Best Small Studio Monitors | PreSonus Eris E3.5-3.5″s

best small studio monitors

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PreSonus Eris E3.5-3.5" Professional Multimedia Reference Monitors

8.9

Sound Quality

9.5/10

Build Quality

8.5/10

Frequency-Response

9.0/10

Connectivity

8.5/10

Support

9.0/10

Pros

  • 3.5" woven composite, low-frequency drivers
  • 1" silk-dome tweeters
  • I/O: 1x stereo TRS, 1x RCA, 1x 1/8" auxiliary & 1x headphone out
  • Includes 1x auxiliary cable, 1x RCA cable, 1x connector cables & 1x power cable.
  • These active speakers can deliver 50 watts of output together.

Cons

  • PreSonus doesn't include a pair of TRS jacks. I'll be recommending the ones I use later.

Although I haven’t placed much importance on the quality of my studio monitors in the past, I was recently inspired to purchase my own pair of PreSonus Eris 3.5-3.5″ Professional Multimedia Reference Monitors. I couldn’t believe how affordable they were and to be completely honest, I bought them without even thinking twice (or once!). PreSonus has created the best small studio monitors and they’re some of the highest quality reference monitors I’ve ever heard… 

There’s usually some compromise when it comes to these “budget” devices, but PreSonus has re-established the value point for small studio monitors. Typical multimedia speakers usually feature some elegant design, but the hardware is oftentimes of the lowest quality. The pair of PreSonus Eris E3.5-3.5” Professional Multimedia Reference Monitors exceeds the value-to-price ratio unlike any other product I’ve ever reviewed. If you’ve been reading my articles, you know how I never compromise quality for budget. You’ll also be expecting me to give you all the juicy details on this newly acquired piece of professional studio equipment!

An overview of the best small studio monitors

Big things do come in small packages, because these reference monitors pack a punch! And there’s no “artificial flavouring” when it comes to these speakers, their frequency response is impressively flat.

best small studio monitors

In audiophile jargon, that basically means there’s no boosted bass or any particular EQ curve.

The reason you’d want speakers with flat-response is to hear your music “as is”. When it comes to mixing and mastering, it becomes essential to have studio monitors with this ability. The speakers I had been using (Edifier R1010BT) weren’t designed for this purpose.

Another thing to consider when working with small studio monitors is obviously their size. It’s actually an advantage when it comes to the Eris E3.5-3.5″s because they can fit pretty much anywhere. You’d be surprised how loud they can get and how defined the entire frequency spectrum is (especially the bottom-end).

Taking all that into consideration, the Eris E3.5-3.5″s are all any music producer on a budget could ever dream of. They can be connected via a pair of TRS jacks and/or RCA cables. The two units are powered with the included power adapter.

The Presonus Eris E3.5-3.5″s are also designed for gaming and anything related to multimedia. This also makes them the perfect “all-in-one solution” for audiophiles as well and on that note… Let’s dive deeper into the best small studio monitors for music production.

The best small studio monitors sound great in just about any acoustic space

There was a time when purchasing larger speakers was guaranteed to produce better results. Nowadays, technology has come so far that you wouldn’t be able to hear the difference between the PreSonus Eris E3.5-3.5”s and E4.5-4.5”s.

There’s certainly a difference, but the “gap” between PreSonus’ larger (because there are other models this series) and smaller models is relatively narrow.

Regardless of the model you choose, you’ll be experiencing the exact same high-quality components. It’s generally expected that smaller speakers will have more difficulty producing a well-defined bottom-end. However, you won’t need to compromise the quality of those low-frequencies with the Eris E3.5-3.5”s.

Each model in the Eris series uses a woven composite, low-frequency driver. PreSonus claims that their design permits an unparalleled dispersion across the entire frequency spectrum. In layman’s terms, the small size of the speaker cone won’t compromise clarity and/or articulation.

best small studio monitors

It’s true, not only do these reference monitors sound bigger than they actually are, but they sound incredibly clean. I immediately heard the difference between my Edifier R1010BT speakers which sounded quite “muddy” in comparison.

The tweeters on the Eris E3.5-3.5” are also surprisingly smooth. There’s an indescribable brilliance in the high register.

