Finding the Best Studio Monitors Under $500 is not that difficult a task. There are some excellent monitors out there by some great companies, and some fall below the $500 threshold.
First of all, you need to decide is if it is studio monitors you need, or indeed want. We ask that because studio monitors are for work. They are not for home entertainment or listening for enjoyment. A studio monitor will have no added bass or top-end to make it sound ‘better.’ As a result, the studio monitor sound will be flat. This allows you to use them for critical listening for the mixing process.
How far away?
Likewise, you need to decide whether you want near-field monitors or far-field monitors. Or even mid-field monitors, which sit halfway between the two. Most people will want near field monitors that sit a few feet away from you. Near-field monitors are the best for giving you accuracy. Also, a quality pair of far-fields will cost you a lot more than $500.
So, if you are still reading, then we must assume you don’t want a set of speakers for your Sony turntable and amp. You want some reference speakers for critical listening to mix or master your music.
So, let’s take a look at what is currently available within the $500 range and find the perfect studio monitors for you…
Top 8 Best Studio Monitors Under $500 To Consider In 2021 Reviews
1 Swan Speakers – T200C – Best Wireless Studio Monitors Under $500
This is a pair of speakers from Swan that appear to have been designed with a variety of potential uses. They are advertised as bookshelf speakers. Likewise, they could also double as studio monitors.
They are a pair of powered speakers with a peak performance rating of about 140 watts. That will equate to about 70 watts RMS.
Of the two speakers, one is designated as the master speaker. This one requires power, and the other speaker plugs into the master.
These are quite strong with cabinets made from fiberboard and given a black lacquer finish. There is a silver triangle design that is inverted that gives them a unique look. This will appeal to some, but not to others.
They measure 8.5 by 10.9 by 14.8 inches, and the main speaker weighs seventeen and a half pounds. The secondary speaker weighs in at 17.4 pounds.
Furthermore, they are a 2-way cabinet with a vented design. They each have a five-inch, long-throw woofer and a 3/4 inch tweeter. The frequency range is 55Hz – 20kHz, which is not the best you will find for work as a monitor.
The connections are quite good with WiFi and Bluetooth 5.0. Therefore, you will get a better bandwidth than the more common aptX Bluetooth systems.
Pairing to your devices is simple and offers the option to play music from your own playlists. It has a remote control that is, to say the least, rather basic. Unfortunately, there are no options for bass or treble level adjustments.
There are two aux sockets and an optical input.
Sits in the middle…
This is a system that seems to fall between a rock and a hard place. Probably doesn’t have the sound, or the features, to make good studio monitors. But, also a bit lightweight if you are using them just for playing music.
They also come in at a rather expensive price point for what they offer.
- Solid build quality.
- Reasonable connections with good Bluetooth.
- Expensive for what they are.
2 Edifier S2000 Pro – Best Value for Your Money Studio Monitors Under $500
We have reviewed Edifier speakers on several occasions. And we have always found them to represent good value for money.
Founded in 1996 in Beijing, they are relative newcomers to the audio world. And with the nice cabinet designs made with good materials, they have become popular.
A refreshing design change…
There is nothing wrong with manufacturing speaker cabinets from MDF fiberboard. Providing they are well-made, they do the job they were built for. However, it is a nice change to remember how good real wood looks. And that is what we have here. The panels on the side of the cabinets are made from real wood and look great.
The sloping front is also an added design plus that singles these out from the competition. The downside is that they are quite heavy and weigh 22 pounds each. As near field monitors, some might also consider them to be rather large. They measure 8 by 13.5 high by 10.5 inches deep.
What is inside?
Edifier always try to use the best components, and these speakers are no exception. The S2000 Pro has five and a half inch woofers and flat-diaphragm tweeters. Both are made from aluminum.
They have a frequency response of 48Hz to 20KHz. Because they have used a flat diaphragm, the response rate is quicker. The aluminum construction generates a clear and crisp sound at the top end.
Connections and Controls…
On the rear panel, there are the connection points. HD is catered for using optical or coaxial sockets. There are RCA to Auxiliary and RCA connections. To connect to a mixer, there are XLR connections. The cable that links the two speakers is a decent size, five meters long. The speakers come with a useful remote control.
