When setting up either a commercial or a bedroom recording studio, one of the most important purchases you will ever make will be studio monitors. Studio monitors are like the “mouth” of your studio. They are output transducers that convert electrical energy to sound energy. They take electrical impulses or signals from your audio interface, mixer, or computer [depending on your routing] and convert it to what you can hear. From what you are hearing, you can make critical decisions that will ultimately affect the overall sonic quality of the music you make. Considering how important this piece of gear is, it is a “no brainer” that you possibly cannot afford to get the wrong ones. Getting the wrong pair of studio monitors will not only alter the quality of the music you produce but can also suck the life out of your entire creative process.
Although being a very critical piece of gear in your chain of [home] studio gadgets, you basically do not need to spend your life savings before getting a working or decent pair. This article aims to bring to you decent pairs of studio monitors from reputable brands that you can get on a budget. Also, it will further remind you of the importance of growing from an entry-level studio monitor of a particular brand to, let’s say, pro or intermediate-level monitor of that same brand. Generally, it is advised that instead of starting with, let’s say, a $15K high-end studio monitor of a brand you have never used before, it is better to start with an entry-level monitor of that brand for a price of about $500. This way, you can get to grow into the high-end modules, understand them better, and thus better understand the sonic nuances of the high-end modules. Let’s check out some affordable monitors you can begin with.
Tannoy Reveal 402
Whenever I make recommendations of both entry and pro-level studio monitors, I always include something from Tannoy. Tannoy might not be a popular name in the music recording scene like, let’s say, Adams, KRK, Kali, Focal, Presonus, or Yamaha, but they are superb studio monitors. Don’t be fooled into believing that Tannoys are low-grade monitors because of their relatively low price. Tannoy Reveal series are known for their exceptional uncolored and flat frequency response. Just as the name suggests, the 402/502 versions do nothing but “Reveal” the true sonic colors of your mix without reservations or exaggerations. These are excellent pairs for people starting with the Tannoy brand.
TANNOY’s in-house speaker guru, Dr. Paul Mills, custom tweaked the active cross-over filters of REVEAL 402 has absolutely impeccable timing.
This produces the ultimate sweet spot so that you can move around in your workspace without losing the stereo imaging of your mix – as well as invite people to sit in with you during mixing sessions.
If you’re anything like us, you’re not only working on mixes but also listening to your favorite music! REVEAL 402 gives you the ultimate pathway for both.
With the Aux Link, setting up has never been easier. Use the included mini jack cable to plug into your favorite music player and link your monitors for an instant stereo setup – no need for external interfaces.
Advanced Modules: Tannoy Gold 8 and Tannoy Reveal 802.
Eris E7XT – Presonus
Without breaking the bank, you can get smooth, accurate frequency response; powerful amplification with lots of headroom; and acoustic tuning functions that give you nothing but the best possible sound in your home studio. The E7XT technology gives you a superior high-frequency response and wider 100-degree horizontal dispersion to create a wider sweet spot. This monitor is ideal for group listening and collaboration. Its narrow vertical dispersion reduces to great extent reflections from your desk. The low-frequency driver gives you tight, punchy, and clear ba.ss Eole E7 XT features a ported enclosure that maximizes bass response in a compact cabinet. It allows the bass to reach down to as low as 42 Hz—you do not need a subwoofer.
Advanced Modules: Sceptre S6 and Sceptre S8.
Adam Audio T7V
For some people, when the brand “Adam” is mentioned, what comes to their mind is “high end.” The T7V is an affordable pair from Adam for home studio and even more advanced usage. The price features an extensive frequency response and high dynamic range typical of high-end studio monitors. The T7V has a 7-inch woofer that gives you that thumping low end down to as low as 39 Hz. The U-ART tweeter’s diaphragm gives you that clean high-frequency for as high as 25 kHz. Considering the price of these pairs, the frequency response is golden – you can rarely find anything similar in this range.
The Adams T7V shows you don’t have to break the bank to get the best. Because of the wide frequency response, high and pristine dynamic range, beautiful transient response, and wide sweet spot, the Adam T7V are perfect for small home studio control rooms, video post-production, and radio/television broadcast production. If you are on a budget and still want to get something amazing, you should consider this.
Advanced Modules: Adam A7X, Adam A8X, and Adam S5H.
Focal Alpha 65 Evo Powered Studio Monitor
The Alpha 65 Evo is a budget-friendly studio monitor ideal for the beginner or intermediate home recording artist. With an entry-level price point, this speaker produces high-quality sound and has been very well received by customers who have purchased it. It can function as both your left and right channel, making it great for those with smaller studios needing one set of speakers to get started on their recordings. The Alpha 65 EVO features a simple design, meaning there are no flashy lights or complex control panels, making it perfect for those just starting in the world of home recording equipment. If you’re looking to grow from an entry-level product into something more professional, then check out other Focal products like Alpha 50 Evo.
Alpha 65 Evo has a 1” (25mm) aluminium tweeter and a 6.5” (16.5 cm) woofer with Slatefiber cone developed and manufactured in Focal’s workshops in France. This monitor features excellent dynamics and neutrality in its tonal balance. Its technologies mean that Alpha 65 Evo can guarantee excellent sonic coherence wherever you are listening.
Yamaha HS8 8-inch Powered Studio Monitor
The Yamaha HS8 monitors are a great way to start in an entry-level audiophile studio monitor. Priced well below $1000, they come with good drivers and deliver very accurate sound – one of the best you can find for this price range. It is comfortable that these speakers will be able to provide more bang for your buck.
The Yamaha HS8 active studio monitors will help you make better-sounding recordings. Yamaha’s nearfield monitors with their iconic white-coned woofers have been ubiquitous in top studios worldwide ever since the original NS-10s hit the scene in the late ’70s. Yamaha (never content to rest on its laurels) has continuously developed and perfected the design, resulting in HS series monitors with newly designed bi-amplified drivers and scientifically ported enclosures that deliver amazing accuracy and vanishingly low coloration. Don’t mix in the dark. Nail what you’re after, without the guesswork, with Yamaha’s HS8 monitor.
The perfect studio monitor is out there waiting for you. Like all good things, it takes some time and patience to find the right one for your needs. Whether that be something affordable or high-end, there is one just pair of monitors just waiting for you! Let us know what type of sound signature or price point interests you in our comments below so we can help make sure your next purchase is as budget-friendly (or not) as possible. What’s your favorite pair?