In addition to being a private violin teacher, Alecia started writing music-related articles 3 years ago and has been enjoying this experience greatly. Loves quilting and scrapbooking in her free time.
Marcus has a vast experience in digital audio and sound design. Thanks to his knowledge, he actively helps musicians with technical problems, improving their audio quality and even promoting their tracks so that thousands of listeners could enjoy some really good music.
Last updated: June 30, 2021
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If we’re honest, top-dollar studio monitors are better. They have better functionality, such as power, dynamic range, and advanced EQ. If you don’t have the budget for it, though, you can still pick up a fantastic studio monitor for under $300.
When looking for a good studio monitor in this price range, some of the features you should look for include a wide frequency range and built-in amps (active monitors) for the most accurate sound reproduction. Did you know that lower-quality monitors could be an advantage? They help you hear what your music will sound on lower-quality audio systems—which is what most people have.
The Presonus Eris E4.5 studio monitors are a top beginner option. They have a decent sound and performance for their price. The two-way active 4.5” speakers are stylish and pretty loud. With 100dB SPL, you can crank the speakers up for the party. They also feature a blue-on-black weave that gives a more constant dispersion pattern across the frequency range.
The Presonus E4.5 has a 70HZ frequency response, which isn’t the best if you intend to do heavy bass production. Compared to its big brother, the E8, which goes as low as 35Hz, it really doesn’t shine in the low-end. On the bright side, the monitors don’t take up much space, and they have a dome tweeter for high-end frequencies that make them produce clear sounds from different angles.
All considered these entry-level studio monitors are a perfect choice for the bedroom producer or home studio maven. They are targeted at anyone looking for proper studio monitors that won’t make them break the bank. They are very easy to use, and they sound pretty darn good for the money.
What are our favorite features?
Besides sounding great, the studio monitors are good-looking. We loved that they give an accurate and flat sound, which is basically what you need from a studio monitor. You can tune them for your room with its flexible audio tuning controls. We also loved that the monitors don't suffer from popping, which is common with low-end monitors. They have a 'soft-start feature that eliminates the popping when they are powered up.
What could be better?
Presonus covers all the basics with the E4.5 studio monitors, but we didn't like the cabinet build quality. It felt cheap. The cables are also pretty mediocre. We also weren't satisfied with the bass response. It can't match that of larger speakers. Just don't expect it to rock the place. We also realized that the monitors tend to smooth out sound, which results in very poor real-world mix quality.
This is our premium choice for all the right reasons. The Tannoy Gold 8 is a powerhouse with 300 watts of power and a proprietary 8-inch dual-concentric point source technology. The monitors are designed to deliver accurate sound quality with high definition.
The monitors distinguish themselves with the next-generation dual-concentric technology, which makes them deliver unmatched musical articulation and impeccable dynamics. They also boast a transducer-matched-bi-amplified design. Each of the monitors is equipped with class AB amplifiers for both the low and high-frequency drivers. They are the ones behind the clear, detailed sound with very little distortion. When the class A amps combine with Class B amps, they deliver clean, consistent power at any volume.
What’s more, the Gold 8 monitors use minimal crossover points to deliver an accurate real-world sound. The crossover points also reduce potential phase problems. As if that’s enough, the monitors have a host of versatile features like input trim, treble, and bass controls. They help you dial in the perfect sound easily. With the continually active XLR and TRS inputs, you can connect up to 2 audio sources simultaneously. The icing on the cake is the power-saving mode that will turn off the studio monitors when not in use.
Overall, the Gold 8 monitors are a fantastic option for recording professionals looking for high-quality yet affordable monitors that they can use in broadcast or post-production environments.
Why are we impressed?
At its price point, there is so much to love about the Gold 8 monitors. The first thing that made us fall in love with the monitors is the tonal characters and harmonic structure of its sound. They deliver an exceptionally natural performance with a superb wide imaging 'sweet spot.' We particularly enjoyed its low-frequency performance in a small room. You will also appreciate the monitors' flat frequency response and controlled dispersion when recording, editing, mixing, and mastering.
What negatives must you be aware of?