You’ll need to hear the difference for yourselves, but rest assured that they sound like a pair of high-quality studio monitor speakers.

This particular model is also equipped with 1” silk-dome tweeters, but as small as they are, they still manage to project sound evenly across the entirety of an acoustic space. In other words, you can move around the room and hear somewhat of a consistency regardless of your position.

best small studio monitors

Focusing in on PreSonus’ acclaimed “acoustic tuning”, it may actually be what’s responsible for these results.

The speakers themselves have been designed to accommodate a variety of acoustic spaces. If you’ve worked with reference monitors before, you know how their placement impacts what you hear. It doesn’t seem to be much cause for concern with the E3.5-3.5”s though.

They sound great in spaces that haven’t been acoustically treated which is good news for most of us!

The Eris E3.5-3.5” small studio monitors are compatible with many devices

The main reason I decided to upgrade to some legitimate studio monitors was due to compatibility. I actually purchased my Edifier R1010BTs for my turntable, not for music production.

With my recently acquired Universal Audio Arrow, I needed studio monitors that could take a pair of TRS jacks.

Untitled design 4
I found a new place to rest my Universal Audio Arrow!

The PreSonus Eris E3.5-3.5”s can also take RCA cables and includes an ⅛” auxiliary input. They even manufacture an alternate model of the E3.5-3.5” that features Bluetooth connectivity.

I can’t comment on the quality of this particular model because I personally didn’t need Bluetooth. From experience, I wouldn’t rely on wireless when working with some rather demanding applications (like your DAW).

There’s bound to be latency issues and it’ll require more resources from your computer.

That being said, Bluetooth connectivity can be interesting, but I’m much more fond of the auxiliary input! It’s one of the features I wish I had on my pair of Edifier R1010BTs.

best small studio monitors
As you can see in the little diagram, TRS jacks are simply 1/4″ jacks with an extra line. Instead of the usual ground + lead (hot), the extra lead (cold?) can create what we refer to as a balanced signal. Just like your typical microphone (XLR) cable.

All in all, you’ve potentially got yourself four different types of inputs to work with and PreSonus has even included an ⅛” headphone output on the front. You may be thinking that this is useless if your audio interface already has a headphone output, BUT…

If your audio interface only has ONE headphone output, you could benefit from the extra output. For example, you may be collaborating with another music producer, so you’ll eventually find a use for it!

It’s really nice that PreSonus hasn’t left anything out on this one. I expected much less, but the value they managed to pack into these small studio monitors is much appreciated!

Can you really produce music without these small studio monitors?

To be honest, I haven’t been relying on studio monitors for pretty much my entire music career (until now). I personally believe that studio headphones are much more important since they provide the most accuracy (they’re basically like stethoscopes for musicians).

However, you’re probably aware that headphones tend to exaggerate stereo panning, so they can’t be trusted 100%.

I still believe that you can get by with some pretty cheap (quality-wise, not in terms of price) studio monitors. Basically, you’d simply need to use them to adjust any levels that seem exaggerated due to the phenomenon I just mentioned.

The argument that “most people listen to music on cheap speakers” is completely valid in my opinion. It’s important that your mix sounds great on great headphones/monitors, but how does it sound like to everyone else?

You can see where I’m going with this…

priyash vasava x3klySvlVzg unsplash
It needs to sound good on these earphones too. Mixing and Mastering Secret: Listen to your mix on AS MANY devices as you can.

That being said, I never wanted to invest too much on studio monitors. However, once I discovered the PreSonus Eris E3.5-3.5”s, it almost seemed like more of a loss to NOT buy them.

They only cost slightly more than my previous cheap speakers, but the quality far exceeds their price point. Even if you tend to mix and master with headphones 99% of the times like I do, you’ll still find much use for these small studio monitors.

For example, when you’re thinking of taking a break, you can use the E3.5-3.5”s to play video games and watch movies (after getting some work done!).

Listening to music on these studio monitors is much more enjoyable than my previous pair. That alone has made the purchase worth my while. I can finally hear what the artist was hearing and produce my music accordingly.

