$500 seems be the magical number that allows you to buy a good enough studio monitor with veering into the high end market. Anything lower and you will be getting into more of the budget market. I found this article to be really good when it comes to recommending the best budget studio monitor under 200 (Editor’s note: website is gone now so the link is removed). For those looking for the best studio monitors under 500 budget range, I found the following to be the best value for money.
Treat the room first
Before spending the money on studio monitor, examine the acoustics of your room. This is way more important than buying any studio monitor. With the right treatment to control how sound behaves, you will be hearing distorted regardless of what studio speakers you can get.
Hence, the right thing is to treat the room first, then buy the monitors and see how things sound. If not satisfactory, repeat the cycle by going back to treating the room. This is how you can improve the audio outset of your set up. Most folks got this completely wrong by focusing on the gear without the room treatment.
How to treat the room for beginners
If you have not treated a room before, this is a cheap way of doing it:
- Buy some panel and fabrics to cover the wall. I prefer Owens Corning 703 because they are affordable but works well
- Get some wooden frames because you will be using these to mount the panels and fabrics. Using such frames have 2 benefits: (i) they are not permanent so you can move them if you shift to a new home or location and (ii) they leave some air gap between the wall and the panel which acts as good form of insulation
- The first thing to treat are the corners. I would focus on these asap
- Next, determine where are your first reflection points. Get these covered with the panel and fabrics
- Finally, move on to the ceiling and for the rest of the room if you have the budget. If not, doing the corners and the reflections points will suffice as a start
What about the best studio monitors under 500
Once you get the room well treated, now it is time to consider the studio monitors. For this budget, some of the studio monitor brands will include Yamaha HS7, JBL 305, KRK G3 etc. Among them, I would say the JBL 305 gets the most votes from audio fans if you hang out at the audio forums long enough. Personally, I am a fan of them as well. Below is what I think are their strong and weak points
- Probably the most affordable among the peers in this quality range
- Tight and flat base for listening to the lows and mids
- The high notes sound very very good if you compare to the likes of the Yamaha HS7
- Overall audio quality sounds very balanced and the separation is clear
- Low sounds feel a bit compressed if you compare to the likes of the Eris 8
- Takes up quite a bit of space due to their more bulky design
Before investing into a studio monitor under 500, remember to get your room treated first. Once that is done, then consider the models that are the best value for money in that price range. My recommend is the JBL 305.