Cheap, yet Good Sounding Monitor Speakers

Discussion in 'Monitoring' started by Anonymous, Feb 17, 2013.

  1. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    New to recording, a bit low on cash from buying other gear. Any recommendations on cheap monitors that will give me the closest to real sound everyone would hear. The music I am doing is bass heavy, so good sounding bass is wanted. I have done some research, but most stuff I read online are pretty old, so I am looking for more up-to-date answers.
    Prefer the monitors to cost UNDER $100 for the PAIR. I know I won't get the best, but that is all I can spend on some decent ones. So what's the best I can get? Thanks in advance.
  2. Blue Bear Sound

    Blue Bear Sound Active Member

    Feb 15, 2001
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Home Page:
    What you're asking for doesn't exist.... THE MOST IMPORTANT THING in a studio is the ability to hear things correctly. Cheap monitors will never sound correct. Ever. Don't even try.

    You're better off selling something else and getting decent monitors than cheaping out on monitors and then literally guessing on how things sounds.

    Oh, and by the way, monitoring includes the room the monitors are in too -- if the room sounds like crap, then even the most expensive monitors will too.

    There are no shortcuts to this.
  3. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Member

    Sep 26, 2005
    Monitor speakers are as intimate as your underwear. Us professionals all have our favorites. And that's pluralized for each one of us. We don't just use a single pair of monitor speakers in our control rooms, either. I have three different sized and different brands in my main control room. I've got two other brands in the secondary control room. And I have two separate pairs and brands in the mobile home RV. Ya have to hear your stuff on multiple monitor speakers in your control room. And if ya don't have multiple speakers in your control room, you'll stick a disc in the living room stereo. You'll stick a disc in the car stereo. You'll listen to it on a couple of different headphones, earbuds. And that's what we all do.

    Now about your whopping $100 budget. You must be delivering doughnuts on another planet? Or you'll need to save up more money from your paper route and the allowance your parents give you to take out the trash. Otherwise, you are out of your cotton pickin', ever lovin' mind?

    So this leaves one other possible scenario? Can ya build a 1' x 1' x 1.5', 1 inch thick plywood box? Then all you need to do is to cut out a 4 inch hole. And either order a good one or just go over to Radio Shaft and pick up a couple of 4 inch speakers. You don't need tweeters. You don't need woofers. And the bigger the box and heavier it is, the better your low-end will be. This kind of a reference monitor is also something we have been all using since the late 1970s and they were originally called Aura Tones but they were inboxes virtually no bigger than the 4 inch speaker itself. And when you put them in a larger airtight box they can still make for excellent control room monitor speakers. Then you have to get a power amplifier and I wouldn't recommend anything under 75 W per channel. These speakers would blow out/will blow out, if you crank too much power into them. Though they can sustain peak power transients 3-4 times higher than their rated continuous RMS capacity allows for. But if you are a rap/hip-hop guy and you want thunderous low-end and you want to be heard from three blocks away like your car does, those speakers ain't for you. So you need some speakers that'll cost $150-$1500 each, not including the subwoofer. I mean if you want to race in the Indianapolis 500, your Toyota Corolla with 150,000 miles on your odometer will take you a couple of more days to finish after the race is over and everybody's gone home. And because of the expense involved with this equipment and what you absolutely positively need and must have, are generally impossible to obtain living below the poverty level or, on disability or, a ghetto kid whose $25 guitar emptied his piggy bank.

    There are of course many speakers out there available in your price range, all of which are abysmal, dinky small, have no low-frequency response and are not worth the salt on your food. And those are the cold hard facts. So maybe you should just tear the speakers out of the living room, purchase a crappy set of $100 per pair speakers and stick those in the living room. An old set of hi-fi speakers will likely outperform any $100 awful sounding Taiwanese speakers. I mean ya have to complete a certain number of tests before you are rewarded with your high school diploma right? Ya can't tell them that you could not afford your calculator so you just stuck in some arbitrary numbers as your answer because well, all numbers after all, look like numbers so it should be OK. And that you should pass because ya couldn't afford the calculator. And you know that ain't going to happen. I mean ya can go down to the store and buy some blank car keys. And they will slide very nicely into the lock. So they should start the car because you couldn't afford to have the locksmith cut all of those little teeth into the key. So it should still work, right? See where I'm going with this? I mean when your car runs out of gas, you don't hitch a horse to the front of your car, because you couldn't afford the gas. And how well will let car work on 1 hp? I can tell you this much... the horse will not be happy with you and is likely to deposit something very nasty on the hood of your car. And it will be OK if they just piles up on the hood of your car because he didn't have the money for a carwash. Well son, it requires an investment. And if you have nothing to invest? Ya might want to sign up for some work at Wal-Mart? But they don't take 15 year olds. Doesn't matter how capable you are. And even if you tried to bribe them with your $100, they still ain't gunna' hire ya.

