The Top 11 Best Powered PA Speakers

The Highest Rated Powered PA Speakers

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Powered Speakers, also known as active speakers, are speaker systems with amplifiers built into their enclosures. This configuration allows manufacturers to better match the amplifier with the speaker, resulting in improved performance and fidelity. The convenience of having a manufacturer matched speaker and amplifier in one cabinet makes powered PA speakers more appealing to many musicians and sound engineers, even when considering the extra weight.

With so many viable speakers on the market, and many more being released, we have taken another look to see which ones are the current best powered PA speakers based on data up to August of 2019. This time around, we simplified the guide by reorganized our recommendations based on price range, the sub $500 and sub $1500. We've also included a budget friendly option for those with limited funds to allocate.

The Best Powered PA Speakers

Best Budget Powered PA Speaker:

Behringer Eurolive B112D 12" Powered PA Speaker

90
GEARANK

90 out of 100. Incorporating 300+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$294
Behringer Eurolive B112D 1000 watt Powered PA Speaker

The Eurolive B112D is a testament to Behringer's improving quality and continued popularity, convincing even critics that affordable doesn't always mean compromised quality. For the money, this speaker comes packed with a 12" woofer and a 1.35" tweeter, bi-amped by the 1000W (Peak) built-in amplifier, and everything is crammed into a light yet sturdy plastic enclosure. It also lets you shape the resulting sound with its 2-band EQ control and integrated mixer. Integrated DSP for speaker protection and compatibility with Behringer's Ultralink ULM wireless systems add to the already good value that this speaker brings to the table.

Specifications:

  • LF Driver: 12" Cone
  • HF Driver: 1.35" Aluminum Compression
  • Amplifier: Bi-amplified Class D
  • Output Power Peak: 1000W (700W LF, 300W HF)
  • Output Power Continuous: Not Specified*
  • Frequency Response: 50Hz - 20kHz
  • Maximum Peak SPL: 127dB
  • Crossover Frequency: 2.8kHz
  • Enclosure: Plastic
  • Mounting: Pole
  • Inputs: 2 x XLR/TRS Combo
  • Outputs: 1 x XLR
  • Controls: Power Switch, Input 1 & 2 Knobs, High and Low EQ Knobs, Wireless Compatibility.
  • Dimensions: 22.4" × 13.4" × 10.6"
  • Weight: 27.1 lbs.

* Behringer are yet to respond to our request for information.

Pros
While there are still a few who say that quality still needs improvement, they are now vastly outnumbered by positive reviews from musicians, DJs and other users. Good reviews continue to pour in for the B112D, many of which are consistent in saying that this speaker sounds really good, especially for the price. Even its durability is being praised by users who are still satisfied after many regular gigs.

Cons
Weighing in at just 27.1 lbs, this powered speaker is easy to carry around, but its light weight causes some to be worried about its ruggedness. Still this is something that proper handling should be able to address, and its not like these speakers will easily break, because some reviewers have used them for years without fail.

Overall
If you're looking for a budget friendly 12" powered speaker for your instrument or for your PA, the B112D is the way to go.

Best Powered PA Speakers under $500:

Electro-Voice ZLX-12P 12" Powered PA Speaker

93
GEARANK

93 out of 100. Incorporating 850+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$399
Electro-Voice ZLX-12P 12" Powered PA Speaker - 1000W

The Electro-Voice ZLX-12P is well received for its versatile built-in DSP, which allows for tuning, limiting and crossover functions. It lets you tune your speaker for different applications via manual EQ or by using Mode and Location presets. It also has limiter and crossover presets for better protection and pairing with subwoofers. This digital brain controls the ZLX-12P's hardware components which include a 500W (Continuous RMS) amplifier, a 12" woofer and a 1.5" titanium compression driver, all of which work together to provide a versatile solution for various venues and events. Max SPL is 126dB, so these speakers are not meant to handle bigger venues by themselves, but should be good enough for most applications.

Specifications:

  • LF Driver: 12" Cone
  • HF Driver: 1.5" Titanium Compression
  • Amplifier: Bi-amplified Class D
  • Output Power Peak: 1000W
  • Output Power Continuous: : 500W RMS
  • Frequency Response: 65Hz - 18kHz (-6dB)
  • Frequency Range: 50Hz - 20kHz
  • Maximum Peak SPL: 126dB
  • Crossover Frequency: 1.7kHz
  • Enclosure: Polypropylene
  • Mounting: Pole
  • Inputs: 2 x XLR-1/4" combo, 1 x 1/8" (aux in)
  • Outputs: 1 x XLR
  • Controls: 3-band EQ, limiter, Mode and Location presets, Crossover presets
  • Dimensions: 24" × 14" × 14"
  • Weight: 34.3 lbs.

Pros
From FOH for small venues, to floor monitors for bigger ones, many consider the ZLX-12P to be flexible and reliable. Even those who are skeptical find themselves liking the performance of this speaker after giving it a try. The ability to quickly tune the speaker for different venues have made this a favorite for mobile setups.

Cons
There were a few who report that the exterior is easy to scratch, so they recommend careful handling. There are also some who note that this speaker is a bit heavy at 34.3 lbs, but it still is not the heaviest among other 12" active speakers.

Overall
If you're looking for a veratile bang per buck powered speaker that can be tuned for different venues then check out the Elevtro-Voice ZLX-12P.

