A studio monitor isn’t like other speakers; it’s designed to deliver and produce sound in its most natural form. Studio monitors are also meant to handle high volumes and frequencies, so they’ll prevent any sound distortions. To add, studio monitors are able to deliver clean and transparent sound.
The market of studio monitors can come off as daunting, seeing as there are many brands, and each brand offers a wide array of speakers that sometimes seem so similar.
That being the case, this article attempts to familiarize you with studio monitors as well as point out some of the best studio monitors under $300, so stick around.
What Is a Studio Monitor?
Studio monitors are enclosed speakers designed for professional audio recording and playback. They produce a flat phase and frequency response so that the sound comes out uncolored.
The 5 Best Studio Monitors Under $300
You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars to get your hands on high-quality studio monitors. Here are five top-notch studio monitors priced under $300:
Yamaha HS5 Powered Studio Monitor
Available at around $250, the Yamaha HS5 is built from dense MDF and three-way miter joints. The corners of the monitor are anchored securely, which maximizes the monitor’s durability and eliminates any undesired resonance while increasing accurate sound reproduction to the maximum.
- 2-Way bass-reflex bi-amplified nearfield studio monitor with 5" cone woofer and 1" dome tweeter
- 54Hz-30kHz frequency response
- 45W LF plus 25W HF bi-amp system for high-performance 70W power amplification
- Room Control and High TRIM response controls
- XLR and TRS phone jack inputs accept balanced or unbalanced signals
Paul said, “This studio monitor changed how music sounds for me.” This comes as no surprise, seeing as the HS5 has top-notch design and drives that deliver high-quality audio.
Just as it emphasizes high-quality audio files, this studio monitor emphasizes the low quality of poorly recorded files greatly. This can be viewed as a positive or a negative, depending on how you’re looking at it.
KRK Classic 5 Professional Studio Monitor
The KRK Classic 5 is an active studio monitor with a one-inch dome tweeter and a five-inch woofer. Its two amps decrease distortion significantly and provide excellent headroom.
This Classic 5 comes at about $150, which is quite affordable considering how unparalleled it is when it comes to flat frequency response.
- High/Low-frequency controls contour your sound for environment, preference, and music style, and the custom bi-amped, class A/B amp offers large headroom and low distortion
- Soft-dome tweeter with optimized waveguide provides smooth, pristine and articulate highs up to 35kHz
- The low-resonance enclosure minimizes distortion and color, and the lightweight, glass-aramid composite woofer delivers clear midrange and tight bass
- Flat Low Frequency Adjustment adding versatility and improved accuracy for mixes that translate in different environments
- Superior low-end extension with optional setting of plus-2dB KRK Bass Boost acclaimed by music creators worldwide
It makes the process of mixing a lot easier and translates audio as it is to different speakers. Moreover, it comes with two frequency controls, so you’ll be able to fine-tune it to your space.
Mickey Z. said, “The Classic 5 is everything you could ask for in a studio monitor.” At first, the Classic 5 might make a bit of unwanted noise. However, if the buffer size and sample rates are compatible with the monitor, you’ll be able to enjoy it to its fullest potential.
PreSonus Eris E3.5-3.5” Near Field Studio Monitor
The PreSonus Eris E3.5 Studio Monitor is a two-way nearfield monitor that comes in pairs. It’s one of the most reviewed studio monitors on the market.
Available at the affordable price of about $100, the Eris E3.5 has low-frequency woofers that allow sound patterns to disperse through the frequency range, which results in cleaner sound reproduction.
- 3.5-inch (89 mm) Kevlar® low-frequency transducer
- High- and low-frequency tuning controls
- Connects to virtually any line-level source
- Offers consistent, and accurate listening
- Smooth and refined sound with one-inch silk-dome tweeter
Moreover, the Eris E3.5 comes with acoustic tuning, which produces consistent sound quality in any room.
Based on T. Eddy’s review, the Eris E3.5 has neutral sound rendering, producing an accurate sound stage. It also has a professional look, so it fits anywhere you put it.
Although the monitor’s exterior feels slightly cheap, it still delivers amazing results for its reasonable price.
JBL 308P MkII Professional Studio Monitor
The JBL 308P MkII Studio Monitor is an award-winning near and midfield monitor that’s ideal for professional sound engineers and producers.
This studio monitor introduces innovative waveguide technology that highlights every little detail in an audio file. This JBL studio monitor is available at around $260.
- MkII series features next-generation JBL transducers, new Boundary EQ, and a sleek new design
- Updated HF and LF transducers: new design improvements result in optimized damping for superior transient response and impressive deep bass with lower harmonic distortion
- New boundary EQ: restores neutral low frequency response when speakers are placed on the work surface and adjacent to walls
- Sleek, modern design provides a dramatic flair to any studio
- Broad sweet spot: neutral frequency response across a wide area allows you to fine-tune your mix even while listening off-axis
According to Ashtray Wasp, “The hype is justified.” The sound reproduction is impressive, with big imaging, dynamic bass, and highly detailed treble.
