The Best Powered PA Speakers - All Prices Up To $2000

The Highest Rated Powered PA Speakers

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Gone are the days when powered speakers, with their built-in amplification, were heavy and hard to transport. Advances in amplification tech enables them to be built smaller and more efficient than ever before. No more need for loud fans or large heat sinks. What this means is that today's powered PA speakers are easier to transport and mount and are more reliable than their earlier incarnations.

Powered PA speakers are also more versatile than a passive setup. They can be used as a Main FOH speaker, floor wedge, delayed speaker, or even as an instrument speaker for keyboards, synths and e-drums.

Guitarists using effects with amp and pedal modelling also find use with powered speakers as a substitute for guitar amps. Note that they use a multi-fx pedal with amp modelling for this task.

For this November 2022 edition, we retain our categories based on three main price ranges: Sub $500, Sub $1000, and Sub $2000. We've also included a highly rated affordable option for those who are working with strict budgets.

The Best Powered PA Speakers 2022.11

Author & Contributors

Raphael PulgarRaphael Pulgar

I've been an audio engineer for 20 years specializing in rock and metal recordings, and also I play guitar and produce original music for my band and other content creators.

Best Budget Option

Behringer Eurolive B210D - 10" - 200W

90
GEARANK

90 out of 100. Incorporating 1100+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$199
Behringer Eurolive B210D Powered PA Speaker - 200W
At publication time this was the Highest Rated Powered PA Speaker Under $250.

Cons

  • Grille is easily dented - doesn't affect performance but can be unsightly over time

Pros

  • Great volume for the price
  • Easily portable
  • Surprisingly reliable

The Behringer Eurolive B210D is a powered speaker that can be used Front of House or on the floor as a monitor. It packs 200W of peak power split into 180W for the LF and 42W for the HF drivers. All while being under 20lbs per speaker.

It also has integrated DSP that filters out lows progressively as you go louder to keep the signal clean. An internal limiter keeps the signal from overloading your drivers, extending their long-term reliability.

One thing the B201D is known for is its good power-to-weight ratio. This might not mean much for static setups but for equipment rentals, touring musicians and street performers, travelling weight is very important. Having a lighter speaker without compromising power is always welcome in these situations.

A gripe that I have with the unit after encountering it in some venues is that the front grille gets dented easily. This is commonly seen when it's used as a floor wedge. It doesn't technically affect performance, but it looks unsightly and reflects badly on the venue's upkeep. I've also encountered units that hiss but when I checked, it has more to do with the venue's electrical system. It could be avoided with better internal component shielding but I assume that would raise the price.

Fortunately, this issue is mostly cosmetic and the venues I've performed and teched for reported that it took years before the speakers needed servicing.

Overall, the B210D isn't perfect, but it's still one of the best value powered PA speakers in the market today with good power output and decent features. Just hope that the overenthusiastic guitar players that perform at your venue don't step on it during their solos and it'll last you a surprising amount of time.

Specifications

  • LF Driver: 1 x 10"
  • HF Driver: 1.35" Aluminum diaphragm compression driver
  • Amplifier: Bi-amped
  • Output Power Peak: 220W (180W LF, 42W HF)
  • Frequency Response: 65Hz-20kHz
  • Maximum Peak SPL: 113dB
  • Crossover Frequency: 2.4kHz
  • Enclosure: Molded Plastic
  • Mounting: Pole Mount with 1.37" socket, Floor Wedge
  • Inputs:1 x 1/4", 1 x XLR
  • Outputs: 1 x XLR
  • Controls: Power Switch, 1 x Level Knob, High EQ, Low EQ
  • Dimensions: 18.3" x 11.5" x 9.6"
  • Weight: 18.8 lbs.