They’re the best reference monitors I’ve ever worked with and I honestly couldn’t imagine working without them. PreSonus has created one of those rare gems that everyone should own and they’ve made it quite accessible regardless of your financial situation.

It’s simple… I like gear that I can afford, but I’ll never compromise QUALITY! I’m grateful that PreSonus understands that.

The PreSonus Eris E3.5-3.5”s are the best small studio monitors

I guess it was finally time for me to invest in some high-quality studio monitors. PreSonus convinced me to take the plunge and I’m glad that I decided to do so! I simply needed a pair of studio monitors with TRS inputs, but I got SO much more.

Untitled design 5
I love how they fit perfectly on my windowsill. The granite and window seem to be adding some “special depth” to my personal experience of these speakers as well.

They may be small, but the Eris E3.5-3.5”s sound much bigger than they look.

If anything, their small size is actually an advantage since it makes them much more portable. Another thing that really impressed me is their sound projection. They sound incredible in just about any room, but I’ve personally tested them in two spaces.

I don’t want to give anyone the wrong idea, but they actually DO project sound evenly. It’s not incredibly noticeable, but if you’re accustomed to mathematically plotting the position of your monitors, you’ll realize the difference.

PreSonus attributed this to their “acoustic tuning” which is not to be confused with the two-band EQ on the rear panel. There’s been some serious thought that’s been put into these speakers and sometimes it’s these subtle improvements that make the most significant changes.

As my first piece of gear from PreSonus, I have to say that I’m quite satisfied with their business ethic. They really put out an incredible product at the most competitive of prices.

Check out the PreSonus Eris E3.5-3.5” Professional Multimedia Reference Monitor…

You can even consider the alternate model which includes Bluetooth connectivity…

PreSonus doesn’t include any TRS jacks, so here are the ones I use…

I hope you’ve found all the information you were looking for. If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to leave us a comment and I will personally get back to you! Please consider sharing this page with your music producer friends. I’m sure they’d love to know about the best small studio monitors. Thanks!

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18 Responses

  1. In the spirit of continuing to give during this time, I’ve been thinking about gift ideas for my loved ones, even if there’s not a traditional “special occasion” for it. My brother is a guitar player and drummer and is currently working on building himself a studio in his house. I’m definitely going to bookmark your post and keep the PreSonus monitors in mind as a gift idea for him. Thanks! 

    1. Hey Tucker!

      Since most of us are stuck at home, now’s the best time to start working on the projects we’ve always wanted to undertake. If you ever decide to purchase them, I’m sure your brother will love them!

      I’m quite the multi-instrumentalist myself and these monitors are impressively accurate. They’re especially useful for virtual guitar/bass amplifiers since you can monitor them live. They sound like the real thing!

      I wish you and your brother the best during these difficult times!

      – Stefan

  2. One of my very good friends who is into music production is having his birthday in a couple of weeks and after thinking for a while, I thought I should get him a very nice looking studio monitor. I do not know much about the equipments because I am not into it and j also understand very well what it means to try impress a person who loves art. So I want to thank you for your review here. It has helped me make a good decision. Cheers!

    1. Hey Riley!

      I think any music producer, even if they already have another pair of studio monitors, would appreciate these. Having multiple configurations to monitor your music is actually quite common amongst professional music producers.

      Your friend will most likely be impressed. Most people that have heard music through these are actually surprised to find out that they aren’t expensive.

      I’m glad I could help you find the perfect gift for your friend. Although, I’m sure he/she will be grateful for the thought you put into it, regardless of what you end up picking out!

      Thanks for stopping by!

      – Stefan

  3. I have been using headphones for the studio and hadn’t really thought about buying some studio monitors. Well this was until I came across some small cheap ones in a local online store, I didn’t think twice too but those ones were really a disappointment, I think I forgot to check for quality. Well my friend then brought his small monitors at the apartment we share at school, it was real good and I think I should try out  these PreSonus Eris E3.5-3.5 and I’m looking forward to some good quality, your review of them does promise good stuff, thanks a lot.

    1. Hey Donny!

      It’s always difficult when buying audio hardware online. Ideally, you’d be capable of trying the item out before buying it, but Amazon is really easy to deal with when it comes to returns.

