The Top 10 Best Powered PA Speakers

The Highest Rated Powered PA Speakers

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Powered PA Speakers make setting up rehearsal spaces, venues or events with live sound easier. Developments in amplification have made them more compact and portable while increasing their power and efficiency. Gone are the days of large racks of power amplifiers for even the smallest of venues.

The main way to set up for live performances is by hooking up the powered speakers directly to a mixer but they can also be used in a variety of other ways such as keyboard amps, drum amps or FRFR speakers for guitar/bass. They're perfectly suitable for DJ'ing and some can even function as standalone PA systems.

For this February 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

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 Powered PA Speaker:

Behringer Eurolive B112D

92
GEARANK

92 out of 100. Incorporating 550+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$259
Behringer Eurolive B112D 1000 watt Powered PA Speaker

Over the years, Behringer has went from relative obscurity to a household name. Early critics of the brand have now become converts as Behringer continues to improve upon their products. These days, it's no longer surprising to see venues with Behringer gear.

The Behringer Eurolive B112D is a popular powered speaker that shows that being affordable doesn't always mean compromising on quality. Put simply the B112D delivers the essentials well, offering clarity with volume and a pretty respectable level of bass - enough for a pair of them to handle front of house duties in moderately sized spaces. It's also popular to use as a floor monitor or as a keyboard/instrument amplifier.

Special features include Behringer's Ultralink wireless system compatibility, 2-layer speaker protection limiters and a large HF driver waveguide for dispersion.

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 (Mic/Line)
  • 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

An influx of positive reviews over the years has boosted the B112D's popularity with audio enthusiasts and sound reinforcement pros. One of the main factors that contributed to its popularity is its overall sound quality for the price. Many venue owners that use the speakers also note its durability and step up in build quality versus earlier product iterations in follow up reviews. Coming in at 27.1 pounds, the speakers are relatively easy to move around too.

Cons
Despite it's remarkable performance for the price this is a still a budget level speaker and higher range speakers are likely to sound better. It has rudimentary bass/treble controls but lacks the custom DSP modes of other models. The lightweight housing does leave some doubts about it's ruggedness.

Overall
Budget speakers don't always deliver but the Behringer Eurolive B112D garners enough praise from new adopters and old critics alike to make it to the top of our budget picks. It may lack in features compared to more expensive speakers, but it doesn't compromise the essentials.

Best Powered PA Speakers under $500:

Yamaha DBR10 - 10" - 700W

96
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$390
Yamaha DBR10 Powered PA Speaker

The DBR series from Yamaha is designed to offer portability and affordability within their pro speaker range. The DBR10 continues to rake in positive reviews from DJs, musicians, sound engineers and many more.

For a speaker with 10" woofer, the DBR10 is loud. More importantly, at just 23.2lbs, the DBR10 is lighter than most in its class. 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: 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.

Pros
Many were impressed by how loud the DBR10 is, especially when considering its weight and size. Reviews report that it works great as a 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
The Yamaha DBR10 represents great value at the sub-$500 range. Get it if you want a great 10" speaker that's loud and portable.

Mackie Thump15A - 15" - 1300W

96
GEARANK

96 out of 100. Incorporating 950+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$430
Mackie Thump15A Powered Speaker 15" - 1300W

Mackie is well known for their affordable speakers with good low-end thump, so it's not surprising to see the Thump15A rating highly for its bass response.

This powered speaker has a 1000W Class D amplifier for the 15" woofer, and 300W Class AB for the 1.4" titanium dome compression tweeter, giving it a total of 1,300 Watts of peak power.

Another noteworthy feature is the built-in 2-channel mixer with independent Vita preamps.

It features "Wide-Z" technology that allows it to handle different types of sound sources directly, including mics, line-level signals and instruments with high impedance such as guitar.

It's also worth mentioning that it has 4 application-specific speaker modes: music, live, monitor and sub.

Specifications:

  • LF Driver: 15" with Ferrite Magnet
  • HF Driver: 1.4" Compression Driver
  • Amplifier: Class D (LF), Class AB (HF)
  • Output Power Peak: 1300W (1000W HF + 300W HF)
  • Output Power Continuous: Not Specified
  • Frequency Response: 32Hz-23kHz (-10dB)
  • Maximum Peak SPL: 127 dB SPL @ 1m
  • Crossover Frequency: 24 dB/octave @ 2kHz
  • Enclosure: Polypropylene
  • Mounting: Pole, Floor
  • Inputs: 2 x XLR-1/4" Combo (Mic/Line/Hi-Z)
  • Outputs: 1 x XLR (Mix Out)
  • Controls: 2 x Gain, Main, Speaker Mode
  • Dimensions: 27" x 17.4" x 14"
  • Weight: 34.8 lbs.

