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The 8 best budget studio monitors under $100-200, $300-400 for 2024

I’ve tested an extensive range of monitor speakers to come up with a list of the best budget studio monitors to buy under $100, under $200, under $300, and under $400 in 2024.

About the author

I’m a producer, audio engineer, and songwriter with a decade’s worth of experience with a wide range of gear and recording techniques. I’ve worked with a huge variety of monitoring systems, including Genelec, Neumann, Adam Audio, Focal, JBL, and Yamaha, among others.

testing a KRK budget studio monitor
Image: Higher Hz

How I chose the studio monitors for this list?

As an audio engineer, one of your first significant investments is a quality pair of studio monitors. However, with a plethora of options available in the market, each at different price points and with varying purposes, navigating this landscape can be downright terrifying.

For this list, my focus was on studio monitors that deliver exceptional sound quality at a low cost. So, whether you’re just starting out as an audio engineer or strapped for cash, I’ve got your back.

To find out more about how we test and rate studio monitors here at Higher Hz, check out this page.

testing cheap Mackie monitor speakers
Image: Higher Hz

These are the best budget studio monitors to buy in 2024:

  1. Mackie CR3-X
  2. Pioneer DJ DM-50D
  3. PreSonus Eris E5
  4. M-Audio BX5 D3
  5. JBL 305P Mk2
  6. KRK Rokit 5 G4
  7. Yamaha HS5
  8. Adam Audio T5V

Mackie CR3-X 3.4

The best under $100

  • Tweeter: 0.75 inches
  • Woofer: 3 inches
  • Power output: 25 W
  • Frequency response: 70 Hz – 20 kHz (-10 dB)
  • Maximum SPL: 97 dB
Mackie CR3-X multimedia monitors
Image: Mackie

Some time ago, I recommended the PreSonus Eris E3.5 as the best cheap studio monitor to consider for music production. However, upon further reflection and testing, I have revised my opinion.

While the Mackie CR3-X still doesn’t truly qualify as a great monitor, it performs far better than the Eris E3.5. The CR3-X delivers a marginally flatter response than the PreSonus speakers, despite lacking EQ controls.

It’s important to note that neither the Eris E3.5 nor the Mackie CR3-X are really suited for professional-grade audio production, at least not as your primary reference monitors. However, if you had to choose between the two, I recommend the Mackies.

Overall, when it comes to anybody starting off in music production, these monitors can provide a satisfactory listening experience while keeping your wallet happy.

Read the full Mackie CR3-X review to find out more.

What I like

  • Affordable at under $100 a pair.
  • Good for mobile recording.

What I don’t like

  • No low end.
  • Harsh treble.
Buy Mackie CR3-X at: SweetwaterAmazon

Pioneer DJ DM-50D 3.4

Compact and cheap

  • Tweeter: 0.75 inches
  • Woofer: 5 inches
  • Power output: 25 W
  • Frequency response: 60 Hz – 20 kHz
  • Maximum SPL: 106 dB
Pioneer DJ DM-50D monitor speaker
Image: Pioneer DJ

The Pioneer DM-50D monitor speakers are a compact and reasonably priced option. While they aren’t capable of producing a lot of crucial low-frequency information, their overall frequency response is reasonably detailed.

The dual audio modes offer you a bit of flexibility when it comes to mixing. The Production setting gives more focus in the mid-range, and the DJ mode showcases a fuller response.

Both modes have output limiters to prevent distortion at higher volumes. However, some of you might take issue with the lack of the ability to adjust the DSP.

Overall, despite their flaws, the DM-50D speakers produce clear and accurate audio throughout their frequency range. At just under $200 a pair, these speakers are a good choice for beginners or those on a budget.

Read the full Pioneer DJ DM-50D review to find out more.

What I like

  • Reasonably detailed for what they are.
  • Compact size and sleek design.