Rating Source Highlight

Website Source *Rating Value
Gearspace kodebode 90/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

Highest Rated Powered PA Speakers under $500

Yamaha DBR10 - 10" - 700W

97
GEARANK

97 out of 100. Incorporating 325+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$400
Yamaha DBR10 10" 700 Watt Powered PA Speaker

Cons

  • Only one Mic level input available
  • Could use a proper side handle
  • Enclosure can be prone to scratching

Pros

  • Super lightweight for the power it offers
  • Great all-rounder - handles FOH, Stage Monitoring and Subwoofers well
  • Reliable and comes with a 7 Year Warranty
  • It's also a good 'FRFR' instrument amp - works well with guitar and amp modeling
  • Professional appearance suitable for weddings and corporate gigs

For a powered speaker that weighs under 25 pounds, the Yamaha's DBR10 is as loud as it gets putting out a massive 129 SPL with good clarity and at an agreeable price.

With a 10" main speaker you might expect that it would be a bit lacking in the bass department but it performs reasonably well there too with a frequency range down to 55Hz. It's the combination of portability, power and price that makes this such a compelling option and why so it's been so popular and well regarded since it was released in 2014.

And it's very versatile. I personally use the DBR10 as an 'FRFR' (Full Range Full Response) amp with guitar modeling as well as a PA / FOH speaker and stage monitor.

Yamaha DBR10 with a PRS SE Custom Semihollow to give you an idea of the size
Yamaha DBR10 with a PRS SE Custom Semihollow to give you an idea of the size
If you're interested in the FRFR aspect of the DBR10, we go into much more detail in this extended review.

It has a mixer and two channels each with an XLR/TRS combo input and volume controls but keep in mind that only one of the channels can accept a mic level input (switchable between Mic/Line). The second channel also has stereo RCA phono connectors for adding program music. I can confirm that you can actually use these at the same time as the line input. It's probably not the best way to do it but if you can balance the volumes of these inputs you could call it a 3 channel mixer.

Yamaha DBR10 Rear Mixer Panel
Yamaha DBR10 Rear Mixer Panel

As standalone FOH speakers a pair of these perform well in smaller venues and medium sized venues for styles that aren't loud or bass heavy. The sound they offer is best described as clean, loud and surprisingly full. They provide reasonable bass for many styles but if you want some real 'thump' or are in a larger venue then you'll want to pair them with subwoofers. I haven't done this but they have great reputation for combining well with subwoofers and the HPF switch works well for this purpose.

Although others say it can get scratched too easily, I've only experienced a few minor ones. It's a good idea to at least get a 'Speaker Tote Bag' for a 10" speaker enclosure like this one made by Gator to keep those classy looks. That particular bag has worked well for me.

The Yamaha DBR series has been around since 2014 when they brought some of the DSP magic from their higher priced DXR series to this more affordable range and they've been quite popular and well regarded ever since.

This is a fantastic, affordable, lightweight speaker that sounds great and offers a ton of versatility. It looks good and has been a reliable workhorse for many (including me) that is backed by Yamaha's 7 year warranty. It's suitable for use everywhere from practice at home, on stage as a monitor or an instrument amp, as the main speakers for smaller venues or coupled with subwoofers in larger venues.

The power at such a light weight is really the standout feature making it suitable for a wider range of situations. There may be bigger, better, more expensive powered speakers out there but at this weight the DBR10 is in a class of its own.

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: 1 x XLR/TRS Combo (Mic/Line) , 1 x XLR/TRS Combo (line only), 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.

Rating Source Highlights

Website Source *Rating Value
Gearank Daniel Barnett 98/100
Sound On Sound Paul White 98/100
YouTube Gear It First 96/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

QSC CP8 - 8" - 1000W

98
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$500
QSC CP8 Powered PA Speaker
At publication time this was the Highest Rated Powered PA Speaker Under $500.

Cons

  • A bit lacking on the bottom end - see the CP12 for more bass

Pros

QSC is brand known for premium sound and build quality, and the CP8 lets you experience their brand of quality in a compact and affordably priced package.

QSC's renowned DSP lets you pick between presets for various applications and venues for ease of use.

Despite its smaller 8" LF driver compared to most in this price range, the bass is actually present enough to have a full range sound. The selectable contour with bass roll-off makes it ideal for use with subwoofers.

