The Top 15 Best Powered PA Speakers

The Highest Rated Powered PA Speakers

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Setting up a rehearsal space, venue or event with live sound is a lot easier thanks to the development of better Powered PA Speakers over the years. No more fussing over which amplifiers match with what speaker and transporting large racks of power amplifiers even for small venues. For practicality and convenience, powered speakers are the best choice. Having the amplifier built-in means that some models can serve as standalone PA systems or keyboard amps.

For this May 2021 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

An audio engineer of 20 years who specializes in rock and metal recordings, he also plays guitar and produces original music for his band and other content creators.

Best Budget Powered PA Speaker:

Alto Professional TS310 - 10" - 2000W

92
GEARANK

92 out of 100. Incorporating 375+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$299
Alto Professional TS310 Powered PA Speaker 10" - 2000W

Alto Professional is known for offering good quality speakers at affordable price points. This value-oriented design is exemplified by the TS310, a 2000W powered PA speaker that sports a 10" LF driver with a 2.5" voice coil and 1.4" HF driver.

This speaker is designed to be compact and portable, while having enough projection and volume for small to medium size venues.

For the price, this speaker also comes with two inputs, each one having dedicated volume control, essentially making this speaker a viable 2-channel portable PA system for those that are working with tight budgets.

Specifications:

  • LF Driver: 10"
  • HF Driver: 1.4"
  • Amplifier: Class D Amplifiers with Passive Cooling
  • Output Power Peak: 2000 W peak (1300 LF + 700 HF)
  • Output Power Continuous: 1000 W continuous RMS (650 LF + 350 HF)
  • Frequency Response: 48 Hz - 22 kHz(-10dB)
  • Maximum Peak SPL: 129 dB
  • Crossover Frequency: 2.5 kHz
  • Enclosure: Injection-molded Polypropylene with Perforated Steel Grille
  • Mounting: Wedge, Pole, Floor, Fly
  • Inputs: 2 x XLR/TRS 1/4” Combo
  • Outputs: 1 x XLR Link
  • Controls: 2 x Volume, Power on/off switch, Contour switch, Ground-Lift switch
  • Dimensions: 20.6” x 12.6” x 11.8”
  • Weight: 26.1 lbs.

Pros
First time owners are impressed with the sound of the TS310, even more so when considering how affordable each one is. Reliability is also another plus, with many testimonies of the speaker working properly for years, even when used outdoors. Users also appreciate its built-in 2-channel design which works well for more intimate musical performances, or for use as a basic public address system.

Cons
Those who have owned more expensive speakers are not as impressed with its build quality.

Overall
If you're looking for a budget friendly powered PA speaker, then check out the Alto Professional TS310.

Best Powered PA Speakers under $500:

At publication time we had a 5-way tie for the Highest Rated Powered PA Speaker Under $500 between the Yamaha DBR10, Mackie Thump15A, QSC CP8, QSC CP12 and Electro-Voice ZLX-15BT.

Yamaha DBR10 - 10" - 700W

96
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$350
Yamaha DBR10 Powered PA Speaker

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 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
If you want nothing less than the best 10" option in the sub $500 price range, then get the Yamaha DBR10.

Mackie Thump15A - 15" - 1300W

96
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$350
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 Vita preamps.

It features "Wide-Z" technology that allows it to handle different types of sound sources, including mics, instruments and line-level signals.

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
  • 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 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.

QSC CP8 - 8" - 1000W

97
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$420
QSC CP8 Powered PA Speaker

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.

This powered speaker sports an 8" woofer and 1.4" tweeter, driven by a 1000W peak class D amplifier.

For versatility, QSC equipped the CP8 with 6 different contours that include presets for dance, speech and ones that make it work well with sub woofers.

Other features include a 3-channel mixer and QSC's Directivity Matched Transition (DMT) and Intrinsic Correction DSP for clean undistorted sound.

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: 2 x XLR-1/4" combo (mic/line), 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 small 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 it's smaller 8" speaker, some users comment that the low end is lacking.

Overall
The QSC CP8 is a great entry point into the QSC's brand of premium pro audio quality sound reinforcement.

QSC CP12 - 12" - 1000W

97
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$520
QSC CP12 Powered PA Speaker - Front & Back

The QSC CP12 is a compact powered loudspeaker designed with portability in mind. Despite the small size relative to most speakers, 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 3-channel mixer for single box operation. This makes it an equally capable floor monitor or keyboard amplifier.

