If you are unfamiliar with a music studio or its equipment, then you might be surprised to learn that a studio monitor is not like a computer monitor. Essentially, they are a more powerful speaker for professionals, artists, and freelancers alike.
Because they are more high-quality, they can be more expensive, but we have found some of the best studio monitors under 200 dollars that you can get today. We also included a quick and easy buying guide to help you find the best budget studio monitors out there.
How to choose the best studio monitor.
Range of frequency
If you have any experience with the specs of speakers, then you probably already know about how the frequency range comes into play, but if not, here is the quick version: the range of sound is measured in Hertz (Hz) and most regular speakers can have a range from 100 to 20,000 Hz.
Most studio monitors are roughly the same, but generally, the larger the range, the more high-quality the sound is. The lower number (100) represents the low tones, aka the bass, while the higher number (20,000) represents the high tones, aka the tenor, and the lower or higher the number, the more likely the speaker can handle those tones.
The max decibels
Another factor that applies to regular speakers, decibels (dB) refers to how loud the monitor can get to. The average max decibel a monitor can reach is usually between 90 and 120 dB; for reference, a hairdryer makes between 70 and 80 dB while a car horn makes between 105 and 115 dB.
There are many expensive and even some cheap studio monitors that have special controls so that you can alter the dB of whatever is coming through the speakers too; high tones and/or low tones.
Field of design
Because they are designed to be more fitting towards you and your needs for your studio, there are three main types of fields that monitors use: near, mid, and far.
Near-field models are possibly the best for studios, depending on the size, while far-field ones can be excellent for larger ones and even stage use; needless to say, mid-field designs are for areas that are in-between these two categories.
Unlike regular speakers, you might want to think about the material used in the driver and/or subwoofer before thinking about the size. Drivers that use a cloth or a paper-like material are generally found in cheap studio monitors.
However, you might be able to find one or two that use fiberglass, kevlar, or polypropylene. These can be heavier but tend to be more durable and last longer. On the other hand, lighter materials usually can produce sound better when it comes to high tones.
Contrary to what you may have been told, you will not always need the speaker with the highest wattage (W). If you will be using your monitor in a small room or studio, a monitor with only 50W or less would be just fine if not perfect, especially if you are on a power budget.
The larger the room or studio, the more watts you would most likely need, and the larger ones can use around 100W or more.
Things to look for that differentiate these products.
There are two main types of monitors: active/powered and passive/unpowered. Active monitors are the go-to for at-home artists/studios. Unlike passive monitors, all of the components are in one unit. Passive models are usually designed in 2 parts: the power supply and the speaker portion itself.
What are the best ways to use a studio monitor?
When getting a new one, you should first make sure to check that your monitor is suitable for your studio when it comes to the technical aspects, the size, the sound and volume, and more.
Once you have it and it is properly installed, you may want to try cleaning it on a semi-regular basis to prevent dust and dirt build-up. Another good way to prevent premature aging to your monitor is by not using it at max volume on a regular basis if possible.
Studio monitors vs. regular speakers.
Regular speakers can be a more affordable option, but even the best budget studio monitors can have more features and controls and better sound quality.
Since some of them do not use common connections (an AUX cable and/or Bluetooth), you might think it is easier to just get a regular speaker, but a studio monitor can make all the difference when it comes to getting better at a hobby or making a name for yourself in the music or any audio industry.
Prerequisites for using this type of product.
There are some things that you may want or need to get if you are either getting your studio set up or upgrading your current set up like a controller, isolation pads (for controlling the sound direction), and more.
Top 6 studio monitors
This is one of the few monitors that comes in both pairs and singles, but only with certain similar models. This set, like many others, comes only in black and has all of the controls conveniently in the front for you to use in a heartbeat. The acoustic controls are on the back, however, along with the power and input plugs.
This is also one of the few monitors that you can find that connects with Bluetooth, too. In terms of the specs, it is pretty average with the frequency range being between 80 to 20,000 Hz and the max volume being around 100 dB.
You will probably like the wattage (50), the woven composite/silk dome driver, and the fact that it is a near-field model, making it a good piece to use in your personal studio. They are also only a few inches in length, height, and width, too, making them even better if you have a limited space to work with.
