Best budget studio monitors 2024: Pocket-friendly home studio speakers, most pairs under $200/£200

If you want to produce and engineer music to a professional level, you'll need a set of studio monitors. Traditionally an expensive bit of kit, the wonders of modern technological advancement mean that nowadays a set of the best budget studio monitors can be just as good as more expensive models. The determining factor in how well you can hear your musical creations, without a set of studio monitors it's nigh on impossible to accurately judge the quality of your music. 

With proper studio monitors versus traditional computer speakers, you won't be hearing a hyped-up version of your audio. Instead, they'll provide a balanced sound that will reveal the details of your mix, both the good and bad parts. Many musicians get a real shock to the system when they first listen to their music through studio monitors and it doesn't sound objectively good. Trust us though, this is all part of the process of music creation.

If you're new to the world of studio monitors, we'd definitely recommend checking out our buying advice section which has loads of useful info from our expert writing team. If you already know your stuff, just keep scrolling for our top budget studio monitor selection.

Chris Corfield author pic
Chris Corfield

Chris Corfield is a journalist with over 12 years of experience writing for some of the music world's biggest brands including MusicRadar, Guitar World, Total Guitar, Orange Amplification and Dawsons Music. Chris loves getting nerdy about everything from guitar and bass gear, to synths, microphones, DJ gear and music production hardware, like the budget monitors in this guide.

Best budget studio monitors: Quick list

Want to cut to the chase and find out exactly which we think are the best budget studio monitors on the market right now? Below, you’ll find a round-up of our top choices. You can jump to a more detailed review of every pick, along with our price comparison tool to help you find the best deals.

The best budget studio monitors available today

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Below you'll find full and detailed write-ups for each of the best budget studio monitors in our list. We've tested each one extensively, so you can be sure that our recommendations can be trusted.

Best overall

Best budget studio monitors: IK Multimedia iLoud Micro

(Image credit: IK Multimedia)
Good things come in small packages

Specifications

Frequency response: 55Hz – 20kHz
Speaker configuration: Two-way
Driver size: 3”
Tweeter type: ¾” silk dome
Inputs: Dual RCA Stereo, 1/8” TRS, Bluetooth

Reasons to buy

+
Superb sound reproduction
+
Small and portable
+
Bluetooth is nice

Reasons to avoid

-
Bass response is limited

Budget studio monitors don’t have to be large to produce a great sound. The IK Multimedia iLoud Micro monitors prove that, producing a clear, accurate sound from a small 3” driver. We like them so much that they also top our guide to the best small studio monitors. 

We particularly liked the room-correcting EQ features at the back of the speakers too, which help if the location you have them situated is hindering the sound in any way. The choice of a 1/8” jack for an input makes them ideal for iPad or laptop producers, while the RCA inputs mean they can easily cope with record players, DJ mixers, or audio interfaces too.

Bluetooth inclusion is nice, and makes them versatile, but judged solely on their monitoring performance the iLoud Micro set is well worth your consideration. Don’t be put off by the size either; these things are capable of some serious volume.

Read the full IK Multimedia iLoud Micro review

Best under $200/£200

Best budget studio monitors: M-Audio BX5-D3

(Image credit: M-Audio)
The best studio monitors under $200/£200 for serious first-time producers

Specifications

Frequency response: 52Hz – 35kHz
Speaker configuration: Two-way
Driver size: 5”
Tweeter type: 1” silk dome
Inputs: ¼” balanced or unbalanced, XLR

Reasons to buy

+
Exceptional clarity
+
Room correction
+
Tough build quality

Reasons to avoid

-
No high frequency EQ

We’re huge fans of the M Audio BX5 D3 series, for a number of reasons. While there are other speakers on this list that will double up as multimedia speakers, or stream from your mobile device, the BX5’s are designed specifically with reference monitoring in mind.

During our testing of the BX5 D3's, we found them to have an incredibly wide frequency range for the price you pay, as well as other useful first-timer features such as room correction - and even a nifty built-in LED light to ensure you have them set up at the right angle for your ears. 

If you’re putting together a music studio on a budget, and are looking for speakers whose main aim is to provide clarity and accuracy when it comes to mixing and recording, then the M Audio BX5 D3 might just be the perfect set for you. 

