The Top 15 Best Powered PA Speakers

The Highest Rated Powered PA Speakers

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

For this May 2021 edition, we retain our categories based on three main price ranges: Sub $500, Sub $1000, and Sub $2000. We've also included a highly rated affordable option for those who are working with strict budgets.

The Best Powered PA Speakers

Author & Contributors

Raphael PulgarRaphael Pulgar

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

Best Budget Powered PA Speaker:

Alto Professional TS310 - 10" - 2000W

92
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

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

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

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

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

Specifications:

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

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

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

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

Best Powered PA Speakers under $500:

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

Yamaha DBR10 - 10" - 700W

96
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$350
Yamaha DBR10 Powered PA Speaker

The DBR series from Yamaha is designed to give us more options in the portable powered speaker market. And it looks like they hit the jackpot with the DBR10, because it continues to rake in positive reviews from DJs, musicians, sound engineers and many more.

For a speaker with 10" woofer, the DBR10 is loud, but more importantly it is incredibly light for what it can do at just 23.2 lbs! This makes it ideal for performers who have to carry their own PA equipment.

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

Specifications:

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

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

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

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

Mackie Thump15A - 15" - 1300W

96
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$350
Mackie Thump15A Powered Speaker 15" - 1300W

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

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

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

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

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

Specifications:

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

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

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

Overall
The Mackie Thump 15A is a great pick for those looking for a powered speaker with enhanced bass.

QSC CP8 - 8" - 1000W

97
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$400
QSC CP8 Powered PA Speaker

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

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

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

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

Specifications:

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

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

Cons
Given it's smaller 8" speaker, some users comment that the low end is lacking.

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

QSC CP12 - 12" - 1000W

97
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$500
QSC CP12 Powered PA Speaker - Front & Back

The QSC CP12 is a compact powered loudspeaker designed with portability in mind. Despite the small size relative to most speakers, it has a peak wattage of 1000 W and a Max SPL of 126 dB; making it loud enough for small venues or medium size conference halls.

It also features a built-in 3-channel mixer for single box operation. This makes it an equally capable floor monitor or keyboard amplifier.

Specifications:

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

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

Cons
Enclosure felt "cheap" for some which sapped confidence in the long term durability of the unit. Others note that the versatility of the unit is also its bane as it's a "Jack-of-all-trades, Master of none" type of speaker.

Overall
If you're looking for a compact but capable speaker with multiple uses like mains, monitors or instrument amplification, the QSC CP12 is a good, versatile choice.

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

97
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$499
Electro-Voice ZLX-15BT 1000W 15" Powered PA Speaker w/ Bluetooth

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

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

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

Specifications:

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

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

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

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

Best Powered PA Speakers under $1000:

QSC K8.2 - 8" - 2000W

98
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$700
QSC K8.2 2000 Watt Powered PA Speaker

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

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

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

Being part of QSC's K.2 series, the K8.2 adds a bit more power to the LF driver, which means a bit more low-end emphasis, which helps its small 8" speaker to sound fuller.

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

Specifications:

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

Pros

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

Cons

Having a small speaker means that low end and projection is limited.

Overall

If you're looking for a great sounding speaker that can be used for both FOH and as a stage monitor, then get the QSC K8.2.

QSC K10.2 - 10" - 2000W

98
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$750
QSC K10.2 2000W 10" Powered PA Speaker

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

The QSC K10.2 carries the same features as its smaller sibling, the K8.2, with the main difference being the use of a slightly bigger woofer.

It also has a similar almost perfect rating across multiple retailers, a testament to QSC's quality standards that they apply across all their products.

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

Specifications:

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

Pros
Several users were amazed by the K10's sound, with commendations coming from a wide variety of backgrounds - from church sound technicians, to musicians, to DJs, and event organizers. They describe the speaker as being clear and loud, and many of those that switched to the K10.2 report a big increase in sound quality compared to their previous speaker. Owners are also pleased at how solid the cabinet and overall workmanship is.

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

Overall
If you're looking for a premium quality 10" powered PA speaker that's still reasonably portable, then check out the QSC K10.2.

