If you’re looking for the Best Budget Studio Monitors Under $200, then you are probably setting up your first studio. Whether it’s at home in a dedicated room or just your bedroom, your choice of monitors will be important.
Some people look around for some cheap second-hand monitors. The assumption being, if they are used, then they will be better quality than new monitors at the same price. That is understandable. But don’t underestimate the value of some of these new monitors. There are some good value products out there at sensible prices.
Not the same…
Before we look at some of those monitors, let’s just make one point. Monitors for a studio are not the same as speakers for your home entertainment system. The ones on your stereo at home are ‘doctored’ a little and sometimes a lot. They have extra bass or treble added. Manufacturers want to make them sound ‘nice.’ It helps sales.
That is no good at all for a studio. Monitors for a studio environment have different sound priorities.
One of those is to provide you with a basic, flat, “un-doctored” sound. That way, you can really hear what is going on. By giving you a ‘flat’ frequency response, you can hear exactly what your final product will sound like.
So, let’s have a look to see what’s out there for those on a budget and find the perfect set of speakers for your needs…
Top 8 Best Budget Studio Monitors Under $200 On The Market Reviews
1 JBL Professional C1PRO – Best Compact Budget Studio Monitors
We don’t need to introduce JBL to people that have been around sound. They have a good reputation for middle of the road quality.
The C1PRO studio monitors include a few of the most up to date innovations in monitor design. But whilst they represent good value, they are not going to hurt your bank account.
Good for low-end frequencies…
Each cabinet includes a .75 inch tweeter and a 5-inch woofer. They produce a frequency range from 100hZ to 18kHz. That might not be considered the best for the lower frequencies.
Therefore, if you happen to be working with the ‘real’ low-end frequencies, you may need to add a sub-woofer.
They measure a very compact 7.00 by 4.00 by 6.00 inches and are quite well-built. However, having a small size monitor can sometimes lead to a bit of ‘bass rumble.’
They are built with transducers that are magnetically shielded. Therefore, they are a good choice if you are working in a small set up.
Small studios can suffer from feedback from electromagnetic fields at times from hissing or buzzing. The magnetic shielding helps to prevent that.
Good sound balance…
They have been designed with a good crossover network. The steep slopes of the crossover give you a good balance between low and high frequencies. Therefore, the sound is transparent, as well as balanced.
Also incorporated in the design of these monitors is overload protection. This will control extreme levels of volume at any frequency. This ensures you cannot damage them if you jack up the volume just a bit too far. And we all do it, so that is a good feature.
What do they sound like?
Actually, they are pretty good for a set of budget speakers. They are clean and accurate despite their small size. The lows are quite rich and smooth. Although, as we said, they may need a little extra help at times. The high-ends are sharp, clear, and well-defined.
These are a good choice for beginners. They can handle playback volume reasonably well and give you the flat frequency response you need.
They are designed to be wall-mounted, and a mounting bracket comes with them. That might not make them suitable for ‘near-field’ monitoring if that is what you want. And of course, that will depend on how far away the wall is.
They will sit on desks and bookshelves if you choose. We wouldn’t call the plastic casings the strongest we have come across. Overall, they are a good option and worth having a look at.
- They have some good features included, like overload protection.
- A small and compact size if that is what you need.
- Not the strongest of plastic cabinets.
2 PreSonus E4.5-4.5″ 2-Way Near Field Studio Monitor – Best Small Room Budget Studio Monitors
Coming in at just under our budget level of $200 are these monitors from PreSonus. These are a good set of monitors. They should be considered as one of the Best Budget Studio Monitors Under $200 for small rooms.
Active speakers with a built-in amp…
These are active speakers with a 25-watt amp built into one speaker. Each cabinet has a four and a half-inch Kevlar composite woofer and a silk-domed one-inch tweeter. Whilst the woofer is smaller than some of its competitors, this is given a little help.
