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Needless to say, some of the best models on the market are located in this price range. Today we are going to show you some of the best monitors you can get under $200.
|Image||Studio Monitors / Rating||Summary||Check Price|
|+ -|| PreSonus Eris E4.5 |
Total of 4.20/5
Pretty awesome balance of performance and power at a very reasonable price.
|+ -|| M-Audio AV42 |
Total of 3.97/5
Good transparency, plenty of power and of course, outstanding M-Audio tweeter waveguides.
|+ -|| Mackie CR4 |
Total of 3.93/5
Probably the best member of the CR family of studio monitor speakers .
|+ -|| Behringer MS40 |
Total of 4.10/5
A great alternative that packs features rarely seen in the budget segment .
|+ -|| Fluid Audio FA-C5 |
Total of 3.87/5
Performance oriented set that offers great transparency at the cost of control.
What PreSonus has done with their E4.5, is create a set of active monitor speakers that combine performance, convenience, and raw power. With an incredibly flat response for the money, a whole lot of control options both in terms of tone shaping and acoustics adjustment, and solid hardware, you will be hard pressed to find better monitors in this price range. They are far from the prettiest speakers out there, but PreSonus made that good decision to sacrifice aesthetics in favor of actual performance. Because of that, Eris E4.5 definitely has that sleeper status vibe. Just make sure to properly set up and position them if you want to experience the very best E4.5 has to offer.
M-Audio’s AV42 speakers were built on an already successful platform that is the AV32 monitors. This time around we get more girth in the hardware, which may not seem like much at first, but really comes to focus when you crank these up. With that said, there are some downsides that maybe could have been avoided. Either way, M-Audio AV42 represent a solid performer that gets the job done and offers a decent amount of transparency. Considering how cheap these are, they definitely deserve a place on any budget monitor short list. If you are just getting into music editing, you definitely need to give these a look. They might be exactly what you are looking for.
Mackie CR series of studio monitors have been the staple of budget music production for years. Their CR4 studio monitors represent a sweet spot in this family of speakers, offering larger drivers at a price that is highly competitive. The performance is more than acceptable, with a decent level of transparency. On top of that, you get 50 Watts of power split between two cabinets, making these a fairly loud set to use in smaller studios. One thing Mackie CR4 lack are room acoustic controls, however, those features are not really standard at this price. Overall, those who are on a budget but still want to get something above the bare minimum should definitely look into Mackie CR4.
Compared to most of their competition, Behringer MS40 studio monitors offer a breath of fresh air. These are active, two-way hybrid near field monitors with an unusual set of hardware. Where most offer 1" tweeters, Behringer offers a 2.5" ones. That type of hardware, combined with a built in EQ section makes for a very different experience. Performance wise, you are looking at a good combination of transparency and versatility. Behringer went with two front firing ports, making that low end tight enough and speaker placement a much easier process. Those who want more control over their sound and have more room on their desktop should really look into these.
Fluid Audio's FA-C5 speakers represent a minimalist approach to affordable monitoring. Instead of trying to make their speakers attractive by loading them up with various features, Fluid Audio opted to invest most of their effort into pure performance. Unfortunately, this is a double edged sword. We love the simplicity and raw sound these boys offer. However, if you are the type of person who requires at least some type of control over your sound, Fluid Audio FA-C5 might come across as underwhelming. At the end of the day, there are numerous pros and few cons to these speakers. They are a bit polarizing, but you definitely won't make a mistake by choosing them over other models.
The debate on whether it is practical to even use affordable monitors will probably never be settled. There are those who demand that nothing short of a $500 set of monitors will be enough if you really want to mix music properly, while the other camp is adamant that affordable monitors definitely work. The truth is somewhere in the middle. There are things an affordable monitor won’t be able to offer. However, mixing music without monitors is much worse than going with a cheap set.
When it comes to what you can get for $200, the choices available are pretty decent. This segment of the market is where we start seeing larger drivers becoming the standard, while more advanced features are also available depending on the model. The most important metric is still going to be performance, or to be more specific, the transparency of speakers in question. In this regard, monitors you can get for around $200 are going to offer a decent performance. Are they perfectly flat? No, far from it. The amount of transparency you can expect to see is going to be more than enough for use in home studios, that is for sure.
Another aspect of models in this price range that makes them a good choice for beginners is the level of convenience they offer. Most of these are going to be active in nature and fairly powerful. In other words, you won’t need any additional equipment such as amplifiers and other gear.
If there is one rule that applies to any kind of audio equipment, it is that you should get the very best your money can buy. To answer the question from the title of this segment, yes it is always better to save up and get a higher quality set of monitors. However, the real question here is whether or not everyone can afford a better set. Budgets are different from user to user. What is affordable to some may be expensive to others. If all you can afford is a $200 set, then that is what you should go with.
One good way to figure out whether or not you should save up for a better set of monitors is to calculate how long you’re going to go without speakers until you are able to afford something better. On top of that, you also need to take into account your level of skill. If you are just starting out, chances are you won’t be able to recognize nuances in your mix that only a high end set of monitors can reveal. Starting out with a cheaper set of speakers might be all you need for the foreseeable future. Once you develop your skill, knowledge, and experience, you will be able to judge whether or not you need a better set of monitors for your home studio.
The segment of the market we are talking about today is where we slowly start to see built-in EQs and room acoustic controls. These can be pretty handy no matter what kind of room you are using as a studio. The question is, are they essential? The short answer is no. No matter what speakers you are using, whether they are monitors or regular bookshelf speakers, positioning is still the one thing that is going to make the largest impact on your experience.
Acoustic adjustment controls are great in a sense that you get to simplify this process, but they won’t fully substitute proper speaker positioning. Same goes for equalizers. If you know that the room you are using as a studio has bad acoustic properties, then some of these features might help. Otherwise, it all comes down to whether or not you are willing to invest a bit more to have all of these controls.
Keep in mind that most of the speakers in this category are near field units with output levels designed for smaller rooms. In other words, even the most minimalist set of studio monitors from this segment should offer acceptable performance in an average home studio environment. You don’t necessarily have to have room acoustic controls and equalizers to get those results. One simple rule of studio monitor positioning is to have the speakers and yourself form an equidistant triangle where tweeters are shooting straight towards you. Speakers should be level with your head, which might require you to use dedicated stands in some situations.
Affordable studio monitors definitely make sense when you are on a tight budget. Ones that you can get for around $200 will get you reasonable performance while still allowing you to build the entire studio on the cheap. We have done our best to find the most attractive models for you to check out. Most of the speakers on our list have been around for a while, building a solid reputation. Even so, we have included some that aren’t that popular but still offer great performance. Hopefully, this guide has helped you find something that works for your intended setup.