Yamaha DBR10 10" Powered PA Speaker

97
GEARANK

97 out of 100. Incorporating 150+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$400
Yamaha DBR10

The DBR series from Yamaha is designed to give us more options in the portable powered speaker market. And it looks like they hit the jackpot with the DBR10, because it continues to rake in positive reviews from DJs, musicians, sound engineers and many more. For a speaker with 10" woofer, the DBR10 is loud, but more importantly it is incredibly light for what it can do at just 23.2 lbs! This makes it ideal for performers who have to carry their own PA equipment. Interestingly, many of the features found in the more expensive DXR series are available in the DBR series, albeit with less output power. In particular, the DBR10 features Yamaha's DSP based FIR-X crossover tuning, D-Contour controls, and onboard mixer (2-channel).

Specifications:

  • LF Driver: 10" Cone, 2" Voice Coil Ferrite Magnet
  • HF Driver: 1" Throat Compression
  • Amplifier: Bi-amplified Class D
  • Output Power Peak: 700W (500W LF, 200W HF)
  • Output Power Continuous: : 325W (260W LF, 65W HF)
  • Frequency Response: 55Hz-20kHz (-10dB)
  • Maximum Peak SPL: 129dB
  • Crossover Frequency: 2.1kHz
  • Enclosure: Plastic
  • Mounting: Pole, Floor, Wedge
  • Inputs: 2 x XLR/TRS Combo, 1 x Stereo
  • Outputs: 1 x XLR
  • Controls: Power Switch, 3 x Level Knobs, Mic/Line Switch, D-Contour (FOH, Off, Monitor), HPF Switch (120Hz, 100Hz, Off)
  • Dimensions: 19.4" x 12.1" x 11.4"
  • Weight: 23.2 lbs.

Pros
Many were impressed by how loud the DBR10 is, especially when considering its weight and size. Reviews report that it works great as Front of House loudspeaker for small to medium size venues, covering different musical styles. There are also musicians who turn it into a reference monitor, be it for amp modelers, electric drums, keyboards and more.

Cons
There are a few who note that the overall projection is a bit lacking. Another cause of concern is its ABS plastic exterior which some report to be prone to scratches, so proper handling when moving and setting up is advised.

Overall
If you want nothing less than the best powered PA speaker in the sub $500 price range, then get the Yamaha DBR10.

Electro-Voice ZLX-15P 15" Powered PA Speaker

96
GEARANK

96 out of 100. Incorporating 600+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$449
Electro-Voice ZLX-15P Powered PA Speaker - 1000W

The Electro-Voice ZLX-15P gives you quality sound reinforcement with more oomph at a reasonable price point. Priced at $100 more than the 12" model, the extra cost is justified by its extended low end, thanks to its 15" woofer. This bigger woofer is paired with the same 1.5" high frequency titanium compression driver and 500 Watt (Continuous RMS) Bi-amplifier. Combining all this together makes for a bulkier and heavier speaker at 38 lbs, but it is an expected inconvenience that many DJs and electronic musicians are willing to accept. The same DSP features are available, including mode and location presets, limiter and built-in EQ.

Specifications:

  • LF Driver: 15" Cone
  • HF Driver: 1.5" Titanium Compression
  • Amplifier: Bi-amplified Class D
  • Output Power Peak: 1000W
  • Output Power Continuous: : 500W RMS
  • Frequency Response: 50Hz - 18kHz (-6dB)
  • Frequency Range: 42Hz - 20kHz
  • Maximum Peak SPL: 127dB
  • Crossover Frequency: 1.7kHz
  • Enclosure: Polypropylene
  • Mounting: Pole
  • Inputs: 2 x XLR-1/4" combo, 1 x 1/8" (aux in)
  • Outputs: 1 x XLR
  • Controls: 3-band EQ, Limiter, Mode and Location Presets, Crossover Presets
  • Dimensions: 27" × 17" × 15"
  • Weight: 38 lbs.

Pros
More and more users add to the ZLX-15P's ever growing list of satisfied customers, most of them stating that it is a great value loud speaker, especially for those who need more bottom end, without having to resort to a subwoofer. And it's not just DJs and EDM musicians, because it also got a lot of thumbs up from bands and even singing groups.

Cons
One of the few concerns about this speaker is its lack of output volume (max SPL of just 127dB), especially when considering its size. There are some who comment that the limiter is probably protecting the speaker too much, resulting in actual output reduction at times.

Overall
If you're looking for an affordable speaker that reproduces good low end for small venues, then you'll want to consider this one.

RCF ART 310-A MK III 10" Powered PA Speaker

94
GEARANK

94 out of 100. Incorporating 175+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$499
RCF ART 310-A MK III 10" Powered PA Speaker

It's not surprising to see RCF Audio in this list, especially when considering that they were among the pioneers of the active PA speaker design. The ART 310-A MKIII exemplifies their successful formula, which is to produce reasonably priced and versatile audio equipment. At its core is a 400W RMS amplifier that drives a 10" cone woofer with 2.5" voice coil, and a 1" tweeter, which is good enough for most small venues. Versatility is accomplished via DSP, which lets you select between two distinct voicings: flat and boost. As the name implies, flat is voiced to be as transparent as possible for use with most styles of music. On the other hand, boost adds a bit bass, ideal for music styles that need more bass frequencies.

