PreSonus Eris E3.5
Kali Audio LP6
Mackie Studio Monitor
If a normal or bluetooth speaker doesn’t do justice to your music, i recommend you get yourself one of those best budget studio monitors. We tested many different models over the years and were able to conclude that the best ones are that follow:
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Which Are The Best Budget Studio Monitors & Speakers?
5. PreSonus Eris E4.5
Contrary to what its name would suggest a studio monitor is essentially a studio speaker for monitoring duties that musicians and producers have. These speakers deliver a clear and flat sound that is not intended to make everything sound good, but it is true to the source and is essential for studio work. However, this kind of equipment can get quite costly as these are specialty devices crafted to perfection, but there are a few perfect budget options that will deliver immense value for their price. One of the most notable is the PreSonus Eris E4.5, coming in with strong build quality, an impressive and clean soundscape, plenty of tones, versatility, and tons of features to top it off.
As a first impression, the PreSonus Eris E4.5 doesn’t look like much, they look like a standard pair of PC speakers with a neutral design. The cabinets are built out of medium-density fiberboard and are pretty simple in terms of design, you will not spot any kind of grille on top of the drivers, however, there will be grilles on the tweeters on top. They are an attractive choice for minimalist people that do not like any flash or eye-catching details, they will fit right into any studio with their dark gray finish. This is also a good sign in the budget range because it means that the company has focused more on performance and quality.
The PreSonus Eris E4.5 features a pair of 2-way active speakers that rock a Class A/B amplification. The amp on each of the speakers delivers 25Watts per speaker, and do not worry about the 4.5-inch size of the drivers as the Kevlar transducers deliver plenty of might and power. On top of the drivers you will find 1-inch ultra-low mass silk dome tweeters, and combined they are capable. In the rear of the left speaker, you will find some interesting features, including an I/O cluster with a balanced TRS and unbalanced RCA inputs. In addition to that, you have acoustic tuning controls with mid and high knobs, plus a low pass filter to complete the package.
Coming to the performance, these speakers are extremely flat, more than I would expect in the budget range. On top of the flat frequency response, right out of the box they have plenty of basses, but thanks to the acoustic controls you can turn it to be balanced. This means that these speakers are very versatile, so you can use them for watching movies and playing games.
4. JBL Professional LSR305
JBL is a known producer of audio equipment, one of the most popular indeed, but it has a reputation of producing audio equipment with consumer focused soundscapes, however, it has a line of excellent studio monitors that deliver plenty of value for their price as well as versatility. The JBL Professional LSR305 is truly an incredible studio monitor and it is definitely one of the best you can get in the price range, with its flat response, incredible clarity, and some audiophile-grade listening experience on top of its monitoring.
Despite rocking a simple and all-black design the JBL Professional LSR305 look pretty good, one of the best looking in this category indeed. They are constructed from a thick medium density fiberboard that rocks a well build quality and are very durable throughout. On the front of the device you will spot an interesting waveguide surrounding the tweeter, and they also serve the function of pushing the sound properly.
Right on the bottom of the tweeter, you will find the driver that is also in black and looks great and has a shine to it. It is worth mentioning that they are quite large and tall, so you will need to find some proper space, but they will look good regardless of the design.
Speaking about the hardware, the JBL Professional LSR305 features a 1-inch soft-dome tweeter with a rolled surround, and the 5-inch drivers pack plenty of punch and power overall, you will feel the air moving around it. The power comes from a Class-D amplifier, exactly 41 Watts RMS, which is pretty good for the price of the device. On the rear of the device, you will spot some interesting controls, such as the HF trim, LF trim, input sensitivity, XLR input, and 1/4-inch TRS input.
Taking a look at most affordable monitors they compromise in the performance department, however, this is not the case with the JBL Professional LSR305. As it delivers a flat and crystal clear, that will provide an impressive monitoring experience and even audiophile listening. The lows are pretty deep without becoming overpowering and whichever way you position these they deliver the same flat response. They are the perfect tool for small studios or home studios, JBL has hit the sweet spot with these.
3. Mackie Studio Monitor
Mackie is a well-known manufacturer of studio monitors for some time now, and it is budget range monitors have been their most notable products, however, this time around the Mackie Studio Monitor comes with an interesting design, that is rare in the studio monitor market. On top of that, these deliver a pretty strong performance, durability, controls, and features. Without further ado, let’s take a closer look at the Mackie Studio Monitor.
