Monitors are an essential part of any home studio. They help you accurately hear what is being recorded and mixed. While I’ve already put together a comprehensive guide to the best home studio monitors, many of my picks were quite expensive. For those on a budget, it may seem challenging to find studio monitors that deliver excellent performance without breaking the bank.
The good news is during my years as an instructional designer who’s been recording various projects in my home studio for years, I’ve found there are some quality budget studio monitors out there that do an excellent job with their performance.
I’ve been testing and reviewing dozens of studio monitors for the last 4 years, and during that time, I’ve come across some excellent cheap studio monitors that offer great sound, satisfactory build quality, and a good value for their price. For the purposes of this guide, I defined “cheap studio monitors” as anything under $200 for a pair as that’s the price point I feel is most reasonable for beginners and hobbyists (click here to learn about our entire Editorial Process & Methodology for product reviews).
The Best Studio Monitors Under $200
Here are my picks for the best budget studio monitors you can get in 2024…
- Accurate Sound
- Solid Bass
- Accurate frequency response
- Excellent Value for a Low Price
- Great Sound Reproduction for Music Recording, Video Production, and Gaming
As I noted in our PreSonus Eris E3.5 review, their overall quality makes them some of the best studio monitors out there at any price point.
These near-field studio monitors reproduce sound with a neutral, flat, and unenhanced frequency response to give you the most accurate representation of your recorded audio without any artificial boosts.
For the best results, I recommend listening to these monitors at a low-to-medium volume level while being physically close to them.
One of the cool features I love about the PreSonus Eris E3.5 is that they include a high-end and low-end tuning knob on the back of the left-side unit that lets you adjust and fine-tune the monitors based on your studio environment so you can get accurate, balanced sound. This matters because every recording space has its unique acoustic characteristics, and these tuning knobs allow you to customize the sound output to match your room’s specific needs. This means you can ensure that what you’re hearing is as close to the true sound as possible, which is crucial for making precise adjustments during mixing and mastering.
These monitors also have multiple connections for different audio sources, including 1/4″ TRS and RCA inputs on the back and 1/8″ one-eighth inch stereo, unbalanced line inputs on the front to use for mobile devices.
2. Mackie CR3-X
The CR3-X monitors deliver studio-quality sound on a budget, and they look great too.
When I first got these small powered monitors, I wasn’t expecting much. But I have to tell you, I was really surprised. They definitely pack a punch.
I’ve seen a few people mention a hissing sound, but honestly, it’s so faint that it took me a long time to even notice it.
A few of the things I really liked about these monitors include:
- Sleek, stylish design with brushed metal panel and clean outline
- Convenient headphone output and volume control on the front panel
- Flexible rear panel inputs that include a balanced 1/4″ TRS, 1/8” Stereo, and RCA
- Comes with several cables included for easy setup — 1/8″ to stereo RCA cable, 1/8″ to 1/8″ cable, and speaker wire
- Waveform OEM DAW Essentials Collection also included
The Alesis Elevate 5 MKII is a great budget studio monitor set that produces clear sounds, competently handling low end, mid-range, and high-end frequencies.
It has a powered 5-inch dome and 1-inch tweeter to produce studio-quality sound.
I was genuinely impressed with these speakers – they outperformed a few high-end ones I tested with their cleaner sound. The Alesis nails it in delivering a true flat-EQ sound, just as it should be.
However, there’s a bit of a quirk that bugs me — the “sleep mode”. If there’s no audio input for about 30 minutes, they kind of just…doze off. I guess it’s meant to save power, but honestly, it annoys me a little bit. When they finally wake up, there’s a delay in the audio kicking in for a few seconds.
The build quality on these monitors is also worth pointing out. It’s made from high-density wood so that the cabinet reduces vibrations and interference.
The Elevate 5 MKII also has flexible inputs and outputs for easy connectivity.
Compact and robust, the DJ Speaker 32 Smart Speakers offer a quality audio experience at a great price.
Delivering 30 watts of RMS output power each with optimized acoustic waveguide, these speakers take your mixing sessions to a new level.
With Bluetooth multi-pairing tech (including simultaneous connection to two devices) as well as cable hookup options available in the box, you can work wherever you like without sacrificing sound quality or performance.
All in all, I found these studio speakers to be quite impressive. They’re compact enough to snugly fit on a desk, hutch, or shelf, yet they deliver a sound that’s both full and rich, defying their small size.
5. M-Audio BX3
The M-Audio BX3 is a pair of compact desktop studio monitors that are great for everything from gaming to podcasting to home recording.
While these monitors are very affordably priced, I love that they use high-end, premium components that produce a deep, clear, and full sound.
In the BX3, the speaker cones are placed behind a grill, meaning the monitors don’t get hot to the touch like some of the other models out there. It might seem like a minor detail, but it’s a good touch.
They’re not super loud, but they’re still a perfect fit for a small home studio.
With over three decades of expertise from one of the world’s foremost studio monitor makers, KRK Classic 5 Powered Studio Monitors provide an unbeatable blend between classic sound and modern-day innovation.
Featuring a flat frequency solution for more precise mixing as well as an optional +2dB Bass Boost to maintain renowned sonic fidelity, these budget-friendly monitors deliver everything you need to ensure each mix is up your exacting standards.
Packed with features such as Class A/B amplifiers complete with built-in automatic limiter technology and quality components like 1” soft dome tweeters plus 5″ glass aramid composite woofers in addition to waveguides designed for imaging accuracy, these monitors deliver performance that helps push music production boundaries further than ever before.
7. Edifier M4
Based on the acclaimed Edifier bookshelf speakers, these studio monitors offer a clean, flat responsive curve for optimum sound quality for any recording application.
The 1″ silk dome tweeters combined with 4″ composite woofers provide a clear, smooth audio – all enclosed in a MDF wood frame that reduces resonance for true clarity of sound.
I appreciate that these budget monitors offer flexible connections, including a 1/4″ balanced TRS input, an unbalanced RCA input, an unbalanced AUX input, and a front headphone output, so you’re guaranteed total device compatibility whatever is needed.
Plus there are dual modes available: monitor mode outputting ‘true’ audio perfect for creation and production, as well as music mode for casual, everyday listening.
When you’re setting up a home studio, it’s important to stretch your dollar as far as possible without sacrificing quality.
Hopefully, this guide has showed you that it’s possible to get some excellent cheap studio monitors under $200 that can still provide you with great sound quality and performance.
Do your research, read reviews, and test out products yourself to see what works best for your particular situation.
And remember, even the most expensive monitors won’t make up for poor recording and mixing techniques — it’s always important to practice and hone your skills first.
Have any questions about this guide to the best budget studio monitors? Let me know by commenting below.