Best Studio Monitors under $300 [2023 Reviewed]

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All text and image links lead to Amazon unless stated otherwise. All product scores are based on ProRec’s in-house scoring model

ThumbnailStudio Monitors under $300ProRec ScorePrice
JBL Professional 305P MkII

JBL Professional 305P MkII

8.1
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PreSonus Eris E5

PreSonus Eris E5

7.8
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Rockville APM8B

Rockville APM8B

7.7
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Introduction

If you’ve just started music production, you’ve definitely heard that choosing the right studio monitors is the most critical part.

Buying monitors isn’t as simple as slamming two expensive “speakers” together and expecting your mixes to be perfect. The purpose of monitors is to provide a flat, precise response so that you can see how your mixes/productions will translate across different listening mediums, and for under $300, you can actually pick up a pair of decent studio monitors with a great response.

There are so many options available that it might be daunting, but you should start off by choosing a woofer size. We highly suggest 5 to 8-inch monitors (which you can get for just under $300) as they offer a better low-end range and are often regarded as the range’s sweet spot for studios. We also recommend that you check the bass frequency output at the very least.

However, even the most expensive monitors will not perform ideally if your room is not treated enough. Therefore, we recommend that you look for monitors that have frequency control settings (mainly located on their back). These switches (HF Trim, LF Trim, Boundary EQ, etc.) will allow you to change the output based on their position (for example, on a stand 4 feet in front of a wall vs on a desk against a wall), which appears gimmicky but is surprisingly useful if you don’t have a lot of room treatment.

As for the durability, some sub $300 studio monitors are really well-built. With our experience with studio monitors, any set of half-decent monitors should last a long time if maintained properly. Studio monitors have been around for a long time, and they are built to last, so don’t worry about them wearing out. However, if you feel like you’ve hit a barrier, you may eventually want to upgrade to something more revealing, or with a different balance.

Best Studio Monitors Under $300

All text and image links lead to Amazon unless stated otherwise. All product scores are based on ProRec’s in-house scoring model

JBL Professional 305P MkII
8.1/10Our Score
8.1Average Score
JBL 305P MKII
Price to Performance
9
Frequency Response
8
Wattage
7
Sound Quality
8.5
Additional Features
8

The 5-inch powered JBL 305P MKII studio monitor features a one-inch soft dome high-frequency transducer and a five-inch cone low-frequency transducer that produce a decent bass with solid mids and pristine highs respectively. The monitor also features JBL’s patented low-frequency port technology to provide precise bass performance at low volume levels.

Furthermore, the double-flared shaped port minimizes any turbulence, allowing the JBL 305P MKII to produce a clean, tight bass, even at high volumes. The monitor also features a crossover frequency of 1.725KHz and a maximum sound pressure level of 108dB. As for the frequency response, the monitor offers a range from 43Hz to 24kHz (-10dB) and from 49Hz to 20kHz (+/- 3dB).The drivers are powered by Class-D amps which deliver 41W equally to each driver for a total wattage of 82W. The 305P MKII’s inputs include an XLR input and a ¼-inch input.

In terms of design, the monitor features a rear-ported 3/5-inch MDF enclosure. It also measures 11.7-inches tall, 0.1-inches deep, and 7.3-inches wide. The 305P MKII’s backside also includes EQ settings which allow you to adjust the monitor’s output to your room as they tend to behave differently in every room.

After setting up the 305P MKII, we found it to be well built and heavy, which was a good sign. The monitor sounds fantastic at low volume levels and provides an excellent stereo image. We also found the Boundary EQ settings to be pretty useful to adjust the accumulated low frequencies caused by the surroundings, especially in small studios. The monitor also has a relatively loud volume and incredible precise highs, without being piercing.

Furthermore, the monitor features an incredible image control waveguide design, which provided excellent imaging with a comprehensive soundstage. This allowed us to move around the studio while preserving the best listening conditions. It also provided incredible separation between every instrument of a complex mix.

We also found the 305P MKII to have a flat frequency response with great neutrality, making it an excellent choice for the price. Additionally, the monitor provided a decent bass response with solid mids, which was pretty impressive for a five-inch monitor.

Compared to the JBL LSR305, the JBL 305P MKII builds on the legacy of its predecessor as it proved to be a solid upgrade. For one, the 305P MKII features an enhanced low-frequency transducer which produces minimal distortion, which is much better than that of the LSR305. This was accomplished by optimizing the LSR305’s low-frequency motor architecture.

