There are a huge number of active PA speakers available. But it isn’t easy separating the great speakers from the below average. In this guide, we make it easy for you. Check out our top picks for the best PA speakers in the world today.
Are PA Speakers Good For DJs?
Before we dive into the reviews it is worth covering the difference between PA speakers and DJ speakers. The great news is that there isn’t a difference. PA speakers and DJ speakers are essentially the same product. The only difference is in the presentation or marketing.
Both will bring serious volume to your next event. It could be a house party, karaoke night, live music performance, corporate function, or a DJ gig. So no matter what your needs are the below speakers are the best of the best for all occasions.
The Best PA Speakers Overall
Below you’ll find our selection of the best PA speakers. Plus there is also a bonus section for the budget conscious with some impressive choices. Let’s dive into the reviews.
Bose F1 Review
- Flexible Array – The exclusive flexible array offers unprecedented performance. The large woofer sits behind 8 2.25-inch mid/high-frequency drivers.
- Stunning Sound – The unique design delivers on the sound front. Excellent clarity and clean audio execution. High-quality sound at all volume levels.
- Solid Construction – Premium materials and robust housing. Bose has a great reputation for quality and it’s on full display here.
- Powerful Combo – Easy to combo up with the Bose F1 subwoofer for a complete experience. A simple and intuitive combination for all venue types.
- Expensive – The superb configuration and design mean it does come with a high price point.
The Bose F1 is an exceptional powered speaker with innovative features. The clean audio delivery is second to none. The unique flexible array allows you to use it in a wide variety of situations. Each setting also automatically adjusts the EQ. User-friendly and powerful sound.
The Bose F1 is among the very best PA speakers available today with high build quality and exceptional performance.
Read our full Bose F1 review for more detailed information.
Mackie SRT215 Review
- Superb Sound – The SRT215 offers fantastic sound quality. A smooth and powerful audio response that executes cleanly. Perfect for all potential uses from DJing to speaking events.
- Sharp Appearance – The exceptional design flows beyond components and into aesthetics as well. Professional and modern.
- Excellent Protection – Built-in Power Factor Correction. Extra input limiting keeps your speaker performing at its best.
- Bluetooth Connectivity – A full suite of options with the Bluetooth app. Alter the graphic EQ, add reverb, and stream music with ease.
- No RCA – There is little to fault with the SRT215. But it may disappoint some users due to the lack of an RCA input option.
The Mackie SRT215 is a powerful and well-designed powered speaker that packs a serious punch. Loud and clear with an excellent balance across the full range of frequencies. Great for delivering excellent audio for large venues where you need to fill the room with sound. Easy-to-use tuning options and Bluetooth connectivity are features that elevate it to the next level.
If you need powered PA speakers the Mackie SRT215 is one of the best PA speakers currently available.
JBL EON 615 Review
- Waveguide Technology – The JBL Waveguide Technology offers a broad audio delivery to capture as much of the space as possible. Sounds great from all angles.
- Good Value – Excellent price point that is affordable. A pair of these can cost the same as one high-end speaker.
- Quality Sound – Tonal range is clean and smooth with excellent clarity. Simple presets are effective and allow for customizing the sound.
- Lightweight – For a powered PA speaker these come in at a modest weight. A good option if you dislike heavy speakers.
- Fiddly Bluetooth – Bluetooth connectivity is great for EQ adjustment but the pairing is fiddly. The lack of extra features is also a letdown.
The JBL EON range is a favorite among beginners due to its affordable entry point. The sound quality is still good for a powered speaker in this price range. It also features elements from JBL’s more expensive line of speakers. Bass is decent but these shine in the mids and highs.
If you are working in larger venues it’s worth noting these are not as loud as some of the competitors. Despite this, they are ideal as a pair and even better with a sub. An excellent all-rounder at a great price.
EV EKX 15P Review
- Fantastic Clarity – The EKX-15P delivers exceptional performance across all frequencies. The vocal response is precise. The mids are smooth. Music sounds great with this speaker.
- Excellent Presets – Quick and effective presets to suit your applications. Music, Live, Speak, and Club. Plus extra presets for location.
- Strong Bass – The 15-inch woofer delivers a warm and smooth low end. Plenty of output power and bass response for medium-sized indoor gigs. Perfect for bass-heavy music.
- High Quality – Materials and components are durable and dependable.
- On The Heavy Side – At over 50 lbs. (24 kg) these are not the most comfortable to transport and set up.
The Electro-Voice EKX-15P is a powerful and attractive 15-inch PA speaker packed with features. The rich sound profile is well suited to a variety of applications. It is a great option for DJs thanks to the meaty low end. Also perfect for bands due to the crisp mids and highs. Flexibility is also there with the ability to use it as a stage monitor on its side.