Read the full M-Audio BX5-D3 review

Best compact speakers

Best budget studio monitors: JBL One Series 104

(Image credit: JBL)
Compact and portable budget studio monitors

Specifications

Frequency response: 60Hz – 20kHz
Speaker configuration: Two-way
Driver size: 4.5”
Tweeter type: ¾” soft dome
Inputs: Stereo RCA, Stereo TRS, 1/8” jack, Bluetooth

Reasons to buy

+
Good connectivity
+
Wide frequency range
+
Lovely mid-range

Reasons to avoid

-
No onboard EQ

Designed with home recording, podcasting and portability in mind, the JBL One Series 104 studio speakers deliver a lot of performance for not a lot of cash. As you’d expect from JBL, we were seriously impressed with the sound reproduction, which was both balanced and accurate across a wide frequency range. 

We found that the Series 104's - with no onboard compensation EQ - need to be positioned no more than about 12 inches from a wall if you want to avoid additional low-frequency build-up. A fairly minor issue, however, for what appears to be a great set of budget studio monitors.

Bluetooth 5 connectivity makes them versatile too – one minute they’re at the heart of your studio and the next they can be in the kitchen streaming from your phone. A great choice for lots of situations. 

Read the full JBL One Series 104 review

Best for first-timers

Best budget studio monitors: Presonus Eris E3.5

(Image credit: Presonus)
Affordable nearfield monitors make ideal upgrade from laptop speakers

Specifications

Frequency response: 80Hz – 20kHz
Speaker configuration: Two-way
Driver size: 3.5”
Tweeter type: 1” silk dome
Inputs: Stereo TRS, RCA, 1/8” jack

Reasons to buy

+
Fantastic value
+
EQ tuning
+
Detailed sound

Reasons to avoid

-
Bass reproduction comes up short at volume

If your recording journey has started with you using headphones or the speakers in your laptop, the PreSonus Eris E3.5 will provide an instant upgrade. These affordable studio monitors offer a variety of connections, and the onboard EQ correction is superb to find at this price point. 

The Eris E3.5 monitors pull a fairly reasonable amount of low-end out of the small 3.5" speakers, even with the LF range only extending as far as 80Hz. There is a lack of low-end clarity in certain areas, but as an upgrade from headphones or laptop speakers, the Eris 3.5's fit the bill happily.

During our review process, we found that the Eris' are not quite so capable at higher volumes. For a shade under $/£100 though, the quality is still exceptionally impressive - meaning that these monitors are well worth taking a chance on.

Read the full PreSonus Eris E3.5 review

Best sounding speakers

Best budget studio monitors: KRK Rokit RP5 G4

(Image credit: KRK)

5. KRK Rokit RP5 G4

Serious budget speakers for serious work

Specifications

Frequency response: 43Hz – 40kHz
Speaker configuration: Two-way
Driver size: 5.25”
Tweeter type: 1” Kevlar
Inputs: TRS, XLR

Reasons to buy

+
Active room tuning
+
Incredible sound
+
Awesome bass reproduction

Reasons to avoid

-
Not enough for bigger rooms

Sitting at the top end of what we’d call the budget section are the KRK Rokit RP5 G4 studio monitors. Rest assured though, that the improvement in performance and sound reproduction from the ‘true’ budget speakers makes these definitely worth your attention. 

From the wider frequency spectrum, meaning richer bass reproduction, through to the onboard EQ presented via an LCD screen at the rear of the speaker, these are serious speakers.

If we were being ultra-picky we’d gripe a bit at the master volume pot being located at the rear of the speaker, but that’s not uncommon. Overall, however, the KRK Rokit RP5 G4s make for a comprehensive package for any home studio enthusiast.

Read the full KRK Rokit RP5 G4 review

Best for volume

Best budget studio monitors: Alesis Elevate 5 MKII

(Image credit: Alesis)
Updated budget nearfield monitors deliver serious volume

Specifications

Frequency response: 56Hz – 20kHz
Speaker configuration: Two-way
Driver size: 5”
Tweeter type: 1” silk dome
Inputs: RCA, Stereo TRS

Reasons to buy

+
Well made
+
Bass boost is useful
+
Fantastic value

Reasons to avoid

-
Unboosted bass is a bit thin

At the budget end of the spectrum, there are certain concessions that have to be made versus more advanced models. Often, this comes in a reduction of the available frequency range and, more often, it’s bass that suffers. 

The Alesis Elevate 5 MKII proves this point, but that doesn’t have to be a dealbreaker; the Japanese firm has included a dedicated bass boost switch for those moments when you are listening for pleasure, rather than for reference. 

When we tested these with reference listening in mind, we found that the 40 watts that the 5" driver and 1" high-frequency tweeter kicked out were more than adequate when mixing in a smaller room - but not so much when we expanded into a larger space. 