Specifications:

  • LF Driver: 10" Cone, 2.5" Voice Coil
  • HF Driver: 1" Titanium Dome, 1.5" Voice Coil
  • Amplifier: Bi-amplified Class D
  • Output Power Peak: 600W
  • Output Power Continuous: 300W
  • Frequency Response: 50Hz - 20kHz(-10dB)
  • Maximum Peak SPL: 127dB
  • Crossover Frequency: 1.8kHz
  • Enclosure: Composite Polypropylene
  • Mounting: Pole, Floor Wedge, Fly
  • Inputs: 1 x XLR-1/4" Combo
  • Outputs: 1 x XLR, 1 x TRS
  • Controls: Power Switch, Volume Knob, Flat/Boost Button, Line/Mic Button
  • Dimensions: 21.4" × 13.26" × 12.4"
  • Weight: 27.77 lbs.

Pros

The main strength of the Art 310-A MKIII is its ability to reproduce sonic details that are not usually expected in this price range. There are reports of this speaker working well with music playback, DJ rigs and even speech. Many are also satisfied with its projection. And there are plenty of users who vouch for its solid build.

Cons

There are some who feel that the sound of the flat channel is too bland, but this just means that the speaker is working as intended.

Overall

If you prefer sound quality over projection, for small venue use, then the RCF ART 310-A MKIII is for you.

Yamaha DBR12 12" Powered PA Speaker

93
GEARANK

93 out of 100. Incorporating 150+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$500
Yamaha DBR12 12" Powered PA Speaker

As you may have noticed, most powered PA speakers are designed to work well as Front of House speakers or as floor monitors. Yamaha joins this trend with the DBR12, with its D-Contour switch that makes it easy to tune your speaker depending on how you want to use it. It sports a 12" woofer with a max SPL of 131dB that makes it loud enough for small to medium size venues. And if you need to add a subwoofer for more low-end, the DBR12 has a highpass to make integration easier. Finally, you can use the Yamaha DBR12 as a standalone compact PA system with its built-in mixer functionality.

Specifications:

  • LF Driver: 12" LF Driver, 2" Voice Coil
  • HF Driver: 1/4" Voice Coil
  • Amplifier: Bi-amplified Class D
  • Output Power Peak: 1000W (800W LF | 200W HF
  • Output Power Continuous: 465W (400W LF, 65W HF)
  • Frequency Response: 52Hz - 20kHz(-10dB)
  • Maximum Peak SPL: 131dB
  • Crossover Frequency: 2.1kHz: FIR-X tuning™ (linear phase FIR filter)z
  • Enclosure: Composite Polypropylene
  • Mounting: Pole, Floor Wedge, Fly
  • Inputs: 2 x XLR/TRS Combo (Mic/Line), 1 x Stereo
  • Outputs: 1 x XLR, 1 x TRS
  • Controls: Power Switch, Volume Knob, Flat/Boost Button, Line/Mic Button
  • Dimensions: 23.7" × 14.8" × 13.7"
  • Weight: 34.8 lbs.

Pros

Users have mostly good things to say about this speaker, be it as FOH or as a stage monitor. It is often commended for its projection and powerful bass, which is quite surprising given that it's not a 15" speaker. Guitarists, drummers, other musicians, singers and even speakers have all chipped in to keep this speaker rated very highly. Mike Croft of Sound on Sound had mostly good things to say in his review, which he concludes: "They are powerful enough for small-to-medium live-sound gigs, have a pleasing smoothness and warmth to the sound even when driven hard, are lightweight and easy to handle, and they make great stage monitors".

Cons

One issue with turning FOH speakers on its side to be a stage monitor is the awkward position and orientation of controls, but this is a worthy compromise to reduce extra moveable parts. This is especially obvious with the DBR12, where you may have to bend your neck sideways to see the control layout properly .

Overall

With Yamaha's big brand quality backing the DBR12, along with the many positive ratings that it continues to get this powered PA speaker will not disappoint.

Best Powered PA Speakers under $1500:

Yamaha DXR10 10" Powered PA Speaker

96
GEARANK

96 out of 100. Incorporating 200+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$600
Yamaha DXR10 Powered PA Speaker

The DXR10 is meant to be a portable pro-quality active PA speaker, with its 10" woofer, compact cabinet frame, and relatively lighter weight. For its size, the DXR10 is capable of pumping more low end than you'd expect showcasing Yamaha's impressive ability to provide market leading quality. At its core is a 700W (Continuous) rated amplifier with DSP FIR-X tuning technology for phase optimization. Complementing its portable profile is the built-in 3-channel mixer that turns lets you use the speaker as a small PA system when needed.

Specifications:

  • LF Driver: 10" Cone, 2" Voice-Coil
  • HF Driver: 1.4" Throat Compression
  • Amplifier: Bi-amplified Class D
  • Output Power Peak: 1100W (950W LF, 150W HF)
  • Output Power Continuous: : 700W (600W LF, 100W HF)
  • Frequency Response: 56Hz - 20kHz (-10dB)
  • Maximum Peak SPL: 131dB
  • Enclosure: ABS Thermoplastic
  • Mounting: Pole, Floor Wedge, Fly
  • Inputs: 2 x XLR, 2 x 1/4", 2 x RCA
  • Outputs: 1 x XLR (Link)
  • Controls: Power Button, 3 x Level Knobs, Mic/Line Switch, D-Contour (FOH, Off, Monitor), HPF Switch (120Hz, 100Hz, Off), Mono/Stereo Switch
  • Dimensions: 19.75" × 12" × 12.25"
  • Weight: 32.2 lbs.