These monitors are a little bit bigger than the last ones, a little more expensive, and a little less popular than the last ones, but you might like them for the slight bass boost that they have. We found that these do have a bit stronger of a body, too.
Unlike the last model, you might find these a little less handy since they do not come with any extra controls beyond the power and volume controls. You also might not like the fact that the headphone output is on the back of the monitor, meaning you will have to either have them close by to fit your current headphones or get a pair of extra-long headphones.
This does have a little bit more of a frequency range (70 to 30,000 Hz) and less wattage (around 42W), making it a good option if you want a little more sound capability without consuming more power.
This is one of the few single monitors that come in a shiny dark silver/black instead of a matte color. It can also come in several sizes, 5, 6, and 8 inches, and it has 3 different styles: the original, the newer version, and the newer version with a limited edition skin (white with multiple trippy designs).
You might notice that this model does collect dust more easily because of the shiny design, but it is pretty easy to clean by just wiping it down with a dry cloth.
This has more controls and ports than the previous models, including several volume controls for different sections of sound. This model does use a lot more power too; it can use up to 127W but averages at around 87W.
For a near-field monitor, these have pretty good potential if you need to use it at louder volumes; their max volume is around 108 dB. The frequency also a little better when it comes to the bass; the range it has is between 49 and 20,000 Hz.
These are one of the more affordable speakers that have a few controls on the front (volume and the audio jacks) and the back (the inputs, outputs, power button, and balance controls).
The design is one of the more unique features since it is one of the few rounded ones out there. The only flat parts of the monitors are the bottoms and the fronts and backs.
Like many of the others, this model uses a soft material for the driver, is only a few inches tall, wide, and long, and has a pretty average max volume (104 dB). It is a little bit lighter than some of the other models, but despite the rounded design, it stays standing almost effortlessly.
The wattage is higher than some of the others we have seen so far, being around 30W per speaker for a total of 60W for this pair. The biggest issue you may have with it is the standby feature that is built into it that turns itself on from time to time, something that may confuse you when you go to turn them on again the next time you use them.
This is one of the older models that has a non-neutral color on the driver (yellow), something you may never find in a monitor like this. Unfortunately, they are often out of stock, so if you do like the specs we are about to mention, then you will probably want to keep an eye out for when one becomes available.
This model has a max volume is around 106 dB, the frequency range is around 45 to 35,000 Hz, it uses around 50W, and there are controls in the back for both high and low tones, making it a little more suitable for you if you like above-average quality.
It is a bit bigger and heavier than most of the other monitors out there, so you may need to make some room for it, but they can stay in place pretty well if you are prone to bumping into them.
The bass can be a little tricky at higher volumes, but the model does come with a mounting bracket so that you can install it high up on a wall, corner, beam, or other similar location with ease.
The last on the list, this model can come in black, wood panel, and white (depending on the size), and it can come in 5, 6, 8, or 10 inches depending on the color and availability; 10 inches and white seems to be less available than others.
It is a bit of an older model, and the smaller-sized controls are on the back, meaning you will probably have to turn the monitor around instead of simply feeling for the knobs and/or switches. Although, this is one of the few models that does come with rubber feet so you do not have to worry about them moving or sliding around from the noise.
Between the power (250W), max volume (100 dB), silk/polypropylene parts, and frequency range (50 to 20,000 Hz), you will find that this has one of the higher and better-supported bass power here.
Unfortunately, it does give out pretty easily when played at high volumes, so you probably want to avoid doing that even though the max volume is one of the lowest out there.
Out of this list of the best studio monitors under 200 dollars, the winner would have to be the third product: the JBL Professional 305P MkII Next-Generation 5" 2-Way Powered Studio Monitor. It has one of the widest frequency ranges, a high max volume, it is one of the most powerful, and it comes in several sizes and colors.
Compared to the other models, it has no major technical faults, and the only major downside is that you might have to clean it a little more often than the other speakers. Because of this, it is possibly one of the more reliable and high-quality speakers on this list that you can get today.