Whether you’re moving to a larger space or current monitors give you ear fatigue, you’ve probably been checking out the options. We’ve selected some of the best studio monitors under $500 to save you time and hopefully some money too.
The previous post in this series focussed on finding studio monitors with good translation properties for situations where limited space was an issue. We’ll continue on the same trajectory, however, this time we have a little more budget to play with.
This means we can widen our scope of choice. So, we’ll check out some monitors for slightly larger spaces than we’ve mentioned before.
Why choose one studio monitor over another?
Remember that translation should be always your main directive when deciding on your purchase. That being said, good translation doesn’t necessarily mean the monitor is exciting to work on. This is why most gear choices among professionals come down to taste.
Traditionally studios accommodated engineers by having at least one set of industry-standard NS-10(or equivalent) monitors above the console. However, most of us do not have acoustically treated environments or the need to rent our studios out. Therefore, industry guidelines do not apply.
Kali Audio LP-6 2nd Wave
Kali Audio may be a relative newcomer, but these budget monitors have made waves since they arrived on the scene a few years ago. The LP-6 2nd Wave is the latest version of the entry-level Kali 6.5-inch two-way nearfield monitor.
It’s a great choice for your first set of monitors for your home audio setup, providing multiple room correction configurations. The ability to deal with unbalanced inputs is also a useful addition, making it hard to beat at this price.
Kali Audio LP-6 2nd Wave Sonarworks Bdl
Genelec 8010 AP
From one of the most recognizable names in monitoring, the Genelec 8010 AP brings pro-level monitoring to a compact and portable format. They might only have 3-inch drivers, but they have plenty of power for their size.
The frequency response might not be low enough for some, but they make up for it with clarity and project an excellent stereo image, especially with vocal content. In addition, there is an optional carrying bag for easy transportation.
Genelec 8010 AP
Tannoy Gold 8
Tannoy is another loudspeaker manufacturer with an immense legacy in recorded music and the Gold 8 continues this in classic dual concentric style. These hefty 300-watt bi-amplified monitors might look old-school, but they have plenty of modern features.
This includes an unbalanced mini-jack input and a port for linking additional monitors. They are front-ported, around the input level and high-frequency level controls. Meanwhile, the rear panel has switches for bass adjustments and auto standby mode.
Tannoy Gold 8
Focal Alpha 80
The Focal Alpha 80 is still one of the best entry-level 8-inch studio monitors available. It’s often preferred by electronic musicians because of its extended low-end response, and the inverted dome tweeter is a design that Focal continues to evolve.
On the rear panel, the Alpha 80 has adjustable LP and HP shelving filters to optimize it for your room and an unbalanced RCA input which can be used in tandem with the main input.
Focal Alpha 80 Evo
The V4S4 is the smallest model in the renowned V-series from KRK. Known for an unforgivingly truthful sound, they have been used by Pop, Rock, and Hip-Hop producers such as Timbaland.
Don’t be fooled by the festive appearance. Once you turn it around you can see its unmistakably pro-audio rear panel. No RCA or mini-jack inputs, just a selection of carefully designed high and low-frequency DSP presets and other useful customization switches.
More about studio monitors:
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- Kali Audio LP-6 2nd Wave: Kali Audio
- Genelec 8010 AP: Genelec
- Tannoy Gold 8: Tannoy
- Focal Alpha 80: Focal
- KRK V4S4: KRK