Pros
Warm and portable are two descriptive words that summarize what the market feels about the Yamaha DXR10. Users from various musical backgrounds are impressed by its warm sound, including musicians who use this speaker in conjunction with their keyboards or electric guitar rig. In addition to sounding good, many consider the weight to power ratio to be just right for mobile use.

Cons
There are a few who aren't too happy with its bass response and projection, but this maybe due to physical limitations with it having a smaller 10" woofer.

Overall
If you are looking for a portable, reliable and great sounding 10" powered speaker, then check out the Yamaha DXR10.

QSC K12.2 12" Powered PA Speaker

96
GEARANK

96 out of 100. Incorporating 275+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$800
QSC K12.2 2000-Watt 12" Powered PA Speaker

QSC is well known for audio quality, and their K.2 Series takes their quality up a notch, with improved power distribution efficiency, better DSP controls via LCD, user adjustable crossover, and better floor wedge angle. The K12.2 in particular is also louder than its predecessor, with a max SPL of 132 dB. This means that the well received K12 just got better, while carrying over the same top notch build and sound quality that people have come to expect from QSC. With its 12" woofer, you can expect the resulting sound to be full with good low end, yet it is still compatible with sub-woofers, thanks to its user adjustable crossover frequency.

Specifications:

  • LF Driver: 12" Cone
  • HF Driver: 1.4" Titanium Diaphragm Compression
  • Amplifier: Bi-amplified Class D
  • Output Power Peak: 2000W (1800W LF, 225W HF)
  • Output Power Continuous: : 1000W (900W LF, 100W HF)
  • Frequency Response: 50 Hz - 20 kHz(-6dB) | 45 Hz - 20 kHz (-10dB)
  • Maximum Peak SPL: 132dB
  • Crossover Frequency: 2kHz
  • Enclosure: ABS Thermoplastic
  • Mounting: Pole, Floor Wedge, Fly
  • Inputs: 2 x XLR-1/4" combo (mic/line), 1 x 1/8" (aux stereo in)
  • Outputs: 2 x XLR (thru), 1 x XLR (mix out)
  • Controls: 3 x Gain Knobs, DSP Controls, Power Switch
  • Dimensions: 23.7" × 14" × 14"
  • Weight: 41 lbs.

Pros
One user aptly put it, "QSC has outdone themselves" with the K12.2. Reviews are full of commendations from users who are impressed with its overall performance. There are a lot of reports of it working well with mobile DJ setups, full band setups, conferences, weddings and other events. Its build quality also gets a lot of thumbs up from experienced users who are very happy with how solid and durable the K12.2 feels.

Cons
Some people find the price to be a bit steep.

Overall
If you're looking clarity and punch, then you should be willing to invest on the QSC K12.2.

Bose F1 Model 812 Line Array Speaker System

96
GEARANK

96 out of 100. Incorporating 225+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$899
Bose F1 Model 812 Flexible Array Loudspeaker

Line array speakers are becoming more and more in demand, case in point is the popularity of the Bose F1 Model 812. Instead of the usual 2-way or 3-way configurations, this speaker features 8 x 2.25" speaker cones that are vertically aligned, tasked to reproduce the middle and higher frequencies. At the back of this array is a 12" woofer that complements the sound of the array. Another standout feature of the F1 Model 812 is its multi-pattern array structure, its lets you adjust the structure of the array to better match the position of your audience. The speaker's built-in DSP also helps make the necessary EQ adjustments to complement the changes. All of this add up to a improved flexibility when it comes to where you will put the speaker.

Specifications:

  • LF Driver: 1 x 12" Cone
  • MF/HF Drivers: 8 x 2.25” Cones
  • Amplifier: Bi-amplified Class D
  • Output Power Peak: 1000W
  • Output Power Continuous: Not Specified
  • Frequency Response: 52 Hz - 16 kHz (-3dB) | 43 Hz - 20 kHz (-10dB)
  • Maximum Peak SPL: 132dB
  • Crossover Frequency: 600Hz
  • Enclosure: Composite Material with Adjustable Array
  • Mounting: Pole, Fly
  • Inputs: 1 x 1/4", 1 x XLR/TRS Combo, 1 x stereo RCA
  • Outputs: 1 x XLR
  • Controls: Power, Volume (Channel 1 & 2), EQ, Front LED
  • Dimensions: 26.1" × 13.1" × 14.6"
  • Weight: 44.5 lbs.

Pros
The overall outlook for the Bose F1 Model 812 is convincingly positive, with many owners reporting being blown away by its clarity, flexibility and easy implementation. It continues to receive five star ratings from acoustic guitarists, keyboardists and other musicians, as well vocalists, event hosts and DJs. Some have even reported getting great results in outdoor venues, praising the speaker for its clear and full sound.

Cons
There are no standout concerns about the speaker, just note that the downside to its array structure and multiple speaker design is that it has a number of moving parts - which means more chances of having problems in the long term. So like all electronic devices, proper handling and storage is imperative to avoid any issues.

Overall
Get the Bose F1 Model 812 if you're looking for a versatile premium quality powered PA speaker.