    The bottom line is you need the proper tools to do a proper job. No tiki no washy.

    KRK became a favorite of mine some years back. They came out with a very nice little powered Monitor Speaker, at the time, called an RP-5 and I think they have some smaller ones of that? They are priced between $100-$150, and each and no subwoofer. You've got to have at least something like that. Those are the cold hard facts and nothing in life is fair. It takes money to make money. Especially in this business. I mean I alone had five pairs of JBL 4311's most of which I purchased used, some I purchased new. New they were about $333 each. Used, they were still about $150 each at best. And then ya still need a healthy 150 W per channel minimum, power amplifier. Those RPE-5's already have two amplifiers in each speaker box. No external amplifier needed. A great bang for the buck and they sound simply fantastic. I particularly like the KRK's because in many ways they sound very similar to my numerous and other JBL's. There are others that also sound quite good and I can work with them and on them even if I don't particularly care for them.

    Sorry that, that is the way it is.
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  4. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Nov 25, 2012
    Akron/Cleveland, OH
    Home Page:
    $100 isn't gonna get you much, if anything.

    Unless you stumble upon some crazy deal on ebay or craigslist and get jackpot lucky with someone who is desperate...

    BUT... as Blue Bear mentioned, the monitors are only part of the equation ..., you also need a room that will support the transparency or flatness of your monitors; so even if you dropped big money on a nice pair of NF's, if your room is lying to you acoustically, then even the best monitors money can buy won't work at their optimum or suggested performance.

    Now, add in the cost of a good power amp and, well... you're way over your budget, which isn't really a realistic budget at all when looking at a monitoring system.

    I don't suggest the following often, but in your case, at this point, you'd probably be better off getting a nice pair of headphones.

    For the money you have available, you'll get better headphones that will likely outperform any monitor you could purchase in that price range.

    And yes, mixing through cans certainly has it's shortcomings... but all things being equal (of which they're not) it will have far less shortcomings than mixing through a cheap pair of speakers in an un-tuned room will.

  5. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

    Mar 20, 2000
    BC, Canada
    Home Page:
    To add to already excellent advice, thumb

    This may be completely off the wall to the majority, but, you can turn down really low ( I mean low, so you can have a conversation with someone) to mix, then a flat room isn't quite as critical ( I'm told) But thats hear-say because my room is treated. Is it true?
    But its not fun compared so I will boot it up too. I check my mixes this way all the time . If they sound good at a low volume, I know things are pretty well balanced. Everything sounds better loud so, thats what I do more now than ever. Plus it saves your hearing.

    But I wouldn't necessarily recommend this on a cheap system so this won't apply to the OP but will for others just searching around.

    For the higher end Connoisseur, my monitor controller and speakers I use are excellent. This is another key ingredient in your monitoring system. Some, if not most monitor systems (I'm told) do weird and inaccurate things to the sound as the volume drops or increases. The Dangerous Monitor ST however, stays accurate at any level and the added options to check your mix in an array of ways, makes this incredible. Until I got that, I didn't realize how much I was guessing. Its a desert Island essential. The ST is a product that teaches you what serious monitoring is all about.

  6. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    Jul 21, 2009
    Boston, Massachusetts
    Home Page:
    for 100 bucks i'd get some phones, or a box of foam. you'll be as well off w/ some regular stereo speakers, as you would 100 monitors. stereo speakers won't give you the accuracy for really surgical/detailed balance things. but if your familiar w/ how your favorite stuff sounds, thru them, you'll be able to try to mimic that balance, and should get something reasonable.

    considering these speakers were made w/ average rooms in mind, and studio speakers are designed w/ flat rooms in mind, you should be okay, until you save enough money to get some decent speakers, and treat your room. the yamaha hsm 8's are pretty affordable. my personal fave in the low cost bracket, is the alesis m1 mk2's. for 300 bucks they are tough to beat. they are not uber accurate, but they sound 'like speakers' and stuff that sounds good on them sounds pretty good everywhere else. you can get a pair used for like 200. this is the only pair of monitors even remotely in that price range, that i would buy. in fact i'd be fine happy w/ them at home, if i didn't have the ones i have.

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