This will be no problem for the typical bedroom producer though, with the power on offer being more than enough for most. Overall, the Elevate 5 set performs well across a range of listening situations and would make a superb addition to any studio or gaming setup.

Read the full Alesis Elevate 5 MKII review

Best Bluetooth speakers

Best budget studio monitors: PreSonus Eris E5 BT

(Image credit: PreSonus)
Powerful Bluetooth-equipped monitors great for multimedia use

Specifications

Frequency response: 53Hz - 22kHz
Speaker configuration: Two-way
Driver size: 5.25”
Tweeter type: 1” silk dome
Inputs: Bluetooth 5.0, 1- Stereo ⅛”, 2- Balanced ¼” TRS, 2- Unbalanced RCA

Reasons to buy

+
Good connectivity
+
Easy Bluetooth set-up
+
Powerful onboard EQ

Reasons to avoid

-
Low-mids are a bit reserved

The E5 BTs are Presonus’ largest entry into their mixed-use media monitor range. The Eris range has long been a quality choice for speakers that can span the divide between home listening, recording and production.

Although the name might make the E5s sound like they’re not much of a step up front the existing E4.5s, in actuality each E5 BT produces 50 Watts per speaker, considerably more than the 25 watts of the E4.5. The 5.25” LF driver also delivers much better bass extension with overall frequency response of 53Hz to 22kHz. What’s more, and this is something which is specific to the E5 BT, you also have a handy summed mono subwoofer output, making a 2.1 set-up very simple to achieve.

The BT here stands for Bluetooth. Connection is easy, and while we still wouldn’t recommend relying on a Bluetooth connection for your studio monitors, it’s great to have for secondary functions such as home-listening, gaming or podcasting.

Read the full PreSonus Eris E5 BT review

Best on a budget

Best budget studio monitors: Mackie CR3-XBT

(Image credit: Mackie)

8. Mackie CR3-XBT

Affordable offering from the studio specialists

Specifications

Frequency response: 70Hz – 20kHz
Speaker configuration: Two-way
Driver size: 3”
Tweeter type: ¾” silk dome
Inputs: Stereo RCA, Stereo TRS, 1/8” jack, Bluetooth

Reasons to buy

+
Clarity of sound
+
Wide range of connections
+
Look great

Reasons to avoid

-
No attenuation controls

Mackie is a brand which is well known and well respected in studio circles. It’s built a solid reputation over the years for delivering quality gear at affordable prices, and that remit extends to their range of monitor speakers. 

We found that the Mackie CR3-XBT monitors hit that sweet balance between price and performance, and offering a great selection of input options, including Bluetooth, with features like a wide frequency range and solid build quality, they have a multitude of uses for the modern producer and music listener.

During testing, the 3” main driver didn't particularly trouble the sub-bass end of the spectrum, but we were still impressed by the clarity and accuracy of a number of reference tracks we tested. 

Read the full Mackie CR3 review

Best for studio and DJ use

Best budget studio monitors: Pioneer DJ DM-40D-BT

(Image credit: Pioneer DJ)

9. Pioneer DJ DM-40D-BT

Affordable monitors that can adapt to both DJ and production duties

Specifications

Speaker configuration: Two-way
Driver size: 4”
Tweeter type: ¾” soft dome
Inputs: Bluetooth, RCA pin jack x 1, 3.5-mm stereo mini jack x 1

Reasons to buy

+
Switchable ‘production’ and ‘DJ’ modes
+
Lots of connectivity options
+
Onboard DSP

Reasons to avoid

-
There are cheaper options out there

Pioneer DJ are – unsurprisingly – primarily known as a DJ brand, but the past decade has seen the brand increasingly moving into production territory, releasing synths and samplers, as well as several sets of studio-focused monitors and headphones.

The affordable DM range is designed to bridge the gap between these two sides of Pioneer DJ’s product line. They achieve that via a mix of inputs – with RCA, mini-jack and TRS available – plus DSP-powered sound adjustment that lets users go between ‘DJ’ and ‘production’ modes at the flip of a switch. These BT models also add Bluetooth connectivity.

Naturally, you do pay for all of these features, so if you’re after monitors purely for studio use, there are cheaper options out there. But for home producers that also use their set-up for DJing or listening to club-focussed music, these are a solid choice.

Best budget studio monitors: Buying advice

Best budget studio monitors: JBL One Series

(Image credit: JBL)

Studio monitors vs speakers

If you’re new to home recording or music production, you may be wondering how the best budget studio monitors in this guide differ from the killer high-end Bluetooth speaker you use to stream Spotify or Apple Music – we're talking about the likes of Sonos and Bose here. 

