Studio monitor speakers are an excellent solution for those needing high quality audio, regardless of your particular environment, level, or intended use. Especially within our given range of under $500 today, we’ll be able to find some very solid options available in the market right now. As we ourselves have grown over the years, we’ve upgraded our monitors quite a few times, and each time increasing our price-point. Professional monitors can cost thousands, however $500 or less will still be great for beginner musicians, engineers, or even those want a high-end solution to enjoying their favorite tunes.
Finding the best studio monitors under $500
Let’s get into a few factors we think will be important to keep in mind while you shop for your studio monitors. For one, budget will be a large factor here since $500 is in our opinion still a relatively broad price-range. Our main question here is: do you want monitors that are just priced at $500 to be near some high-end monitors, or perhaps go lower in the middle price-point of around $250? Our studio monitors under $200 guide may be more suitable if you’re indeed in the lower-end, otherwise we tried to cover the full range below with our picks.
Do you want passive studio monitors or active? What’s the difference? Most producers, recording artists, and merely leisure listeners will go for an active monitor since they’re powered by themselves — just plug them in to a power outlet as well as your playing device and you’re good to go. Passive monitors however need external amplifier to be powered since they don’t have built-in amps like active monitors. Although they do have two separate components here — a speaker and an amp, which gives us a bit more flexibility when mixing, mastering or even listening to music in general. You do have to keep a lot more in mind when mixing and matching passive speakers with amplifiers, such as optimizing the amps for each driver, driver-protection circuitry, connections, line-level crossovers, etc. Active monitors are lot more common and a lot easier to use, so we list most below as active.
What is your intended use? Are you producing some beats? Recording vocals or various instruments in a home studio? Professional studio? Just needing a high quality pair of speakers for non-music purposes, such as gaming, TV and movie watching, or pure streaming enjoyment? We list this question here since many readers needs will be different, but depending on what you’re using these for may steer you in a particular direction for not only budget but ‘features’ needed in your monitors. For example, musicians may have to spend a lot more money on their monitors to make sure they have specific factors covered, such as frequency range, tweeter and sub quality (for a flat and neutral response), headroom, low noise, and any other ‘technical’ feature that may not be important for some.
Lastly, keep in mind that some of these studio monitor speakers under $500 are sold as single speakers. We want you to know just in case you accidentally click ‘checkout’, you open the box at home when the box arrives and are only met with one speaker! Also due to this, we chose individual speakers that cost no less than $250 since we assumed you’ll be wanting a pair to complete your setup. If not, be our guest and go a bit higher in price, although we don’t know many who use just one studio monitor in their setups.
The best studio monitor speakers under $500
While the Yamaha HS series has a variety of legendary options to choose from when looking for studio monitor speakers, one of the best options that you can find for $500 or less would be the HS5. Well-reviewed and highly rated, the HS5 has 2-way bass reflex and is also an active bi-amplified monitor, meaning that one of the amplifiers is for reaching low-level frequencies while the other focuses on sounds in the middle and high frequencies. Designed for a variety of users in mind, the HS5 is known to have an easy set up and connection process, as well as lasting durability. Great for musicians, sound engineers, and others needing great speakers. The added feature of “room control” also ensures that you can ‘tweak’ the acoustics to match the sound that you are searching for. Plus, with a very broad 54 Hz – 30 kHz frequency response, this Yamaha HS5 studio monitor is able to produce a rich and vibrant sound that demonstrates that it is a quality product at a reasonable price. They’re sold separately so make sure you don’t just buy one, but you’ll definitely still be within our under $500 range with a pair.
KRK Rokit 8 G3
We have a pair of these sitting our studio at the moment. Tone control and accuracy are easily customizable for personal sound through the specifically designed amplifiers, soft-dome tweeters, and composite woofer. The rounded design of the speakers also works with the stereo sound by helping to block out additional resonance and create a focus and clear audio. High headroom (which refers to the signal processing of the audio) and low noise are equally amplified in the production for a balanced and well-rounded tone. Combine that with manual adjustment options located on the back of the speaker, and you have a device that allows the user to customize their sound while continuing to produce high quality audio. This is another bi-amplified option that is hailed for its ability to produce low distortion sound — the KRK Rokit 8 G3 is another example of being one of the best studio monitor speakers for under $500.
Adam Audio F5V
With a tweeter that is customized designed specifically for this product, the F5 is able to deliver minimum distortion, clearer acoustics, and durable use that continues to deliver a balanced sound. The glass fiber design of the woofers provide a lightweight design that is able to generate high level frequencies without that annoying break up of the diaphragm, and is well complemented by the low compression sound produced by the bass (ports are located in the front for easy access). One of the best features about the F5V, however, has to be its compact design that allows it to fit in almost any space. Designed to fit on your desk next to your computer, or even mounted on your wall, these studio speakers are designed to work well in all studios, making it one of the best options to find under a $500 price tag. It is a “nearfield monitor” with a 5″ woofer for a bass response as low as 45 Hz, and a 1.9″ tweeter (accelerated ribbon with HPS waveguide) for highs up to 25 kHz. Getting your hands on an Adam Audio F5V would provide you with a lightweight and easy managed studio monitor under $500 or less.