Pros
Most of the high ratings the Thump15A gets are from owners who are impressed with its bass response. There are plenty of reports of it working great with hip hop music and other genres that require enhanced low frequencies. It also gets a thumbs up from guitarists, keyboardists, bassists, vocalists and other musicians who describe it as a full sounding speaker. On the other hand, sound techs appreciate how it can work with various venues and applications.

Cons
Some found the bass a bit too excessive, with a few users wishing for a flat sound option, although 3 of the 4 speaker modes reduce bottom end response - see section 7 in the owner's manual.

Overall
The Mackie Thump 15A is a great pick for those looking for a powered speaker with enhanced bass. Get it if you want a big sound without needing subwoofers.

QSC CP8 - 8" - 1000W

98
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$480
QSC CP8 Powered PA Speaker
At publication time this was the Highest Rated Powered PA Speaker Under $500.

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.

Specifications:

  • LF Driver: 8"
  • HF Driver: 1.4" Compression Driver
  • Amplifier: Class-D
  • Output Power Peak: 1000W (800W LF + 200W HF)
  • Output Power Continuous: Not Specified
  • Frequency Response: 56Hz-20kHz (-6dB)
  • Maximum Peak SPL: 124 dB SPL @ 1m
  • Crossover Frequency: kHz
  • 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.

Pros
Excellent and impressive are just two of the many positive adjectives that owners use to describe the QSC CP8. Due to its size, it is often utilized as a floor monitor to great success, as reported by saxophonists, guitarists and other musicians. And surprisingly, even DJs love it because it works great with sub woofers. Many are also impressed with how loud it can go while keeping the everything clean and detailed.

Cons
Given its smaller 8" speaker, some users feel that the low end is lacking despite the specifications. Note that there have been instances of it being erroneously listed 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.

Overall
The QSC 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.

Turbosound iNSPIRE iP300

96
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$439
Turbosound iNSPIRE iP300 Column 600W Powered PA Speaker

The Turbosound iNSPIRE iP300 is a column-type speaker with 2 x 6.5" LF Drivers and 4 x 2" HF Drivers to deliver more dispersion compared to regular 2 way, bi amplified speakers.

It features controls for its mixer via bluetooth on iOS and Android and comes with an inbuilt reverb.

The advantage of prioritizing dispersion over volume is better performance at all volumes.

Most 2 way speakers with just a tweeter and woofer tend to sound more muffled at lower volumes. The iNSPIRE iP300 was designed to sound great at any volume.

Specifications:

  • LF Driver: 2 x 6.5" low-frequency drivers
  • HF Driver: 4 x 2" neodymium drivers with edge-wound aluminum voice coil
  • Amplifier: Class-D
  • Output Power Peak: 600W
  • Output Power Continuous: Not Specified
  • Frequency Response: 40Hz-20khz (-10 dB)
  • Maximum Peak SPL: 124 dB SPL @ 1m
  • Crossover Frequency: Not Specified
  • Enclosure: Plastic enclosure
  • Mounting: Pole, Floor
  • Inputs: 2 x XLR-1/4" combo
  • Outputs: 2 x XLR (link)
  • Controls: Power, DSP controls.
  • Dimensions: 28.1" x 8.2" x 8.5"
  • Weight: 26.2 lbs.

Pros
Users were initially put off by the lack of an actual large speaker but as they tried out the iP300, however they found the low end to be more than adequate. Because of the design taking inspiration from line array systems, the dispersion of the midrange and highs were noted to be "room filling" and the lows to have a satisfying punch. The tonal consistency across the volume range was also praised. The smaller form factor was also noted to be both easy to position and aesthetically pleasing.

Cons
The midrange can be harsh for some. Positioning it properly away from solid walls can help address any harshness. Mixer controls were noted to be hard to reach at the bottom of the speaker. The built-in reverb left much to be desired for those who got it for this feature.

Overall
If you're looking for a line array style speaker and favor dispersion and sound consistency over raw power, the iP300 is a great choice for venues and events.

Best Powered PA Speakers under $1000:

QSC CP12 - 12" - 1000W

97
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$590
QSC CP12 Powered PA Speaker - Front & Back

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.

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.

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.

Pros
Users were delighted at the volume and undistorted clarity from a small and portable enclosure. User reviews range from the speakers being used as mains, floor wedges and instrument amplifiers, showcasing the CP12's versatility.

Cons
The enclosure felt "cheap" for some which sapped confidence in the long term durability of the unit. Others note that the versatility of the unit is also its bane as it's a "Jack-of-all-trades, Master of none" type of speaker.
Note that there have been instances of it being erroneously listed 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.

Overall
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 would personally recommend it to small to medium venues that need a clear sounding speaker with good headroom and can handle more aggressive styles of vocals.

QSC K8.2 - 8" - 2000W

98
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$820
QSC K8.2 2000 Watt Powered PA Speaker

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 top-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.

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.

Pros

As its high rating suggests, owners of the QSC K8.2 are very impressed. It is often praised for its detailed sound, especially in the midrange, which is praised by guitarists and other musicians. Technicians also find the sound to be ideal for public speech applications, just as well as for singing. And even DJs are happy with its performance when paired with a subwoofer.