The Gold 8 is like the star of budget studio monitors. We were unable to pin down any substantial issue that needed improvement with the Tannoy Gold 8. We even tried to listen for a hissing sound, which is a common problem with budget monitors, but the speakers are dead quiet. Any experienced musician or artist would attest that the sound produced by these speakers is unreal. They offer excellent performance for the price.
JBL has a long line of top-quality studio monitors, and the 305P is one of their latest gems. The monitors are a host of impressive features, including the brand’s famous Image Control Waveguide that gives it a wider sound stage than many other monitors. The monitors also have a bigger hit in the low end. They have an exceptional sound both at medium and high volume.
These monitors stand out among their peers because JBL has incorporated some of the technology they have used in their high-end models. The double-flared port feature is one such technology. It is responsible for the deep bass in the low-end. Their build quality is top-notch and pretty much on par with other models by JBL.
The multiple tuning options make the monitors highly versatile. The options allow you to find the ideal configuration for your home studio or space. The JBL 305P monitors are ideal for anyone looking to work with bass-heavy tracks. The low-end is pretty impressive. The studio monitors are also perfect for anyone who has a large studio space as they offer a broader sweet spot.
What do we love it for?
The most exciting feature for us on these monitors was the exceptional low-frequency response. While the bass is not as overbearing as that of commercial speakers, the bass is pretty satisfying. Especially when mixing on DJ gear. You will enjoy how well it maintains the midst and highs. The solid built quality is another impressive feature. The monitors have a robust cabinet that houses all their components. You wouldn’t have to worry about incidental damage.
What were we disappointed with?
The 305P monitors are a superb budget option that gives a big bang for the buck, but they are not perfect. JBL put much emphasis on the low-end performance, which some die-hard audiophiles do not appreciate. Also, they only sound great at medium and high volumes. When played at a low volume, the speakers produce an audible hiss. This is a major deal-breaker for trained listeners who prefer to play music at low volumes.
Behringer is a world-famous brand known for superior quality. The Eurolive F1320D is one of their powerful studio monitors that packs a ton of features with a very accessible price point. The monitor is designed specifically for stage use. You can set it on a pole or on the floor, and the controls and logos are conveniently positioned for easy use on the floor.
The Eurolive F1320D is impressively loud for its size. Any bluegrass player, electric guitarist, vocalist, or any other musician would appreciate its loudness. It is a top preference for many because of its versatility. Its EQ controls allow you to personalize it to your taste as well as emphasize certain frequencies.
You can use the 2-way monitor speaker system for both live and playback applications. Its revolutionary class-D amplifier technology delivers exceptional sound quality and superb sonic performance. It also has an incredibly wide frequency bandwidth and dynamic range.
The monitor is the prime choice for any musician who plays small venue gigs looking for an affordable yet powerful stage monitor that they can tweak to their liking. Plus, it is easily portable, thanks to its ultra-lightweight build.
What are our favorite features?
The Eurolive F1320D is an underrated unit with excellent value for money. We were pleased to discover that it is a great stage monitor with an easy-to-use feedback suppressor. Two of them are enough to handle up to 100 people comfortably. The monitor has a strong and clear bass and is perfect for indoor use. We were also impressed by the monitor's ability to accept either mic or line-level signals. This means you can use it for small and portable 'speaker on a stick' PA systems.
What could be better?
The Eurolive F1320D is the ultimate affordable studio monitor for stage use, but it is a bit lacking in some aspects. First off, we didn't like the monitor has limited power. Being rated at 300w/200, we didn't expect much from it, but we were hoping it could at least handle loud stages. However, if you intend to use it in small or medium-size venue stages, you have nothing to worry about.
Yamaha is a household name that doesn’t need an introduction. The HS5 is the smallest speaker in the brand’s HS series, which was aimed at both professional and beginner producers looking to deliver a balanced sound at a reasonable price. The speaker sounds great with crisp and clear mids and highs.
The HS5 also has the bi-amp design that its big brother, the HS8, has. This means both its woofer and tweeter have a dedicated amp. Therefore, you can count on it for that flat clear sound.