Extra sound-shaping controls…
There are some extra sound tuning controls located on the back of one of the monitors. They are called Acoustic Tuning Controls, and they allow you to make some changes in the sound.
This is especially useful in use in ordinary rooms where the acoustics are not, shall we say, productive. In addition, there are controls for flattening the frequency response. This can help with sound controls when referencing and mixing.
Not the biggest bottom end…
The frequency response itself is not great at 70Hz to 20kHz. For those that may work with extreme bottom end styles of music, these monitors will need some low-end help. But that only applies really to music that relies on that sound projection.
They have a peak SPL of 100dB. For extra detail in listening, there is also a headphone jack. This is a decent addition if plugging into your audio interface with headphones is a little awkward.
They are made with decent build-quality and measuring 16.54 x 9.06 x 11.81 inches; they are not too big to fit in most working areas. A good set of monitors with some nice extra sound control features.
- They have some good features not found on other speaker systems.
- Active speakers mean they do not require an external amp.
- They will need some help with very low-frequency work.
3 M-Audio AV42 Compact Active Desktop Reference Monitor Speakers – Best Desktop Budget Studio Monitors
These speakers from M-Audio have been designed and then marketed with a variety of uses in mind. They are reasonably priced for what you might call a middle of the road monitors. They are a decent option for those on a very tight budget.
Decent frequency range…
In each cabinet, there is a four-inch woofer and one-inch silk-dome tweeter. This combination will provide you with a frequency range of 75 Hz to 20kHz.
There is a very common problem with budget range monitors. If you deal with music that has a lot of bottom end, these monitors will need some help. On the other hand, they will suffice for most other musical styles.
Lightweight and portable…
They are made from MDF fiberboard and measure just 7.10 by 5.80 by 8.40 inches. They are quite lightweight as well at less than eight pounds each. This may reflect on their performance, and you may hear more buzzing or rumbling than is good. This may occur, especially at louder volumes.
They are small enough to be carried around with you if you need to. Though why you would need to do that as a studio monitor, we are not sure.
Small internal amplifier…
They have a headphone socket placed on the front of one of the speakers. There is also a volume control and aux input. They have a Class 2 10 watt per channel amp.
Whilst the build quality is acceptable; they are lightweight, so don’t drop them. That may be one reason for not carrying them around with you.
- Some nice features and a silk-dome tweeter.
- Attractive price point.
- Some may just need a few more features than these offer.
4 Mackie MR Series, Studio Monitor – Most Powerful Budget Studio Monitors
These speakers from Mackie are a fraction over the price point of $200. However, they are worth just that extra bit of cash.
Superior low-end response…
All the monitors we have looked at so far have suffered a little in the low end. This is because the woofer size, in some cases, is quite small. But that is not the case with these.
Additionally, there is a high-quality one-inch silk-dome tweeter. But it is paired with a 6.5-inch polypropylene woofer. This produces a more dynamic bottom end. It also produces a frequency response of 38 Hz to 20 kHz. Add this to the rear-ported design, and you get some serious bottom end. As a result, you will be able to hear with clarity every aspect of your mix.
Clear and detailed high-end…
The silk-dome tweeter delivers a transient response that is fast and detailed for clarity at the high end. The woofer delivers a dynamic response to low frequencies.
In addition, there is a variable crossover that is built-in with Mackies’ own waveguide design. If you want to hear the mix without the crossover, there is a footswitch that will bypass it.
Powerful and wide sound dispersal…
The speakers will provide a wide dispersion of the sound. The result is an enlarged sweet spot for playback. There is also a control to match the frequency responses of the monitors to your room. This will include whether the placement is against a wall or not.
On the rear of the active speaker is a control for the plus or minus 2dB high-frequency filter. It has a 65 watt Class A/B amp built-in.
Excellent quality at a great price…
Mackie is known to make good speakers and monitors, but they have exceeded themselves with this system. These provide you the sounds and frequency responses needed to produce a good result. All the while having a very attractive price.
- A good system with plenty of sound control and management features.
