Best Studio Monitors under $500 [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 $500ProRec ScorePrice
Adam Audio T5V

Adam Audio T5V

8.6
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KALI AUDIO LP-6 V2

KALI AUDIO LP-6 V2

8.4
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Focal Alpha 65 Evo

Focal Alpha 65 Evo

8.4
Check Price on Amazon

Introduction

If you’ve been around the music production industry, you know that a studio monitor is the most important “instrument” in any setup.

$500 is the sweet spot budget for studio monitors, however, choosing the right monitor is not that simple. You have to find a pair that suits your needs and your room. Unless you fix your room, even the best studio monitors will sound terrible. Untreated spaces will cause muddy frequencies across the spectrum, so you won’t receive an accurate sound from anything, rendering the benefits of any monitor meaningless.

When it comes to studio monitors, larger is most of the time better. With very few exceptions, the lower the frequency range (the lower it extends), the larger the monitor. You want the frequency range to be as low as possible in order to hear what’s going on down there. You can’t mix what you can’t hear, so we recommend getting at least a 6-inch monitor.

With a budget of $500, you can also get some monitors with some great features. Monitors these days now offer frequency control settings, allowing you to adjust the output to your space’s acoustics. This can be a great solution if you cannot afford room treatment. However, don’t chase any other features (other than the frequency control), as they’ll tend to be useless, especially considering your budget.

Furthermore, some sub $500 monitors feature a high-quality waveguide, which essentially produces a wide sweet spot and a great soundstage. This gives the output sound a “three-dimensional” feel, which makes the errors in your mixes stand out more.

$500 is a decent budget, and with proper mixing fundamentals, you can produce decent records. You may upgrade in the future once you’ve improved as you’ll also be more familiar with your style, but if you’re comfortable with your monitor enough, you don’t have to.

Best Studio Monitors Under $500 Reviews

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

KALI AUDIO LP-6 V2
8.4/10Our Score
8.4Average Score
Kali LP-6 V2
Price to Performance
7.5
Frequency Response
9
Wattage
8.5
Sound Quality
8
Additional Features
9

The Kali LP-6 V2 is an active bi-amplified studio monitor designed to provide a clear sound output for producers at an affordable price. The LP6 V2 features highly efficient drivers, including a 6.5-inch paper cone woofer and a one-inch soft dome tweeter. Furthermore, Class D amps power these drivers, delivering 80W of total power (40W LF, 80W HF).

The LP-6 V2’s inputs include an RCA (-10dBV), a TRS (+4dBu), and an XLR (+4dBu). The rear also includes eight dip switches (with a quick guide on how to use them), allowing you to fine-tune your monitor to your space. For instance, the first three switches control the EQ compensation. Whereas switches four and five control the LF, while switches six and seven control the HF, and switch eight toggles the RCA input.

In terms of frequency response, the monitor features a range of 47Hz to 21kHz (+/- 3dB) and 39Hz to 25kHz (-10dB). The LP6 V2 also boasts a max peak SPL of 115dB and a crossover frequency of 1.5kHz. As for the design, the monitor features a front-ported enclosure made of vinyl-wrapped MDF.

As for the sound quality, the LP-6 V2’s transparency and definition truly surprised us. After setting up the monitor, we found its waveguide to be quite good at reflecting the output sound efficiently. Consequently, the monitor gave off an incredible soundstage with a three-dimensional feel.

We also found the EQ controls function, which offered a lot of adjustability, to be pretty efficient. In practically any given situation, you can simply customize the sound by adjusting the dip switches on the monitor’s rear. Furthermore, when we set up the monitor in a near-field setting, the music sounded fantastic without having any accentuated highs or lows. They are thus an excellent choice for sound mixing and nearfield monitoring, making them a great bang for the buck.

We also found the high-end to be particularly outstanding since it sounded extremely detailed and clean without being worn on the ears. Throughout our tests, we found it pretty comfortable to use the monitor for hours, without being exhausting, which is an extremely important aspect, especially for a near-field monitor.

Following the debut of the Kali LP6, Kali focused on honing their craft and fixing the LP6’s shortcomings. The LP6 V2 came out to be a great successor as it addressed many of the audio problems that the original generation had. For one, the only obvious visual difference between the two generations is that the cone on the second wave has a matte surface, which we liked. As for the technicalities, the initial generation of the LP6 had an audible hiss. However, the hiss on the second generation (LP6 V2) has decreased significantly without degrading the sound quality.

