Is it time to ditch those earbuds or computer speakers and upgrade?

You might have a decent-sounding set of computer speakers, but that doesn’t mean you have studio monitors. And while a nice pair of headphones certainly has a place in your recording setup, a good pair of monitors is a must for referencing tracks. You can spend a lot in this category, but here are 10 solid sets that’ll set you back less than $500.

EQUATOR AUDIO

D5 These monitors feature Equator’s Zero-Point Reference custom-designed coaxial transducers along with internal DSP to provide a matched output curve for every unit, allowing for accurate no-shift imaging.
$399

STERLING AUDIO

MX8These bi-amped monitors are outfitted with proprietary 8" low-frequency driver cones and use dual-axis WaveGuidanceVH technology for optimal wider-and-higher frequency dispersion.
$499

JBL

LSR308The LSR308s feature JBL’s Slip Stream low-frequency port design for deep bass response, and the Image Control Waveguide originally developed for the company’s high-end reference monitors.
$499

YAMAHA

HS5The HS5s feature dedicated power amps perfectly matched to the 5" woofer and 1" tweeter, a port design that reduces noise up to 6 dB, and an enclosure built to kill unwanted resonances.
$399

M-AUDIO

BX8 CarbonEquipped with an 8" woven-Kevlar low-frequency driver and 1.25" natural-silk dome tweeter, these monitors deliver a flat frequency response and increased clarity for accurate mixing.
$499

MACKIE

MR8mk3The 85-watt MR8mk3s feature a waveguide designed for excellent clarity and openness, as well as matched amps and drivers and an all-wood cabinet design.
$399

KRK

Rokit 8 G3These monitors feature a proprietary waveguide that’s optimized for superior imaging, controls for high- and lo-frequency adjustments, and a lightweight, composite woofer for clear midrange and tight bass.
$499

BEHRINGER

Truth B1031AThese budget-friendly monitors have built-in limiter circuitry, a wide sweet spot, and boast 150 watts powering the 8" Kevlar woofer and 1" silk-dome tweeter.
$399

PRESONUS

Eris E8Housing an 8" Kevlar woofer and an ultra-low-mass, high-frequency 1.25" tweeter, these 140-watt monitors feature a front-firing acoustic port and resonance-suppressing internal bracing.
$499

SAMSON

Resolv SE8These monitors feature an 8" carbon-fiber woofer for tight, controlled bass, a 4-position high-frequency lift control, and a time-aligned waveguide for even dispersion across a wide listening area.
$399
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