Furthermore, the back of the LSR305 allowed you to choose a -2dB bass cut or a +2dB bass boost, compared to the 305P MKII which now only allows you to choose a -2dB bass cut. The high-frequency transducer also now includes a ferrofluid for dampening which slightly increases the overall transient response. In terms of design, both monitors have the same size. However, the 305P MKII now features a glossy look.

Throughout our tests, we found the monitor’s low-end to be not as powerful as we expected it to be. However, the monitor still packs a punch for its size, but other five-inch monitors provide slightly better bass. Additionally, the 305P MKII produces a slight hiss, even when no signal is passing through it. Even though the hiss decreases as the volume level increases, some people might find it bothering. We should mention, however, that the hissing sound does not affect the final product of your project.

Furthermore, the JBL 305P MKII is rear ported, which limits its placement options. This makes positioning it away from corners and walls crucial for the most ideal performance. You can use the boundary EQ settings to prevent unnecessary low-end escalation, but setting them up properly is significantly more efficient.

Therefore, the JBL 305P MKII is a great bang for the buck. The monitor demonstrated excellent sound quality for the price with a broad sweet spot and an incredible stereo image. We highly recommend the 305P MKII as you cannot go wrong with it.

JBL 305P MKII Benefits

The monitor provides a wide sweet spot with an incredible stereo image

The unit offers great EQ settings to set it up to your room’s acoustics

The 305P MKII features high-quality transducers with a solid build quality

The monitor can go too loud while also providing pristine highs and mids.

JBL 305P MKII Drawbacks

The monitor produces a hiss

The unit is backported which can cause low-end escalation if not placed properly

The 305P MKII falls behind slightly in terms of low-end

All text and image links lead to Amazon unless stated otherwise. All product scores are based on ProRec’s in-house scoring model

PreSonus Eris E5
7.8/10Our Score
7.8Average Score
PreSonus Eris E5 BT
Price to Performance
8.5
Frequency Response
7
Wattage
7.5
Sound Quality
8
Additional Features
8

The PreSonus Eris E5 BT Active Media Reference Monitor is designed to provide a great output at a cheap price. The monitor has a 53Hz to 22kHz frequency response, a 6.7kHz crossover frequency, and a maximum peak SPL of 12dB. In terms of drivers, the monitor includes a 5.25-inch woven composite woofer and a one-inch silk dome tweeter. The E5 BT’s backside also offers Low and High-frequency tuning options, allowing you to tailor the output sound to your own space settings.

The Eris E5 BT’s inputs include a dual RCA stereo, two ¼-inch TS, and a 1/8-inch TRS. As for the outputs, the monitor offers a 1/8-inch TRS, a spring clam (to connect to the left channel), and a ¼-inch (sub). The Eris E5 BT’s design features a vinyl laminated MDF enclosure with a rear-ported bass reflex. Furthermore, the monitor offers Class-D amps which supply a total wattage of 100W.

Given its size and price, the Eris E5 BT demonstrated excellent power with a decent sound character. We found the E5 BT to be a great near-field monitor with a relatively flat frequency response, which is exactly what you need to produce your music. The monitor also provided a decent low-end punch, which was impressive for a 5.25-inch monitor.

Aside from its accurate sound production, what distinguishes the Eris E5 BT from its competitors in this price range, is the presence of low and high frequencies adjustment controls on the active channel’s backside. Most monitors at this price point only have volume level controls, with no way to finetune the monitor’s sound to your specific environment. We found this to be a great feature that adds to the sound quality and is usually only found on larger, more expensive monitors.

Even though the Eris E5 BT is a near-field monitor, it produces a significant amount of sound, which is far more than what we expected. It also provided a decent soundstage with rich sound output.

Compared to the PreSonus Eris E5, we found the PreSonus Eris E5 BT to offer greater value, despite it being pricier. For one, the Eris E5 BT offers a Bluetooth connection, which also makes it an excellent choice for casual listening. As for the specs, both monitors offer the same frequency response of 53 Hz – 22kHz. However, the E5 BT offers a total power output of 100W, which is 20W more than the Eris E5 (80W). Additionally, the Eris E5 BT offers an amp module only in the left channel, whereas the Eris E5 includes Class AB amps in both channels.