PreSonus Eris E8
In today’s world, the ability to customize is a feature that almost every user desires, and studio sound is no exception to that rule. One thing that places the Eris E8 in the category of being one of the best studio speakers under $500 is its capability to adjust the acoustics through tuning controls while still producing a clear and balanced sound. Audio can sound different when moving from space to space, and with its portable design meant for ease of transportation, having the ability to adjust the acoustics continues to provide the customization needed to maintain the user’s personal sound. The audio inputs also assist in the mixing and creation of sound by incorporating the use of audio interfaces, your computer, or any other source of your music. The tweeter disperses the audio at a wide range of space, while the Kevlar woofers act to make the sound distribution both consistent and clear. Well reviewed and known to be used in both professional and amateur studios alike, the PreSonus Eris E8 is a quality option at a budget-friendly price for under $500 dollars.
It’s hard just choosing one pair of Mackie monitors to recommend, but in this price-point we’ll get into their higher tier. Able to work with a variety of audio sounds ranging from dialogue to hard rock bass, the Mackie MR824 is the multi-functional studio speaker system that works to deliver consistent and precise sound every time. The tweeter and woofer work in tandem to deliver a wide range of listening without compromising your high or low range of frequencies, continuing to make every sound in your audio evident to your listener in whatever location you may be. The feature of being able to adjust your acoustics also places customizing control in the hands of the user to ensure that they are producing their desired sound in whatever context it is being played. Additionally, Mackie’s specific design of their waveguide distributes audio evenly across the dimensions of the area it is placed in to ensure a clear sound while also decreasing any resonance that may occur. A basic speaker monitor that works well in a home studio, the Mackie MR824 is a quality option as the best studio monitors under $500.
A sleek design, a high frequency range, and a reasonable price? All of these features make the JBL LSR308 a worthwhile contender when considering a studio monitor set for your personal or professional use. These are famous at this point with hundreds of reviews all over countless websites. Three separate amplifiers work to deliver a powerful sound with a balance of both low and high frequencies, and also allow for customization of your sound through the LF and HF Trim settings located on the back of the speaker (sometimes you just need a powerful bass to really set the mood, right?). The waveguide of the speakers was designed with the specific purpose of delivering audio both horizontally and vertically to ensure that equitable and accurate sound is heard from all positions. The three inputs allow you to connect to almost any audio source, and ensure that you cannot overload the system when using a variety of devices. A high quality option that is both budget friendly and reliable, the JBL LSR308 is definitely one of the best studio monitor speakers available for under $500 and the user reviews may very well sell it for you with this pair.
Avantone Pro MixCubes
While ranging on the higher end of the budget compared to many of the other options presented in this review, the Avantone Pro MixCubes is what high-definition has become for television — a quality and accuracy that makes you feel as though you are experiencing the real thing (or sound) in person. A variable control allows the user to adjust the sensitivity of the range in their audio to their own degree, giving a customized feel to their sound in how high or low they want the range to be. Rounded corners help block out distortion for better quality of sound, while the denser material encasing the speaker complements the audio with a low resonance. The “mini” design of the speakers make it easy to set next to a computer monitor or even a TV, and help to enhance the sound when combined with these devices rather than take away from the overall quality. Well reviewed and a high quality option, the Avantone Pro MixCubes are one of the best options for under $500 when looking for studio monitor speakers, in particular the TV system route.
Fender Passport Studio
Designed to be both portable and durable for a multitude of situations, the Passport system comes with a compartment at the back of the speaker to keep all of your cords and cables, with a magnetic door ensuring that they will be there when you need them. Great for studios as well as the stage, the woofers work with the inverted tweeter to bring balance to your sound and ensure you have a neutral but precise tone within your audio. There’s even the added feature of being able to customize your treble and bass through leveled switches on the monitor. Living up to its “passport” name, the Passport Studio speakers are for a traveling lifestyle that lets you take your work on the road, making it one of the best options for studio speakers under a price point of $500 with an on-the-go intended use. Fender is a name that many people associate with instrumentals and sound, and the Fender Passport Studio monitor speakers follow in the line of upholding their reputation.
Last but not least, we have the award-winning, highly reviewed, and even environmentally friendly Genelec M030. This high quality and budget friendly set of studio speakers encapsulates every feature that is needed for today’s audio needs. These monitors contain amplifiers that have been built to reach their optimal strength of sound, and a waveguide that ensures your audio is heard in all areas of your studio (be it at home or in a professional setting). Simple-to-use response controls allow for customization in how your sound is heard, whether you’re seeking to rock out to a deep bass or reach those high notes at a frequency that is usually only heard by animals (I, myself, prefer to keep it in a more neutral octave especially when making tunes). Finally, the feature that personally caught our eye is the intelligent mode of being able to sense when a signal is no longer in use. At that point, the monitors will put themselves into a low power mode, ensuring that your speakers are not being drained of power if you happen to forget to turn them off (as some like myself usually do more often than we’d like to admit). A high quality option at a reasonable price, the Genelec M030 is a strong choice to cap off our list of the best studio monitor speakers for an under $500 budget.