Top 5 Best Low Budget Studio Monitors 2020

If you are just starting out in the world of electronic music production, one of the first pieces of gear you will be investing in is a set of good quality studio monitors.

Your monitors are the windows to your mixes, they are all that sits between your ears and your music. It is therefore paramount that you find a pair of speakers that tell you the truth when you listen to your mixdowns.

Many consumer grade speakers systems will have eq boosts and cuts in certain ranges that sound great to the listener, but don’t give an accurate and true representation of what the mix actually sounds like.

So when we look for a pair of studio monitors we want a nice clean, flat response with as little distortion as possible.

There are a ton of great brands and models out there, but with such a large selection it can be hard know what qualities to look for, especially if you are on a tight budget. Monitors can get really expensive – it’s not uncommon for engineers to spend upwards of £5000 on their setups.

If you don’t happen to have £5k lying around then this list is for you. And don’t worry, it’s totally possible to get a set of AWESOME monitors for under £200 for your home studio.

But first let’s cover some jargon.

What are near-field monitors?

 Near-field speakers are smaller, more compact studio monitors that are designed to be positioned just a few feet from the listener. In general, anytime you see a producer with speakers positioned right behind or on their desk then these are referred to as near-field. The reason for this is that if you are positioned closer to your monitors the soundwaves are more likely to hit your ears before they bounce all over the room and get affected by poor acoustics.

Rear Ported vs Front Ported Studio Monitors

As far as rear ported and front ported speakers are concerned, they are virtually the same when it comes to functions and quality of sound output. Rear ports are used basically because there is no space in the front baffle. Hence if you are looking for a speaker that comes with larger woofers then going in for rear ported speakers could be a good decision.

Front ported speakers could be a better solution for recording rooms that are perhaps not properly treated. Apart from that there is hardly any difference between the two. You may need a front ported speaker if the bass ports on the rear are pressed close to an untreated wall.

Note: when aiming to achieve a tight and accurate bass response, proper room treatment is paramount.

Active vs Passive Speakers

Active speakers or powered studio monitors come with built-in power amplifiers, essentially one for each driver or frequency band. They just require a power source (like plugging them into the mains) for operation. Passive speakers need a separate amplifier to power them, they use a single amplifier coupled with components that split the frequencies up into bands and send them to the different drivers.

Advantages to having passive speakers is that the amplifier and speaker and be upgraded or replaced independently, in some cases this also ends up cheaper. Advantages to running active speakers is that the crossover between bands can be more precise leading to a better sound, you also don’t need extra space and power for separate pieces of hardware.

Now that we have a basic understanding of the different types of monitors let’s take a look and compare a few of my favourite studio monitors for around £200.

Here are the top 5 best budget studio monitors of 2020:


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PreSonus Eris E4.5

A great entry level studio monitor. If you are looking for the best studio monitors in 2020 in terms of price, power usage and frequency response, then the PreSonus Eris E4.5 could be an ideal choice.

It comes with an affordable price tag and is powered by two 25W A/B class amplifiers which are housed in the left speaker. It also comes with acoustic space switches which allow you to adjust the low, mid and high frequency range responses based on your acoustic environment. For example, you could compensate for a highly reflective space using the mid and high controls, or reduce sub output if you wanted to use a separate subwoofer with this set.

  • Active/Passive: Active
  • Type: 2-way 4.5 inch Studio Monitors
  • Frequency Response: 70Hz – 20kHz
  • LF / HF amplifier power: 25W Per Speaker
  • Inputs: 1- stereo 1/8 inch, 2- balanced ¼ inches TRS, 2- unbalanced RCA


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KRK RP5G3

KRK is an extremely popular monitor brand synonymous with the yellow low frequency driver cone everyone recognises. The RP5G3 boasts a 5″ Aramid Glass Composite Woofer with a front facing port which allows you more flexibility to position the monitors closer to walls. Price wise these monitors are a bit more expensive than our other recommendations. We noticed a bit more of a boost in the bass frequencies which isn’t ideal as we really want a nice flat response.

  • Active/Passive: Active
  • Type: 2-way 5 inch Studio Monitors
  • Frequency Response: 45Hz – 35KHz
  • LF / HF amplifier power: 30W / 20W Per Speaker
  • Inputs: 1 XLR, 1 1/4-inch and 1 RCA


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M-Audio AV 42

The M-Audio AV 42’s are a great choice for anyone struggling to scrape pennies together for a set of monitors. They are rear ported and feature a 4” polypropylene cone driver. They are powered by a 20W Class A/B amplifier for each channel which is pretty low. The frequency response isn’t optimal, they only go as low as 75Hz so you might need to consider a dedicated sub or switch to headphones when mixing your sub. However, at under £200 for the pair this is still a valid option for the financially challenged.

  • Active/Passive: Active
  • Type: 2-way 4 inch Studio Monitors
  • Frequency Response: 75Hz – 20KHz
  • LF / HF amplifier power: 20W/20W Per Speaker
  • Inputs: Left and right RCA line input, and 1/8″ aux input


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Behringer MS40

The Behringer MS40 comes in at a nice low price point so they are idea for anyone with a low budget. With 2.5” tweeters as opposed to the standard 1” on most other models in this range, and 4.25” low frequency drivers, these monitors offer a relatively high resolution and flat response across the frequency ranges. It offers a power output of 20 watts per speaker. These speakers offer an impressive 50hz – 25kHz frequency response so are well worth considering.

  • Active/Passive: Active
  • Type: 2-way 4.25 inch Studio Monitors
  • Frequency Response: 50Hz – 25KHz
  • LF / HF amplifier power: 20W Per Speaker
  • Inputs: 1/8” TRS, RCA, Optical, Coaxial


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M-Audio BX5 D3 (Winner)

If you are looking for an affordable, good looking and high performing studio monitor, then look no further. The M-Audio DX5 D3 is known for its robust, compact and stylish design. With a 5 inch kevlar low frequency driver and an internally flared rear port, these monitors offer a whopping 60W/40W power output per speaker. The frequency range is also super wide for the cost of these, covering 52Hz – 35 kHz, you will hardly miss anything. They also offer a nifty little LED on the front that will shine brightly when you are positioned perfectly between them. Acoustic Space Control will allow you to compensate and customise the eq curve based on your listening environment. The cost of these speakers is even lower than the AV 42’s. For this reason I wouldn’t even consider the 42’s over the BX5’s.

  • Active/Passive: Active
  • Type: 2-way 5 inch Studio Monitors
  • Frequency Response: 52Hz – 35KHz
  • LF / HF amplifier power: 60W/40W Per Speaker
  • Inputs: 1 XLR, 1 1/4” TRS


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Conclusion

At under £200, packing in a massive 100W of power per speaker, an ultra-flat and wide frequency response, stylish design design and incredible listening experience – I am completely sold on the M-Audio BX5 D3.

3 thoughts on “Top 5 Best Low Budget Studio Monitors 2020”

  1. I know all presonus speakers are not magnetically shielded. I have the Eris 4.5s and went to PC using a full GPU. Now the Eris speakers pick up GPU interference. Look for shielded speakers all.

    Reply

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