QSC K12.2 - 12" - 2000W

98
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$850
QSC K12.2 2000-Watt 12" Powered PA Speaker

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

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

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

Specifications:

  • LF Driver: 12"
  • HF Driver: 1.4"
  • Amplifier: Class D Amplifiers with Passive Cooling
  • Output Power Peak: 2000 W peak (1800 LF + 225 HF)
  • Frequency Response: 45Hz-20kHz(-10dB)
  • Maximum Peak SPL: 132 dB
  • Enclosure: Impact Resistant ABS
  • Mounting: Wedge, Pole, Floor, Fly
  • Inputs: 2 x XLR-1/4" combo (mic/line), 1 x 1/8" (aux stereo in)
  • Outputs: 2 x XLR (thru), 1 x XLR (mix out)
  • Controls: 2 x Power, 3 × Level, Rotary encoder (push), 2 × selection buttons
  • Dimensions: 23.7" x 14" x 13.8"
  • Weight: 39 lbs.

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

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

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

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

96
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

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

With its 15" woofer driven by a 1500W Class D power amplifier, the EKX-15P is meant to go loud and reproduce low frequencies that smaller speakers cannot.

Its ability to better reproduce lows at higher sound pressure levels make this ideal for DJs and musicians, and it can also be ideal for speech use, especially in bigger venues.

Electro-Voice opted to stick to classic wood cabinet design for this particular speaker while keeping the bulk and weight lower than old school designs.

DSP wise, this powered speaker lets you choose between 3 presets - music, live and club, along with five user programmable presets.

To keep the speaker from overheating, it also comes with variable-speed fan that can intelligently sense heat and adjust the fan speed accordingly.

Specifications:

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

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

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

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

Bose F1 Model 812 - 12" - 1000W

96
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$999
Bose F1 Model 812 Flexible Array Loudspeaker

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

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

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

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

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

Specifications:

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

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

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

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

Best Powered PA Speakers under $2000:

JBL PRX825W - Dual 15" - 1500W

96
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

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

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

Limiting is handled internally by a DBX designed circuit.

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

Specifications:

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

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

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

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

QSC KW153 3-way 15" - 2000W

98
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$1680
QSC KW153 3-way 1000W 15" Powered PA Speaker

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

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

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

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

Specifications:

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

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

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

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

JBL SRX835P 3-Way 15" - 2000W

97
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$1699
JBL SRX835P Powered PA Speaker 15" - 2000W

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

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

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

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

Specifications:

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

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

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

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

QSC KLA12 - 12" - 1000W

96
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$2000
QSC KLA12 1000W 12" Line Array Powered PA Speaker

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

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

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

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

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

Specifications:

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

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

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

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

Things To Consider When Buying Powered PA Speakers

  • LF Driver / Speaker Cone Size

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

  • Output Power Rating and Max SPL

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

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

  • Portability

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

  • DSP, Limiter and EQ

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

  • Built-in Mixer

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

  • Reliability

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

Best Powered PA Speaker Selection Methodology

The first edition was published in 2016 and the latest edition was published on May 20, 2021.

For this 2021 edition, we conducted an initial survey of major retailers in the USA and placed 96 active speakers on our short-list for closer examination - you can see them in the Music Gear Database. We only included models priced below $2,000 and excluded those that are designed only for fixed installations.

Next we gathered relevant store ratings, written reviews, video reviews and forum discussions about each one - including the latest market feedback up to mid May 2021. We processed over 17,300 of these data sources using the Gearank Algorithm which gave us the rating scores out of 100 that we used to rank the speakers appropriately. The highest rated of them are featured in this guide divided into three main categories: Sub $500, Sub $1000 and Sub $2000, along with a budget friendly option. As always, we've included detailed descriptions and specifications for each powered speaker, along with their strengths and weaknesses as reported by actual users. For more information about our methods see How Gearank Works.

About the Author and Contributors

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

Lead Author & Researcher

Raphael PulgarRaphael Pulgar

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

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

Contributors

Alden Acosta: Product research.
Alexander Briones: Supplemental writing.
Jason Horton: Product research, Editing and Illustrating.

Media

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

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

Comments

My band has been using both

My band has been using both EVs and JBLs for years now and they're both really good powered speakers. Why didn't you include JBL on your list?

