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The Press Desk 8th September 2016 12:53 PM

Ten of the Best Active Studio Monitors under $1,000
 
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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.


 LSR305

JBL LSR305

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.



 D5

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.



 HS7

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.



 SC205

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!



 BM5 MKIII

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.

Diogo C 9th September 2016 02:04 PM

kfhkh

VenVile 4th October 2016 01:54 AM

It's the same names we see popping up, which says a lot to me. These monitors have a solid reputation of quality, bang for buck and reliability. I'm particularly interested in the Eves.

Diogo C 4th October 2016 02:54 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by VenVile (Post 12174859)
It's the same names we see popping up, which says a lot to me. These monitors have a solid reputation of quality, bang for buck and reliability. I'm particularly interested in the Eves.

Me too, that SC205 is definitely on my list. They've just arrived in Brazil and the price is relatively good for our standards.

mervintthomas 7th October 2016 02:15 PM

Hey All,

I like The Fluid Audio F5s. If you have the budget, go for the JBL LSR 305s.

The F5s work well in a small room which does not have much treatment.

<deleted by mod>

Best,
Merv

mininoyz 21st October 2016 12:05 PM

I have the Abacus-3 and it's indeed a great monitor. The bass is not overwhelming like the Focal Alpha. Everything is precise and it's a joy to hear hear music through those speakers.

noisenet 13th December 2016 03:08 AM

I bought a pair of JBL LSR308's a couple weeks ago, like em a lot. Ordered and received the accompanying sub, the LSR310 last week & couldn't be more leased with the sound coming from this setup. For US $800 for the whole setup it's an unbelievable deal.

Mr. Wilson 13th December 2016 03:58 AM

+1 on the LSR 308's. Had a pair of the 305's but they got bumped by the 308's and my trusted old Dynaudio BM5's for second position. Donated the 305's to my FX editor to replace his crappy old Mackie's. 305's are not bad but the 308's are just much better.

ravesm 3rd January 2017 03:51 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by mervintthomas (Post 12182079)
Hey All,

I like The Fluid Audio F5s. If you have the budget, go for the JBL LSR 305s.

The F5s work well in a small room which does not have much treatment.

<deleted by mod>

Best,
Merv


I've been looking around for a good set of monitoring speakers and a few of the ones listed here have also been listed as the best studio speakers in other websites. The JBL LSR 305 seems to be a favorite by many so I'm wondering if I should get these monitoring speakers. This one site has listed the KRK Rokit 5 G3 as their best budget studio speakers rather than the LSR 305 so I'm also a bit torn. Have you worked with the Rokit 5 G3's before or do you think I should just go ahead and get the LSR 305?

bogy1 5th January 2017 01:06 AM

sterling???
 
no sterling ??? how about the sterling MX 8

Diogo C 5th January 2017 01:40 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by bogy1 (Post 12354180)
no sterling ??? how about the sterling MX 8

Interesting - thanks for the tip. It didn't came up on our threads and I honestly never heard of them. Seems like they're relatively new, so that might explain something.

istsoy 7th January 2017 03:31 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ravesm (Post 12350882)
I've been looking around for a good set of monitoring speakers and a few of the ones listed here have also been listed as the best studio speakers in other websites. The JBL LSR 305 seems to be a favorite by many so I'm wondering if I should get these monitoring speakers. This one site has listed the KRK Rokit 5 G3 as their best budget studio speakers rather than the LSR 305 so I'm also a bit torn. Have you worked with the Rokit 5 G3's before or do you think I should just go ahead and get the LSR 305?

Take a look at this vid:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9oFwIyxSKjY

I found it pretty helpful, was considering 5-inch Rokit at first, but read quite a few reviews about them being way too boomy and emphasizing low-ends, and this vid just prooves them to be true. So now I think I'll go for JBL.

