Are you lacking the funds to get decent monitoring in your studio? Don’t worry! You can now get plenty of speaker bang for not so much buck with this guide to the 7 best budget studio monitors 2021. And find out why great monitors are essential with our guide here!

IK Multimedia iLoud – best budget compact monitors

The iLouds are the smallest monitors in this budget roundup

If space is a limitation, studio monitors don’t come much smaller in this ‘7 best budget studio monitors 2021’ roundup than these IKs. They are specifically designed to fit into any desktop environment and deliver a far bigger sound than they might suggest. In fact, you will be amazed at the level of the bottom end that these punch out. 

What you sacrifice in exchange is some of the detail you get on bigger monitors as these are half the size. So don’t expect the clarity in the upper mids or the definition you need if you are mixing complex bass. That said, we put these next to monitors boasting bigger dimensions, and you often barely notice the difference. 

If space and budget are an issue, these should be top of your list (or their more expensive bigger sisters, the iLoud MTMs). And as with other speakers in our best budget studio monitor guide, they also function as great secondary speakers. 

  • Price: $299.99 pair 
  • Type: 2-way bi-amped active monitors
  • Frequency Response: 45Hz – 22kHz
  • Drivers: 3/4” silk dome magnet tweeter, 3” hi-rigidity woofer
  • Output power: 70W
  • Website: www.ikmultimedia.com

JBL 306P MKII – best budget and wide sweet spot speakers

These larger JBL monitors will deliver the power you need in mid-sized rooms plus extraordinary detail

JBL has been at the head of the recent charge to deliver an accurate monitor sound at a budget price. It’s what we all want and need from our mixing, yet something not conceivable just a few years ago. The company’s 306P MkII is the middle model update in its award-winning 3 Series. It is designed, JBL says, for everything “from music production and podcasting to cinematic sound design or daily vlogging”. 

The monitors come with a number of features to help deliver an even response. These include a Slip Stream™ low-frequency port that helps keep lower frequencies controlled and detailed. You also get the Image Control Waveguide – the square port around the tweeter – that helps deliver a more joined-up picture over a bigger area. Having this larger ‘sweet spot’ is useful for a more flexible listening position. You don’t then have to remain rooted to one spot in your studio to enjoy the most accurate response.

With a focus on that accuracy, these deliver the power for mid-sized rooms, detail, and bang for the buck. And if space is at a premium, consider JBL’s smaller One Series 104 ($179) speakers. These are a great desktop solution at an even cheaper price.

  • Price: $398 pair 
  • Type: 2-way bi-amped active monitors
  • Frequency Response: 39Hz – 24kHz
  • Drivers: 1” soft dome tweeter, 6.5” woofer
  • Output power: 112W
  • Website: https://jblpro.com

Kali Audio LP-6 – accurate budget studio monitors

Studio monitors are undergoing a revolution in terms of accuracy versus price and Kali Audio is leading the way with the LP-6s

Southern Californian speaker manufacturer Kali Audio is relatively new to the studio monitor market. However, it has already created huge waves with speakers that are almost ridiculously priced given their performance. We’re won over by the fact that each of the company’s products is named after an evocative-sounding US town close to the HQ – Lone Pine, Independence, and Mountain View. But the products then deliver the goods and specs to back up the romance!

The LP-6’s boast a low-noise bass port for a distortion-free bass response plus a ‘3D Imaging Wave Guide’. This is for a wider, more immersive sound that really does allow you to place instruments precisely in a mix. But as Kali says, “the single most important aspect of a studio monitor is its accuracy”. And not only did we get a pristine response across the board in our tests, Kali then backs up these findings by publishing flat frequency response charts on its website, as measured independently by Pro Sound Testing in Greenville, Indiana. 

As we state elsewhere here, studio monitors are undergoing something of a revolution in terms of accuracy versus price, and Kali Audio is leading the way with these, and indeed its pricier but larger LP-8s. Incredible value and accuracy.

  • Price: $298 pair
  • Type: 2-way bi-amped active monitors
  • Frequency Response: 39Hz – 25kHz
  • Drivers: 1” soft dome tweeter, 6.5” woofer
  • Output power: 80W
  • Website: www.kaliaudio.com

KRK Rokit 5 G4 – best budget monitors for your space

The Rokit 7 G4s are bigger speakers with extra features

With KRK’s Rokit 7 G4, we’re stepping up just a little in terms of price in this ‘7 best budget studio monitors 2021’ guide. However, we’re also getting a bigger speaker and more features to make these among the most flexible monitors in this roundup. That said, the Rokit G4s – the fourth generation in the Rokit series – are also available in other sizes, with 5”, 8” and 10” LF drivers. They all boast extras like a DSP-driven Graphic EQ with 25 settings to tailor them to your acoustic environment. They also have similar front-firing bass ports to other models in this roundup, that help deliver more definition and less distortion in your low end. 