Note that there have been instances of it being erroneously listed at some retailers as having a 3-channel mixer. It has two inputs plus an AUX with only one of the XLR inputs being capable of being used for Mic level signals.

It is surprisingly loud for an 8" speaker, and has a nice crispy sparkle, but it does lack a little on the bottom end. But that's not a problem because it pairs nicely with sub woofers, so for those occasions where you need to go deeper, you can. If you don't want to deal with subs, consider getting the CP12 instead which although having the same amplifiers, is noticeably louder at the bottom end.

The polypropylene enclosure is solid, in fact I expect them to still be working just fine years from now and it seems QSC does too which is probably why they provide such a long lasting warranty but don't forget to register with QSC straight away so you get the extra 5 years added on.

The CP8 is a great entry point into the QSC's brand of premium pro audio quality sound reinforcement. If versatility and projection are your priorities at this price point, the QSC CP8 is tough to beat.

Specifications

  • LF Driver: 8"
  • HF Driver: 1.4" Compression Driver
  • Amplifier: Class-D
  • Output Power Peak: 1000W (800W LF + 200W HF)
  • Frequency Response: 56Hz-20kHz (-6dB)
  • Maximum Peak SPL: 124 dB SPL @ 1m
  • Enclosure: Polypropylene
  • Mounting: 35mm Pole Socket, M8 Threaded Insert, Floor Wedge
  • Inputs: 1 x XLR-1/4" combo (mic/line), 1 x XLR-1/4" combo (line only), 1 x 1/8" (aux)
  • Outputs: 1 x XLR (mix out)
  • Controls: Power, 2 x Gain, MIC BOOST Push Switch, 6-way Contour Selection Switch
  • Dimensions: 16.2" x 10.7" x 10.1"
  • Weight: 25.5 lbs.

Rating Source Highlights

Website Source *Rating Value
Sound On Sound Mike Crofts 94/100
Production Partner Anselm Goertz 97/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

Highest Rated Powered PA Speakers under $1000

QSC CP12 - 12" - 1000W

97
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$600
QSC CP12 Powered PA Speaker - Front & Back

Cons

  • I have no complaints

Pros

  • Excellent clarity
  • Versatile - good for either FOH or stage monitors

The QSC CP12 is a compact powered loudspeaker designed with portability in mind. It has a peak wattage of 1000 W and a Max SPL of 126 dB; making it loud enough for small venues or medium size conference halls.

It also features a built-in 2-channel mixer for single box operation. This makes it an equally capable floor monitor or keyboard amplifier. Do note that only one of the channels is capable of running at mic level gain and the aux channel gain is shared with line level at input 1.

Note that there have been instances of it being erroneously listed by some retailers as having a 3-channel mixer. It has two XLR/Line inputs with only one being capable of being used as an input for Mic level signals.

My personal experience with these speakers is from a local venue I set up sound for. The speakers are able to handle a packed small venue with just two units. The versatility also allowed the venue to use the same unit for their monitors. Calibration was a breeze and the volume and clarity was good even during rock gigs.

If you're looking for a compact but capable speaker with multiple uses like mains, monitors or instrument amplification, the QSC CP12 is a good, versatile choice. I personally recommend these for small to medium venues that need a clear sounding speaker with good headroom and can handle more aggressive styles of vocals.

Specifications

  • LF Driver: 12"
  • HF Driver: 1.4"
  • Amplifier: Class D Amplifier
  • Output Power Peak: 1000 W peak, 800 W (LF), 200 W (HF)
  • Frequency Response: 47 - 20 kHz(-10dB)
  • Maximum Peak SPL: 126 dB
  • Enclosure: Polypropylene
  • Mounting: Wedge, Pole, Floor, Yoke Suspension
  • Inputs: 1 x XLR-1/4" combo (mic/line), 1 x XLR-1/4" combo (line only), 1 x 1/8" (aux)
  • Outputs: 1 x XLR (mix out)
  • Controls: Power, 2 x Gain, MIC BOOST Push Switch, 6-way Contour Selection Switc
  • Dimensions: 20.3" x 13.8" x 12.7"
  • Weight: 30.3 lb.