The JBL 308 MkII might be on the expensive side, but it’s quite similar to more high-quality and more expensive monitors.
IK Multimedia iLoud Micro Monitors Ultra-Compact
The iLoud Micro Monitor is a bi-amplified pair monitor that’s ideal for gaming, sound designing, recording, mixing, editing, and mastering.
Available at around $230, the iLoud Micro Monitor can deliver powerful, high-quality sound production that can fill a small room.
- Studio reference monitors for critical audio production listening in small spaces
- Super-near-field design puts the sweet spot right at your ears on a typical desk
- DESKTOP/SHELF switch adapts response for superior sound from any speaker placement
- Extended frequency response from 45 Hz - 20 kHz delivers surprising bass response *Advanced digital crossover and careful time alignment for precise stereo imaging
- 4 class D power amps and 50W RMS for punchy low end and impressive volume.Total output power (both speakers)- 70W (peak) - 50W RMS.Low frequency output power (single speaker)- 18W RMS. High frequency output power (single speaker)- 7W RMS
In addition, the iLoud Micro Monitor has adjustable isolation bases as well as EQ switches, allowing you to adjust the sound according to the room.
JB said, “Great monitor speakers with excellent flat response. I’m very impressed with the bass frequency.” Even though the iLoud Micro Monitor is small, its sound reproduction is as grand as many other bigger alternatives.
Features to Consider When Looking for a Studio Monitor
Before you tackle the studio monitor market, you should familiarize yourself with the features that distinguish studio monitors from other speakers.
Types of Studio Monitors
Though no one type is necessarily superior to the other, active and passive monitors have their pros and cons.
The most distinguishing feature of active monitors is that they’re an all-in-one system, coming with built-in amplifiers in the speaker cabinet.
Pros of Active Monitors
- Active monitors are quite easy to set up. You won’t need any previous experience with studio monitors to install active monitors.
- In addition to the amps, many monitors have built-in mixers, EQ settings, and microphone preamps.
Cons of Active Monitors
- All the built-in hardware adds weight to active monitors. So, they can be quite heavy to move around.
- If one driver suffers damage, the entire monitor must be repaired.
Passive monitors aren’t an all-in-one system like active monitors, They require compatible amplifiers and separate mixers to work.
Pros of Passive Monitors
- Passive monitors are more lightweight because they don’t have built-in amplifiers.
- You can easily upgrade the monitor or the amp separately if you need to since they’re not interconnected.
Cons of Passive Monitors
- Finding the right amplifier for a passive monitor can be a bit demanding.
- Using more than one monitor in a room can weaken the audio signal.
There are three main components that make up a studio monitor. Each one has a great influence on the monitor’s sound reproduction.
Woofers, or bass speakers, are the part of the monitor that handles low-range frequencies. They reproduce frequencies around 40Hz and 2,000Hz.
Getting their name from high bird tweets, tweeters are responsible for high-range frequencies from about 3Hz to 20Hz.
They sound best when they’re directed right at the listener because sounds on the higher range produce shorter sound waves.
Ports, or radiators, are those holes you see on the studio monitor’s enclosure. Similar to the woofers, ports reproduce bass frequencies. They’re mainly responsible for reproducing bass responses.
Studio monitors’ ability to reproduce clean, natural sound depends on their build quality and components. That being the case, the higher the quality, the more expensive a monitor will be.
The companies that target professional studios may have studio speakers that cost thousands of dollars. On the other hand, the companies that aim to have a wider demographic will offer more affordable monitors.
Why Buy Studio Monitors?
There are multiple reasons why anyone looking to venture out into professional recording or sound editing should consider owning studio monitors.
For starters, studio monitors can prevent any audio distortions. Because they’re made from high-quality amplifiers and drivers, studio monitors can handle high volumes and deliver undistorted sound. Moreover, they won’t overload when reproducing high-volume audio.
Further, studio monitors are able to produce such high-quality sound because of their high image quality. This allows the audio to come out clean and transparent by reducing sound transfer within a room or evenly bundling audio.
Besides, studio monitors’ flat phase and frequency response allow you to hear audio in its most neutral state. It won’t exaggerate any part of the frequency range.
Studio monitors can’t fail you when it comes to eliminating distortion and unwanted sounds. A good-quality studio monitor can reproduce undistorted sound at extremely high volumes. Also, studio monitors reproduce sound at its most neutral state, giving you high-quality sound that’s exactly like how it’s intended.
You can get either an active or a passive monitor. Active monitors will come with their built-in drivers, allowing you to use them as soon as you get them. With passive monitors, you have the freedom to upgrade any driver.
The top-rated studio monitor within the $300 price point is the Yamaha HS5. It’s incredibly durable and does a superb job of getting rid of unwanted resonance. Out of other studio monitors, it reproduces the cleanest sound. So, it definitely offers great value for money.