Your monitors are one of the most important aspects of your setup, but they can also be one of the most costly. To combat this conundrum, we’ve selected some of the best budget studio monitors under $300.
Limited space is another problem you face when planning your home studio. Much of how a studio monitor performs depends on matching it to the room you’re working in, and very few of us have the skills or budget to neutralize room acoustics completely.
How to choose the best budget studio monitors
Luckily, there are other solutions that are both more affordable and more convenient. Often, studio monitors are equipped with corrective EQ or even software-controlled DSP, to compensate for acoustic weaknesses.
Furthermore, room calibration software like Sonarworks is another tool that measures your room and uses an extensive database of studio monitors to build an acoustic profile for your space.
Although the resulting adjustments are subtle, they can make a big difference in particularly reflective or problematic sound environments.
JBL 305P MKII
The 305P MKII is a popular choice for small listening environments. Although the bass response might not be the most neutral, the stereo imaging is great for an entry-level 2-way nearfield monitor.
In addition, the integrated Boundary EQ and HF trim controls on the rear panel are useful for tuning the speaker for your room. Overall, the 305P is hard to beat for a 5-inch monitor in this price range.
IK Multimedia iLoud Micro
If you’re looking for an extremely lightweight, even portable monitoring solution, the iLoud Micro from IK Multimedia produces exceptional detail for a monitor of its size and especially in the high frequencies.
It’s a great choice for editing speech or vocals, particularly in situations where space is limited. Apart from the EQ on the rear panel, however, it is rather “consumer” when it comes to connectivity, with no XLR. Although it does have Bluetooth, which can be useful.
Avantone MixCubes Active
When used in a single mono configuration, the Avantone MixCubes Active provides an excellent reference monitoring solution. These are incredibly unforgiving, and certainly don’t sound exciting at all.
However, the way they translate onto other playback systems is why you’ll find them in some of the most prestigious studios around the world. If you need a mono output, the Soundcraft Notepad 5 gives you an affordable way to drive a MixCube.
Yamaha HS 5
The Yamaha HS 5 is one of the most widely used budget studio monitors available today. Based on the famous NS-10, the HS series provide relatively neutral-sounding monitoring at an affordable price point.
At this size, the HS 5 is perfect for the average bedroom or study, and it won’t annoy the neighbours too much. In addition, the HS 5 is also available as an installable model, and you can extend the low-end range by adding the HS 8S Subwoofer into the setup.
The Adam T5V is one of the best-sounding monitors in this price range. Moreover, the low-frequency response is great for a monitor of this size and also provides a decent stereo image.
This rear-ported design packs plenty of punch, and the U-ART tweeters offer decent high-frequency detail. The T5V is well built, but it is rather big and bulky for a 5-inch monitor and could benefit from acoustic decoupling.
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- Print: JBL
- IK Multimedia iLoud Micro: IK Multimedia
- Avantone MixCubes Active: Avantone Pro
- Yamaha HS 5: Yamaha
- Adam T5V: Adam