The remote is well laid out and lets you adjust volume and select the preferred EQ mode, which is built-in. You can also move between inputs.
Practical and versatile…
It will support Bluetooth 4.0 and uses the aptX codec. Therefore, you have options available for playing your own playlists.
These are a well-made pair of powered speakers with a rating of 120 watts peak. That will equate to about 60 watts RMS. At this price point, they are good value for money and should be considered as one of the Best Studio Monitors Under $500.
- Well made with real wood and good components.
- Flat diaphragm tweeters that work well for studio monitoring.
- They are quite large and heavy.
3 Mackie XR824 Professional Studio Monitor – Most Durable Studio Monitor Under $500
Mackie is another company we have become familiar with in looking at their products. They were founded in 1988 in Seattle. They became known very quickly for manufacturing good quality sound equipment at affordable prices.
Initially, it was mixing desks, but the range has expanded, and we are going to look at some of their studio monitors.
Do you want a speaker cabinet that is about as plain as you can make it? Then this might be the one.
Some companies prefer the understated look, but this speaker may have gone too far with that idea. It is very bland and uninteresting to look at.
Nothing wrong with the quality of the build, though. It is made from fiberboard, as most speakers are these days, and has a very plain black finish. It is a two-way bass-reflex design. The port is oval in shape and located on the rear. There is some internal bracing for stability.
It is important to ensure that the low frequencies are not soaked up by whatever the speaker is standing on. Therefore, the design includes an isolation pad. This makes sure the bass sound is traveling forwards as well as back and not down.
This is no compact speaker, measuring 14.40 by 13.30 by 19.40 inches and weighing 22.20 lbs. As a result, it will need to be placed in a stable position with room behind it for the rear-firing bass port.
What about the sound?
It has an 8-inch Kevlar driver with a one-inch aluminum tweeter. As it is a bi-amplified arrangement, each speaker has its own built-in Class D amplifier. The crossover frequency is 2200Hz.
The frequency response is 36Hz – 22 kHz, and the power rating is 160 watts. It is fitted with three filters. These are High, Low, and Acoustic Space to take account of the room you are using in. The controls for this are placed on the back with TS and XLR inputs.
One, not two…
A well-made, if a little boring monitor. It sounds good and has some very good built-in features. It is not a cheap option as the price point is for just one speaker.
You will obviously need two if you are using it in a studio environment. Therefore, it then becomes a little expensive in our view.
- Well-made with a bi-amplified design.
- Decent size for both the drivers.
- Rather large and heavy.
- Quite expensive for one speaker.
4 IK Multimedia iLoud Micro Monitors – Best Compact Studio Monitors Under $500
If you are a little pushed for space, these monitors are going to be of interest. Small working areas offer their own challenges in getting a good sound. These monitors are designed to help you achieve results even in small spaces.
Good quality build…
This pair of monitors are made in China and designed in Italy. They measure 5.30 by 3.50 by 7.10 inches each. They are made of decent quality plastic and have non-marking rubber feet. There are circular mesh grilles that cover both the tweeter and woofer individually. The feet offer two angled positions to get the trajectory of the sound exactly right.
Getting the audible sweet spot right for your own listening positioning is a challenge in small areas. But with these speakers, it is easily achievable.
Four Class D amps together will give you about 50 watts RMS. Each cabinet has a ¾ inch tweeter and a three-inch woofer. The bass port is located on the front. They have a frequency response of 45Hz – 20kHz.
The stereo imaging is good, courtesy of the advanced crossover. The addition of a Bluetooth capability is a useful inclusion. All things considered, they produce good sound from monitors so compact.
On the rear is the power on and off button and volume control. There is also a Bluetooth pairing button. They have preset EQ levels as a starting point to get the sound right. These can be adjusted to suit the environment you are in to get a nice flat sound.
They do produce a remarkably accurate sound with a good balance between low, mid, and high frequencies. The price point is quite high, but they do the job that they were designed to do.
- The compact size makes them excellent for smaller spaces.
- The inclusion of a Bluetooth facility is a good idea.
- Some will just require a more formal size and performance.
5 JBL Professional 305P MkII 5-Inch 2-Way Powered Studio Monitor – Best Premium Studio Monitor Under $500
JBL needs no introduction to anyone interested in audio. Founded in 1946, they have been at the forefront of speaker design and manufacture since.
