scenarios.

Features:

  • 15" LF Driver
  • 1.5" HF Driver
  • Power Rating (Continuous): 250W
  • Power Rating (Peak): 1000W
  • Frequency Range: 42Hz-20kHz (-10dB)
  • Maximum Peak SPL: 127dB
  • Inputs: 2 x XLR/TRS, 1 x 1/8" Aux
  • Outputs: 1 x XLR
  • Mounting: Pole, Floor Wedge
  • Weight: 38.1 lbs.

Pros

The Electro-Voice ZLX-15P is a versatile powered speaker that can handle both FOH and monitoring duties really well. Reviews are dominated by favorable comments that point to its flexibility and reliability. While it gets most of its thumbs up from those who use the speaker as FOH, there are a good enough number of owners who are happy with its performance as a floor wedge speaker. Many are also impressed with how the ZLX-15P can handle louder types of music.

Cons

This speaker is a bit on the heavy side at 34.39 lbs, but it still relatively light when compared to other active speakers with 12" woofers. Of the few other complaints, we found that they are mostly about shipping damage and manufacturing defect claims that would be resolved through the retail store.

Overall

If you're looking for a loud and versatile powered speaker that can work as FOH or stage monitor, then check this one out.

Things to Consider When Buying Stage Monitors

  • Powered (aka active) vs Passive

    Powered stage monitors come with built-in amplifiers, while passive ones require a separate amplifier. There's no clear winner between the two, rather, they each have their own advantages over the other. Powered stage monitor speakers make setup simple. Passive monitors require an amplifier. The most practical method is to consider your existing equipment when getting stage monitors, if you already have a dedicated amplifier, then get a passive monitor, if none then go powered. Also remember that powered speakers need to be plugged into a power outlet. Note that for this 2020 update, we've decided to leave out passive stage monitors entirely, since most are now looking for powered stage monitors due to their ease of use and convenience.

  • How many do you need?

    The number of monitors you need is influenced greatly by the size of the stage and the number of performers. The most ideal is to setup is a monitor for every performer, otherwise they may have to share a monitor. A good rule of thumb is to start with two monitors for small to medium sized venues, and add as the need for more arises - you'll often need one dedicated to the drummer as it can be difficult to hear every performer from the back of the stage where the drummer is usually positioned.

  • Speaker Size and Weight

    The size of the woofer (LF Driver) is significant in that it will dictate the stage monitor's bass handling and projection. You will want smaller speakers (10" to 12") for vocals and other common instruments that include guitars and keyboards. While bass heavy instruments like drums and bass guitars generally require bigger (12" to 15") woofers - note that some drummers use an additional subwoofer or a dedicated drum monitor for stage monitoring. Portability is an important consideration if you're performance venue constantly changes, and to help with that, we have put the weight of each stage monitor listed on the features section.

  • Can be used as FOH (Front of House) or General Speakers

    Most modern powered PA speakers can double as good stage monitors, making them great bang per buck choices. This means that they can serve as back up FOH speakers should your mains have problems.

  • What's the difference between a Floor Wedge and a Stage Monitor?

    Stage monitor refers to speakers that can be used as monitors, while floor wedge refers to the shape and position of a stage monitor. Many of today's powered speakers have back wedges that allow them to be positioned as floor wedge monitors. And many also come with built-in DSP that can let you switch the voicing of the speaker to compliment the floor wedge position.

  • What is the best Stage Monitor for Drummers?

    There are some great sounding powered monitors that are specifically designed for drummers, we feature the best of them in our guide to the Electronic Drum Amps / Drum Monitors.

Best Stage Monitor Selection Methodology

The first edition was published in May of 2016 written by Alexander Briones who also wrote the latest edition published on October 8, 2020.

This guide complements our Powered PA speakers guide, focusing on top-rated stage monitors that are readily available at most major American music stores. For this 2020 update, we decided to limit the scope to just powered stage monitors that are priced under $500, to better meet the needs of the vast majority of our readers.

As always, we allow the numbers to speak for themselves by gathering relevant reviews, ratings and recommendations and feeding all of them into the Gearank algorithm. Over 14,100 sources were processed for this update. The resulting scores allow us to rank each monitor according to their ratings and we selected the highest rated ones to recommend above. The list is broken down into sub $300 and sub $500 price categories for convenience. See How Gearank Works for further details on our methods.

Comments

Looking for a monitor there

Looking for a monitor there are other considerations such as weight and controls on the front, durability. You can sit at a desk and evaluate but when you have to move equipment around and use it during an event these things are as (or almost) important as quality. So I did get much from this.

Got a Yamaha DBR10 and it is

Got a Yamaha DBR10 and it is great. It’s light, and works great as a stage monitor. Much better than the QSC K10 we were using

I'd like to have seen more

I'd like to have seen more reviews of monitors with a 10" woofer. I know that Yamaha makes one. I have two of the Kustom 10" and I like them for my situation which is in a small church with a relatively small staging area. There has to be other 10" monitors out there under $300.

As part of our December 2017

As part of our December 2017 update we looked very carefully at 10" speakers, however the passive ones at this size didn't rate highly enough for us to recommend them despite powered versions with this size woofer rating quite highly with some being recommenced above.

Nice overview. I would add

Nice overview. I would add that the Peavey PV 12M horn drivers do blow. From my experience, that happens about every 8-10 years if the monitor is used 3-4 times a week in performance and rehearsal. My bands have pushed these units to the limit. They've been impressive and held up to everything we've thrown at them.
How do I know they blow every 8-10 years? I date my drivers when I install them, originally because I was curious as to how long they last. I'm glad I started to do that as I doubt I would remember accurately when I had last replaced them.
These guys are extremely durable and will deliver clean, crisp audio for decades. the pole mount allowed us to use one as a main when we blew a speaker once. And like most Peavey gear, these speakers will handle much more power than Peavey says they will.

Post a Comment or Question

Filtered HTML

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Comments

  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <b> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.