If you are looking for a loud and reliable PA speaker with quality sound the EV EKX-15P is one of the best PA speakers currently available.
Yamaha DBR12 Review
- Impressive Balance – The Yamaha DBR12 delivers fantastic sound. The EQ curve is relatively flat which is well suited to a natural instrument and vocal representation.
- Strong Projection – With plenty of decibels up its sleeve the DBR12 can fill a medium-sized venue. Audio dispersion and projection are excellent.
- Good Value – The entry-level option from Yamaha offers excellent value for money. High quality but still affordable.
- Reliable – Yamaha’s build quality is still present despite the lower price tag. A dependable PA speaker that can handle regular use.
- Flat Response – The natural flat response may be a little too flat. Not a great option for DJs that want more pronounced bass.
The Yamaha DBR12 offers excellent quality sound at an affordable price. The nuanced and flat response highlights vocals and instrumentals perfectly. It also features clean and precise bass but it is lacking in oomph. An excellent stage monitor for a live band due to the accurate sound. High quality and rugged, it’s a 12-inch powered speaker you can depend on.
If you like a neutral response the DBR12 is one of the best powered PA speakers out there.
Yamaha DXR10mkII Review
- Natural Response – The sound output has a pleasing resonance to it. No frequency dominates leading to a well-rounded and natural soundscape.
- Loud – For a 10-inch PA speaker these offer very high volume levels. Perfect for solo performers that need one loud PA speaker that is still easy to transport.
- High Durability – Yamaha continues to excel when it comes to quality. Durable components and a rugged ABS enclosure offer excellent peace of mind.
- Flexible Connectivity – A full range of connection options. It makes the DXR10mkII one of the most flexible powered speakers available.
- Limited Presets – Front of house/Main and Monitor are your only options for audio adjustment.
The revamped DXR range continues to deliver on all fronts with plenty of good features. Heaps of power within this 10-inch model to deliver exceptional sound.
It is a more expensive option than Yamaha’s DBR range. But despite the higher price point, it’s an excellent powered speaker with a pleasing sound profile.
If you need high-quality and reliable powered speakers you can always depend on Yamaha.
QSC CP8 Review
- Top-Quality Sound – Clarity is high and the sound delivery is clean without any distortion. Excellent as both a main PA speaker or as a floor monitor.
- Excellent Price – This 8-inch model offers an inexpensive price. Perfect for a home setup or modest-sized venue.
- Good Size – The QSC is easy to transport. Lightweight with a refined cabinet size. A good option for a quick and seamless setup flow.
- Simple Presets – An effective range of presets to adapt to various situations. Dedicated subwoofer-based presets are a welcome addition.
- Best With A Sub – The bass is on the softer side as you’d expect from an 8-inch woofer. If you need deep bass a subwoofer is a must.
The QSC CP8 breaks the mold for an 8-inch speaker with some excellent features. Normally 8-inch speakers can suffer from a lack of power. While the bass response is on the softer side the output power is still strong. It features a clean sound that is adaptable to a full range of applications.
The appealing price point and ease of use make it one of the best PA speakers for solo performers.
The Best Budget PA Speakers
Speakers can be expensive. Several premium brands offer high-end powered speakers. But if you are on a budget there are some attractive powered PA speaker options available. Below is a selection of the best PA speakers for those with a more modest budget.
Behringer Eurolive B212D Review
- Respectable Sound – For a budget-priced powered speaker the B212D offers good sound quality. Smooth audio delivery and a satisfying punch.
- Inexpensive – An affordable price point that allows you to have more funds available for other parts of your setup.
- Handy Dimensions – Extremely lightweight making it a functional and comfortable option for gigs.
- EQ Option – 2-band EQ gives you some control over output. Great for balancing out harsh highs or boomy bass.
- Struggles At Higher Volumes – While it can top out at 127 dB the B212D does struggle at the higher end. Sound quality degrades and is especially noticeable in the higher frequencies.
The Behringer Eurolive B212D is a good option for those on a budget. Sound quality is beyond what I would expect at this price point. And it still offers good durability.
Ideal for use as a pair of powered speakers for intimate venues where you won’t need to push them too hard.
Good connection options and some useful features. The 12-inch B212D is among the best PA speakers if you are on a budget.
Behringer Eurolive B212D
Alto TX212 Review
- Solid Build – Rugged and durable construction lends the TX212 to continued and frequent use. At this price, it presents great value.
- Clean Design – A well-designed cabinet that offers a clean and smart aesthetic.