Electro-Voice EKX-15P 2-way 15" Powered PA Speaker

96
GEARANK

96 out of 100. Incorporating 125+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$899
Electro-Voice EKX-15P 2-way 15" Powered PA Speaker - 1500W

With its 15" woofer driven by a 1500W Class D power amplifier, the EKX-15P is meant to go loud and reproduce low frequencies that smaller speakers cannot. Its ability to better reproduce lows at higher sound pressure levels make this ideal for DJs and musicians, and it can also be ideal for speech use, especially in bigger venues. Electro-Voice opted to stick to classic wood cabinet design for this particular speaker while keeping the bulk and weight lower than old school designs. DSP wise, this powered speaker lets you choose between 3 presets - music, live and club, along with five user programmable presets. To keep the speaker from overheating, it also comes with variable-speed fan that can intelligently sense heat and adjust the fan speed accordingly.

Specifications:

  • LF Driver: 15"
  • HF Driver: 1.5"
  • Amplifier: Bi-amplified Class D
  • Output Power Peak: 1500W
  • Output Power Continuous: : Not Specified
  • Frequency Response: 55Hz - 18KHz (-3 DB) | 44Hz - 20kHz (-10 DB)
  • Maximum Peak SPL: 134 dB
  • Crossover Frequency: 1.7 kHz
  • Enclosure: 15 mm plywood with EVCoat
  • Mounting: Pole
  • Inputs: 2 x XLR-1/4" combo, RCA Input
  • Outputs: 1 x XLR
  • Controls: Master Volume, Input 1, Input 2
  • Dimensions: 27" × 17" × 17"
  • Weight: 53.9 lbs.

Pros
Great sounding and easy to setup are two phrases that nicely summarize market response. Many reviewers are impressed with its full sound, and others are happy with the clarity of lower frequencies. When it comes to setting up, mounting and picking a preset is all there is to it - making this a favorite plug-and-play powered PA speaker. There are also plenty of positive comments about the EKX-15P's wooden cabinet design.

Cons
It's only normal for speakers with 15" woofers to be bulky and heavy, but this did not stop some users from complaining. Some users also expressed their concern with regard to the frailty of the EKX-15P's power cables.

Overall
With its 15" speaker, 1500W rating and wooden baffle cabinet - the Electro-Voice EKX-15P is steal in its price range, even more so when you factor in its reputation for sound and build quality.

QSC KW153 15" Powered PA Speaker

98
GEARANK

98 out of 100. Incorporating 90+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$1500
QSC KW153 3-way 1000W 15" Powered PA Speaker

Since we first published this guide, the QSC KW153 continues its reign as the the highest rated among all the speakers sub $1500. And it's not surprising because this three way powered loudspeaker can get really low and loud, while still retaining the sound quality expected from QSC. It features a 1000W (Continuous RMS) amplifier that drives a 15" LF driver, a 6.6" MF (Middle Frequency) Driver and a 1.75" tweeter, all of which converge nicely thanks to combination of great DSP and projection.

Specifications:

  • LF Driver: 15" Cone
  • MF Driver: 6.5" Mid Range Cone
  • HF Driver: 1.75" Titanium Diaphragm Compression
  • Amplifier: Bi-amplified Class D
  • Output Power Peak: 2000W (1000W LF, 1000W HF)
  • Output Power Continuous: : 1000W (500W LF, 500W MF/HF)
  • Frequency Response: 35 Hz – 18 kHz (-6dB) | 33 Hz – 20 kHz (-10dB)
  • Maximum Peak SPL: 134dB
  • Crossover Frequency: DSP Controlled
  • Enclosure: 15mm Painted Birch Plywood
  • Mounting: Pole, Fly
  • Inputs: 1 x XLR/TRS Combo (Line), 1 x XLR/TRS Combo (Mic/Line), 2 x RCA
  • Outputs: 1 x XLR (Line), 2 x XLR (Direct)
  • Controls: Power, Gain A & B, Input Gain (0 dB / 12 dB / 24 dB / 36 dB), LF Mode (Ext Sub /Norm/DEEP), HF Mode (Flat/ Vocal Boost), Front LED (On /Off/Limit)
  • Dimensions: 43.1" × 18.5" × 16.8"
  • Weight: 87 lbs.

Pros
The response to the QSC KW153 is overwhelmingly positive, pointing to its sound quality and reliability as its stand out features. Users from various backgrounds chimed in with their commendations, including professional musicians, DJs, event organizers, sound technicians and more. There was one who even commended this speaker for being good at reproducing classical style music, a testament to its clarity and incredible sonic detail.

Cons
There really aren't any repeating complaints about this speaker, aside from a few who experienced shipping issues. Being big and loud has its obvious drawbacks, which is its bulk and weight, but this can be a small inconvenience when you're looking for more volume or a more permanent installation.

Overall
If you want nothing less than the highest rated powered PA speaker that you can buy for less than $1500, then get the QSC KW153.

Things To Consider When Buying Powered PA Speakers

  • LF Driver / Speaker Cone Size

    The speaker cone size refers to the size of the LF (Low Frequency) Driver. Ideally, smaller woofers tend to emphasize the mids, while bigger ones offer more bass. Compact 8" loudspeakers work particularly well with sound sources that are not bass heavy, like vocals and guitars. As you add more bass heavy instruments into the signal chain, like keyboards, bass guitars and drums, you'll need bigger speaker sizes. 10" to 12" should be enough for most small group/band settings. On the other hand DJs and Electronic Music enthusiasts prefer bigger 15" speakers for the extra low end they provide. If you are looking for more low end, you can consider getting a PA subwoofer.

