The Top 12 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: 

$250
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: 

$499
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.

Yamaha DXR12 12" Powered PA Speaker

96
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$700
Yamaha DXR12 Powered PA Speaker

The Yamaha DXR12 is the bigger sibling of the DXR10, featuring the same amplifier section, controls and input/output selection, with the main difference being its bigger 12" woofer. Consequently, the enclosure is bigger and the overall weight is a bit heavier, but this results in more bass response when compared with the DXR10. The same Class D amplifier is used, along with Yamaha's DSP FIR-X tuning technology which dynamically optimizes the time alignment between the tweeter and the woofer. Other features include a built-in 3-channel mixer for stand-alone use, D-Contour and HPF switching for tuning its sound.

Specifications:

  • LF Driver: 12" Cone, 2.5" 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: 52Hz - 20kHz (-10dB)
  • Maximum Peak SPL: 132dB
  • 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: 23.5" × 14.25" × 13.75"
  • Weight: 42.5 lbs.

Pros
Market sentiment is overwhelmingly positive, with users and experts alike giving the DXR12 top marks for its great balance of quality and value for money. A good number of musicians are impressed with its clarity, even at high volumes. The durability and the flexibility of having 3 channels also make this an easy pick for musicians who are looking for an all-in-one powered speaker solution.

Cons
There are a few who wish for better handle positioning, while others caution that the DXR12 is quite heavy. On the plus side, there are no notable complaints about Yamaha DXR12's sound and build quality.

Overall
Check out the Yamaha DXR12 if you are in the market for a reliable and good value 12" powered speaker.

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

Boycott speaker/amp companies

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

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

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