Kali’s LP-6 V2 enhanced the bass response, making its low-frequency production considerably better than its predecessor. This was a huge improvement since bass reproduction is considered one of the most important aspects of a studio monitor.

As for the drawbacks, we found the LP6 V2’s tweeters to emit very faint hiss at high levels, which, while much improved over the LP-6 V1, was still audible. The hiss also does not affect the music produced, so it wasn’t that much of a drawback. Furthermore, in order to keep their prices low, kali had to cut corners in certain aspects. We found the enclosure’s material (vinyl-wrapped MDF) to be susceptible to peeling when exposed to heat, making it not as durable as other monitors in its price range.

Our tests also revealed that its low to mid-range needs to be tweaked using the dip switches in order to reach our preferred level. While an expert might find it reasonably simple to make this modification, we feel like a fresh, inexperienced user might find it confusing.

Therefore, the Kali LP-6 V2 is a great bang for the buck as it features incredible EQ settings with fantastic sound quality. The monitor also provided an incredible sound stage, making it an excellent choice for the money.

Kali Audio LP-6 V2 Benefits

The monitor includes a high-quality waveguide, which provides an incredible soundstage

The unit features great EQ settings, using the dip switches on the rear of the monitor

The LP6 V2 offers incredible highs, without being exhausting, which is a crucial aspect of nearfield monitors

The monitor provided an excellent sound quality with minimal distortion

Kali Audio LP-6 V2 Drawbacks

The monitor has a slight hiss

The LP-6 V2’s enclosure material is vulnerable to heat

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

Adam Audio T5V
8.6/10Our Score
8.6Average Score
Adam Audio T5V
Price to Performance
9.5
Frequency Response
8
Wattage
8
Sound Quality
9
Additional Features
8.5

The Adam Audio T5V is a reasonably priced two-way nearfield monitor designed for compact studio rooms. With its new 1.9-inch U-ART tweeter, which is also connected to a precise waveguide with excellent dispersion control, the high-end frequency response goes up to 25kHz. On the other end of the frequency spectrum, the T5V also features a five-inch woofer, which extends the monitor’s low-frequency response down to 45Hz (Frequency-response of 45Hz-25kHz). The monitor also features an acoustically designed cabinet shape that reduces unnecessary cabinet reflections.

As for the specs, the Adam T5V offers Class-D with a total power output of 70W (50W LF Driver Power Amp, 20W HF driver power amp). The monitor also features a crossover frequency of 3kHz and a maximum peak SPL of 106dB @ 1m. The monitor also includes an RCA and XLR input, with HF/LF knobs on its backside. The Adam T5V also features a rear-ported enclosure and measures 11.7-inches tall, 7-inches wide, and 11.7-inches deep.

As for the sound quality, the Adam T5V did not disappoint. The monitor worked flawlessly and sounded fantastic as it provided a great level of neutrality. We found the 1.9-inch ribbon tweeter design to be incredible as it allowed the highs to stand out crisply and clearly out of the mix. We also did not experience any hum or hiss while using the monitor, which was impressive in this price range.

Additionally, despite its relatively small size, we found the monitor to effortlessly fill the room. It also sounds fantastic at low mixing volumes, which is fantastic, considering it is a near-field monitor. Furthermore, the T5V features the HF/LF control knobs, allowing you to fine-tune your environment’s output sound. We found the monitor to work perfectly in treated rooms, so we left them on neutral. However, if your room is not treated enough, you can use the frequency control knobs to get a grasp of how your mix may sound.

Compared to its predecessors, the T5V provides the best of both worlds. For one the T5V includes a precise waveguide with similar dispersion control characteristics as Adam’s high-end S series monitor’s HPS waveguide. This allows it to provide an excellent sweet spot, enabling you to work without being glued to one position.

Furthermore, compared to the A5X, the T5V includes Class-D amps (which are known to be of higher efficiency than the Class AB amps) for both of its drivers, unlike the A5X, which offers Class AB amps for its tweeter. This also allows you to work continuously on the T5V without worrying about power usage. We also found the tweeters on the T5V to be much better than that of the A5X. We should also point out that the T5V costs about half the price of the A5X, thus the T5V’s ability to match its sound quality was truly remarkable.

Despite its incredible features and sound quality, we came across some of the T5V’s drawbacks during our tests. For instance, we found the back-sided LED power indicator to be quite useless. We feel like placing the power indicator on the front side would’ve been much more practical since the consumer will most likely be facing the monitor’s front side.