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: 2 x XLR-1/4" combo (mic/line), 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
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.

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.

Electro-Voice ZLX-15BT - 15" - 1000W

97
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$549
Electro-Voice ZLX-15BT 1000W 15" Powered PA Speaker w/ Bluetooth

NB: The price was $499 when we published this Edition however the price has since gone up to $549.

The ZLX-15BT is Electro-Voice's compact loudspeaker offering.

The size and weight make it ideal for touring, small spaces and PA use.

A feature uncommon to speakers of this caliber is Bluetooth capability. The ZLX-15BT has Bluetooth connectivity for wireless playback of music, backing tracks or other program material.

Specifications:

  • LF Driver: 15"
  • HF Driver: 1.5" Titanium Driver
  • Amplifier: Class D
  • Output Power Peak:1000W Class D
  • Output Power Continuous: 250W continuous RMS
  • Frequency Response: 44 Hz - 20 kHz(-10dB)
  • Maximum Peak SPL: 126 dB
  • Crossover Frequency:1.7 kHz
  • Enclosure: Polypropylene with 18 gauge steel with black powder coat grille
  • Mounting: Wedge, Pole, Floor
  • Inputs: 2 x XLR/TRS 1/4” Combo
  • Outputs: 1 x XLR Link
  • Controls: 2 x Volume, Power on/off switch, Contour switch, Ground-Lift switch
  • Dimensions: 27” x 17” x 16”
  • Weight:38 lbs.

Pros
"Crystal clear" is a description used more than once in user reviews we've encountered. The ZLX-15BT gets high marks for its sound quality without distortion. Other remarks are the surprising amount of bass they can output for the size. Users with electronic drums liked how the bass drum can be felt and heard when using the ZLX-15BT as a monitor. The bluetooth connectivity was also a selling point for users that wanted the feature for playback.

Cons
Bluetooth 4.0 only lets you stream to one speaker, forcing you to use an xlr cable to use another speaker. One user hopes that this might be addressed in a future version.

Overall
For those looking for a great monitor for electronic drums, PA use or playback, the ZLX-15BT is a good choice, especially when standalone Bluetooth functionality is a priority.

Best Powered PA Speakers under $1000:

QSC K8.2 - 8" - 2000W

98
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$750
QSC K8.2 2000 Watt Powered PA Speaker

At publication time this was the Equal Highest Rated Powered PA Speaker Under $1000 along with the QSC K10.2 and QSC K12.2.

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.

Being part of QSC's K.2 series, the K8.2 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.

It also features QSC's renowned DSP processing which lets you adjust the voicing of the speaker to match different venues and sound sources.

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: 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: 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.

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.

QSC K10.2 - 10" - 2000W

98
GEARANK

98 out of 100. Incorporating 250+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$800
QSC K10.2 2000W 10" Powered PA Speaker

At publication time this was the Equal Highest Rated Powered PA Speaker Under $1000 along with the QSC K8.2 and QSC K12.2.

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.

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.

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: 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: 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.

Cons
Some feel that the price should be a bit lower.

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.

QSC K12.2 - 12" - 2000W

98
GEARANK

98 out of 100. Incorporating 500+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$900
QSC K12.2 2000-Watt 12" Powered PA Speaker

At publication time this was the Equal Highest Rated Powered PA Speaker Under $1000 along with the QSC K8.2 and QSC K10.2.

The QSC K12.2 features 2000W of power with 1800 W going into the low frequency driver for higher headroom. This is important to keep the lows clean and distortion-free.

The K12.2 also has a built-in preset feature so you can custom tailor the sound to suit a variety of program material and venue types. The presets are also user customizable to add to its versatility.

Specifications:

  • LF Driver: 12"
  • HF Driver: 1.4"
  • Amplifier: Class D Amplifiers with Passive Cooling
  • Output Power Peak: 2000 W peak (1800 LF + 225 HF)
  • Frequency Response: 45Hz-20kHz(-10dB)
  • Maximum Peak SPL: 132 dB
  • Enclosure: Impact Resistant ABS
  • Mounting: Wedge, Pole, Floor, 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: 2 x Power, 3 × Level, Rotary encoder (push), 2 × selection buttons
  • Dimensions: 23.7" x 14" x 13.8"
  • Weight: 39 lbs.