What I don’t like

  • Limited frequency response range.
Buy Pioneer DJ DM-50D at: SweetwaterAmazon

PreSonus Eris E5 3.6

The best under $200

  • Tweeter: 1.25 inches, 35 W
  • Woofer: 5 inches, 45 W
  • Frequency response: 53 Hz – 22 kHz
  • Maximum SPL: 102 dB
PreSonus Eris E5 studio monitors (pair)
Image: PreSonus

The PreSonus Eris E5 studio monitors offer an affordable option for those in need of studio speakers. The monitors have a frequency response of 53 Hz – 22 kHz, and a max peak of 102 dB SPL. The design is sleek and sturdy with various input options, and an easy-to-use rear panel.

However, extended listening can lead to a fatiguing high-end and crossover frequencies that don’t align very well. In comparison to the Rokit 5 G4 and JBL 305P, the Eris E5 are outperformed. The KRKs have less distortion, better-sounding mid frequencies, and less fatigue, while the JBL offer cleaner bass and a more pleasant listening experience.

While the Eris E5 is a reliable budget monitor, there are better options available, and those seeking a more neutral sound may want to look elsewhere. That being said, at $200 a pair, these affordable monitors are more than usable if you’re faced with any budgetary restrictions.

Read the full PreSonus Eris E5 review to find out more.

What I like

  • Reliable.
  • Quality design and build.

What I don’t like

  • Fatiguing high-end.
Buy PreSonus Eris E5 at: SweetwaterAmazon

M-Audio BX5 D3 4.0

The underdog

  • Tweeter: 1 inch, 40 W
  • Woofer: 5 inches, 60 W
  • Frequency response: 52 Hz – 35 kHz
  • Maximum SPL: 110 dB
M-Audio BX5-D3 active studio monitors (pair)
Image: M-Audio

For what they are, the M-Audio BX5 D3 studio monitors sound transparent, neutral, and warm. They don’t exaggerate anything too much and are best suited for mixing and critical listening.

It’s honestly crazy that these monitors don’t get that much attention because they’re not only cheaper than the Rokit 5 G4 or Yamaha HS5, but their frequency response curve is phenomenally flat.

The sound of the BX5 D3 is probably as trustworthy as you’ll be able to find in this price bracket. There’s not too much coloration that’s worth noting here, and even if there was I’d still probably recommend them (probably).

Read the full M-Audio BX5 D3 review to find out more.

What I like

  • Accurate sound representation.
  • Wide frequency response range.
  • Durable build.

What I don’t like

  • The bass response is somewhat lacking.
Buy M-Audio BX5 D3 at: SweetwaterAmazon

JBL 305P Mk2 4.0

The best mixing monitors under $300

  • Tweeter: 1 inch, 41 W
  • Woofer: 5 inches, 41 W
  • Frequency response: 43 Hz – 24 kHz (-10 dB)
  • Maximum SPL: 108 dB
JBL 305P Mk2 powered studio monitors (pair)
Image: JBL

For just under $300 a pair, the JBL 305P Mk2 monitors offer a slightly more affordable alternative to the Rokit 5 G4. However, it might be worth saying that the JBLs are perhaps better suited to mixing applications than the KRKs.

The reason being is that the KRKs are incredibly colorful monitors, which on one hand, can allow music-making to feel more exciting and creative. On the other hand, this can skew the sound of your mix in an ultimately counterproductive way.

I listened to tracks I felt were well-mixed on the JBLs and, well, they sounded fine. If keeping your ears critical is your top priority, the JBLs can work wonders just by how unforgiving they sound. Of course, the caveat is an over-exaggerated low end and tweeters that have a reputation for hissing.

Read the full JBL 305P Mk2 review to find out more.

What I like

  • Smooth, realistic sound.
  • Good for mixing.

What I don’t like

  • Over-exaggerated low end.
Buy JBL 305P Mk2 at: SweetwaterAmazon

KRK Rokit 5 G4 4.5

The staple monitors of bedroom production

  • Tweeter: 1 inch
  • Woofer: 5 inches
  • Power output: 55 W
  • Frequency response: 43 Hz – 40 kHz
  • Maximum SPL: 104 dB
KRK Rokit 5 G4 studio monitors (pair)
Image: KRK

The KRK Rokit 5 have been some of the most ubiquitous studio monitors available ever since they first hit the market in the late 2000s. These days actually, it seems as if at least seven out of 10 producers have a pair sitting on their desks, especially if they’re relatively new to the trade.