Rating Source Highlights

Website Source *Rating Value
Sound On Sound Mike Crofts 94/100
Music Connection Barry Rudolph 92/100
Church Production Loren Alldrin 95/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

QSC K8.2 - 8" - 2000W

98
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$850
QSC K8.2 2000 Watt Powered PA Speaker

Cons

  • Limited projection due to the small woofer
  • Also limited low end as well

Pros

  • Highly detailed sound particularly in the midrange
  • Versatile - performs great for both FOH and stage monitoring duties

QSC is the brand to beat when it comes to quality, reflected by the almost perfect ratings that a number of their products are getting. The K8.2 is one of their highest rated speakers, sporting an 8" speaker and a 2000W amplifier with a built-in 3-channel mixer.

Compared to the CP series, The K series adds premium speakers, DSP and cooling. QSC also adds a bit more power to the LF driver, which means a bit more low-end emphasis, which helps its small 8" speaker to sound fuller. These all add up to a cleaner, tighter sound and even better long term reliability.

I am impressed by its detailed sound, especially in the midrange, which works very well for acoustic guitar with vocals - soloists and duos. Although the low end is a little limited due to the 8" woofer, it does pair well with subs. Although I don't do DJ work myself, I've seen reports from DJs who really like the sound when paired with a good sub.

If you're looking for a great sounding speaker that can be used for both FOH and as a stage monitor, then get the QSC K8.2. It shines best at acoustic performance venues where detail is favored over loudness.

Specifications

  • LF Driver: 8" Cone
  • HF Driver: 1.75" Titanium Compression
  • Amplifier: Bi-amplified Class D
  • Output Power Peak: 2000W (1800W LF, 225W HF)
  • Output Power Continuous: 1000W (900W LF, 100W HF)
  • Frequency Response: 59 Hz - 20 kHz (-6dB) | 55 Hz - 20 kHz (-10dB)
  • Maximum Peak SPL: 128dB
  • Crossover Frequency: User Adjustable
  • Enclosure: ABS Thermoplastic with 18 AWG Steel Grille
  • Mounting: Pole, Floor Wedge, Flown
  • Inputs: 1 x XLR-1/4" combo (mic/line), 1 x XLR-1/4" combo (line/Hi-Z), 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: 17.7" × 11" × 10.6"
  • Weight: 27 lbs.

Rating Source Highlights

Website Source *Rating Value
ProSoundWeb Craig Leerman 97/100
Bonedo (German) Axel Erbstösser 90/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

Highest Rated Powered PA Speakers under $2000

QSC KW153 3-way 15" - 2000W

99
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$1900
QSC KW153 3-way 1000W 15" Powered PA Speaker
At publication time this was the Highest Rated Powered PA Speaker Under $2000.

Cons

  • Too big and heavy for typical band setups

Pros

  • Brilliantly suited to medium to large venue installation
  • Very good at all styles of music

The KW153 is another one of QSC's top rated products, enjoying perfect ratings at almost all major retailers.

This particular model comes with a three-way speaker design that can really put out some serious volume, sporting a 15" LF driver, a 6.6" MF driver and a 1.75" tweeter.

Unlike the JBL SRX835P this is only bi-amped, however the crossovers do their job and I don't think there's any lack of mid or high-end response; even at high volume you still get a great deal of detail and nuance.

I'm happy using these for any style of music and I've seen reports of other audio engineers using them for orchestra and classical style music which goes to show just how versatile they are.

If you're looking for a premium quality 3-way speaker for permanent installation or large venues, then this is your best bet.

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 (Mic/Line), 1 x XLR/TRS Combo (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.

Rating Source Highlight

Website Source *Rating Value
Audiofanzine stompboxjon 100/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

JBL SRX835P 3-Way 15" - 2000W

97
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$1979
JBL SRX835P Powered PA Speaker 15" - 2000W

Cons

  • Heavy - not great for portable setups

Pros

  • Great for fixed installations
  • Good balance of projection and frequency response across the range

The JBL SRX series secures a spot in this guide with the top rated SRX835P, a 3-way powered speaker with 15" woofer, 6.5" midrange driver and 3" tweeter.