These days they are a subsidiary of Harman Industries who are themselves owned by South Korean giant Samsung.
This is a monitor with a two-way design with the port located at the rear of the cabinet. It has two Class D amps. One which powers the 5-inch woofer and the other the tweeter.
The woven-composite neodymium tweeter is a one-inch driver that, when coupled with the low-frequency driver, excels. Precise imaging and great detail with a sweet spot that is wider than the norm is the result. Both drivers are magnetically shielded.
The frequency response is 49Hz to 20kHz, and it has an SPL, Sound Pressure Level, of 108dB. Peak Power is 80 watts, delivered by two by 40-watt amps.
JBL has included some extra features to produce exceptional audio reproduction. The Image Control waveguide gives a broad sweet spot and sound imaging that is highly detailed.
Also, JBL’s own design for the bass port, which they call SlipStream. This is designed in such a way that it creates a balanced and improved response from the low frequencies.
These are all located on the rear of the speaker. There is a high-frequency trim switch with three positions. And an EQ for controlling bass response and other variants that can occur in various environments. There are also balanced TRS and XLR inputs.
The input sensitivity control will make sure there are no compatibility issues with different signal sources. To complete the line-up, a volume control knob.
It has a modern-looking design with speakers visible. The speakers are quite heavy at 14 pounds, and they measure a quite large 14.00 by 12.20 by 13.93 inches. In some cases, that may make them a little difficult to handle in a small area.
Just a reminder that these speakers cannot be placed too close to a wall because of the rear-firing bass port.
These speakers are sold as single items. You will need two for mixing, which makes them reasonably expensive at their basic price point.
- Dual amplifier design with good drivers and build quality.
- Some nice built-in sound options.
- Rather large and quite expensive.
6 Pioneer Pro DJ – Most Versatile Studio Monitors Under $500
Pioneer is an established manufacturer of consumer products. Founded in 1938 in Tokyo, they have an illustrious history. They were at the front of new and emerging technologies, contributing immensely to their development. These include the first CD players for cars, interactive cable TV, LaserDiscs, and detachable front panels for car stereos.
Whilst they might not be considered the force they once were, they still produce good quality products at great prices. This pair of speakers is a great example.
If you are looking for a pair of speakers that will be, shall we say, different, then these will be of interest. They have certainly been designed to make a visual statement.
Finished in gleaming white, the ‘target’ design on the woofer resembles a T-shirt fans of The Who used to wear.
They are a bass reflex system, front-loaded. Additionally, there is a four-inch woofer and a soft dome tweeter that is ¾ inches. Air friction is reduced by having ducts with grooves. The woofer’s cone is made from fiberglass that helps to produce a decent bass sound. The tweeter is fitted with convex diffusers. This enhances the sound at the top end.
There are Class A/B amps that produce a low distortion level and a bright sound. In fact, the balance across the frequencies is quite nicely balanced.
Who are they for?
We wouldn’t call these speakers full-on studio monitors. Although they could fulfill that role. The low and high frequencies have been given a little ‘help,’ which makes them prominent. Something you probably don’t need for a good mix.
However, their potential crosses various uses. This includes DJ monitors or even use in a home entertainment system. The sound is good, with the drivers delivering a nice sound. Plus, they are powerful enough at 40 watts.
On the front of the prime speaker is a volume control and a headphone output. This is a good idea that makes control easy. On the rear, there are stereo mini-jacks sockets as well as connections to the second speaker. Also, an off and on rocker-switch. When not in use, the speakers will go into standby or sleep mode until you use them again.
These are very much a budget pair of speakers and, as such, represent good value for money. Not the top of the Pioneer range in any way, but they are not aimed at that market.
- Well-built with an interesting design and a variety of uses.
- Basic but nice features at a very competitive price.
- Some will need a flatter sound for studio work.
7 Resolv SE8 2-Way Active Studio Reference Monitor – Best Mixing Studio Monitor Under $500
This is a Reference monitor/speaker from Samson Technologies. They were founded in 1980 in New York, working on the technologies of wireless microphones. They were early pioneers of USB microphones. And still play an important role in microphone technology and development.
