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 RCF Art series are

The RCF Art series are definitely within the price range, however they have limited availability in the US - you usually have to buy them on special order.

However they are widely available throughout Europe so if anyone would like more information about RCF powered speakers go to http://www.rcf.it/product-finder/active-speaker

No offense. RCF Art series is

No offense. RCF Art series is garbage just like the JBL PRX. Sounds like radio amplified. Good that its not listed here. If you want noise then it is, not for music.

Clearly you haven't done any

Clearly you haven't done any testing or comparisons the new series IIII 700 series sound very good and most italian companies make great speakers like FBT & DB youre talking through your hat.

You've clearly not heard RCF

You've clearly not heard RCF's ART 745-A. It's easily one of the best loudspeakers in its price range. Actually, considering its price, it probably is the best bar none. With its huge 4" driver, there's little competition for it if small-mid range venues is your thing.

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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