Ten active studio monitors under $1,000

In this line of work 'we are only as good as what we hear' and "invest in quality monitoring before anything else" is common advice. Of course, some of us have financial limits to our gear investments and work within our means. With that in mind we asked the Gearslutz community for their favourite studio monitors under $1000 (USD) and here is what they recommend - in this case, from from least to most expensive.



The incredibly affordable LSR305 from the speaker masters at JBL has been making an impact since its release in 2015 and has been frequently recommended by our members. The new LSR 3-series speakers were developed with the knowledge JBL gathered from their flagship M2 speakers, a floor-standing/soffit-mountable reference monitor designed to meet the high demands of world-class production facilities. The LSR305 is the little brother of the LSR 3 series, featuring a rear-ported cabinet with 5” woofer, a 1” tweeter with JBL’s trademark waveguide, a 43Hz-24kHz frequency range, 2 x 41W amplifiers, detented level control, selectable -10/+4 dB input sensitivity and XLR and 1/4”connectors. It also comes with frequency adjustments for lows and highs (-2/0/+2 dB). In case you are filling a bigger room and/or you need more power and low end, the bigger LSR308 is a good choice that will still keep costs in check. Regardless of which model you end up with, the LSR 3 will still deliver a ton of bang for very few bucks.


Equator Audio D5

Equator took the pro audio world by surprise a few years ago when they introduced their 'D' series of monitors and have since received high praise from the GS community, with the smaller and more affordable D5 finding its way into many of our users’ studios. Featuring a concentric design where the 1” high frequency driver is placed in the middle of the 5.25” woofer for ultimate coherency, the D5 has a frequency response that goes from 53Hz to 20kHz (±3dB), 2 x 50W amplifiers to deliver up to 103 dB SPL, an all-wood front ported cabinet, XLR and TRS connectors and input sensitivity adjustment. Both the D5 and D8 are fine-tuned with DSP and equipped with a three-position 'Boundary' voicing that optimizes the frequency response according to the desired placement in the room and adding some flexibility. Position “1” allows for corner placement, pos “2” is for 'near the wall' and pos “3” is for 'freestanding' positioning. Equator also includes thermal and electrical protection systems and a peak limiter to protect the drivers, so your investment is very safe from accidental overloads. They are also offered with optional isolation pads, and all these things together make a very attractive package.

 Eris E8

PreSonus Eris E8

PreSonus has entered the studio monitor arena a few years ago, with the impressive Sceptre S6/S8 receiving a lot of praise but unfortunately they're above the scope of this present list in terms of cost - fortunately for us all PreSonus also offers a more affordable studio monitor with the interesting 'Eris' series. These speakers are quite different from the Sceptre and feature a more common two-way design with the tweeter and woofer lined up vertically instead of the 'concentric' approach found on the Sceptre. The Eris E8 presents a front-ported cabinet equipped with an 8” woofer, a 1” tweeter, 75W + 65W amps, a frequency response from 35Hz to 22kHz, RCA unbalanced inputs and balanced inputs on XLR or 1/4” TRS sockets. It also brings controls for high frequency tweaking (±6dB shelf above 4.5kHz), midrange (±6dB peak at 1kHz), low frequency cutoff (flat, 60 and 80Hz) and an “acoustic space” switch (0/-2/-4dB) that compensates the bass boosts on unruly rooms or when the monitors are close to walls or corners. If your budget is really tight and/or a small room is something you can’t escape, PreSonus offers the smaller Eris E5 speakers, which should retain all the sonic quality but with slightly less low frequency information and a reduced loudness.


Yamaha HS7

The HS series of monitors have been very successful since their release over a decade ago and are a recurrent name when “monitors on a budget” is the topic of the discussion. In 2014 Yamaha updated the HS line-up with the HS7, a monitor that sits between the bigger HS8 and the smaller HS5. It features the same design of its siblings, with the trademark white cone and black rear-ported cabinet reminiscent of the old NS-10s. Despite the “seven” on its name, this studio monitor comes with a 6.5” woofer, a 1” tweeter, 60 + 35W amplifiers, a volume knob with a center detent at 4 dB, XLR and TRS connectors, high-frequency trim (shelf at 2 kHz with -2/0/+2 dB options) and a low-shelf with 0/-2/-4 dB at 500Hz called 'Room Control' which can be helpful to tame the low end when monitoring in smaller rooms. The HS7 goes from a low 43 Hz all the way up to 30 kHz (±10 dB) and sets a nice balance between the HS8 and HS5, making it a very enticing option for setups of any size.

 C-Box 2

Abacus C-Box 2

From Nordenham, Germany comes the small company Abacus, an industrial electronics developer that dates back to the early 1980s that recently launched a new audio speaker manufacturing enterprise. The C-Box is an incredibly lightweight (2.2 kg) monitor with a sealed box design, 4” woofer, 1” tweeter, 2 x 25W amplifiers and an impressive frequency response that starts at 20kHz and goes all the way down to 35Hz - Abacus attributes this exceptional range to its special crossover design. It also features volume and bass adjustment knobs on the back and the audio input is provided by a RCA unbalanced connector. Even though the C-BOX was originally designed as a general use speaker for domestic non-professional applications, GS members have stumbled across them on their relentless pursuits for gear and it seems like they scored a winner as this little speaker keeps getting mentioned on our “small, affordable yet great sounding monitor” threads. Worth a look!