But while the black and yellow stylings of the Rokits may be nearly synonymous with bedroom producing at this point, their prevalence wasn’t solely founded upon their looks – they sound pretty darn good with all things considered.

There are much better studio monitors in the world than the KRKs, and while the consistency of their sound is rather commendable, their coloration can make it difficult to achieve a perfect mix, especially for non-EDM genres. They’re incredibly bass-heavy, which can be incredibly deceptive, and something of a hindrance, when trying to balance music in another genre.

That being said, the consistency of their sound (however boomy and colorful) has helped the KRK Rokits earn their place as some of the most reliable studio monitors to date – it just takes some getting used to. For under $400 a pair, the Rokits are good enough for most situations.

Read the full KRK Rokit 5 G4 review to find out more.

What I like

  • Consistent performance.
  • Great for beginner producers.

What I don’t like

  • Bass-heavy sound.
Buy KRK Rokit 5 G4 at: SweetwaterAmazon

Yamaha HS5 3.8

The most unforgiving

  • Tweeter: 1 inch, 25 W
  • Woofer: 5 inches, 45 W
  • Frequency response: 54 Hz – 30 kHz (-10 dB)
  • Maximum SPL: 85 dB
Yamaha HS5 studio monitors (pair)
Image: Yamaha

The Yamaha HS5 monitors are normally the next option people look at while grappling with their uncertainty of whether or not to buy the KRKs.

Now, despite the constant suggestion that these monitors are the successors to the legendary NS-10, they’re no substitute in any way. They still share a lot of that aggressive midrange as the NS-10, so while they’re incredibly unforgiving, they can be used to your benefit during mixdown.

In many ways, they’re arguably better than the KRK Rokits. Why exactly? Well, they have a slightly flatter response curve and therefore are much more realistic-sounding. The downside is that they lack a lot of definition in the low end, so hip-hop and EDM producers may want to invest in a subwoofer to compensate.

The flipside to this, however, is that the filtered drop-off at around 80 Hz makes them far more neutral-sounding in the conditions of an untreated room. Take that as you will, because at the end of the day you’ll probably be just as happy with the Yamahas as with the Rokits.

Read the full Yamaha HS5 review to find out more.

What I like

  • Flat frequency response.
  • Great for mixing.

What I don’t like

  • Not the most versatile monitors around.
Buy Yamaha HS5 at: SweetwaterAmazon

Adam Audio T5V 4.6

The best budget studio monitors

  • Tweeter: 1.9 inches, 20 W
  • Woofer: 5 inches, 50 W
  • Frequency response: 45 Hz – 25 kHz (-6 dB)
  • Maximum SPL: 106 dB
Adam Audio T5V studio monitors (pair)
Image: Adam Audio

Sometimes when you’re reviewing a really great piece of equipment, it’s hard to say much about it other than, “It’s great“. A good problem to have, no doubt, but as a critic, it does make life a bit difficult. This is the problem with the Adam Audio T5V studio monitors.

These monitors are practically impervious to any critique. They produce a massive amount of bass, they get loud with little to no distortion, no hiss, and they go for about $400 new – talk about a bargain!

Read the full Adam Audio T5V review to find out more.

What I like

  • Transparent, full sound.
  • Great bass response.
  • Feel solid and look great.

What I don’t like

  • Nothing for the price.
Buy Adam Audio T5V at: SweetwaterAmazon


There you have it, my 2024 list of the best budget studio monitors you can buy under $100, under $200, under $300, and under $400. I hope that the information I’ve provided can prove useful as you make your decision.

As a final note, I’d like to say that ultimately, the goal is to buy the monitors that work best for you. Don’t just go and buy something because your friend told you so, or me for that matter. Take your time, and make sure you’re comfortable with your decision before biting the bullet.


1 comment
  • Hi my name is Dix from kimberley Northern Cape Province, I’m looking for best music recording studio and podcast equipments