Furthermore, the Adam T5V is a rear-ported monitor, which will cause low-end escalation when positioned near corners or walls. Therefore, we highly recommend you find an ideal position to get the most out of them. Another slight disadvantage we found is that the rear volume knob lacks a notch to avoid inadvertent twisting. While it is not that much of a drawback, having notches on the knob would’ve been much more efficient.

All in all, the Adam Audio T5V is a great studio monitor which provides great neutrality with amazing features. The monitor features a high-quality waveguide that offered a wide sweet spot and fantastic sound quality, which is exactly what you should be looking for, making it one of the best monitors for under $500

 

Adam Audio T5V Benefits

The monitor offers HF/LF trim switches, allowing you to adjust the monitor’s sound output to your environment

The unit features a high-quality waveguide that offers a broad dispersion

The T5V includes well-built drivers, both of which provided an incredible sound output

The monitor offers a well-designed cabinet

Adam Audio T5V Drawbacks

The monitor does not offer an LED power indicator on the front side

The unit lacks notches on the volume knobs

The T5V is a rear-ported monitor which can cause low-end escalation if not positioned properly.

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

Focal Alpha 65 Evo 6.5 inch Powered Studio Monitor
8.4/10Our Score
8.4Average Score
Focal Alpha 65 EVO
Price to Performance
7.5
Frequency Response
9
Wattage
8.5
Sound Quality
8
Additional Features
9

The Focal Alpha 65 EVO studio monitor is flexible musically and functionally, making it an ideal choice for any audio engineer at an affordable price. The monitor includes a one-inch aluminum inverted dome tweeter and a 6.5-inch Slate Fiber cone woofer. In terms of design, the Alpha 65 EVO offers a front-ported enclosure made of MDF black vinyl covering.

Furthermore, the monitor includes Class-D amps, delivering a total power of 85W (30W HF driver power amp, 55W LF driver power amp). The Alpha 65 EVO’s inputs include an RCA, an XLR, and a ¼-inch TRS. The monitor also offers a maximum SPL of 104dB with a frequency response of 40Hz-22kHz. The monitor’s backside also includes HF/LF shelving knobs with an auto standby switch and wall fastening inserts.

During our tests, we found the Alpha 65 EVO to provide incredible sound quality. For one, we found the handcrafted Slate Fiber cone driver to provide decent neutrality (but not completely flat). We also found the high-end to be flawless and detailed without being harsh and the low-end to be fairly perceptible. Furthermore, the mids have such a distinct, clean tone.

After we set up the monitor, we were impressed by its performance as it provided a broad sweet spot with incredible stereo separation. For instance, while testing the monitor, we were able to hear the slightest details in our favorite music, which was impressive. We also found the monitor to have a smooth blend from low to higher frequencies.

The Alpha 65 EVO also provides an unexpected amount of power in the lower range, which makes it capable of handling everything from metallic crunches to gentle symphonic tones. Additionally, we found the monitor to be great at low volume levels, and at larger volumes, it is just fantastic. While not completely flat, the monitor provides incredible definition, with amazing clarity, making it one of the best bangs for the buck for under $500.

Compared to its predecessor, the Alpha 65, the Alpha 65 EVO provides way more value, making it an incredible successor. Regarding the sound quality, we found some upgrades. The EVO 65 provides less distortion as it improves sound quality across the frequency range. For example, the highs sound brighter and richer, while the lows feel more comprehensive since the bass response is more thorough.

Furthermore, the most essential change, which was a huge problem on the Alpha 65, has been rectified. Now, the Alpha 65 EVO, offers you the choice to toggle ON/OFF the auto standby feature, giving you more control over your monitor. The Alpha 65 EVO’s max peak SPL has been decreased from 106dB (on the Alpha 65) to 104dB.

However, in terms of design, the Alpha EVO 65 weighs approximately 3.7lbs more than the Alpha 65. The Alpha 65 EVO also now provides 15W more in terms of power output (85W Class D for the Alpha 65 EVO, 70W for the Alpha 65 Class AB). Moreover, the Alpha 65 EVO now includes a TRS input port, which was not available on the Alpha 65.

One downside we faced while testing the Alpha 65 EVO is that we found the low-end to be slightly colored. Even though the bass end sounds detailed, it feels a bit overhyped. However, the monitor feels amazing to listen to. While it might be a bit harder to produce music on, it is still doable.