The three speakers built-into this unit are each powered by dedicated Crown amps, all of which have a power rating that adds up to 2000 watts. This configuration provides better handling of lows, mids and highs even at high volume levels. I'm happy putting any type of music through these from acoustic acts to heavy metal bands.

It also features Ethercon connectivity that lets you get the benefit of HiQnet networking software, and is compatible with multiple mounting types - you can stand, hang or fly them (if your supporting rig is strong enough).

All these features are packed inside a traditional and robust plywood enclosure, which is great if you're a traditionalist when it comes to enclosures, but it does add weight to the speaker.

There's a reason why so many users are giving the JBL SRX835P 5-star ratings - should be at the top of your list if you're looking for a solid fixed speaker for a medium to big size venue.

Specifications

  • LF Driver: 15"
  • MF Driver: 6.5"
  • HF Driver: 3"
  • Amplifier: Tri-Amplified
  • Output Power Peak: 2000W
  • Output Power Continuous: 1500W
  • Frequency Response: 33Hz-21kHz (-10 dB)
  • Maximum Peak SPL: 137 dB (1m)
  • Crossover Frequency: 330Hz, 2.4kHz
  • Enclosure: 18mm Plywood
  • Mounting: Pole, Floor Wedge, Fly
  • Inputs: 2 x XLR/TRS Combo (mic/line)
  • Outputs: 3 x XLR
  • Controls: Ch1, Ch2, Master
  • Dimensions: 38.74" x 21.4" x 18.74"
  • Weight: 85 lbs.

Rating Source Highlights

Website Source *Rating Value
ProSoundWeb Nathan Riddle 98/100
AskSound Annette Boyd 96/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

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 - AKA Woofer. Generally, 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 adds 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) providing 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. Be warned though that while many of these mixers include two XLR/Line combo sized inputs, one of these is usually only a line level input so check this carefully if you're looking to connect two microphones.

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

The first edition was published in 2016 and the current edition was published on November 29, 2022.

For this 2022.11 Edition, we conducted an initial survey of major retailers in the USA and placed 83 active speakers on our short-list for closer examination - you can see them in the Music Gear Database. We only included models priced below $2,000 and excluded those that are designed only for fixed installations.

Next, we gathered relevant store ratings, written reviews, video reviews and forum discussions about each one - including the latest market feedback up to November 2022. We processed over 14,800 of these data sources using the Gearank Algorithm which gave us the rating scores out of 100 that we used to rank the speakers appropriately. The highest rated of them are featured in this guide divided into three main categories: Sub $500, Sub $1000 and Sub $2000, along with a budget friendly option. 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 our methods see How Gearank Works.

About the Author and Contributors

Here are the key people and sources involved in this guide's production - click on linked names for information about their music industry backgrounds.

Lead Author & Researcher

Raphael PulgarRaphael Pulgar

I've been an audio engineer for 20 years specializing in rock and metal recordings, and also I play guitar and produce original music for my band and other content creators.

I'm an experienced audio engineer, not only in the studio, but on stage as well. Having done live sound for numerous international touring acts and festivals, I have years of both technical and creative experience in the field and have taught seminars on basic live sound setup in the mid 2010's.

Contributors

Daniel Barnett: Yamaha DBR10 Review.
Jason Horton: Editing and Illustrating.

Media

Main/Top Image: Created by Gearank.com using photographs of the Mackie Thump15A, QSC K12.2 and Electro-Voice ZLX-15BT.

The individual product images were sourced from websites, promotional materials or supporting documentation provided by their respective manufacturers except for the additional Yamaha DBR10 photos which were taken by Daniel Barnett.

