The Top 11 Best Powered PA Speakers

The Highest Rated Powered PA Speakers

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

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

The Best Powered PA Speakers

Best Budget Powered PA Speaker:

Behringer Eurolive B112D 12" Powered PA Speaker

90
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$294
Behringer Eurolive B112D 1000 watt Powered PA Speaker

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

Specifications:

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

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

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

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

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

Best Powered PA Speakers under $500:

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

93
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

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

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

Specifications:

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

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

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

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

Yamaha DBR10 10" Powered PA Speaker

97
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$400
Yamaha DBR10

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

Specifications:

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

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

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

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

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

96
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

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

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

Specifications:

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

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

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

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

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

94
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

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

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

Specifications:

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

Pros

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

Cons

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

Overall

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

Yamaha DBR12 12" Powered PA Speaker

93
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$500
Yamaha DBR12 12" Powered PA Speaker

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

Specifications:

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

Pros

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

Cons

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

Overall

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

Best Powered PA Speakers under $1500:

Yamaha DXR10 10" Powered PA Speaker

96
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$600
Yamaha DXR10 Powered PA Speaker

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

Specifications:

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

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

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

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

QSC K12.2 12" Powered PA Speaker

96
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

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

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

Specifications:

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

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

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

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

Bose F1 Model 812 Line Array Speaker System

96
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$899
Bose F1 Model 812 Flexible Array Loudspeaker

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

Specifications:

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

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

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

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

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

96
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

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

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

Specifications:

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

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

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

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

QSC KW153 15" Powered PA Speaker

98
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

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

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

Specifications:

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

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

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

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

Things To Consider When Buying Powered PA Speakers

  • LF Driver / Speaker Cone Size

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

  • Output Power Rating and Max SPL

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

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

  • Portability

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

  • DSP, Limiter and EQ

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

  • Built-in Mixer

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

  • Reliability

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

Best Powered PA Speaker Selection Methodology

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

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

Powered PA Speaker Summary

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

Comments

Curious how the TurboSound I

Curious how the TurboSound I series stack up with the others. Any chance of including them in the ranking?

Back when we published this

Back when we published this guide in January, and again in April when I re-checked, the Turbosound iX range didn't have enough rating/review sources for us to rate them - but the early reports were positive so I made them my Editor's Pick at that time.

I checked again today and there are now enough sources of information to produce a Gearank score for both the 12" and 15" iX versions, so as of this moment we have the following results...

Personally I'm surprised the iX series hasn't gained more attention because when you consider that most people who have used and rated them have been very positive, they look like fairly good value to me at their current $349 & $449 price points.

I've also processed the higher priced iQ range and here are those results...

There seems to be a limited amount of talk about the Turbosound iX/iQ series at the moment, but here's a few discussions that do provide some useful information:

Found your article/review

Found your article/review while searching for a compact PA system. The Turbosounds intrigued me greatly. I am now really considering the iP2000 Array system. Have any thoughts on that particular series? Thanks.

Hi Xela - we haven't rated

Hi Xela - we haven't rated the Turbosound iNSPIRE iP2000 yet but the category of compact PA systems is on the list of topics we're considering covering so thanks for letting us know about your interest.

Sorry did a typo, it's the

Sorry did a typo, it's the TurboSound IQ8/IQ10/IQ12/IQ15 powered speakers that I'm interested in.

No problem - I wanted to

No problem - I wanted to process the Gearank scores for both the iQ and iX series so you got them both anyway!

Hi EP - thanks for asking

Hi EP - thanks for asking about them because we did examine the DXR range and included the 15" version in the guide above, but it appears we forgot to add the rest of them to our public database.

I've just added them and updated their Gearank scores. The 8" version still isn't as popular or as highly rated as the others, but both the 10" and 12" versions have increased their Gearank scores to 95.

You can now see the full Yamaha DXR range here in our Music Gear Database.

Seriously, Bose?

Seriously, Bose?

While the guide was looking good, and having used many of the speakers here especially the QSC's with awesome results. The inclusion of Bose here destroyed your credibility. Most of us in pro audio know that Bose is a marketing company that makes lousy speakers, and decent headphones and clock radios.