- Good Audio – Sound quality and balance are solid. No distortion or muddy tones.
- Lacks Power – Max SPL of 113 dB is not ideal for anything beyond the home or intimate setting use.
- No Tuning Options – Besides a Contour Curve button, there is no way to adjust output. Not as flexible as other speaker options.
The Alto TX212 is another excellent budget-priced speaker. But, with that price, there are a few drawbacks that are worth factoring in.
For home use, this speaker is ideal as you’ll be unlikely to need to push it to its limits. Audio performance and sound clarity are very good for how cheap these are. But, the lack of some features like tuning choices is disappointing.
If you don’t need a super loud speaker the TX 212 is a great budget-priced option.
Behringer Eurolive B105D Review
- Good Clarity – The clarity of the B105D is excellent. It especially shines in vocal performance. Perfect as a public address unit.
- Flexible Connections – Offers plenty of options for connecting a variety of gear. Added USB and Bluetooth connectivity are great extras.
- 3-Band EQ – Forward-facing 3-band EQ grants easy access to fine-tune the audio output.
- Convenient – Lightweight and easy to transport. A great on-the-go option and one of this speaker’s best features.
- Not Very Loud – At just 95 dB you can’t rock a party with this speaker.
The Behringer Eurolive B105D is a speaker that suits a specific purpose. It has a feature set that excels in some areas but falls short in others. Ideal as a vocal monitor or as a PA for speeches and karaoke. The wide selection of connectivity options lends itself to a multitude of uses. But if you need to fill a large space with sound this is not the speaker for you.
If you want clear sound and don’t need epic volume the B105D has plenty of excellent features at a cheap price.
Behringer Eurolive B105D
Our Expert Buying Guide
Selecting the best PA speaker for your needs can be a difficult process. In this expert guide, we cover some of the key features you need to be aware of. We’ll also highlight some of the terminology used when referring to powered speakers.
Active VS Passive
The first major distinguishing factor is the difference between active and passive speakers.
Active speakers are often called powered speakers. These speakers are self powered and simply connect to a power source. They include a built-in amplifier that handles the power needs of the drivers. An active speaker may have one or more amps included depending on the specific speaker configuration. The most common configuration is a bi-amped design that includes two amps. One amplifier for handling the woofer and another amplifier for handling the tweeter.
Active speakers are a good choice for DJs.
Active speakers are a popular choice for music since they take the guesswork out of your setup. You don’t need to worry about purchasing a separate amplifier. You simply arrive at your gig and connect your speaker to power and then your gear to the speaker. Before long you’ll have music playing for your audience. These features solidify its position as the go-to option for performers.
Passive speakers do not include any built-in amps. This will require you to power them externally. This is often a combination of a preamplifier and power amplifier. This is more gear that you need to buy and does require an understanding of how speakers work.
Where passive speakers shine is in home theatre setups. They are also a good choice if you want more control over your output. You’ll also have the ability to upgrade components independently.
Which One Is Better?
For most applications, a powered or active speaker is the easier choice. This is especially the case for beginners that want an easy plug-and-play experience.
Max SPL Explained
Max SPL is a common specification associated with speakers. It helps give you an understanding of how loud the speaker is in decibels at a distance of one meter. Power output can be deceiving so the Max SPL specification is a great sign of what you can expect.
PA speakers tend to be quite loud as they need to fill large spaces with sound. It is not uncommon for a speaker to have a Max SPL rating of between 90-135. For reference, a regular conversation registers at about 60 decibels or 60 dB. The jet engine of a place will register at 130 dB. Most concerts will fall within the 120-129 dB range. Whether you’re a DJ or a rock band you’ll want speakers that deliver loud volume levels.
Anything above 85 dB can be harmful to your hearing if you are consistently exposed to these volumes. If you are a performer or work in an environment with loud music you should invest in some ear protection.
If you want to fill a large area with sound you need speakers with high Max SPL.
Do note that the Max SPL as stated by the manufacturer may not be 100% accurate. They may use the speaker’s transducer sensitivity rating and extrapolate it out based on the power output of the transducer. While this does give you a baseline estimation it doesn’t factor in other elements. This could be the housing of the speaker, the design of the internal components, or features like sound reinforcement.
Plus it is with noting that Max SPL highlights the volume level at peak output. In most cases, you won’t want to be using the speakers at peak volume. It is always good to have a bit of headroom up your sleeve.
Despite potential inaccuracies, Max SPL can still provide you with an indication of how loud a speaker will be.
Wattage is another common specification that manufacturers like to highlight. Unfortunately much like Max SPL, it may not be a perfect indication of the speaker’s power output.