  • Output Power Rating and Max SPL

    Since powered speakers have built-in amplifiers, you don't have to worry about properly matching the speaker to the amp like you would if you opted for passive speakers. So what we have to focus on is output power, which is a numerical representation of the speaker's headroom and projection. There are two types of power output ratings that are commonly listed by manufacturers and retailers: Continuous (RMS) and Peak (Dynamic). Continuous (sometimes interchanged with RMS) is the better representation of how powerful a speaker really is, because it specifies the wattage in which it can operate safely for long periods. Peak (sometimes interchanged with Dynamic) refers to short volume/power bursts that speakers can handle. It points to the upper limit of what speakers can do and as such is not a good standard to use. 200 to 500 Watts of Continuous power should be enough for most small venues, while upwards of 500W are meant for medium to large size venues.

    Max SPL (Sound Pressure Level) is also an important factor to consider when it comes matching speakers with venue size. The general rule is that higher the max SPL rating, the more space is covered by the speaker. Note that you can implement multiple speakers in strategic positions for covering larger venues.

  • Portability

    The built-in amplifier found inside powered speakers add weight and some bulk, as such they are generally heavier than passive speakers. So it's important to consider weight and portability features, especially when you change venues regularly. Important features like handle location and size should be taken into consideration, you don't want to end up buying a great sounding speaker that you can't carry around, or you can't fit inside your vehicle.

  • DSP, Limiter and EQ

    Many powered speakers come with built-in DSP (Digital Signal Processors), and that provides various advantages that include smart limiters to protect the speaker from overload/clipping. Some even use DSP to tweak the sound to match the acoustics of rooms, allowing for more versatile placements. While it's better to do EQ adjustments on the mixing console, making adjustments at the speakers can be handy in certain situations and venues.

  • Built-in Mixer

    Some powered speakers can handle two or more inputs and have dedicated gain/volume controls, much like a mixer. These speakers can double as a basic PA system for solo performers and singer songwriters who play in smaller venues.

  • Reliability

    The more components a device has, the risks of having problems increases, and in that sense, Passive speakers are more durable. Still, modern build quality continues to improve, so much so that reliability is not much of a concern when it comes to powered speakers. Still, regardless of how solid the exterior is, there's no substitute for careful handling and transport.

Best Powered PA Speaker Selection Methodology

First published on Jan. 13, 2016 and most recently updated on Aug 21, 2019.

For this update, we decided to stay within the sub $1500 price range, with separate sections for Sub $1500 and Sub $500, along with a budget friendly option. We also limited our scope to those that are well received and widely available in the mainland US. Even with these limitations in place, we still ended up with a long initial list of 59 viable speakers, We then analyzed and gathered relevant reviews, ratings, discussions and demos, including the most recent ones up to August of 2019. We ended up processing over 10,600 data sources via the Gearank Algorithm which then gave us the scores that we used to rank the speakers appropriately. The best of them are featured in this guide to help you find one that fits your needs and budget. As always, we've included detailed descriptions and specifications for each powered speaker, along with their strengths and weaknesses as reported by actual users. For more information about this process see How Gearank Works.

Powered PA Speaker Summary

If you feel there is a speaker that we should be recommending above, first check to see if it's in our Music Gear Database, then if you can't find it there, let us know in the comments below that you would like us to consider including it.

Comments

My band has been using both

My band has been using both EVs and JBLs for years now and they're both really good powered speakers. Why didn't you include JBL on your list?

I'm disappointed with this

I'm disappointed with this list. I'm surprised that Mackie's were cited as being "reliable." I had a pair of Thumps that were anything but reliable. I had to replace them after six months of use. JBLs are known for reliability, not Mackies.

The Gearank scores are based

The Gearank scores are based upon customer feedback and expert reviews of the latest models.

Here are the JBLs we processed and none of them had enough positive feedback to score high enough to be included.

If you think there is a current JBL model we should process for a Gearank score to see if it should be included, then please let us know.

I have had JBL PRX625 now for

I have had JBL PRX625 now for almost four years and they are really good, never had problems with them. Just bought Bose F1 system two months ago and had two sub woofer rattling. JBL deserve to be on this list.

The JBL PRX625 speakers are

The JBL PRX625 speakers are no longer available to buy from most of the major North American retailers which is why this specific model was not included.

BTW - although JBL didn't score high enough to be included in this guide, they topped the ratings in our guide to the Best PA Subwoofers.

I had a pair of PRX615's the

I had a pair of PRX615's the bass was good the horn was crap so that's probably why they didn't get a mention a lot JBL speakers have a funny midrange and top end most DJ's don't notice this but put one up against something like the RCF 700 series and the FBT VENTIS/PROMAXX and you'll notice the difference.

Hi Walt - there are 2

Hi Walt - there are 2 important points to make in response to your question:

  1. If you look at the Methodology section you'll see that we only considered speakers with a street price of up to $1,000 and the JBL SRX range sells for more than that
  2. We don't directly test any of the gear on this website - the entire point of Gearank is that we base our ratings on reviews and comments made by musicians from around the world - that's what the "Sources" and "Incorporating (x)+ ratings and reviews." numbers reflect.
    To get a better handle on this please read How Gearank Works.

Curious as to what was

Curious as to what was lacking in JBL. The PRX 800 series and I assume SRX series should be included. The PRX 835 head to head with QSC 153 are louder and not as harsh on the high end.

We make our recommendations

We make our recommendations based on overall product ratings rather than by considering specific aspects or features (except for special picks like the Budget Option above) - you can see how we analyze reviews and opinions from around the web to produce our ratings in How Gearank Works.