Furthermore, the Eris E5’s inputs include, an RCA input, an XLR input, and a ¼ -inch TRS input, compared to the dual RCA stereo, two ¼-inch TS, and 1/8-inch TRS inputs on the Eris E5 BT. In terms of sound quality, both monitors offer the same sound character, with the Eris E5 BT slightly outperforming the Eris E5.

As for the downsides, the Eris E5 BT’s cables, which came with the device, were of low quality. Throughout our tests, we found the monitor to produce poor sound quality, when we used the provided cables. However, after using high-quality cables, the E5 BT demonstrated excellent sound quality. We would have preferred that the supplied cables were of higher quality, or that they were not included at all.

Furthermore, we found the monitor’s build quality to be not as good as other monitors in this price range. Unlike its sound quality, the monitor’s build quality feels a bit cheap, which makes it not as durable. We recommend that you place them in a secure location and do not move them regularly.

Therefore, the PreSonus Eris E5 BT is a great 5-inch monitor for the price. The monitor provided great sound quality, with decent features. It also had a neutral response, making it one of the best under $300 studio monitors.

PreSonus Eris E5 BT Benefits

The monitor provided a neutral response with a great soundstage

The unit offers practical EQ control knobs to adjust the output sound to your space settings

The E5 BT features decent low-end with a powerful sound

The E5 BT is an overall great near-field monitor

PreSonus Eris E5 BT Drawbacks

The monitor’s build quality is not as solid as other monitors in this price range

The unit’s cables are of poor quality

All text and image links lead to Amazon unless stated otherwise. All product scores are based on ProRec’s in-house scoring model

Rockville APM8B
7.7/10Our Score
7.7Average Score
Rockville APM8
Price to Performance
7.5
Frequency Response
9
Wattage
8
Sound Quality
6.5
Additional Features
7.5

The Rockville APM8 is a two-way active studio monitor featuring a quad amp design with an MDF wooden enclosure. The monitor’s inputs include a USB 2.0, a TRS combo jack, and an unbalanced RCA. As for the outputs, the monitor includes a 3.5mm headphone jack. The APM8 boasts Class D mono block amps which supply a total power output of 125W RMS per monitor and 250W peak per monitor.

The monitor’s backside features High and Low-frequency EQ controls (-4dB / +4dB) to adjust the high and low frequencies to your room’s acoustics. The monitor also includes a ferrofluid enhanced 1.5-inch neodymium silk dome tweeter and an eight-inch polypropylene cone woofer surrounded by rubber which improves sound quality and reduces distortion.

The APM8 has a THD of 0.1% with a frequency response of 30Hz-20kHz and a max peak SPL of 106dB. As for the design, the monitor measures a height of 390mm, a depth of 310mm, a width of 252mm, and a net weight (both channels) of 33Lbs, which is pretty heavy, even for an 8-inch monitor.

In terms of performance, the APM8 demonstrated incredible quality with a rich sound character. After setting up the monitor, we tested some of our favorite music through it and it sounded fantastic. The monitor felt balanced as it provided a clean, loud sound without having any distortion. We found the highs to be clear and sharp and the bass to be powerful, especially when the volume is turned up.

The monitor also covered the frequency spectrum incredibly, thanks to the computer-optimized electrical crossover network that removes undesirable frequencies. This allowed the monitor to go high volumes without any unwanted resonance. 

Furthermore, we found it to be excellent for mixing and producing, as that’s what it is designed for. While the frequency response is not completely flat, it does provide treble and bass controls that allow you to adjust the sound to your liking. We also liked that both channels are connected through a ¼-inch cable, which is a feature we rarely see on monitors in this price range.

Compared to the Rockville DPM8, the APM8 provides similar performance. After testing the APM8, we found both monitors to have the same features with comparable sound quality. Both monitors also offer the same frequency response of 30Hz-20kHz and the same max peak SPL of 106dB. However, the DPM8 does not offer the headphone output jack that the APM8 has. As for the EQ settings, the controls on the APM8 can be modified to +/- 4dB compared to the +/- 2dB on the DPM8.

Furthermore, both monitors offer Class D mono block amplifiers, but with the DPM8 boasting a larger power output of 150W RMS per monitor compared to the 125W on the APM8. However, both monitors are equally loud, so we didn’t find the extra 25W to make a huge difference. The DPM8 also offers a different architecture as it has a bi-amped design, compared to the quad amp design on the APM8.