This is another prime example of their bogus "Better sound through research" marketing. The point of line arrays is that they cut the inverse square law of signal decay as you move away from the speaker in half truly "Throwing farther". However the requirement for that to work is the length of the array. In an array that in this case is 26" long is going to have the 1/2 inverse square law decay rate from about 512Hz to 20KHz, but a full inverse square law decay rate from 512Hz down to the low cutoff of the woofer.

So what does that mean? If you EQ the speaker in one spot to sound good, but as you move closer everything from 512Hz and lower will increase at a rate of 1/2 inverse square. And inversely as you move farther away everything below 512Hz will decrease at 1/2 of the inverse square law. Now you have an arc where at one distance away from the speaker it sounds right. If you have two speakers, now there is only one place where it sounds good, and the only person that gets to enjoy it is the soundboard operator.

Why do you think "real" line arrays are so long? Even with that length, we still have that problem with our largest touring arrays.

Don't believe the hype.

Educate yourself about line arrays:
http://www.prosoundtraining.com/site/synaudcon-library/line-array-limitations/

http://meyersound.com/pdf/support/papers/meyer_line_array.pdf

http://www.danleysoundlabs.com/danley/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/line-array-paper.pdf

Thank you for your detailed

Thank you for your detailed comments on line arrays Ryan.

We don't see our role here at Gearank.com as being a participant in the debates over which technological approaches are superior to others, but we are happy for people like yourself to carry on that debate.

We do however try to make our guides as useful as possible by covering all the prominent technologies and brands that are currently in use.

The ratings we provide are a measure of user satisfaction, or to put it another way, they are a statistical analysis of market sentiment. The Bose F1 system continues to get very positive reviews from customers - in fact I just reprocessed their Gearank score and it went up from 92 to 94 as a result of the latest customer feedback.

For a better understanding of this process please read How Gearank Works.

Disclosure: Although Bose is not currently a sponsor Gearank.com they have been an advertiser and sponsor over the last decade of GuitarSite.com which is owned by Gearank.com's parent company Hitsquad Pty Ltd.

I'm sure you've heard about

I'm sure you've heard about Carvin, in the San Diego area. What do you guys think of their loudspeakers, in terms of quality, performance, and value?

Thanks for your thoughts!

Thanks for bringing up Carvin

Thanks for bringing up Carvin. I have personal experience with some of their gear, including PA Speakers, and in my opinion, both the sound and build quality are really good.

However, Carvin speakers aren't widely available online (they're mostly only available through their own store) and don't have a lot of independent review sources, so even though I personally like their products there isn't sufficient data for us to provide a rating at this time.

Great review here but, I

Great review here but, I question the thoughts on SPL levels for the EV ZLX series. While claiming the speakers are not loud, the experience with using these as mains, have totally left us speechless on how well the ZLX have performed. Plenty of sound, plenty of volume. Realizing they are not ELX or ETX, they still hold their own in this price range as the best affordable speaker.

Have you guys reviewed the

Have you guys reviewed the FBT range of active speakers? They seem to be getting some attention.

FBT weren't included when we

FBT weren't included when we produced this guide because they weren't widely available from major online music gear retailers in the USA. We'll check to see if that has changed when we next update this guide.

If you cant hear the

If you cant hear the difference between a QSC K10 and ANY new JBL go back to guitar center and buy whatever the guitar player working in the "pa" department tells you to buy.

Hi Alexander,

Hi Alexander,
Can you recommend to me the best powered speakers below $1000 for my MX61 Yamaha Keyboard. In terms of clarity of sounds specially the "bass" part of the keyboard. I came across this demo on youtube and I like the sound of the grand piano, I want to know what kind of speakers they are using. Thanks for your help.

Hi Jess,

Hi Jess,

All the powered speakers listed here should be able to give you the clarity that you're looking for, as long as you keep the volume to a reasonable level. Go for 12" or even 15" speakers if you want deeper bass sounds.

If you can post a link to the youtube video demo that you liked, maybe we can help in figuring out the gear used.

The Alto Professional

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

What about the Yamaha DBR12

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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).

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.

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.

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?

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.

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.

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.

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