Mackie puts itself apart from other companies on the market, with their exterior design, and most of the manufacturers don’t really pay attention to the design of their studio monitors, of course, it is better to have sound quality than looks, but then again looks play a major part in our lives. The Mackie Studio Monitor rocks a pretty simplistic but attractive design, the cabinets are made of pretty strong materials and have a gray paint job, so far so good. What makes these speakers interesting is the bright green highlights around the drivers, tweeters, and controls. It is a pretty playful and interesting look, and you will spot some simple controls on the front of the unit and the others in the rear.
The Mackie Studio Monitor has a pretty standard studio monitor configuration with a 3-inch subwoofer on the bottom and a 1-inch tweeter up top, no waveguides as we saw on the JBL model, however. You might be surprised that this comes with an active amplifier that delivers a power of 50Watts. On the rear, you will spot the I/O cluster, with RCA and 1/4-inch TRS ports that are both balanced and unbalanced. There is a switch on the back of the device that allows you to set the position of the active speaker, that is pretty nice to have.
Performance-wise the Mackie Studio Monitor delivers not the flattest response in the market, however, for the home musician that is starting. Resulting in a pretty good stepping stone, there is some bias in the sound but not anything that will put you off.
If you want a great pair of studio monitors in the budget range, with a decent sound response and attractive design, the Mackie Studio Monitor delivers.
2. Kali Audio LP6
The Los Angeles based audio manufacturer Kali Audio may be a newcomer to the monitoring market. and with their LP6 they hit the jackpot. This excellent and affordable monitor delivers excellent performance that will make you question its price time and time again. It also has wave-guides, low distortion, nice tweeter, plenty of power and nice critical sound.
First off I have to mention that the Kali Audio LP6 is a large speaker measuring about 14-inches tall, 8.75-inches wide, and about 10.25-inches deep. On top of that, just one speaker weighs 15.5-pounds, so you have to take those into consideration before splashing out on these. Aesthetics wise, it is a pretty simple device with a very solid construction, not the most pleasing in terms of looks but they get the job done and that is the most important thing about these.
On the front, you will spot the two-way design featuring the 6.5-inch woofer and the 1-inch soft-dome tweeter, and you will see two ports below each woofer. It is also worth mentioning that the device is bi-amped meaning that the woofer and tweeter have their own internal amplifier of 40Watts.
On the rear of the device, you will spot the two balanced ports consisting of TRS and XLR and an unbalanced RCA port. There is also the volume control, and some controls that are pretty rare in the budget range, for example, the EQ adjustment that you can configure in 8 different settings, that works by changing the placement of the speakers.
In terms of sound performance, the Kali Audio LP6 has a pretty flat response with a pretty alive sound, that is not dull at all. It has a very wide frequency response range, and it is extremely accurate at doing that, even at high volumes the sound doesn’t get distorted at all delivering one of the best monitoring experiences you can get at the budget range.
1. PreSonus Eris E3.5
The best studio monitor for this year comes from PreSonus, this product delivers amazing value for its price, as it combines a powerful and clean response, nice clean design, plenty of features and many more at a very affordable price. It is the smaller sibling of the aforementioned PreSonus Eris E4.5, the Eris E3.5, a true gem in the budget range.
As with the previously mentioned PreSonus Eris’, the Eris E3.5 sport a pretty simplistic but quality design as well, looking very clean with their beautiful cabinet that is amazing. The cabinet is made out of medium-density fiberboard and it is equipped with a resonance-suppressing internal bracing. It is not the largest of the speakers measuring about 8-inches tall and 5.6-inches wide and weighs 12 pounds so you don’t have to worry a lot about its placement. The black vinyl finish with no branding to be an eyesore, this monitor will look good in every studio and house.
In terms of features, the PreSonus Eris E3.5 features a 3.5-inch custom-woven Kevlar woofer up front, and right on top of that, it has a 1-inch ultra-low-mass silk dome tweeters that are standard but good. Each of the speakers put out 50Watts of power thanks to their amps, making it the most powerful for its size and price.
The frequency response is from 80Hz to 20kHz and despite being a budget pick it has my favourite feature in monitors, the soft-start feature, that eliminates the pop sound when you power up the device.
In the performance department, the PreSonus Eris E3.5 delivers the exact same flat and clear response that it’s larger brother had. Pretty clean throughout, even the bass, which had plenty of punch without any distortion, well-balanced before everything, the perfect studio monitor, for budget buyers and for those just starting out.
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