We only go into the detail of which aspects are good or lacking for items we select to recommend, so unfortunately I can't give you specifics in this case other than to say that overall sentiment is less favorable for the ones we didn't recommend.

JBLs Are not what they use to

JBLs Are not what they use to be. I had the PRX 735s and after several shows the inside housing on both cabs were rattling and buzzing. Very annoying. When I saw them open up the cabs. the parts were as cheap as could be. Even the tech was shocked. He suggested QSC 153s. I took the loss on the trade in and never looked back. The QSCs blow them away in sound quality and build quality. So I am not at all surprised the smaller QSC were on the top. The 153s are probably too $$$ for this list but would be at the top if that price range was being considered. Also the EVs have way too many complaints of breaking down as do Mackie. You RARELY see that on QSC reviews. Being in a working band Quality and reliability are everything. QSC tops the list IMO

Thanks John - you were quite

Thanks John - you were quite right that we were trying to stick to a price range, we didn't want go much over $1,000. If we had gone up to $1,500 the the QSC KW153 would have been in the list too.

would you help me compare the

Would you help me compare the two EV and JBL? What is the best choice in durability, audibility among others?

We have 4 JBLs and 4 EVs

We have 4 JBLs and 4 EVs currently in our public database.

If you click on those links you'll see that the EVs generally have higher Gearank scores than the JBLs - this means people who have bought the EVs are more satisfied with their gear than the people who got the JBLs instead.

That's why we recommended the ZLX-12P & ZLX-15P EVs above but have not done so for the JBLs at this stage.

Thanks Jason

Thanks Jason
the Ev speakers seems to be much heavier in their performance would you pliz high lighten on the ratio of Amp to speakers in terms of there watts.

Being a sound engineer, Jbl's

Being a sound engineer, Jbl's used to use quality components back 20 years ago but what they are putting out now is not professional grade products. I have qsc153 they are a bit on the heavier side but in terms of professional sound reinforcement they cannot be beat! It comes down to what is your main concern when performing live, quality professional products or products that fit your budget. I prefer to wait when making a purchase but get a product that is top notch!
QSC rocks!

I build adamson speakers and

I build Adamson speakers and they are great build with kevlar drivers great outside in all wether but you will pay.

JBL has never been a good

JBL has never been a good speaker EV beats them hands down are you deaf?

I listened to JBL and EV side

I listened to JBL and EV side by side and chose the EV Live X series. EV beat JBL hands down.

The RCF Art series are

The RCF Art series are definitely within the price range, however they have limited availability in the US - you usually have to buy them on special order.

However they are widely available throughout Europe so if anyone would like more information about RCF powered speakers go to http://www.rcf.it/product-finder/active-speaker

No offense. RCF Art series is

No offense. RCF Art series is garbage just like the JBL PRX. Sounds like radio amplified. Good that its not listed here. If you want noise then it is, not for music.

You've clearly not heard RCF

You've clearly not heard RCF's ART 745-A. It's easily one of the best loudspeakers in its price range. Actually, considering its price, it probably is the best bar none. With its huge 4" driver, there's little competition for it if small-mid range venues is your thing.

Clearly you haven't done any

Clearly you haven't done any testing or comparisons the new series IIII 700 series sound very good and most italian companies make great speakers like FBT & DB youre talking through your hat.

A sub woofer guide is a good

A subwoofer guide is a good idea - I'll add that to our list of topics to investigate.

If you've never tried QSC,

If you've never tried QSC, treat yourself. I rented a K12 as a keyboard monitor and my goodness, the bass that thing was capable of is amazing. I had to engage the hi-pass switch as the bass player was giving me dirty looks. And yes please, it would be great to know which sub would be a good match for K8/10s

how would these speakers

How would these speakers compare to some old ev s200s in low end punch?

I haven't personally used the

I haven't personally used the EV s200s, however they have 12" woofers so you'd expect any modern 15" speaker to have a stronger bottom end.

Hey im looking for a speaker

Hey im looking for a speaker to play my music in my room. I'm looking for one speaker I will buy a second one once I save up.

I just want the best clear nice bass audio really debating on getting the DRb10 or a Behringer B112w which is the Bluetooth version of the B112d or even the turbo that your sound editor picked.

I don't know if should get the Behringer or loose the Bluetooth for the Yamaha. Do you think the sound on the Yamaha is better in clearness and deep bass or should I just get the bigger 12 in Behringer for louder sound and deeper bass.

And again this is going in my room will the 12 in be too much for my room? If it is there's no point in getting another 12 inch to make it a pair so I don't know if i should get 2 10 or one 12 or maybe even just one 10 which would be the Yamaha.

I will be playing music and movies, video games and I could just lower the volume but I don't wanna loose too much sound quality so bottom line bigger speaker or smaller speaker? Remember I won't be playing them too loud.

Please and advise or help on what too choose I been debating for a while now and your post really helped give me an idea. You guys are awesome thanks so much.

Given that you're just going

Given that you're just going to be using this in your room I'd suggest the Behringer B112w would be just fine - it also has a built in 2 channel mixer.

Don't forget that if you want stereo then you'll need 2 speakers.

I hope this helps.

Hey ur reviews are great! I'm

Hey ur reviews are great! I'm a one man band (a wedding singer) & perform at medium size venues for approx. 100-400 people. I've shortlisted a few brands. Would really appreciate if u could please provide an honest feedback on what would work best for my usage:
Order of my preference
1. QSC K12 12" Powered PA Speaker 1000W
2. JBL EON615 - 1000W 15" 2-Way Powered Speaker
3. RCF EVOX 8 or 12 (if I get a good price)

How would u compare/rate the Bose L1S with B2 bass unit, I know they r expensive but are they as powerful as the above listed brands?