Other nice touches include an integrated iso-foam pad beneath each speaker, which helps with isolation, vibration and grip, plus an iOS and Android app. This helps you set the speakers up in terms of their position, and also tweak the EQ settings according to any acoustic issues in your room.

All told that means a lot of features for the money and a performance tailored to your environment, so if you are after a simple setup and custom sound, these are your best buys.

  • Price: $478 pair
  • Type: 2-way bi-amped active monitors
  • Frequency Response: 42Hz – 40kHz
  • Drivers: 1” kevlar tweeter and 7” woofer
  • Output power: 145W
  • Website: www.krkmusic.com

M-Audio BX5-D3 – best pro features for a non-pro price

The M-Audio BX5-D3s offer a fair few pro features for an undoubtedly ‘non pro’ price

OK, the BX5-D3’s don’t boast the biggest low-end frequency response – the 5” woofer is one of the smallest in this ‘7 best budget studio monitors 2021’ guide. But they are among the cheapest monitors here and do boast a number of features that punch above that price tag.

A rear bass port helps give the low-end more clarity, and extra controls include an Acoustic Space setting to adjust, depending on how far away from the back wall you position the speakers. A front LED helps you position the monitor angles by shining more brightly and will also do the same “when you’re located in the perfect listening spot”. However, this spot is already somewhat wider thanks to that tweeter-based waveguide. Like the square design on the JBL’s above, this helps scatter the higher frequencies, so widening this sweet spot. This means you should have no problems finding an optimal listening position.

As you can see then, that’s a fair few pro features for an undoubtedly ‘non pro’ price, making these exceptional value speakers, especially useful as a secondary pair.

  • Price: $298 pair
  • Type: 2-way bi-amped active monitors
  • Frequency Response: 42Hz – 40kHz
  • Drivers: 1” kevlar tweeter and 5” woofer
  • Output power: 100W
  • Website: www.m-audio.com

Presonus Eris E8XT – best budget sound for a medium space

The extra asking price of the Presonus Eris E8XTs gets you more definition for a pro sound with an edge

As with the KRKs above, we’re stepping up in price again to see what you can get for a little more outlay. These are the largest 8” woofer models in the Presonus Eris XT range – and indeed in this roundup. Again though, there are other model sizes in the range to suit all budgets, including 5.25” and 7” woofer models. And given these are the biggest speakers here, you won’t be surprised to learn that the frequency range covers the lowest end at 35Hz, nor that the power output is among the highest. 

Presonus has its own waveguide technology called EBM (Elliptical Boundary Modeled). This time it’s an oval design around the tweeter that does a great job of dispersion and sweet spot widening. Other features include Low-cut, Mid, and High controls to tune the speakers to your space, plus a 3-way Acoustic Space control to adjust, depending on whether you have the speakers close to a wall or corner.

Sure, you’ll need more room for a pair – these are easily suited to medium-sized spaces – but the extra asking price gets you more definition for a pro sound with an edge, and certainly pays you back in terms of accuracy and power. And if you have a smaller space and budget, we’d also easily recommend the 5XTs ($298).

  • Price: $520 pair
  • Type: 2-way bi-amped active monitors
  • Frequency Response: 35Hz – 20kHz
  • Drivers: 1” silk dome tweeter and 8” woven composite woofer
  • Output power: 140W
  • Website: www.presonus.com

Yamaha HS5 – best budget sound and accuracy

Get the famous white speaker from Yamaha at a budget price

The iconic white Yamaha woofer has been a mainstay in studio monitoring thanks to the love-it-or-hate-it NS10 and its “if it sounds good on an NS10, it must be good” philosophy. Whatever your thoughts on that, getting a pair of Yamahas for less than $400 seems like a steal. It also turns out that these deliver much more than that price hints at. 

You know the score in this ‘7 best budget studio monitors 2021’ guide by now. The ‘5’ in the speaker’s title refers to the driver size and, in this case, bigger models are also available with the HS7 ($640) and HS8 ($720). Features include Room Control filters: a low shelf to cut low-frequency distortion when the speakers are close to a wall, and a high trim to help liven up or soften the response depending on how ‘live’ your room is.

These controls can, to some extent, help compensate for the lack of low end inherent with a speaker of this size, although the HS5s deliver both surprising clout and accuracy considering their diminutive nature – great imaging, detail, and separation. We’d have no problem recommending these if you are on a budget or have space issues, or either of their older sisters should neither constraint apply. 

  • Price: $400 pair
  • Type: 2-way bi-amped active monitors
  • Frequency Response: 54Hz – 30kHz
  • Drivers: 1” tweeter and 5” woofer
  • Output power: 170W
  • Website: https://usa.yamaha.com