What’s more, you can make the most out of the monitor in any kind of studio space with flexible tuning options. You have the choice of adjusting the room control for the lower end or the high-trim control for the upper end. This choice allows you to tweak the sound of the monitor according to your studio’s environment.
Since the speaker offers a very neutral and flat response, it is ideal for any musician looking to mix and master their creations. It can help in pinpointing faults in mixes. The monitor is also a perfect size for small and medium-sized studios. Its frequency response covers both the high and low-end pretty well.
What stands out?
The first thing we liked about the HS5 is its understated yet striking design and premium build quality. The speaker looks sleek and refined. Its style won’t embarrass you. Plus, it feels solid and resilient. Incidental damage will be the least of your worries with this monitor. We also liked how easy it was to pinpoint mistakes when mixing with this speaker. This is a quality that so many low-end monitors lack.
What cons did we manage to find?
The HS5 does sound fantastic, but it is not perfect. Not all audiophiles are impressed by its flat response. Especially those used to normal Hi-Fi systems. Also, we found that the speaker only shines in the mids and highs and is quite lacking in the low-end. If you work with bass-heavy music or enjoy music with such qualities, you would have to invest in a dedicated subwoofer to boost the lows.
Yet another powerful, incredibly versatile, and great-sounding Behringer on our list. The Behringer Eurolive B110D is a lightweight and compact studio monitor that delivers exceptional low-distortion power and unparalleled versatility. It boasts a super-efficient design that delivers powerful sonic performance. Its flexible front-end offers optimum freedom and convenience.
The Behringer Eurolive B110D can handle just about anything you throw at it thanks to its ultra-low noise mic or line input that has dedicated volume control and clip LED. It also features an extra line output that allows you to connect with other speakers. The monitor sets itself apart with an integrated sound processor and a dedicated 2-band EQ that work to shape the sound and control the system for the best sound quality.
The monitor is one of the best portable options, perfect for the musician or producer on the move. It is also ideal for live sound owing to its solid bass and its crystal-clear Hi-Fi reproduction.
What makes it stand out?
We fell madly in love with the price and size of these monitors. They are a perfect lightweight powered monitor with a sound loud enough for small stages or studio spaces. You will appreciate its effective tone controls on the rear that allow you to tune them according to the environment in your studio or stage. Another thing that blew our socks off was the clarity of these 300watt beauties. We played the keyboards, guitar and did vocals with it, and it sounded amazing.
Which disadvantages must you keep in mind?
We really loved the sound of these monitors. However, we were drawn back by their inability to handle bass well. Only vocalists and guitarists can make the most out of them. We recommend you get some subwoofers to boost the bass if you are into heavy bass kind of music. Also, we noticed that every once in a while, one of the speakers produces a pop sound which is so annoying. The pop sound could be an outside signal.
Things to Consider
There’s more to buying the best studio monitor than just considering sound quality and representation. This segment has all the buying advice you need to make the best purchase, from the advantages of studio monitors under $300 to the important features that you must look out for.
Advantages of studio monitors under $300
A studio monitor should give you a true uncolored and transparent representation of the music you are recording. While it’s hard to accomplish that at the $300 price point, it is not entirely impossible. Studio monitors under $300 will not give you all the benefits of more expensive units as manufacturers tend to scrimp a bit on quality with their lower-end models to make a profit.
Here are some reasons why you shouldn’t be afraid to buy a studio monitor those costs less than $300:
Superb power output- Most of the monitors within the $300 price range have excellent power output. The power output ranges between 25W and 300W depending on the model and brand.
Sound clarity- The majority of the models produce a clear sound throughout their full range. They also offer very minimal sound coloration, giving you a true representation of your music.
Sturdy construction- Monitors under the $300 mark have a robust build. You’d expect them to be flimsy compared to their expensive counterparts, but they really are built to withstand the test of time.
Great tweeter design and construction- Some models do have the best tweeter build that delivers tight focused highs.
Here are some of the features that you should expect from any studio monitor under the 300-dollar mark.
Power configuration is a crucial consideration. It affects the overall sound of the speaker when it comes to the amount of headroom, dynamic range, and volume.