Comments

Things to consider- Do they

Things to consider- Do they sound good. I am really surprised that electrovoice speakers are not on this list while some clearly inferior products are. I have four electrovoice Elx 112ps for monitors and two Elx 115ps for mains coupled with a Yamaha digital mixer. Nirvana! If you run everything flat using Shute mic’s you will have zero feedback and it Weill sound fine. If you know what you are doing it will sound great. The electrovoice powered speakers are really good. For the price they are hard to beat. I am puzzled why they don’t show up often on the best of reviews.

I thought J read where you

I thought J read where you had Martin XP12 as top speaker but I see here it did not make your list. How do the Martin speakers rate?

Have you guys run into the

Have you guys run into the "Protect Mode 4" issue on newer QSC K's?

There seems to be a lot of people experiencing an issue with the newest QSC firmware (1.2.0.3200; failures are mostly in K10.2s, for some reason). Users report that with properly staged gains and output levels (and with speaker gain at noon in reasonable room temperatures) they're going into a failure mode, mid-gig, that turns them off and runs a test (which passes) until they're reset.

Users who've spoken to QSC say they will not roll back to earlier firmware, and some are saying that firmware will be updated to the troublesome version when any repairs are done.

I have some workhouse K12.2s and was considering a pair of K10.2s until I read about this.

Have you guys into the

Have you guys into the "Protect Mode 4" problem that seems to be plaguing a lot of newer K10.2s (and supposedly some K12.2s)? This is a real problem for a lot of people... with appropriate signal in, gain at noon and ambient room temps, these things randomly turn off and require a reset procedure (that involves letting it play a 100Hz tone). Not what you want to happen on gigs.

Just curious as to how/why

Just curious as to how/why EAW (Eastern Acoustic Works) speakers never seem to make it into your ratings.

Hi Robert,

Hi Robert,

I was wondering when someone would ask us about EAW - it looks like you're the first!

Although many of their speakers are priced above the current limit of $2000 for this guide, they do have some like the JF Series which do technically qualify.

The reason they have not appeared to date, and haven't even made it onto any of our short-lists, is because they're not widely available from US based retailers so they don't have enough people rating and reviewing them for us to confidently rate and recommend them.

Although Full Compass does sell them, you can't get them at Sweetwater, Amazon, Musicians Friend, Guitar Center, AMS, zZounds, Sam Ash etc.

EAW is on our radar, and if they become more popular they will definitely make it onto our short-lists and possibly even get recommended in one or more of our guides.

Jason.

Absolutely love my Yamaha

Absolutely love my Yamaha DBR10s. I use them for monitors, or mains. They just are great sounding.

Hi. David here.

Hi. David here.
After about a 2.5+ decade hiatus of music involvement (bands & sound engineering), recently been helping some old friends; so, kinda getting back into it.
Back in the day, usually used some sort of tri'amp system, in stereo. Usually consisting of either: 2" high horns, 12" speaker mids, & 18" lows/subs(or some similar combo), w/a separate rack of amps to push the spkrs.

So, with no stores in my area to compare pa systems, I'm curious...
with these newer 'Powered' Pole systems, which make & model is the Best Bang for the Buck, that will compete, meet, or, if possible, exceed the Full Wall of Sound produced from the older Passive Spkr systems ? This would most likely be used for smaller to mid sized venues, gigs, parties, etc; say, from 100's to 1,000's of peeps.

I'm seriously considering something for my own future endeavors, &, could see the plus of not having to lug around a separate amp rack & saving some time from all the connections thereof. So..
TIA, in letting me know if there's a Powered Pole System that will meet the above needs shared.

Peace !
David W

Hello David Williams

Hello David Williams
As someone who has been on both sides of the speakers (musician & Sound Man) for almost 45 years, I can tell you, you're in for a VERY pleasant surprise. Yes, for many years I too worked with the big "wall of sound" (as you put it) systems (and the truck required to move those beasts!). The newer "modular?" systems now (powered mains matched with one or two powered subs/mixing board) are not only a million times easier to pack and move, but believe it or not, also actually also SOUND much better!! Speaker and amplifier technology has come an incredibly long way in the past 30 years. You're going to have a much better sound field, much cleaner and tighter sound, both bottom end and top. And even a good quality 16 channel board is going to be half the size and weight on the old ones (and also better sound quality). Just make sure you have your reading glasses and a pen light ready for working on those :-)

Hi David,

Hi David,

It seems that times have indeed changed over the last few decades as many sound system providers have made the jump towards powered (active) speakers and subwoofers. Venues have also changed as larger open air venues utilize larger, mostly active line array systems in conjuction with delayed auxilliary speakers in other parts of the venue to fill in the sound and utilizing powered subwoofers in optimally placed locations (sometimes floated/suspended).