 20/20BAS V3

Event Electronics 20/20BAS V3

Event has arrived at the third iteration of their entry-level line of active monitors which debuted over 20 years ago. The 20/20 'BAS' V3 is a relatively big monitor, boasting a 7.1” woofer, 1.5” tweeter, 120W + 80W amplifiers, a front-ported design, a frequency response from 35Hz to 20kHz (±2dB) and it gets quite loud with up 105 dB SPL available. On the rear panel it features a gain control from -12 to +12 dB, high and low frequency shelves from -3 to +3 dB, a voltage selector, a big vertical heatsink on the right side, balanced XLR and unbalanced RCA inputs. Event also included thermal and current protection to keep the monitors safe from unexpected environmental harm. If you’re looking for a bigger monitor capable of substantially reaching down into the low frequencies with high output levels the 20/20BAS V3 should definitely be on your watch list.

 SRP 400

Sonodyne SRP 400

India-based loudspeaker manufacturer Sonodyne brings its established quality to an affordable price point with the SRP 400, the second smallest monitor of the SRP line of studio monitors. The SRP 400 is a compact speaker with a front-ported design, featuring a 4.5” woofer, 1” tweeter, 2 x 25W amplifiers, 75Hz-22kHz (±2dB) frequency response and up to 100 dB of SPL, which is quite impressive given its small-ish size. A power switch and a volume control are conveniently located on the front, while the back of the speaker houses switches for the 100Hz low-cut filter, bass tilt (-2/-4/-6dB at 100Hz), high frequency tilt (-2dB at 4kHz), and features TRS and XLR inputs. Sonodyne has quickly built a solid reputation in the community and the SRP 400 won’t disappoint for a speaker of its size, but if budget is not a problem and more low end power is required the bigger SRP 500, 600 and 800 should definitely be considered.

 Alpha 65

Focal Alpha 65

Focal’s entry-level line of monitors brings the acclaimed sound of this revered manufacturer to a price point that more people will be able to afford, and that's good news! The Alpha 65 is the mid-range entry of the series, equipped with a 6.5” woofer, a 1” tweeter featuring Focal’s trademark “inverted dome” design, a frequency response of 50Hz-22kHz (±3dB), and 70W + 35W amplifiers on a rigid cabinet with two frontal ports. The back of this speaker offers two knobs for low (±6dB) and high (±3dB) frequencies and shelving filters at 300Hz and 4.5kHz respectively, which should help with adjusting the sound to the user’s taste and room/placement conditions. It also features automatic standby and accepts two audio sources on RCA (unbalanced) and XLR (balanced) input connectors. The Alpha series has quickly earned a great reputation in this community and it’s an increasingly popular line of speakers that further establishes Focal as one of the market leading studio monitor brands. The Alpha 65 should be the more “universal” model of the series given its size and specifications, but also look for the Alpha 50 and 80, which can be equally great choices depending on the budget, usage and room size.


Eve Audio SC205

One of the most innovative monitors of recent years, Eve Audio’s SC line of speakers pack in a lot of technological breakthroughs to offer a very fresh take on monitors. The SC205 is the second smallest of the SC line, presenting a rear-ported cabinet with a 5” woofer, an 'AMT' '1' tweeter, 2 x 50W amplifiers, a frequency response of 53Hz to 21kHz (-3dB), and it goes pretty loud for its relatively small size too with up to 101 dB SPL. The SC205 provides holes on the rear and bottom for wall and stand mounting and it also features automatic standby for power saving. Things get interesting when you see that these speakers have a USB port that can connect directly to a computer, offering pristine A/D conversion through Burr-Brown converters and substantial DSP to adjust the sound, which is easily accessed through the front knob. There are a number of different filter settings to accommodate different room placements and usage scenarios. If you don’t need the digital connection you can use the analog inputs (balanced XLR and unbalanced RCA) and you still get to use the useful DSP features, which is clever. A very interesting choice if you’re after a small but capable and versatile monitor, but also consider its bigger brother - the SC207, in case you’ve got a bigger room and a bigger wallet!


Dynaudio BM5 MKIII

This one barely made into our list but thanks to recent price drops we can include the third generation of this acclaimed Danish monitor. Dynaudio have partnered with IsoAcoustics to deliver a monitor that allows for perfect placement thanks to the ISO-L8R155 speaker stand, which enables height and angle adjustments to best fit each one’s working environment. This mounting system also decouples the monitors from their resting surfaces, enabling them to break free from vibrations and therefore prevent undesired interferences to the sound. The BM5A MKIII features specs that are similar to the previous MkII, with a 7” woofer, a 1.1” soft-dome tweeter, a slim bass reflex port at the back of the cabinet, 50 + 50W amplifiers for up to 118 dB SPL, a frequency response from 42 Hz to 24 kHz (±3bd), a +4/0/-10 input sensitivity switch, and XLR and RCA inputs for balanced and unbalanced connections. Dynaudio have also included high (shelf, -1/0/+1 dB), mid (notch, 0/-2/-4) and low frequency (shelf +2/0/-2) filters to help tune the speakers to the room (or for console meterbridge use in the case of the mid notch). These also have a low-cut filter (60 or 80 Hz to accommodate a subwoofer), an automatic standby option, an input for a remote volume control (sold separately), a thermal protection system on the amps and a limiter to keep the drivers safe. The BM5A series was already a proven and reliable choice of speakers so it’s safe to say the same about the MKIII - a great set of monitors and now with quite an impressive stand, at a superb new low price.

So there's our list - what are you using in your studio? Do you have a big or a small room? Are you recording, mixing, or all of the above? What are some of the challenges you face? Please share your setup and thoughts with us!

If you have a bit more cash to spare please take a look at these ten monitors between $1000 and $2000.