Cons

Having a small speaker means that low end and projection is limited, however, this is not as much of a compromise for speech and acoustic guitar. Still, some may want to consider larger speakers or pair it with a subwoofer.

Overall

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.

QSC K10.2 - 10" - 2000W

97
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$900
QSC K10.2 2000W 10" Powered PA Speaker

The QSC K10.2 carries the same features as its smaller sibling, the K8.2, with the main difference being the use of a slightly bigger woofer giving it a bit more bass and volume.

It also has a similar almost perfect rating across multiple retailers, a testament to QSC's quality standards that they apply across all their products. It's no surprise that QSC has become a household name in the industry when you mention the best brands.

The K10.2 features a 2000 Watt Class D amplifier paired with a 10" speaker, but what really sets it apart is its built-in DSP, which can be utilized to fine-tune the sound of the speaker - to better fit its intended sound source or venue.

Specifications:

  • LF Driver: 10"
  • HF Driver: 1.4" Titanium Compression Driver
  • Amplifier: Class D
  • Output Power Peak: 2000W (1800W LF + 225W HF)
  • Output Power Continuous: Not Specified
  • Frequency Response: 56Hz-20kHz (-6 dB)
  • Maximum Peak SPL: 130 dB SPL @ 1m
  • 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: 20.4" x 12.6" x 11.8"
  • Weight: 32 lbs.

Pros
Several users were amazed by the K10's sound, with commendations coming from a wide variety of backgrounds - from church sound technicians, to musicians, to DJs, and event organizers. They describe the speaker as being clear and loud, and many of those that switched to the K10.2 report a big increase in sound quality compared to their previous speaker. Owners are also pleased at how solid the cabinet and overall workmanship is. Clearly, QSC's premium quality shows as many users note that this is one of the best speakers in the market today. Owners of medium and large venues that use them as "delay speakers" to extend the reach of the sound system note their long term reliability makes them a good pick for permanent installations.

Cons
It's an expensive speaker so full set of speakers for a venue could add up.

Overall
If you're looking for a premium quality 10" powered PA speaker that's still reasonably portable, then check out the QSC K10.2. The premium sound, build quality, and long term durability makes it an ideal speaker for high-end permanent installations.

Best Powered PA Speakers under $2000:

JBL SRX835P 3-Way 15" - 2000W

97
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$1799
JBL SRX835P Powered PA Speaker 15" - 2000W

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 powered by dedicated Crown amps, all of which have a power rating that adds up to 2000 watts. This configuration allows for better handling of lows, mids and highs even at high volume levels.

It also features Ethercon connection that lets you get the benefit of HiQnet networking software, and is compatible with different mounting types.

Finally, all these features are packed inside a traditional and robust plywood enclosure.

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.

Pros
Achieving almost perfect ratings across multiple retailers is no mean feat, but the SRX835 gets it done, and should continue to do so for a long time, judging by its ever growing number of 5-star ratings. It impresses users with how it balances projection, frequency handling and sound clarity, a trait that works well with all PA system applications - from music performances to speeches. Experienced users also commend its reliability and how it sounds great even when used for long periods.

Cons
At 85 lbs, the JBL SRX835P requires a bit more handling effort and care to move around - more suited to fixed installations.

Overall
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.

QSC KW153 3-way 15" - 2000W

98
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$1850
QSC KW153 3-way 1000W 15" Powered PA Speaker

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. Since the frequencies are divided to three speakers, the work load on them is less even at higher volumes, resulting in fewer sound detail losses.

All these speakers are driven by a DSP equipped 2000W built-in amplifier, which produces the clean and detailed sound that is expected from QSC speakers.

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.

Pros
Its near 100% rating shows just how well received the QSC KW153 is, with sound quality at high volume being its edge over others. Impressed owners range from sound technicians, musicians, event organizers and even DJs, all of whom describe it to be much better than their previous speakers. Some even commend its handling of orchestra and classical style music, pointing to how the KW153 is able to reproduce sonic nuances that otherwise would be lost.

Cons
Given its bulk and weight, this speaker is not meant for as a personal portable speaker. It also requires quite an investment, but those who did invest are pleased with what they got for the money.

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

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 March 31, 2022.

For this 2022 Edition, we conducted an initial survey of major retailers in the USA and placed 96 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 March 2022. We processed over 19,500 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.

Aside from endlessly window shopping and watching hours of gear reviews for leisure, he enjoys playing competitive FPS games, MMORPGs and caring for his 5 cats. He is primarily influenced by guitarists like Kurt Ballou and Paul Gilbert. His favorite pieces of gear are his Ibanez RG550RFR, Orange Brent Hinds Terror amplifier and EQD Acapulco Gold fuzz.

Contributors

Alden Acosta: Product research.
Jason Horton: Illustrating.
Daniel Barnett: Editing.

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.

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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