      I was actually in the same situation as you when I bought my first studio monitors. However, at the time it was difficult to distinguish between what was good and what was better.

      The moral of the story is you need to try things out for yourself. I’ve been searching for the best since I got started, so I’m grateful to have the opportunity to share my findings with you! What I can say about the Eris 3.5 is that I would certainly buy them again.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      – Stefan

    1. Hey Camo!

      By DAC, do you mean digital audio convert as in your audio interface? What are you using?

      The cable you found works if you’re using an 1/8th inch output (like on your phone) and connecting it to a pair of TRS inputs (like the Eris E3.5s). The only problem is that your signal wouldn’t actually be balanced.

      The speakers actually come with an auxiliary cable which I use to connect my Mac Mini’s headphone out to the auxiliary input on the front of the Eris E3.5s. Your audio interface needs to have a pair of TRS outputs if you want your signal to be truly balanced. Otherwise, you can also use the RCA (red/white) cables which are included.

      I basically use two of these (one for the left and one for the right). It’s the only one I could find on the UK store.

      The one you found isn’t necessary in my opinion because like I said, the speakers include an auxiliary cable.

      I hope that helps, feel free to reply if you need any more assistance. All the best!

      – Stefan

      1. Hello again Stefan, thanks for your quick reply.

        My 3.5s arrived today and I am just speechless / amazed at this marvelous creation. These are the words I would use to describe the Presonus – minimal, small, powerful, beautiful, rugged, light, sparkly, balanced, deep, versatile…😅

        Well, you get the idea. I’m sure this is going to be an amazing honeymoon (as it usually is with some new sounding speakers), but these already feel way more than that to me. They’re already making a bigger impression.

        I did some research earlier on TS, TRS, TRRS jacks and realised where I was going wrong. So I’ve scrubbed that idea for now, I will need a separate interface that can output in Balanced. Otherwise theres no reason buying any kind of cables. So I just used my professional Loops cables to hook them up to my classic FiiO E7 (Wolfson WM8740 audiophile chip) and the Eris have been musically singing wonderful notes.

        I’ve also tried them with an ESS Sabre 9023 based DAC and the signature comes out super sharp and clear with a presentation focused toward cold / analytical.

        I still cannot get over how compact they are though.

        Thanks again!
        Camo.

        1. I’m glad to hear the speakers have exceeded your expectations!

          I felt the same when I received mine. In comparison, it made my old monitors sound even worse than I thought they already were LOL. The “honeymoon period” is still going strong for me, I’m still re-exploring everything I’ve ever listened to. The last thing I’ve been meaning to do is test them with my turntable, that’s when those RCA cables will come in handy.

          I’m using the Universal Audio Arrow as my audio interface, but to be honest the unbalanced signal via the auxiliary cable doesn’t make much of a difference when I listen to music. I think investing in an interface that supports TRS is only worth it if you’re producing, mixing and mastering music (or an audiophile, which it sounds like you are).

          TRS basically gets rid of any static/mains hum. I hear the difference right away, but it doesn’t improve the sound itself.

          Anyway, I really appreciate your feedback Camo! If you ever need anything else, feel free to reach out.

          Thanks, take care!

          – Stefan

  4. Hi Stefan,

    Thanks for replying once more.

    Yeah I have a long standing Head-Fi account and earphones/headphones/DAC/AMPs have been a hobby of mine for a long time – 10+ years. I’ve slowed down a lot in the last couple years though, as its pretty expensive haha. I would like to try balanced at some point, I might pick up another FiiO Q1ii it has a 2.5mm stereo balanced output then somehow I can get a cable that works. Or save up and buy a proper interface since I’m planning to do a streaming setup anyways.

    BTW I dooo have some questions about the Eris, is there somewhere ewe can communicate in an easier fashion? If you have Twitter you can find me on http://twitter.com/camogeko, you should be able to dm me.

    Feel free to delete this message after you you find me on there. 🙌

    Cheers.
    Camo

    1. Hey Camo,

      Sure, I’ll follow you on Twitter. However, the easiest way to contact me is through my contact page. I don’t use Twitter much.