Another drawback is that we found the monitor’s enclosure to be of poor quality. The materials used make the monitor feel a bit chunky and plasticky. However, sound quality is what matters the most, and the Alpha 65 EVO nails it. We’d also like to mention that the monitor produces a slight pop when turned on or off.

All in all, the Alpha 65 EVO is a great monitor, and for under $500 it provides excellent value. The monitor proved to be a worthy successor as it provided huge improvements. The Alpha 65 EVO is definitely a great studio monitor for the price, you cannot go wrong with it.

Alpha 65 EVO Benefits

The unit provided a wide sweet spot with an incredible soundstage

The monitor features great EQ settings to adjust the monitor’s output according to the environment you’re in

The Alpha 65 EVO features a togglable auto standby feature

The monitor demonstrated incredible sound quality

Alpha 65 EVO Drawbacks

The unit slightly suffers in terms of build quality

The low-end feels a bit overhyped

The monitor makes a slight pop when turned on/off

Verdict

monitors under 500 quantitative analysis scoring model comparison

Based on our scoring model, you can see that the highest variance is in the Price to Performance and Sound Quality categories. You’ll also find that there is barely any variance in the categories, with the biggest being a difference of 2 (in price to performance), which isn’t much. If you analyze the chart further, you’ll also see that every competitor had something to offer. For instance, the Kali LP-6 V2 excelled in the additional features category, scoring an incredible 9. However, the Adam Audio T5V demonstrated excellent sound quality with an incredible price to performance score. As for the Focal Alpha 65 EVO, the monitor outperformed its competitors in the wattage category, with an impressive score of 9. Therefore, you can clearly see that this lineup had a lot of versatility.

Despite this close variance, the Adam T5V managed to stand out as it demonstrated incredible results. Throughout our tests, the monitor provided an incredible value for the price, scoring an impressive 9.5. The T5V also offered excellent sound quality (9), with great features (8.5). It does score last in the frequency response and wattage categories, yet with a decent score of 8, making the Adam T5V an incredibly well-rounded monitor.

However, we should point out that both, the LP-6 V2 and the Alpha 65 EVO remain as solid options with only an average variance of 0.2. Throughout our tests, every monitor had its own character, each excelling in certain aspects. However, both monitors provided the same overall average score of 8.4, so choosing the right monitor is up to your personal preference. For instance, if you want more power, the Alpha 65 EVO outperformed the LP-6 V2 and the Adam T5V in this area. However, the LP-6 V2 provided better sound quality, with incredible features and slightly wider frequency response. We also found the Alpha 65 EVO to provide a slightly better value overall.

Therefore, the best studio monitor for under $500 is the Adam Audio T5V, with an overall score of 8.6. The monitor demonstrated incredible value as it offered incredible features and excellent sound quality. The T5V also features a high-quality waveguide, which offers fantastic dispersion control and a wide sweet spot. We also found the drivers to be of high quality, which was impressive as they offer value way above the monitor’s price point. The also T5V features a similar waveguide to that of the S series, which is Adam’s high-end series. Furthermore, the monitor now offers more efficient amps, which reduces power consumption. We highly recommend the Adam T5V as we found it provides incredible value, making it an excellent sub $500 monitor.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much should I spend on a sub $500 studio monitor?

Usually, $500 is the sweet spot budget for studio monitors if you’re just getting started. To get the best value out of your money, you must spend as close to $500 as possible; the more you invest, the better the outcome.

What is the most important aspect when choosing Studio Monitors under $500?

Neutrality is of course the most important aspect of choosing a studio monitor under $500, but if your room is not even slightly treated, you won’t get the best out of them. Therefore, getting a monitor that offers frequency control settings might be more beneficial as it will help you go a long way. This will give you a grasp of how your mixing might translate into the “real world”.

How do sub $500 Studio Monitors compare to their more expensive counterparts?

More expensive monitors will offer more power and better drivers, meaning that they will have lower self-noise (less hiss). However, if you can tolerate the hiss, you are good to go since it does not influence your music

Furthermore, more expensive monitors will provide greater neutrality.

Can I mix professionally with a sub $500 Studio Monitor?

Yes, you can mix professionally with a sub $500 studio monitor. However, a $500 budget can only get you decent 6-7-inch monitors, so you might miss out on some frequencies. If you want an 8-inch monitor you should consider spending more money for an extended frequency range.