Mr Funk 14th January 2017 06:05 PM

Fluid Audio FX8 (for cheap) and FPX7 (for double the price but still way under $1000) would be my choice I think. But obviously it would be a guess as unless you can try all monitors who knows which best suit us?

spacyman 15th January 2017 11:28 AM

I guess you can't include them all, but I feel the Adam F7 should be high in this list.

ravesm 18th January 2017 08:51 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by istsoy (Post 12359554)
Take a look at this vid:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9oFwIyxSKjY

I found it pretty helpful, was considering 5-inch Rokit at first, but read quite a few reviews about them being way too boomy and emphasizing low-ends, and this vid just prooves them to be true. So now I think I'll go for JBL.

Oh wow looks like this video is all I ever needed to come up with a decision. JBL it is, then. Thanks!

samsistema 25th January 2017 12:34 PM

Can anybody say about the difference between the JBL LSR 305 and 308 besides the lower Frequency?
Sometimes I hear the 305 sound a bit better!? I want 8" speakers and Think bout getting the JBL LSR 308 and hope they sound as good as the 305.

artsci2 28th January 2017 05:25 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by samsistema (Post 12403142)
Can anybody say about the difference between the JBL LSR 305 and 308 besides the lower Frequency?
Sometimes I hear the 305 sound a bit better!? I want 8" speakers and Think bout getting the JBL LSR 308 and hope they sound as good as the 305.

Comparing them side by side at my local Guitar Center, the 305 seemed cleaner in the 1000-4000Hz range. (less cone breakup with the 5"?) This was at moderate SPL. The 305 does get over driven more easily than the 308. The better course here is to go with 305 and start saving up for a pair of subwoofers.

I have the M-Audio BX5. If the 305 had been available I would have gone with that and maybe just used the computer's or preamp's internal crossover for the sub. However those crossovers are 12dB/octave. I prefer 24dB per octave Linkwitz-Riley crossovers because they protect the monitors better than 12dB per octave does.

I currently use M-Audio BX5, Rane crossover (150Hz), and dual DIY 18" sealed subs driven by Crown XTi. The crossover point might seem high but it allows the BX5 woofer cone to stay in the magnetic gap at high SPL. The Rane is a 24dB/octave crossover and is better than typical preamp 12dB crossover slope for keeping low bass away from the monitor. Keeping the voice coil of any driver within it's magnetic gap is absolutely critical for getting clean sound.

I do have KRK 10-3 which are very good but they still need subwoofers. I cross them at 100Hz using a preamp's internal bass management.

funknroll 31st October 2017 04:25 AM

Before the break-in my alpha 80 focal lacked musicality in medium and punch in the bass sounded worse than roded logitech 2.1 at 50 buck hhaha. But now after being a little lapped (5 months because I do not listen to music often just week end i have student neighboors) and evenwith the two tweeters scratched with mini USB cable they are excellent and the bass outperforms as nightclub speakers it's amazing. Their point is actually the dynamic music and rich bass sounds club exactly what I was looking for. I almost bought the yamaha but I'm French and the yamaha do not go down as low I'm happy to have chosen focal. I use it with hifi setting by setting the buttons behind

Only there is a little lack of precision because the 8-inch driver smothers the medium but nothing serious

I'm just casual listener for the moment but i want create beats and instrumental with that incredible tool ! The audient ID14 is excelent I spilled coca cola and water on it and yet it works perfectly :lol:

Long live to gearslutz and thank you for your precious advices kfhkh

summergreen 9th December 2017 03:29 AM

A pair of JBL LSR305's gets my vote for greatest music bargain ever. I love them. An astonishing value!!

The Yamaha HS8s should be on the other list and not sure why they missed the cut.

geeorge 19th January 2018 12:29 AM

samson rxa6 and fluid fpx 7 quite nice speakers for the price comparable to eve audio.

Agzilla 22nd December 2018 06:35 PM

Anyone looked at those KALI-LP8's yet?

Look interesting too.... new upstarts come to shake up the list perhaps?

Zz.

Mr Funk 23rd December 2018 12:46 AM

From what I've heard from people who have used both, the Alpha 50's are more accurate than the 65's and a star for the money.