      Later!

      – Stefan

  5. I find these speakers way too overhyped. All reviews i’ve seen feel like they are sponsored like crazy. I have the speakers and am not amazed at all. The sound is flat (ofcourse they are some sort of monitor speakers) but they really sound muddy and empty to me. I bought them cause of all the reviews but am pretty disappointed. I also have the Hercules Monitor 42 who lay in the same price range and they amaze me much more. Unfortunately hercules is less known and they don’t have the balanced inputs, otherwise they would be a much better alternative (in my ears). I don’t really mind about the unbalanced inputs so i have returned the e3.5’s and kept the hercules 42.

    1. Hey Rex!

      Thanks for taking the time to voice your opinion. Just to clarify, my article isn’t sponsored by PreSonus however, I do receive commissions if anyone decides to purchase them through me (hence the disclaimer at the top and bottom).

      I hadn’t considered the Hercules DJ Monitor 42 because they’re actually much more expensive in my country (Canada). If you haven’t read my previous reviews, the common theme with all of them is that I recommend affordable gear without compromising quality. I personally own (or have owned) every product I write about.

      I understand your disappointment with the Eris E3.5, but I have to disagree about the sound quality.

      The fact that they sound “flat” is actually really desirable. I’m a music producer and use them to reference my mixes and they do an excellent job of giving me accurate results. If you’re looking for something with boosted frequencies and a particular sound, then I understand why you’ve decided to return them.

      It seems like the Hercules monitors are catered for DJs (more bass I presume).

      If you were a music producer, you’d also understand how important balanced inputs are. I personally had no choice either way because my audio interface only features TRS (balanced outputs).

      I still appreciate the time you took to write about your experience. It’s nice to have contrasting opinions, but keep in mind that my website is catered for musicians/music producers, not DJs and/or audiophiles.

      I love the Eris E3.5 and will continue promoting them regardless of the commissions. I actually found that very few people were talking about these monitors, so I had to spread the word!

      Thanks for stopping by, take care Rex!

      – Stefan

  6. Hi Stefan,
    Thank you very much for your honest opinions bout those speakers!
    Im looking for a budget entry level speakers with good flat sound for video editing and found those.

    I watched some YT Videos about them and a few people told me that its a must to connect them to an audio interface to get the balanced RTS sound, cause the sound you get with directly plugging them into my PC sounds just ok.

    I mean i could buy lets say a used Focusrite 2i4 to achieve the blanced sound but that would cost me an additional 90€.

    So im here to ask you. Would you recooment me those speakers even though im going to plug them directy into my PC? Will them sound still way better than lets say some logitech 2.0/2.1 PC Speakers?

    And can you tell me about the hissing? Is there any hiss when you conntect them directly?

    Thank you so much, your answers to my questions would help me a lot!
    Emre

    1. Hey Emre!

      I actually connect these speakers directly to my computer quite often.

      For example, when I listen to music/watch YouTube videos, I connect them using the provided auxiliary cable into my Mac Mini’s 1/8″ headphone output.

      You’ll certainly get some minor noise/hissing, but only when nothing’s playing. During playback, there’s not much difference between the balanced and auxiliary inputs. The included auxiliary cable is pretty short which also minimizes noise.

      If you’ll be using an extension, it may result in more noise though.

      That being said, I think you’ll be much happier with these. I recommend investing in an audio interface at some point, but I think the Eris E3.5s sound MUCH better than anything Logitech makes.

      I hope that answers your question! Don’t hesitate to contact me if you need further assistance.

      Thanks for dropping by!

      – Stefan

      P.S.: The only real advantage of TRS is the improved signal-to-noise ratio.

      1. Hey Stefan,
        thank you so much for your respond!

        Well, Im looking forward to get a pair of those soon. Im convinced that its the better deal especially for the price, i mean 99€? Its actually cheaper than a better logitech or razer desktop speaker 😀

        Thanks again and as soon as i got them i will let you know 🙂
        Emre

        1. I’m glad to hear that! Keep me posted, I can’t wait to hear what you think of them.

          Take it easy!

          – Stefan

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