Upgrading Your Studio Monitors Part 2, Under 500
Todd Simpson
Oct 22 2020, 04:22 AM
Posts: 21.410
Joined: 23-December 09
From: Atlanta, Georgia, USA
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This is Part 2 of the “Upgrading Your Studio Monitors” series. This time, let’s look at monitors under $500 per pair. There are a few very good options at this price range. While this is not an exhaustive list, it’s a good start to get you thinking about what you want to look for in a set of monitors. Some have 5 inch woofers and some have inch woofers. The bass in the larger woofers may be a bit more pronounced but the 5 inch still provides solid thump and clarity. All of the monitors in this series of articles are “Nearfield”, meaning they are meant to be placed close to the mix position. Whereas “Main” monitors are often larger and often set further back from the mix position and sometimes mounted in the walls of a studio. Let’s take a look. ‘

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Kali Audio makes this list as well. The LP8 has an 8 inch woofer and the same 1 inch tweeter from teh lp6. They came out with an 8 inch version of their original monitors shortly after releasing the first model lp6. The Lp8 is very similar to the 6 and the only real difference is the larger woofer and slightly more powerful amplifier. The larger Kali has a 100 watt amp compared the smaller versions 80 watt amp. This is per speaker of course. These are Pro level monitors after all and as such each is individually amplified. They feature the same boundary eq controls via dip switches that smaller version has and both have XLR, TRS and RCA analogue inputs. Both feature very low levels of distortion and the same wave guide bass port. Both speakers have good bass response but the lp8 go down to 37hz (with a high of 22khz) where the lp6 stop at 39. Basically, they are a bit more powerful and have a bit more bass. The best part is that these monitors can be had for $400 a pair. This is simply a great value. These are arguably the best speaker in this price range as well.

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Fluid Audio is a company that has several of the folks from JBL working for them, so their pedigree is in good standing even though they are somewhat new on the scene. They feature a unique design where the tweeter is located in the center of the woofer. This reduces any phase issues that might be caused by locating the tweeter elsewhere. It’s a bold design that is similar to some much higher prices monitors. They feature an 8 inch woofer and a1 inch tweeter with a 110 watt power amp in each speaker cabinet. They are responsive from 35hz to 25khz which gives them even better bass response than the KALI monitors. They have boundary eq controls via dip switches on the back similar to the Kali. Our own KEN has a pair of FLUID AUDIO FX50 monitors which are a great value at $300 and feature a 5 inch driver instead of the 8 inch. The FX80 are great monitors at this price point.


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Yamaha has been making Monitors for a long long time. They are well known for the legendary NS-10 series of monitors with the famous white speaker cones that you see in just about every professional studio. The NS10 never sounded great, but they were consistent. That’s part of the reason they were installed everywhere. The successor is the HS series from Yamaha. These are very nice monitors and make a good addition to any studio. They feature a 5 inch woofer and 1 inch tweeter. Each enclosure has 70 watts of power. These do feature trim and room controls, but it’s not as extensive as the boundary eq offered by the other two in this roundup. Frequency response is from 54hz to 30khz. So The bass response is not quite as good as the other two sets either. However, these do have a 5 inch woofer which is smaller than the other two and smaller than the $300 Kali set which has a 6.5 inch woofer. This is not to say these monitors lack bass. They have accurate and precise bass due to the oversize magnets inside the unit. They just don’t have as much low extension as the other two sets. Still, these are very nice monitors and if you are a fan of Yamaha monitors, you can get into a pair without breaking the bank.

Information on KALI AUDIO LP series monitors

Information on FLUID AUDIO monitors


Information on YAMAHA monitors

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This post has been edited by Todd Simpson: Oct 22 2020, 04:33 AM
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