In 1985 they launched an innovative bass guitar amp. It had a different design of aluminum cone that gave wider dynamics. That was marketed under the name of Hartke, a name that many will be familiar with.
The Resolv SE8…
This is a two-way speaker that is an upgraded version of the Resolv A-series. It delivers 100 watts of peak power through its 8-inch woofer and 1.25-inch tweeter.
Of course, this is far more than you are likely to need for a monitor to mix by. So, in our opinion, the power has been overcome a little bit. It has Class A/B amplifiers and a frequency response of 40Hz – 27kHz.
The tweeter is a soft-dome construction with a neodymium magnet. The tweeter design gives a good sound dispersion that creates a decent size sweet spot. The woofer is made of woven carbon fiber.
This is a rather heavy monitor weighing in at 25 pounds. And at 11.25 by 12.00 by 16.00 inches, it is going to take up a bit of room. It is a 2-way monitor with a front port. Therefore, it is not going to sit easily on a basic computer desk.
It is made well from MDF fiberboard and has quite a nice look about it. The controls are located around the back, where you will find the volume control. That may prove a little inconvenient for some.
Likewise, there is a control to adjust the response of the tweeter. Sadly, they have not included the same for the low frequencies. In bass-heavy music, you will not have any adjustment at the monitor level.
You often see some manufacturer’s marketing departments making claims that cannot be justified. Calling a speaker, a reference studio monitor is one such claim. In this case, while the Resolv SE8 has a few quirks, it stands up well to the description.
The reproduction is flat and not boosted. The sound is transparent with an acceptable bottom end. It works quite well.
If there is a downside…
It is just the price. The price point for this monitor is not cheap when you consider that you need two; the sub $500 price gets you only one monitor.
- Well made with plenty of power should you ever need it.
- A flat transparent sound that is ideal for mixing.
- Rather large and heavy and quite expensive.
8 KRK Rokit 5 G4 Studio Monitor Bundle – Best Budget Studio Monitors Under $500
This monitor system from KRK offers an interesting design and build. Another design and color scheme of black cabinets and yellow driver cones make them resemble a target. They have a fairly standard design. However, the addition of round edges is a nice idea.
What is inside?
These are a pair of near-field monitors. They have a Class D amplifier rated at 100 watts that drives a five-inch woofer and a one-inch tweeter. The woofer is made from Kevlar. They give a frequency range of 45Hz – 35kHz.
Furthermore, the frequency curve can be adjusted to suit whatever your sound requirements are. This courtesy of the controls for high and low frequencies.
It also features a built-in Graphic equalizer that is DSP driven. There are 25 settings that will assist you in getting a sound from whatever your own sound environment might be. The Graphics Equalizer LCD screen for visuals is situated on the rear of the cabinet.
It has a new design of speaker enclosure with a front-firing bass port. Also included in the package are a monitor controller and two balanced XLR cables.
Also, some foam isolation pads are included that the monitors can stand on. This is a good idea as it forms a buffer between the speaker and the desk it is standing on. As a result, it will help to minimize any buildup of bass frequencies that may occur.
Overall, they are a decent pair of speakers that are reasonably priced. Therefore, definitely worth considering as the Best Studio Monitors Under $500.
- Nicely designed cabinets with a front-firing port.
- Built-in Graphic Equalizer with 25 settings and LCD screen.
- Some will require a more traditional design on the front.
Looking for Something Else?
Building a home studio has never been easier or so affordable, so check out our comprehensive reviews of the Best Vocal Mics, the Best Studio Monitor Speakers, the Best Budget Studio Monitors Under $200, the Best Studio Monitor Stands, and the Best Audio Mixers you can buy.
Also, take a look at our reviews of the Best USB Audio Interfaces, the Best Microphone Preamp, the Best Dynamic Microphones, the Best Audio Interface, and the Best Studio Headphones For Home Recording currently on the market in 2021.
What are the Best Studio Monitors Under $500?
This is quite a difficult choice as some of the big names you might expect to see are not included, mainly because of the higher prices. However, there are some very good options on this list, and some cater to a variety of space sizes and uses.
That being said, we would choose the …
A good pair of speakers that prove you haven’t always got to spend a fortune to get a decent product. Our choice as the Best Studio Monitors Under $500.
Until next time, happy listening.