There are three basic reasons anyone would ever need to buy a pair of decent studio monitors. You’re either looking to record and mix a big sound project, record your own voice and guitar at home, or simply upgrade your existing ordinary speaker system to something that packs more of a punch (and looks good getting the job done).

Don’t be swayed by sales, and a long list of specs on the packaging when you’re looking for a good product. Read on to find out which set of monitors best suits your recording needs with a budget under $500.

Also, take a look at our picks of laptops for music production/recording.

Tannoy Reveal 802 Studio Monitor

Pro: Affordable, responsive deep bass, clear sound
Con: Very faint noise in the recording

For this price tag, I was impressed by the solidness of the bass on these Tannoy monitors. Without having to crank them up, you can feel the bass through a couple of walls and floor levels. The sound was clear and quite accurate as well. Now, I’m no sound Nazi, but I randomly thought to listen hard for any unnecessary noise in my recordings, and I picked up a faint noise. It’s totally undetectable though if you’re not going to actively sniff it out.

JBL LSR 305 Studio Monitor

Pro: Affordable, great sound
Con: Cables are substandard

This pair of monitors sounds amazing for the price point, which is expected of anything by JBL. If you’re into mixing pop or rock, they’re especially good as the sound is very clean. They look pretty good too, only they tend to show collected dust quite easily for some reason. If you’re considering these monitors, better go ahead and get the bundle because it comes with all the cabling you need for a wide range of devices, so you can plug an play right out of the box.

Event 20/20BAS Monitor

Pro: Affordable, wide frequency range, good volume, natural sound
Con: Low-end focus tends to mask some of the more quiet, mid to high sounds

If you find that your music is more on the Hip Hop and RnB side of the spectrum, you’ll want to go for these monitors that truthfully advertise a “Big Ass Sound (BAS)”. For the price, you get a solid and clear low-end focus. This, however, will tend to muddle the higher ranges a bit. What it lacks in mid to high range clarity, it makes up for in volume and natural sound.

Yamaha HS8 Studio Monitors

Pro: Clean, natural sound, packs a lot of volume, no need for a subwoofer
Con: Really deep bass will sound lacking

I think anything with the name Yamaha carved into it just screams “most bang for your buck”, and these studio monitors are evidence of this theory. These give you that clean, natural sound without anything sounding too bright or annoying. If you’re into really deep bass, however, you may find that it falls a little short. These are versatile enough to be used for both recording and personal listening, with no need for a subwoofer. It also delivers very well in terms of volume.

Avantone Active MixCube

Pro: Very cute, good for low-fi listening when your ears are tired
Con: Limited low range, has a constant hum, picks up cell phone interference

You’d probably want to just have these around for their looks. They look really nice to just chuck in with your hi-fi setup. Although having a pair of low-fi monitors does have its use for when you’ve been listening to too much detail and your ears become tired and desensitized. While the constant hum is not super bothersome, you will have to put up with it in a very quiet room. Oh, and keep your mobile phones far, far away when you’re working with these.

Adam Audio ADAM Audio A5X Powered Monitor

Pro: Excellent range, clarity, and power
Con: It’s $50 over your $500 budget

I know I said everything on this list is under $500, but come on, what’s another $50 out of your pocket for this piece of total studio monitor heaven? It gives you an awesome treble extension, bass power, distortion-free headroom, and better clarity.

Dynaudio Acoustics BM6 mkIII Studio Monitor

Pro: Clear sound, compact, durable, easy to use, quality build
Con: Kind of hard to find, and it’s $150 over your $500 budget

Just had to throw these in here. The sound these bad boys produce is flawless. What you hear is exactly what is captured during recording, so when it doesn’t sound good blame the musician, not the monitors.

*Any prices mentioned in the article were at the time of publishing and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on or at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.


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