The Top 10 Best Powered PA Speakers

The Highest Rated Powered PA Speakers

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

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

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

The Best Powered PA Speakers

Author & Contributors

Raphael PulgarRaphael Pulgar

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

Best Budget Powered PA Speaker:

Behringer Eurolive B112D

92
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$259
Behringer Eurolive B112D 1000 watt Powered PA Speaker

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

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

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

Specifications:

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

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

Pros

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

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

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

Best Powered PA Speakers under $500:

Yamaha DBR10 - 10" - 700W

96
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$390
Yamaha DBR10 Powered PA Speaker

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

For a speaker with 10" woofer, the DBR10 is loud. More importantly, at just 23.2lbs, the DBR10 is lighter than most in its class. This makes it ideal for performers who have to carry their own PA equipment.

Interestingly, many of the features found in the more expensive DXR series are available in the DBR series, albeit with less output power. In particular, the DBR10 features Yamaha's DSP based FIR-X crossover tuning, D-Contour controls, and onboard mixer (2-channel).

Specifications:

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

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

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

Overall
The Yamaha DBR10 represents great value at the sub-$500 range. Get it if you want a great 10" speaker that's loud and portable.

Mackie Thump15A - 15" - 1300W

96
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$430
Mackie Thump15A Powered Speaker 15" - 1300W

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

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

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

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

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

Specifications:

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

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

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

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

QSC CP8 - 8" - 1000W

98
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

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

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

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

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

Specifications:

  • LF Driver: 8"
  • HF Driver: 1.4" Compression Driver
  • Amplifier: Class-D
  • Output Power Peak: 1000W (800W LF + 200W HF)
  • Output Power Continuous: Not Specified
  • Frequency Response: 56Hz-20kHz (-6dB)
  • Maximum Peak SPL: 124 dB SPL @ 1m
  • Crossover Frequency: kHz
  • Enclosure: Polypropylene
  • Mounting: 35mm Pole Socket, M8 Threaded Insert, Floor Wedge
  • Inputs: 1 x XLR-1/4" combo (mic/line), 1 x XLR-1/4" combo (line only), 1 x 1/8" (aux)
  • Outputs: 1 x XLR (mix out)
  • Controls: Power, 2 x Gain, MIC BOOST Push Switch, 6-way Contour Selection Switch
  • Dimensions: 16.2" x 10.7" x 10.1"
  • Weight: 25.5 lbs.

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

Cons
Given its smaller 8" speaker, some users feel that the low end is lacking despite the specifications. Note that there have been instances of it being erroneously listed as having a 3-channel mixer. It has two inputs plus an aux with only one of the XLR inputs being capable of being used for Mic level signals.

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

Turbosound iNSPIRE iP300

96
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$439
Turbosound iNSPIRE iP300 Column 600W Powered PA Speaker

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

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

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

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

Specifications:

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

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

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

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

Best Powered PA Speakers under $1000:

QSC CP12 - 12" - 1000W

97
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$590
QSC CP12 Powered PA Speaker - Front & Back

The QSC CP12 is a compact powered loudspeaker designed with portability in mind.

It has a peak wattage of 1000 W and a Max SPL of 126 dB; making it loud enough for small venues or medium size conference halls.

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

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

Specifications:

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

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

Cons
The enclosure felt "cheap" for some which sapped confidence in the long term durability of the unit. Others note that the versatility of the unit is also its bane as it's a "Jack-of-all-trades, Master of none" type of speaker.
Note that there have been instances of it being erroneously listed as having a 3-channel mixer. It has two XLR/Line inputs with only one being capable of being used as an input for Mic level signals.

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

QSC K8.2 - 8" - 2000W

98
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$820
QSC K8.2 2000 Watt Powered PA Speaker

QSC is the brand to beat when it comes to quality, reflected by the almost perfect ratings that a number of their products are getting.

The K8.2 is one of their top-rated speakers, sporting an 8" speaker and a 2000W amplifier with a built-in 3-channel mixer.

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

Specifications:

  • LF Driver: 8" Cone
  • HF Driver: 1.75" Titanium Compression
  • Amplifier: Bi-amplified Class D
  • Output Power Peak: 2000W (1800W LF, 225W HF)
  • Output Power Continuous: 1000W (900W LF, 100W HF)
  • Frequency Response: 59 Hz - 20 kHz (-6dB) | 55 Hz - 20 kHz (-10dB)
  • Maximum Peak SPL: 128dB
  • Crossover Frequency: User Adjustable
  • Enclosure: ABS Thermoplastic with 18 AWG Steel Grille
  • Mounting: Pole, Floor Wedge, Flown
  • Inputs: 1 x XLR-1/4" combo (mic/line), 1 x XLR-1/4" combo (line/Hi-Z), 1 x 1/8" (Aux Stereo-in)
  • Outputs: 2 x XLR (Thru), 1 x XLR (Mix out)
  • Controls: 3 x Gain Knobs, DSP Controls, Power Switch
  • Dimensions: 17.7" × 11" × 10.6"
  • Weight: 27 lbs.