I also hear of the Fender Passport Venue Speakers. Any feedback?

Would appreciate ur advise, as I'm thoroughly confused. cheers!

The QSC K12 is highly

The QSC K12 is highly recommended, with its proven acoustic and vocal friendly sound. Based on ratings, the QSC K12 trumps the JBL EON615, so that's an easy pick right there, especially in your case where the speaker needs to be of high quality and easier to carry around.

I've read good things about RCF EVOX speakers as well as the Bose L1S, but not enough to make recommendations, for now. Maybe in the future when we've researched Portable PA systems some more. [NB: We published a comprehensive guide to Portable PA systems on Dec. 23, 2016. - Ed.]

The Fender Passport Venue is definitely worth considering, given its portability and built-in mixer features, in case the father of the bride (or the entire family) wants to sing with you. The only downside is that it may not be enough for bigger open space venues.

I would like to recommend the

I would like to recommend the Cerwin Vega P-Series.

I have 16 subs, 6 x 15'' tops & 4 x 10'' tops.

I also have for Yamaha DXR 8's which is why I am writing this comment.

The best thing about the Cerwin Vega's other than the sound is the front light limiter fo me. The sound is incredible, much better that the electro voice and Yamaha's.

Yamaha's cannot be used without the high pass filter switch set in the middle setting and when it is turned off it doesn't sound good at all.

The PX1000 wipes the floor with yamaha for sound quality.

The subs I have never yet had a problem with them for the 3 years I baught them other than fans breaking and changing them.

I have had problems with 2 15" tops and no problems with the 10" tops but they are just 1 year old. The tops woofer didn't work on 2 occasions and needed to be sent in for service. Not sure what the problem was as I just send them to the shop for repair and they came back working again.

Only bad thing about the subs is the handles are awkward on the wrist when lifting with 2 people.

I haven't heard the Bose or QSC but I've never been a fan of Bose speakers.

I know that the P-Series is much much better than some of the speakers you have chose as your top 10.

We appreciate your personal

We appreciate your personal recommendation on the P1000. I've read good things about it as well, but unfortunately there aren't enough reviews to include it in this list. This may not indicate poor quality, but it does indicate low market performance - or at the very least, users were too busy to commend the product.

Hi, really appreciate the

Hi, really appreciate the review. Wondering which stereo set up/2 powered speakers you would recommend for the truest representation of the source, with special emphasis on best ratio between clean (mud/cloudy free) bottom end and portability(light weight, no more than 30lbs each), for smallish venues of say around 50-80 people capacity. Price is not an issue.TIA

Having good bottom end and

Having good bottom end and portability is a rare combination. I'd recommend the QSC K8 as it falls within your weight limit at 27lbs, but it may not have enough low end. The QSC K12 gives you more bottom end but is almost twice as heavy. The QSC K10 is a good in between, and should have enough low end for a jazz trio.

Hi, forgot to mention in my

Hi, forgot to mention in my previous question that the setup will be used for a light jazz trio consisting of double bass keyboards and drums. Thanks

For now, there aren't enough

For now, there aren't enough reviews of this speaker to make a proper recommendation.

Neither QSC, nor has any

No one, including QSC, has paid us either to write a guide on a particular topic or to be included in any of our gear guides.

At the time of writing Sweetwater is sponsoring this guide - this gives them exposure including their logo and links to their website but they do not determine which products are included as you can see from the fact that not all of the products mentioned are sold by them.

Each of the products listed above, apart from the Editor's Pick section, has one of the top 5 Gearank scores in their category of all the powered PA speakers in our database.

If you believe there is a powered speaker that should be added to our database then please let us know.

Wow please do your research

Wow please do your research dude. Used to be a EV and JBL fan many years ago but QSC beats EV, jbl and cerwin vega. Used to use vega when I used to DJ back in the day but now I don't even consider them!

This list is utter crap....

This list is utter crap.....no mention of EV ETX or EKX,QSC KW series....but Mackie Thump and Behringer Eurolive made it? Come on man,this is 2016....Do proper research before compiling a list such as this.....Thank god I don't have to depend on this I fo some one people on here!

I can understand why you feel

I don't agree with your assessment Gerard, but I can understand why you feel the way you do about this guide because back in January 2016 when we published it, less than 4 weeks after we opened the site to the public, we weren't yet publishing the Methodology section in our guides which points out the selection criteria we used (here's a recent guide with the Methodology section included).

At that time the EV ETX and QSC KW series didn't meet the pricing/availability criteria we were using.

The EV EKX-12P & EKX-15P did meet the criteria however they simply didn't score high enough to be included at the time - part of the reason was that those speakers were still relatively new and there were very few reliable rating sources available for them back then.

Now that more than 6 months have elapsed since this guide was published, many more customer reviews, forum discussions and expert reviews have become available, so today I processed both EKX powered speakers and made them available in our public database:
Electro-Voice EKX-12P
Electro-Voice EKX-15P

If we were to redo this guide today the EKX-12P still wouldn't have high enough ratings to be included, but it's possible the EKX-15P might make the list.

Here's a list of all the Powered PA Speakers currently in our public Music Gear Database.

For a better understanding of Gearank please see How Gearank Works.

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