Be sure to go for a studio monitor with a higher wattage as it will allow you to hear clear audio details and be able to make accurate adjustments to the compressors, gates, and limiters.
There are three types of power configuration; single amp. Bi-amp and tri-amp. Be sure to go for monitors that have the bi-amp or tri-amp configuration. They have a better definition and more accurate frequency response compared to their single amp counterparts. This is because they power each speaker individually, allowing each driver to reproduce its dedicated frequency range with high precision.
The wider the frequency range of the studio monitors, the better. A monitor with a wide frequency response range will save you the trouble of having to get a subwoofer to boost its bass. The Tannoy GOLD 8 Powered Studio Monitor is a good example of a monitor with a decent frequency range of 54Hz to 20 kHz.
You can as well choose a studio monitor with a small frequency range then invest in a subwoofer to back up its bass. Monitors with a small range tend to be cheaper.
Maximum peak SPL
This is the highest sound pressure level your studio monitor can handle before the onset of distortion. If you have a small studio space or stage, go for a studio monitor with a maximum peak SPL of 70dB. For a large studio space or stage, the maximum peak SPL should be at least 85dB.
You need to learn how to calibrate your studio monitor to the optimum SPL according to the size of your studio space so you can get the best sound quality out of them when producing music.
Input and Output types
You have to ensure that the inputs offered by the monitor will work with your equipment or musical instruments. Some monitors offer both unbalanced and balanced inputs, while others only offer either.
Some of the most common inputs for studio monitors under 300 dollars include TRS, ¼”, RCA, XLR, and S/PDIF jacks.
The ¼’’ jack is the most basic audio connection. It is an unbalanced connection, also known as a phone plug, that uses a phone patching cord connector. The RCA and TRS both use the phone plug-style connection. However, the TRS uses three conductors instead of just 2.
There are a couple of small studio monitors and a few large ones that come with a ported cabinet. This type of cabinet helps extend the monitor’s frequency response lower, thus producing more bass. As beneficial as it may sound, there’s a downside to it. Ported cabinets don’t have a high sonic accuracy like that of closed cabinets. Closed cabinets provide more accurate monitoring and are the best you can get if you have to place your monitors too close to a wall or in a corner.
Choose a studio monitor that features EQ. It will help you tune it according to the environment in your studio space. Some like the Behringer Eurolive B110D Powered Speaker even come with digital processing that optimizes their performance for your acoustic space.
The size of a studio monitor affects three crucial aspects of its performance; the dynamic range and distortion, bass response, and listening distance. A large studio monitor will give you a dynamic range and less distortion, deeper bass response, and a further listening distance compared to a small monitor. They are more suitable for large rooms because you can place them far away from the listening position and still get a decent continuous sound wave.
If you have a small studio space, go for a small studio monitor for the best sound results. The Presonus 2-Way Near Field Studio Monitor is a perfect example of small speakers for a small studio space.
Some of the top qualities you should look for in a speaker for your home studio include; a wide frequency range, built-in amps, high power wattage, and a high-quality and true, uncolored representation of your music.
Place a pair of studio monitors to form an equilateral triangle with your head when you are seated in your listening position. Ensure they are as far away from you as they are from each other for the clearest stereo image and a highly accurate frequency response.
Yes. Dust can settle on some parts of your speakers leading to damage. Regular cleaning and maintenance are key to keeping your speakers at peak performance throughout.
Choosing the best studio monitor for under 300 dollars can be a daunting process because manufacturers tend to scrimp on quality with their low-end models to make a profit. This, however, does not mean that you cannot find the best pair of studio monitors with 300 bucks. We have reviewed in detail the top 6 best-rated models. Our top pick, the Presonus 2-Way Near Field Studio Monitor, is by far the best home studio monitor under 300 dollars out there.
If you are looking for a stage studio monitor with superb sound quality, the Behringer Eurolive F1320D is your best bet. If you are a DJ, the Yamaha HS5 will suit you best as it is packed with features that make mixing and mastering such a breeze. The Behringer Eurolive B110D is also one of the best DJ studio monitors under 300 because it is highly portable. Any musician always on the move can make the most out of it.