In my brief experience working with a sound system rental service, a 1,000 capacity indoor venue used a combination of line array system speakers, tripod mounted delayed auxilliary speakers at the halfway mark of the venue and two to three subwoofers. Smaller events only need as much as 2 powered 12"/15" Main speakers and 1 subwoofer. This smaller setup has worked for me even with louder modern metal bands (believe me they can get loud!)

So if you're looking to invest, I suggest you focus on getting good speakers as your top priority as these influence the overall quality of your rig. Having powered speakers also allows for better scaling should you want to expand to having line arrays, multiple subs and monitors, etc.

So a good starter system for a small venue would be 2 powered mains, 2 powered floor wedges, a subwoofer and a mixing console. The great thing about this system is that because the speakers are powered, you wouldn't have to worry too much about impedances and amplifier-speaker matching (though you do have to be aware of your system's current draw on your electrical line!).

To get you started, here are some of our published guides:

Powered speakers (This guide. Just reposting this for reference)

Powered floor monitors

Subwoofers

For mixers, any mixing console can do. What's important is you have enough channels for all input sources. If you plan on eventually expanding your setup, go for a mixer with more inputs than what you currently need.

There's still so much more from this though such as speaker cables, mics and whatnot but I think this is enough information to get you up to speed for now.

-Raphael

Noticed that the Mackie SRM V

Noticed that the Mackie SRM V-Class speakers have not been rated yet. Recently purchased one of these (SRM210) and have been very impressed with the sound and functionality.

We only have preliminary

We only have preliminary ratings for each of the 10", 12" and 15" versions which we haven't published yet.

Bringing them out in January this year was unfortunate timing for Mackie and review and rating sources are limited at the current time, but we hope to publish something on the series before the end of the year.

So far only their PS15P 15

So far only their PS15P has made it onto our shortlist, but it does have decent ratings which you can see here.

Boycott speaker/amp companies

Boycott speaker/amp companies that refuse to publish their continuous/RMS ratings!! In the past 2 weeks of digging into PA systems I've found peak:continuous ratios of 2:1 4:1 5:1, even 10:1!! Yup, one company rated their speaker as 2,000 watts peak and 200 continuous!

Knowing what a speaker or amp can handle for a millisecond is absolutely useless.

The negative comments about

The negative comments about JBL are hilarious. The 5" and 8" series are widely regarded among the best if not the best in their class.

Speaking of which, why aren't 5" speakers included here?

I was hoping to see something

I was hoping to see something about the Peavey RBN-112's with the ribbon tweeters. I did not find them in the database either, just the Dark Matter 112. Does anyone have experience with these?

The Peavey RBN 112 has never

The Peavey RBN 112 has never made it onto our short-list for this guide over several major updates, mainly due to a lack of popularity rather than its ratings, however I've published our rating of it today for all to see: Peavey RBN 112.

I have some real nice powered

I have some real nice powered speakers but am not seeing the samson brand is that not good in ratings?

Samson are a good brand for

Samson are a good brand for many things however they haven't yet had high enough ratings to make it onto our short-lists for powered speakers although their Auro X15D is a candidate that might make it onto our recommended list at the next update of this guide.

BTW you can look up all Samson products we've rated by going to the Music Gear Database.

So in conclusion which ones

So in conclusion which ones are better for a 400 ppl venue. The Bose F1 or the QSC 12K2 or the RCF evox 12?