Pros
Most of the positive reviews note the high headroom and loudness of the K12.2. Users also mention that the bass frequencies are powerful enough for playback even without a sub. For floor monitors, the speakers were praised for the clarity and ease of tweaking to filter out resonant frequencies that cause feedback.

Cons
Some felt that the DSP is just a gimmick and there is no marked difference from the previous iteration. These users are mostly accustomed to the old K12 speakers.

Overall
If you're looking for a loud and clear speakers for FOH or monitoring applications, the QSC K12.2 has enough headroom for venues larger than what you'd initially expect them to be used in.

Electro-Voice EKX-15P - 15" - 1500W

96
GEARANK

96 out of 100. Incorporating 200+ 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.

Bose F1 Model 812 - 12" - 1000W

96
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$999
Bose F1 Model 812 Flexible Array Loudspeaker

When you think Line Array systems, large open air festivals usually come to mind. Line arrays were designed to favor dispersion over volume.

A single driver that's pushed with a lot of power will still experience volume drops the further you are from the source.

Line arrays have tweaked levels at every angle so sound gets distributed evenly.

Bose has taken line array principles and applied them to a portable powered speaker. The Bose F1 Model 812 is a compact, line array system with directional flexibility.

The speaker array consists of 8 x 2.25" mid/HF drivers and a 12" LF driver to provide wide dispersion angles.

Specifications:

  • LF Driver: 1 x 12" LF,
  • HF Driver: 8 x 2.25" (Mid/HF)
  • Amplifier: Class D Amplifiers with Passive Cooling
  • Output Power Peak: 1000 W peak
  • Output Power Continuous: 1000 W continuous RMS (650 LF + 350 HF)
  • Frequency Response: 48Hz-16kHz (-10dB)
  • Maximum Peak SPL: 129 dB
  • Crossover Frequency: 2.5 kHz
  • Enclosure: Injection-molded Polypropylene with Perforated Steel Grille
  • Mounting: Pole
  • Inputs: 1 x XLR/TRS Combo, 1 x 1/4", 1 x stereo RCA
  • Outputs: 1 x XLR
  • Controls: Volume, Input Sensitivity, Front LED, EQ
  • Dimensions: 26.1" x 13.1"” x 14.6"”
  • Weight: 44.5 lbs..

Pros
Users note that each speaker might not be loud on its own but this is where line arrays shines: dispersion. Having an even dispersion keeps the front row from being deaf, one user noted. And their problem with having regular speakers was an uneven distribution of sound and the compromise of using either additional delayed speakers (less portable) or cranking the mains (potentially annoying for people closest to the speaker). The Bose F1 Model 812 gets praise for being able to disperse sound evenly even in longer halls.

Cons
The lack of a dedicated HF driver saps some of the "airy" highs according to one user.

Overall
If dispersion is your primary goal with a portable setup, the Bose F1 Model 812 is a standout pick that solves that problem.

Best Powered PA Speakers under $2000:

JBL PRX825W - Dual 15" - 1500W

96
GEARANK

96 out of 100. Incorporating 50+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$1365
JBL PRX825W 1500W Dual 15" 2-Way Powered PA Speaker

The JBL PRX825W is a premium Dual 15" powered speaker with a 1.5" Neodymium compression driver powered by Class D amplifiers pushing an even 750 W for each driver, the PRX825W is in no shortage of volume.

Limiting is handled internally by a DBX designed circuit.

Additional controls are accessible via a Wi-Fi app for tweakability, even when you're in the mixing booth.

Specifications:

  • LF Driver: 2 x 15"
  • HF Driver: 1.5" Neodymium compression driver
  • Amplifier: Class D Amplifiers
  • Output Power Peak: 1500 W peak ( 750 LF + 750 HF)
  • Output Power Continuous: 1000 W continuous RMS (650 LF + 350 HF)
  • Frequency Response: 46.2Hz-16.5kHz (-10 dB)
  • Maximum Peak SPL: 138 dB
  • Crossover Frequency: 2.4 kHz
  • Enclosure:Birch/Poplar wood
  • Mounting:Floor, 8 x M10 Fly Points, 1 x M10 Pull Back Fly Point
  • Inputs: 2 x XLR-1/4" combo (Mic/Line), 2 x RCA (stereo)
  • Outputs: 1 x XLR (mix out)
  • Controls: 2 x Norm/Boost, Front LED, Connect Wi-Fi, 2 x Gain
  • Dimensions: 41.8" x 17.5"x 21.2"
  • Weight: 82.0 lbs..