- A decent frequency response range.
- Reaching the high end for those in a tight budget.
5 Kali Audio LP-6 Studio Monitor – 6.5″ inch – Most Headroom Budget Studio Monitor
Kali was founded by some ex-JBL employees that were let go due to cuts. Every cloud has a silver lining, as they say, so they pooled their talents and set up Kali. Ironically Kali now produces products that rival their previous JBL masters.
We should state at the outset, though, that whilst these monitors fall within our $200 brief. That is for just one speaker. If you want two, which you may well do, then they will start to get a little expensive.
Striving to be the best…
This is a monitor that is designed to help you achieve the best quality sound possible. Likewise, that sound can be adjusted slightly to suit the environment you are in.
It is made from MDF fiberboard, and the cabinet measures 10.25 by 8.75 by 14.25 inches. It weighs fifteen and a half pounds. Inside the cabinet are a 6.5-inch woofer and one soft-dome tweeter. There is also a front-loaded bass port tube.
This monitor features a built-in Class D amp. It has been fitted with extra-large magnets as well as oversized voice coils. Therefore, it generates an accurate response at the bottom end.
Half a home studio…
For near field monitoring, they do rather well. They will give you a continuous 85dB at about six feet distance. But still, at 85dB, they give you a further 20dB of headroom. That is quite loud enough for any home studio.
This is a good monitor with some good features. But, as we said, you will probably need two of them. Unfortunately, they may not qualify as a budget range. That will depend on your budget.
- A powerful monitor with some good features.
- A very flat frequency response curve with a large amount of headroom.
- As the price point is for just one monitor, they are not cheap.
6 Kali LP-6W 6.5″ Powered Studio Monitor – Best Flat Frequency Budget Studio Monitor
Another monitor from Kali and identical in many respects to the LP-6 except this one is white. Kali arrived in 2018, and they have certainly seen interest grow in their monitors. These white monitors are produced in case you don’t happen to like the black version.
Flat frequency curve…
This monitor, like the back version, is part of the company’s Lone Pine series. They enjoy the same 6.5-inch woofer in a powered studio monitor. Likewise, there is the 1-inch soft-dome tweeter.
The frequency bears the same flattened curve, and the distortion levels are very low. On the rear are balanced XLR inputs along with an unbalanced RCA and TRS inputs.
Detailed and full low-end…
In order to not repeat the features we included in the previous review, the technical data is the same. This is a decent speaker.
However, like the black model, it is quite expensive for just one speaker if you are on a budget. To be honest, we do quite like the white design.
- Nice features with a good frequency curve that is flat.
- Low distortion levels with a nice attractive white finish.
- Expensive for one monitor if you are on a budget.
7 Fluid Audio C5BT – Best Bluetooth Budget Studio Monitors
This is a pair of speakers from Fluid Audio. Nicely-designed, but they may be moving away from the concept of monitors for the recording studio.
We may be wrong, but we have never met an engineer who wanted Bluetooth on his monitors. This indicates that these are more of a multi-purpose type speaker, as opposed to a monitor designed with the studio in mind.
One of the big selling points of the C5BT. They have Bluetooth 4.0 built-in with aptX codec support. This is a 2-way system with a five-inch driver and one-inch tweeter.
The frequency range of 54Hz – 22kHz is very respectable. Likewise, a maximum sound pressure level of 97 dB is a benefit. Furthermore, they will generate a peak output of 40 watts.
They have a range of options that includes using your stereo, your phone, or watching your movies. Therefore, they are probably best kept for those occupations. It is not likely they are set up for the specialized sound requirements of a recording studio as monitors.
Nevertheless, a well-designed and built system that looks attractive. A reasonable price point. If you want a multi-purpose speaker system, these may suit.
- Designed for a variety of uses.
- Bluetooth 4.0 installed with aptX.
- Might not be suitable for the sound requirements of a studio.