VenVile 24th December 2018 11:26 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by summergreen (Post 13006280)
A pair of JBL LSR305's gets my vote for greatest music bargain ever. I love them. An astonishing value!!

The Yamaha HS8s should be on the other list and not sure why they missed the cut.

This has been the truth for years, but now with the release of the Kali Audio LP-6, I'm not so sure. The LP-6 might take the LSR305's crown.

I have a pair of the 305s, and I love them!

I have to take that back; I'm now noticing the difference in price here. The LSR305s can be had for 129.00USD while the LP-6 is 149.00USD. The JBL LSR306 is 169.00USD, but is a 6.5" woofer, like the LP-6, but is 30 Bucks more than the LP-6. Although it presents a better value than the LSR 306s, it can't really compare to the 305's 5" woofer and consequently, its price.

With that said, the JBL LSR305 is still, in my opinion, the best value for $130.00. But I think if someone can pony up an additional 60 bucks (for a pair), the LP-6 would be the way to go.

Mr Funk 24th December 2018 12:35 PM

Fluid FX8, Focal Alpha 50's, Kali LP-6 or JBL LSR305's all seem great monitors.

Agzilla 12th January 2019 01:19 PM

So... i GOT the KALI AUDIO LP-8's which is the larger of their two models....

I'm gonna write about them at more length so I will keep it short here, but suffice to say considering the thread title, these Monitors
deserve to be included in this list... The calibration features are useful and the sound is VERY good.. and MOST important as cliche as it sounds my mixes are translating better, especially bass because of these monitors...

So... reading this for advice? From a genuine user of these monitors, for the price as well you may find it VERY hard to beat the KALI AUDIO LP-8's .. I haven't tried the 6's...

Recommended.

One Love.

Zz.

Mr Funk 12th January 2019 05:17 PM

Would love to know if anyone has tried both the Fluid FX8 and Kali LP-6's or LP-8's.

firstlegion 24th January 2019 10:37 PM

Love my Tannoy Reveal 502s.

At the high end, they have great clarity and definition tempered by an awesome mid-range that behaves very well, (as the small woofer and the tweeter designs don't have to work too hard to meet gracefully in the middle). As a result, vocals come across as sounding natural and open.

The low end is super tight and punchy - works great for the type of music I do. When I need to go in the sub ranges, I turn on my Presonus T10. Both work really well toghether.

I love the 3.5 mm jack in the back to plug in my iPhone if I just want to hear some tunes.

The sense of stereo perspective is amazing, with a very wide sweet spot. They're very affordable and deliver a balanced sound that you can work with for extended periods (no ear fatigue). Once you learn them, you'll love them. All of my mixes translate well. NOTE: You should use these with some room treatment for good translation of your mixes. I also have these grouped with Sonarworks and some DMSD-50 Decouplers, which really fixed everything I had to EQ for (instrument smearing).

Some folks have complained of a buzzing noise, but Tannoy has fixed that.

For my upgrade set, (I get that they are above the price range of this list), I will be getting the HEDD Type 07's. I tried them out against the Eve's and a few others on this list, in the same ruler-flat treated room. If your looking for mastering-level translation with no hype, you have to hear the 07's. Using my DMSD-50 Decouplers, I felt like I could literally reach out and grab each instrument in space. ZERO smearing. I think the HEDD Type 05's are $1200, so they would be close enough to warrent a listen for folks who want to stay within this list's price range also.

samsistema 29th January 2019 10:01 AM

The best one of the Focal Alpha Series are the Focal Alpha 65. They the most balanced. 80s have a little hole in the midi. The 65s are a different level compared to 50s and 65s. They need like 50-100h to break in, then they sound dope. Especially with a good interface (of cause my room is treated heavily with thick absorbers and floor to ceiling bass traps)

Bluesmaker 29th January 2019 12:43 PM

The Adam Audio T5V and T7V are really great for the money !

jordanvoth 29th January 2019 09:40 PM

Been hearing nothing but ridiculously high praise about the Kali LP6 and LP8