Pros

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

Cons

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

Overall

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

QSC K10.2 - 10" - 2000W

97
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

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

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

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

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

Specifications:

  • LF Driver: 10"
  • HF Driver: 1.4" Titanium Compression Driver
  • Amplifier: Class D
  • Output Power Peak: 2000W (1800W LF + 225W HF)
  • Output Power Continuous: Not Specified
  • Frequency Response: 56Hz-20kHz (-6 dB)
  • Maximum Peak SPL: 130 dB SPL @ 1m
  • Crossover Frequency: User Adjustable
  • Enclosure: ABS Thermoplastic with 18 AWG Steel Grille
  • Mounting: Pole, Floor Wedge, Flown
  • Inputs: 1 x XLR-1/4" combo (mic/line), 1 x XLR-1/4" combo (line/Hi-Z), 1 x 1/8" (Aux Stereo-in)
  • Outputs: 2 x XLR (Thru), 1 x XLR (Mix out)
  • Controls: 3 x Gain Knobs, DSP Controls, Power Switch
  • Dimensions: 20.4" x 12.6" x 11.8"
  • Weight: 32 lbs.

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

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

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

Best Powered PA Speakers under $2000:

JBL SRX835P 3-Way 15" - 2000W

97
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

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

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

The three speakers built-into this unit are powered by dedicated Crown amps, all of which have a power rating that adds up to 2000 watts. This configuration allows for better handling of lows, mids and highs even at high volume levels.

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

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

Specifications:

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

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

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

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

QSC KW153 3-way 15" - 2000W

98
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

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

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

This particular model comes with a three-way speaker design that can really put out some serious volume, sporting a 15" LF driver, a 6.6" MF driver and a 1.75" tweeter. Since the frequencies are divided to three speakers, the work load on them is less even at higher volumes, resulting in fewer sound detail losses.

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

Specifications:

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

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

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

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

Things To Consider When Buying Powered PA Speakers

LF Driver / Speaker Cone Size

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

Output Power Rating and Max SPL

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

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

Portability

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

DSP, Limiter and EQ

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

Built-in Mixer

Some powered speakers can handle two or more inputs and have dedicated gain/volume controls, much like a mixer. These speakers can double as a basic PA system for solo performers and singer songwriters who play in smaller venues. Be warned though that while many of these mixers include two XLR/Line combo sized inputs, one of these is usually only a line level input so check this carefully if you're looking to connect two microphones.

Reliability

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

Best Powered PA Speaker Selection Methodology

The first edition was published in 2016 and the current edition was published on March 31, 2022.

For this 2022 Edition, we conducted an initial survey of major retailers in the USA and placed 96 active speakers on our short-list for closer examination - you can see them in the Music Gear Database. We only included models priced below $2,000 and excluded those that are designed only for fixed installations.

Next we gathered relevant store ratings, written reviews, video reviews and forum discussions about each one - including the latest market feedback up to March 2022. We processed over 19,500 of these data sources using the Gearank Algorithm which gave us the rating scores out of 100 that we used to rank the speakers appropriately. The highest rated of them are featured in this guide divided into three main categories: Sub $500, Sub $1000 and Sub $2000, along with a budget friendly option. As always, we've included detailed descriptions and specifications for each powered speaker, along with their strengths and weaknesses as reported by actual users. For more information about our methods see How Gearank Works.

About the Author and Contributors

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

Lead Author & Researcher

Raphael PulgarRaphael Pulgar

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

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

Contributors

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

Media

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

The individual product images were sourced from websites, promotional materials or supporting documentation provided by their respective manufacturers.

Comments

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...

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.

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.

Not sure what you mean but I

Not sure what you mean but I A/Bd my QCS153 and JBL PRX835 and traded in the QSC for the 835. The QSC was too harsh in the highs and loud volumes. The PRX is much warmer and more pleasing to the ear. Even my soundman, a huge QSC guy had to admit that at the end of the night he had less ear fatigue{ We have a Rock Band } and we get nothing but compliments on our sound. QSC was at the top for a long time. Not anymore.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Curious how the TurboSound I

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

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!

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.

This list is utter crap....

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

I can understand why you feel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wow please do your research

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

Neither QSC, nor has any

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

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

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

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

For now, there aren't enough

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

Hi, forgot to mention in my

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

Hi, really appreciate the

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

Having good bottom end and

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

I would like to recommend the

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

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

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

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

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

The PX1000 wipes the floor with yamaha for sound quality.

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

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

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

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

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

We appreciate your personal

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

Hey ur reviews are great! I'm

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

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

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

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

The QSC K12 is highly

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

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

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

Hey im looking for a speaker

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

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

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

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

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

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

Given that you're just going

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

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

I hope this helps.

how would these speakers

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

I haven't personally used the

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

If you've never tried QSC,

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

A sub woofer guide is a good

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

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