I have no idea why RCF didn't

I have no idea why RCF didn't make the cut! I demoed the 12"Hd32amk4 against the qsc12k.2 Qsc got whooped!!I bought 2 RCF and get compliments from QSC owners!!

A pair of any of those aught

A pair of any of those aught to be fine however I think you'd get the best value out of the QSC K12.2 based on all the research we've done.

With so many factors to

With so many factors to consider, there's really no set standard for determining specific size category.

These factors include actual venue size, audience headcount, open air or enclosed, environmental noise, venue acoustics and many more.

But to answer your question, most will agree that small venues include coffee shops, bars, small restaurants and conference rooms. On the other hand, medium sized venues include enclosed auditoriums, churches, small gardens, and other venues that have a head count of less than 500.

You missed all the Cerwin

You missed all the Cerwin Vega models. In particular, the CVA-28, the CV P1000X and CV P1500X. I also agree with the other posts, you did not even consider JBL and they have the best Mids and Highs, plus value.

I have Yamaha dbr10 and it is

I have Yamaha dbr10 and it is brilliant. But looking at behringer b112d, and not too concerned about quality of sound, don't really know how much potential loudness would suffer (quoted EPL only 113db, much lower than the others on the list).

Alto TS215 Active 15" Speaker

Alto TS215 Active 15" Speaker VS.
Studiomaster Drive 15A/6A 15" Active

Hi - I'm looking for an upgrade from my Alto TX15 range to either of the above without breaking the bank tooo much. Can you possibly give me a rating and a recommendation if at all possible?

Thanks.

has to be sponsored by qsc or

Has to be sponsored by qsc or something, because the jbl prx are a great speaker, I have been abusing the heck out of some eon g2s for over 10 years! 2 gigs a week, never flinched, never had to repair, all original drivers, that says something, just get protective bags, whichever speaker you decide on.

As has been pointed out

As has been pointed out previously in this discussion, no manufacturers, including QSC, have paid any money or provided any benefit of any kind to us for anything we have done on Gearank.com.

In fact last year we removed all banner and display advertising (we were using AdSense) from this website. That means there is no possibility of us receiving money even indirectly from those companies via Google/AdSense.

At the current time our only source of revenue is from the retailers we link to - at the moment that includes Sweetwater and Amazon.

All of our product recommendations are guided by a scientific process involving statistical analysis of market sentiment using our proprietary Gearank Algorithm.

An overview of this is explained in How Gearank Works.

JBL SRX & FBT speakers will

JBL SRX & FBT speakers will blow most of this tip 10 list out of water for Power & bottom end . Try before you buy.

wow no love for the Alto

Wow no love for the Alto Blacks OR TrueSounds? both of those series rank up there with QSCs ang EVs and mop the floor with JBL. I did a H2H in store with 5 jazz musicians with total over 175 years playing experience and they were hands down the winner playing anything with real instruments in it... ESPECIALLY in price/performance comparison!

If you would like the results

If you would like the results of your Head to Head comparison to be included in the data set we use when we next update this guide, then write a report/review detailing your results on one of the popular music gear review sites or forums.

To get an understanding of our methods please read How Gearank Works.

You should be advised to

You should be advised to include some of the concentric speaker enclosures out there, as powered speakers. Don't know if they'll fit in that range. RCF may be out of bounce, but there are others more affordable. I wished that Tannoy would release a full live PA powered speaker system. Germans DB may be price worthy though, you don't need super expensive T&W and the like.

Is there a gearrank

Is there a Gearank comparison of 3 way powered pa speakers? If there is not you guys should do one, thanks.

We don't have one yet, but we

We don't have one yet, but we are currently revising our publishing schedule and I'll add that to the list of topics to consider.

Here at Gearank.com we don't

Here at Gearank.com we don't do head-to-head comparisons, we primarily do guides to an overall category.

However, if anyone wants to provide their thoughts on Bose F1 vs EVOX 12 here in the comments, they are certainly welcome to.

What about the Yamaha DBR12

What about the Yamaha DBR12 under $500? Alto TX15? The alto is $200 to $250

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