The power output is often rated as peak power. But this may not be the continuous power output that you would experience in practical use. Running a speaker at full power can be a surefire way to experience audio distortion or potentially damage your speaker.
The wattage is also a sign of the potential volume level of a speaker. For each increase of 3 dB, you need to double the power output. For example, if a speaker registers 80 dB at 1-watt usage it will register 83 dB at 2 watts. Each time you jump by 3 dB you need to double the previous wattage amount.
It takes a great deal more power output to achieve higher volume levels. This is where an efficient and well-designed speaker can easily trump a lower-quality speaker. While rarely the case, a high-quality speaker with a 300W power rating can output the same volume as a poor quality 500W speaker.
The lack of standardized specification practices makes it difficult to assess how good a speaker is. Despite this, it is still a specification that is worth noting when you are comparing various speakers.
Another factor worth considering is the connection options that a speaker offers. The best PA speakers will offer a selection of inputs and outputs that can handle a variety of gear. These features provide maximum flexibility.
Understanding audio cables helps you identify the types of speaker you’ll want.
There are three primary connection types that most speakers may potentially offer.
RCA – This is an unbalanced connection option that is commonly used in consumer gear. For example, entry-level DJ controllers often offer this. These are the common red and white cables that you are likely already familiar with. It is an unbalanced signal so can be prone to interference.
TS/TRS – This is another connection type you will have likely seen. It is often used for headphones. It is either a 1/4 inch or 1/8 inch connection plug. These can be either balanced or unbalanced depending on the internal cabling. The main difference is in the number of wires. TS will feature two wires. One for the signal and one for the ground. This is an unbalanced connection. A TRS cable will include two signal wires and a ground. This is a balanced connection.
XLR – This connection type is popular for audio gear. It also features three wires in a pin format. This balanced signal will resist interference and provide maximum sound quality. Many active speakers will offer a combo jack that allows you to use either XLR or TRS.
There are other potential connection options you may encounter. Bluetooth is the most common option for easy streaming of music or for pairing one speaker to another. Some speakers may also offer a USB option for direct playback.
Flexibility is the most important element when it comes to connection types. You want to be able to connect an assortment of gear to your speaker without limitations. This becomes more important as you proceed to upgrade or expand you gear. While there are various converter plugs available it is best practice to use the correct cable and matching connection types.
Another thing to look out for when selecting a speaker is the ability to tune the output. EQ settings are a flexible way to accommodate a variety of potential scenarios. It is often one of the first features I look for when selecting speakers.
Every gig is different and can present unique challenges. Having access to tuning options gives you the ability to output the best possible sound for your working environment. Plus these options will be handy depending on what type of music you play. Certain genres of music are better suited to certain EQ profiles.
Most good-quality speakers will offer some form of tuning options. These may come in the form of a selection of presets. The presets adjust the EQ settings of the output for a specific task. For example, you can set a speaker to “Speech”. This setting is perfect for a spoken presentation.
Having access to EQ settings allows you to customize output to your needs.
Some speakers will take this further and allow you more granular control over the EQ settings. This can be either via dedicated EQ knobs or an LCD screen that allows you to adjust output via a selection of menus. Some modern speakers even offer a connection to an App on your phone to allow you to make changes without needing to access the speaker directly. This can be especially useful if you want to go to a certain section of the venue and tweak settings accordingly.
Access to EQ settings can turn an average-sounding speaker into a great-sounding speaker. Achieving high-quality sound output is important, I suggest you make sure the speaker you buy comes with good EQ options.
Are PA Speakers Good For Music?
PA speakers are a great choice for playing music. The loud volume output allows you to fill large venues with high-quality sound. They can also handle a wide variety of music genres.
Do PA Speakers Have Good Bass?
PA speakers offer excellent bass thanks to the large woofers. Large powered PA speakers can deliver smooth, rich, and satisfying low frequencies.
Do I Need 2 PA Speakers?
You don’t need two PA speakers for your gig. But, having access to two speakers allows you to set up a stereo experience for your crowd and cover a larger area.
Which One Should You Buy?
There are plenty of high-quality PA speaker options available. With several respected brands producing great products, it’s difficult to determine a winner.
But if I had to choose the best PA speakers currently available the Bose F1 is the one speaker that does stand out. The high build quality and excellent sound are hard to resist. Add to that the innovative design and you have a winner on your hands.
But, the F1 is expensive. If you are looking for something more affordable the Mackie SRT215 is an outstanding alternative. An excellent set of features and amazing sound make it an appealing choice if the Bose F1 is not for you.