Pros
The headroom and clarity were noted to be top of the class by a majority of the users. A few found the Wi-Fi connectivity to be very useful especially with larger venues with mixing booths that are a good distance away from the speakers.

Cons
The size and weight makes it one of the least portable speakers in this guide. Many users note that the speaker sits in an odd space between portable speakers and larger and heavier semi-permanent speakers.

Overall
If you're looking for a speaker for a larger venue, the PRX825W will save you a lot of time going back and forth between stage and mixer with its Wi-Fi capability.

QSC KW153 3-way 15" - 2000W

98
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$1750
QSC KW153 3-way 1000W 15" Powered PA Speaker

At publication time this was the Highest Rated Powered PA Speaker between $1000 and $2000.

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 go really loud, sporting a 15" LF driver, a 6.6" MF driver and a 1.75" tweeter. Since the frequencies are divided to three speakers, 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 (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
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.

JBL SRX835P 3-Way 15" - 2000W

97
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$1699
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
  • Outputs: 3 x XLR
  • Controls: Ch1, Ch2, Master
  • Dimensions: 38.74" x 21.4" x 18.74"
  • Weight: 85 lbs.

Pros
Achieving almost perfect rating across multiple retailers is no mean feat, but the SRX835 gets it done, and may 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 KLA12 - 12" - 1000W

96
GEARANK

96 out of 100. Incorporating 60+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$2100
QSC KLA12 1000W 12" Line Array Powered PA Speaker

Note: This was priced under $2000 when we first published this edition but the price has since gone up.

The QSC KLA12 is a a lightweight, powered line array speaker that works equally well as a single unit.

As part of a flown array, the KLA12's 1.75" HF driver gets directed by a specially designed waveform for excellent dispersion.

A full 90° x 90° array can be achieved with just 4 units.

For pole mounting, the built-in tilt direct aids positioning and aim.

A total of 5 units can be stacked and flown for maximum dispersion at larger venues.

Specifications:

  • LF Driver: 1 x 12"
  • HF Driver: 1.75"
  • Amplifier: Class D Amplifiers with On demand, 50 mm variable speed fan
  • Output Power Continuous: 1000 W peak (500 w LF + 500 w HF)
  • Frequency Response: 44 Hz - 20 kHz
  • Maximum Peak SPL: 131dB
  • Crossover Frequency: 2.5 kHz
  • Enclosure: Impact resistant ABS, Rugged powder coated steel grille
  • Mounting: Pole Mount with 1.37" socket, 3 x M10 Fly Points
  • Inputs: 1 x XLR
  • Outputs: 1 x XLR Link
  • Controls:Power, Attenuation, LF Setting (External Sub/Normal/DEEP), Array Size (1-5), Front LED (Pwr/Limit/Off)
  • Dimensions: 23.4" x 16.6" x 15"
  • Weight: 55 lb

Pros
Users who want a compact line array system chose the KLA12 for its great modularity and mounting options. It was noted to be easy to transport and set up. Soundwise, they synergize well with most subwoofer systems and have a clear, precise sound with great dispersion.

Cons
Some users had their units fail after rigorous touring. The KLA12 is best for static and semi-permanent installations.

Overall
If you're looking for a compact line array for semi-permanent installations in venues, the QSC KLA12 is a smart choice.

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 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) 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.

  • 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 latest edition was published on May 20, 2021.

For this 2021 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 mid May 2021. We processed over 17,300 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

An audio engineer of 20 years who specializes in rock and metal recordings, he also plays guitar and produces original music for his 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.
Alexander Briones: Supplemental writing.
Jason Horton: Product research, 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.

Comments

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

The Alto Professional

The Alto Professional Speakers are the best. This list is wrong!

Hello Dynes,

Hello Dynes,

We've processed three powered speakers from Alto Professional's lineup and they're not yet rated high enough to be included, compared to the ones listed.

You can see the scores of the Alto Professional speakers on the link below:
https://www.gearank.com/gear...

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