JBLs Are not what they use to

JBLs Are not what they use to be. I had the PRX 735s and after several shows the inside housing on both cabs were rattling and buzzing. Very annoying. When I saw them open up the cabs. the parts were as cheap as could be. Even the tech was shocked. He suggested QSC 153s. I took the loss on the trade in and never looked back. The QSCs blow them away in sound quality and build quality. So I am not at all surprised the smaller QSC were on the top. The 153s are probably too $$$ for this list but would be at the top if that price range was being considered. Also the EVs have way too many complaints of breaking down as do Mackie. You RARELY see that on QSC reviews. Being in a working band Quality and reliability are everything. QSC tops the list IMO

Being a sound engineer, Jbl's

Being a sound engineer, Jbl's used to use quality components back 20 years ago but what they are putting out now is not professional grade products. I have qsc153 they are a bit on the heavier side but in terms of professional sound reinforcement they cannot be beat! It comes down to what is your main concern when performing live, quality professional products or products that fit your budget. I prefer to wait when making a purchase but get a product that is top notch!
QSC rocks!

JBL has never been a good

JBL has never been a good speaker EV beats them hands down are you deaf?

I listened to JBL and EV side

I listened to JBL and EV side by side and chose the EV Live X series. EV beat JBL hands down.

Agreed. Anyone have any

Agreed. Anyone have any comments on the Turbosound ix15’s?

I build adamson speakers and

I build Adamson speakers and they are great build with kevlar drivers great outside in all wether but you will pay.

would you help me compare the

Would you help me compare the two EV and JBL? What is the best choice in durability, audibility among others?

We have 4 JBLs and 4 EVs

We have 4 JBLs and 4 EVs currently in our public database.

If you click on those links you'll see that the EVs generally have higher Gearank scores than the JBLs - this means people who have bought the EVs are more satisfied with their gear than the people who got the JBLs instead.

That's why we recommended the ZLX-12P & ZLX-15P EVs above but have not done so for the JBLs at this stage.

Thanks Jason

Thanks Jason
the Ev speakers seems to be much heavier in their performance would you pliz high lighten on the ratio of Amp to speakers in terms of there watts.

Thanks John - you were quite

Thanks John - you were quite right that we were trying to stick to a price range, we didn't want go much over $1,000. If we had gone up to $1,500 the the QSC KW153 would have been in the list too.

Curious as to what was

Curious as to what was lacking in JBL. The PRX 800 series and I assume SRX series should be included. The PRX 835 head to head with QSC 153 are louder and not as harsh on the high end.

We make our recommendations

We make our recommendations based on overall product ratings rather than by considering specific aspects or features (except for special picks like the Budget Option above) - you can see how we analyze reviews and opinions from around the web to produce our ratings in How Gearank Works.

We only go into the detail of which aspects are good or lacking for items we select to recommend, so unfortunately I can't give you specifics in this case other than to say that overall sentiment is less favorable for the ones we didn't recommend.

I'm disappointed with this

I'm disappointed with this list. I'm surprised that Mackie's were cited as being "reliable." I had a pair of Thumps that were anything but reliable. I had to replace them after six months of use. JBLs are known for reliability, not Mackies.

The Gearank scores are based

The Gearank scores are based upon customer feedback and expert reviews of the latest models.

Here are the JBLs we processed and none of them had enough positive feedback to score high enough to be included.

If you think there is a current JBL model we should process for a Gearank score to see if it should be included, then please let us know.

Hi Walt - there are 2

Hi Walt - there are 2 important points to make in response to your question:

  1. If you look at the Methodology section you'll see that we only considered speakers with a street price of up to $1,000 and the JBL SRX range sells for more than that
  2. We don't directly test any of the gear on this website - the entire point of Gearank is that we base our ratings on reviews and comments made by musicians from around the world - that's what the "Sources" and "Incorporating (x)+ ratings and reviews." numbers reflect.
    To get a better handle on this please read How Gearank Works.

I had a pair of PRX615's the

I had a pair of PRX615's the bass was good the horn was crap so that's probably why they didn't get a mention a lot JBL speakers have a funny midrange and top end most DJ's don't notice this but put one up against something like the RCF 700 series and the FBT VENTIS/PROMAXX and you'll notice the difference.

I have had JBL PRX625 now for

I have had JBL PRX625 now for almost four years and they are really good, never had problems with them. Just bought Bose F1 system two months ago and had two sub woofer rattling. JBL deserve to be on this list.

The JBL PRX625 speakers are

The JBL PRX625 speakers are no longer available to buy from most of the major North American retailers which is why this specific model was not included.

BTW - although JBL didn't score high enough to be included in this guide, they topped the ratings in our guide to the Best PA Subwoofers.

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