8 Behringer 1C-BK Ultra-Compact 100-Watt 5″ Studio Monitor Speakers, Black – Best Value for the Money Budget Studio Monitors
Finally, a visit to our friends at Behringer. They are designed in Germany and built in China and proud of it. We have a bit of a soft spot for Behringer.
We use some of their gear ourselves, and it is one of the few pieces of equipment that has never gone wrong or let us down. They make decent gear that is not at the high end. But, it is usually well-made and at a very competitive price.
Classic appearance, powerful presence…
These are a pair of monitors that have a very standard, almost classic design. They really have a very powerful 100-watt peak output. Which, when viewed with the size of only 13.78 by 7.56 by 10.71 inches, is quite remarkable.
They have a frequency range of 60Hz to 23kHz (-10dB) with a maximum SPL of 112dB. There is a crossover frequency set at 5kHz. The sound is generated by a low-frequency 5.5-inch driver and a half-inch tweeter.
Clear sound, limited distortion…
The design of the cabinets helps to produce a clear sound reproduction. And the high power rating gives powerful output and limited distortion.
Furthermore, the overload protection will protect the tweeter that resets itself automatically. Total phase linearity is ensured by a precision crossover.
Loaded with value…
These monitors are well made with solid grilles and come with brackets. They will allow wall or ceiling mounting or, if you prefer, desktop use. Set at an excellent price point. If you are on a budget, these should be considered as one of the Best Budget Studio Monitors Under $200.
- A very powerful output, with good sound and excellent built-in features.
- A very attractive price point for those on a budget.
Best Budget Studio Monitors Under $200 Buying Guide
Putting the right sound in the room…
We have already commented on the difference between speakers and monitors. So, the first thing to do for your studio sound to be able to work well is to avoid speakers.
The size of your room…
It does have some relevance. If you are in a very small room, then you will require ‘near-field’ monitors. These are exactly what they say they are. Listening from a close distance. Possibly within three to five feet.
As it is unlikely your room has had the right acoustic treatments and construction, these make more sense. Listening at a close distance will reduce the number of reflections of the sound before it reaches your ears. You will find near-field monitors in all the best studios in the world, along with much larger ‘Mains’ at a greater distance.
These are called ‘far-field monitors’ or ‘main monitors’ and are for listening at a distance, often at volume. As these are large, usually acoustically built into the room structure at a distance from you, and very expensive, you won’t find them for under $200. So we will give those a miss.
Active or Passive?
Your monitors will need an amplifier because you won’t hear an awful lot from them without one. Active speakers have their amplifier built-in to one of the cabinets.
Passive speakers need an external amp which the monitors are connected to.
The choice is yours. One isn’t necessarily better than the other in our view. But if you go passive, you will need some amplification.
You should always look for a flat frequency response. But one that is as wide as you can find. The output level is not as critical since they will be close to you. But a more powerful output will reduce the potential for distortion.
The size of the woofer or low-frequency driver might be important. This will depend on what sort of music you work with. But even standard non-genre influenced sound will require something preferably over 5 inches. There should also be a tweeter, of course.
Looking for something else?
If you’re building a home studio, then check out our reviews of the Best USB Audio Interfaces, the Best Microphone Preamp, the Best Audio Interface, and the Best Multitrack Recorder for the latest options.
Need some new studio gear? If so, take a look at our reviews of the Best Studio Headphones For Home Recording, the Best Vocal Mics, the Best Microphones for Recording Rap Vocals, the Best Microphones Recording Electric Guitar, and the Best Audio Mixers you can buy in 2021.
What are the Best Budget Studio Monitors Under $200?
We are going to push the boat out a little with our choice. If you want to hear the sound properly, you will need some “quality in the boxes.” These speakers come in at a fraction over the budget, but they are worth that extra bit.
Therefore, we’re going with the …
With a powerful and clear low-frequency response and wide sound dispersal, these get the job done.
We’ll leave you to decide which is right for you. In the meantime, may your monitors make your music marvelous.