Without wanting to sound too blunt, studio monitor speakers don’t exist for your listening pleasure. They aren’t designed to make your recordings sound good like the aforementioned ‘lifestyle audio’ brands. They are there to offer a point of reference for your music; if the audio you feed into them sounds good, your speakers will too. If not, you’ll soon find out. In short, monitors give you the truth, for better or for worse.

Regular speakers, from the aforementioned Bluetooth type, right up to your parent’s prized hi-fi set, are created differently. They are there to sweeten the audio they’re fed, either through gently boosting bass and treble frequencies or by applying other predefined EQ settings. What’s more, the choice - and age - of the speaker cone itself also has an impact.

Monitor - or reference - speakers differ in that they have no prior agenda. They operate with what’s known as a ‘flat-frequency response’, which means they produce the sound exactly as it’s received; in the producer’s case from either the digital audio workstation (DAW), instrument, or other source.

The benefit of this approach is simple, yet brings with it a ton of complexity. In theory, if you can make your mix sound balanced, clear, and accurate on a set of budget monitors, then you can be confident it will sound good on whatever speakers the end-user chooses. This could mean anything from a mobile phone or iPad to a car stereo, or even one of the best PA speakers in a club. 

What should I know about budget studio monitors?

When you’re looking for a set of budget studio monitors, there are a few things you should keep in mind. First, you need to consider how you’ll connect them to your laptop, recorder, or other device. For many, an audio interface will be required. This connects to the laptop or PC via USB and provides connectivity for audio going in – instruments – and audio going out – monitor speakers. Studio monitors are mostly active, which means they employ their own amplification and require a power source to do this.

Connection-wise, most of the best studio monitors are generally hooked up to your device via USB, XLR, or by shielded ¼” jack cables – the shielding helps reduce the hum from nearby electrical equipment or lights. Finally, consider the size of speaker you’ll need. Most bedroom/home setups will find a set of 5” driver equipped nearfield monitors will more than cope with what you can throw at them, while larger studios may find they need something more substantial to fill the room properly.

Why should I buy a pair of budget studio monitors?

If you're new to the world of home production and recording, then a pair of budget studio monitors is really all that you need. Most budding producers just need to be able to hear their creations in a way that 'isn't too bad' - no more, no less. As you progress further, your ear will start to pick up new and different things that it didn't before, and that's when you need to think about the sound quality of your studio monitors. That doesn't mean you should buy better ones, though - more so exploring your budget pair and seeing how far you can push them. You'd be surprised at what they're capable of.

Budget studio monitors are also getting really, really good. Like most musical tech available, the quality of budget studio monitors has also vastly improved over the last few years. There's never been a better time to buy budget studio monitors if we're honest - with products from the likes of IK Multimedia, M-Audio, and Presonus all making a great impression on us for not a lot of money - both aurally and with regards to their build quality and looks.

Pair of IK Multimedia studio monitors forming part of a laptop home studio setup

(Image credit: IK Multimedia)

How we test the best budget studio monitors

Similar to regular studio monitors, budget studio speakers should also deliver a reasonably truthful and uncoloured sound so what you hear is what the mix actually delivers and you can mix accordingly and correctly. This means they should have a flat frequency response and one that covers the full range of human hearing – 20Hz to 20kHz. 

This might not always be the case when you deal with some low-end speakers. By definition, they will have been designed as cheaper options. This means they will almost certainly only have two drivers (delivering bass and treble but not the mids that some more expensive 3-driver models deliver) and sometimes be designed in smaller enclosures where perhaps the bass will have been enhanced to sound better. Again, this enhanced bass means you will naturally reduce the bass when you are mixing to compensate resulting in weedier mixes on any other playback system. 

This used to be a big problem with cheaper speakers but, thankfully, due to advances in technology and design, even these now can have much flatter responses, the ideal type for monitoring your mixes accurately. Over the last decade, we have tested many budget studio monitor speakers from the likes of Adam Audio, JBL, Kali Audio, Eve Audio, IK Multimedia, and more that have had an exceptional sound, often for under $/£2-300, something unheard of at one time.

Read more about how we test music making gear and services at MusicRadar

Chris Corfield

Chris Corfield is a journalist with over 12 years of experience writing for some of the music world's biggest brands including Orange Amplification, MusicRadar, Guitar World, Total Guitar and Dawsons Music. Chris loves getting nerdy about everything from guitar and bass gear, to synths, microphones, DJ gear and music production hardware.

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