As for the APM8’s downsides, we found the monitor to produce a loud hissing sound, even when no music is playing through it. It is common for monitors to have a humming/hissing sound, but the APM8’s hiss was a bit more prominent. However, this does not affect the outcome of your music, so if the hisses don’t bother you, you’re good to go. The hissing sound also gradually decreases as you increase the volume level.

Another drawback we encountered is that when we isolated the channels, the monitors sound quite different. The passive channel sounded dull as it had a muddled high frequency and less punch in the low frequencies, whereas the active channel which receives power sounded crisper and livelier.

Therefore, the Rockville APM8 is a great monitor as it offers incredible value for the price. For under $200, the monitor provides incredible sound quality with a rich and warm character. The monitor covered the entire frequency spectrum decently, making it a great choice for the price.

Rockville APM8 Benefits

The monitor provided incredible value for the price

The unit features handy frequency control settings to customize the sound to your preference

The APM8 demonstrated a loud and clear sound

The monitor covered the frequency spectrum well.

Rockville APM8 Drawbacks

The monitor emits a loud hissing sound

The active and passive channels have noticeably different sound qualities when isolated.

Verdict

studio monitors under $300 scoring model quantitative analysis

Based on our scoring model, you’ll find that the highest variance is in the Price to Performance, Frequency Response, and Sound Quality categories. You can also see how tight the competition is. The categories barely had any variance, even the maximum variance was a 2, which is hardly much. As you can see, the Rockville APM8 provided incredible performance in the frequency response and the wattage categories. However, in terms of every other category, the APM8 falls behind slightly.

Throughout our tests, the JBL 305P MKII provided incredible consistency. The monitor came up on top in the price to performance and sound quality categories, as we’ve come to expect from JBL. The 305P MKII also tied with the Eris E5 BT and outscored the APM8 by a small margin in the additional features category. The JBL’s lowest score was in the wattage as it fell behind slightly, yet with a decent score of 7.5. However, during our tests, we found the monitor to provide just enough wattage for a loud output with incredible sound quality.

However, we should point out that both the E5 BT and the APM8 remain to be great options. Throughout our tests, each monitor had its own strengths and weaknesses. For instance, The Rockville APM8 provided a wider frequency response with higher power output. As for the Eris E5 BT, it provided a better sound quality, with more practical features. In terms of price to performance, we considered the E5 BT to be somewhat more valuable than the APM8. Therefore, you cannot go wrong with either of these two options, so go with what best suits you.

Therefore, the overall best sub $300 studio monitor is the JBL 305P MKII, with an average score of 8.1. The monitor. The monitor provides excellent value for your dollar with incredible sound quality. During our tests, the JBL provided excellent imaging with a comprehensive soundstage as it features an incredible image control waveguide design. The 305P MKII also offers great features which can be found on larger, more expensive monitors, such as the Boundary EQ and the HF Trim. The MKII also feels like a worthy upgrade as it provides much more value than the LSR305. We highly recommend the JBL 305P MKII as it is one of the best sub $300 studio monitors available.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the most important aspect of choosing Studio Monitors under $300?

Accuracy is the most important aspect as it distinguishes studio monitors from other normal speakers. For under $300, you want your monitor to provide as minimal sound coloring as possible when mixing so that your records come out as objectively as possible.

How much should I spend on a sub $300 Studio Monitor pair?

Of course, as with anything else, the higher your investment is, the better the outcome. You’re better off spending extra money (while remaining under $300) for a more durable monitor with better sound quality. So, spending as close to $300 as possible will secure you the best monitor for your budget.

Is a $300 Studio Monitor pair reliable or will I need Headphones for referencing?

With a budget of $300, studio monitors will work just fine to get the work done. Of course, switching between different reference media will improve your ears and help you grasp your monitor’s weaknesses, so make sure to learn your monitors as well.

How do sub $300 Studio Monitors differ from a $500 pair?

Usually, $500 studio monitors offer a wider frequency response, meaning they’ll provide better highs or a better bass extension. However, monitors sub $300 provide enough frequency range, so that you mix and produce your records comfortably.

Also, $500 monitors may offer more features than the $300. However, if you don’t need those features, then going for the $300 monitors might be the better option for you, if you’re on a tight budget.