How To Pick The Right DJ Speaker Setup

There is one critical piece of gear that every home DJ studio needs and that is some form of speakers. All those amazing mixes you will be putting together need to fill your room and you want to make sure your speakers do your hard work justice!

There are a staggering amount of options out there when it comes to speakers. There is some important difference you should be aware of when setting up your home DJ studio. While you can spend a lot of money on speakers depending on your setup and your needs you may not need to spend as much as you think.

In this guide, we will cover everything you need to know to be able to select the perfect DJ speaker setup. Keep in mind that sound is highly subjective so what might sound great to one person may not be great for someone else. Having said that let’s jump into some basics before we dive into the types of speakers out there.

Understanding Speaker Specifications

As you embark on selecting you perfect speakers you will encounter quite a lot of misconceptions and marketing gimmicks. The speaker market is competitive. As a result, some manufacturers try to cut corners while still making bold claims about their speakers.

Photo of a Hi-Fi system.

Be wary of some consumer Hi-Fi systems. Many will deliver poor performance.

There are a lot of intricacies when it comes to understanding the specifications of speakers. If it’s something you care about I would suggest you do some further research. Having said that I do want to give you a top-level insight into these specifications so at least you have some knowledge up your sleeve. Below you’ll find some of the most important specifications you need to assess when selecting your speakers.

Sensitivity

Sensitivity when it comes to speakers is measured in decibels (dB). This tells you how loud the speaker is. This is usually measured by the manufacturer in a non-echoing environment or an ordinary room. Usually, if it has been measured in a room the decibel rating will be 2-3 points higher.

When it comes to decibels the higher the rating the louder the speaker is. Generally, most speakers will fall within a range of 85-91 decibels with anything in the higher ’80s or early ’90s considered ideal.

While having this number is great it doesn’t mean much when you have nothing to compare it to. To give you a better idea I’ve listed some common sounds you should be familiar with and their average decibel rating.

  • Whisper (10 dB)
  • Normal speaking voice (60-70 dB)
  • Lawnmower (90 dB)
  • Someone shouting in your ear (110 dB)

When selecting speakers for your home DJ studio a rating of between 85-110 is ideal. Anything more than that and you actually run the risk of causing damage to your hearing.

Power Handling

Now that you know how loud your speakers should be you want to make sure those speakers can handle the power needed to play at those volumes. You don’t want to be damaging the speaker. Additionally driving too much power to the speakers can also cause damage to them.

Close-up photo of two speakers.

Having an understanding of speaker specs will help when comparing options.

Power handling is specified in Watts (W) and will generally be represented as two values. RMS or continuous and Peak. The RMS value is the one you need to use to judge how good a speaker is. The Peak value is the absolute max a speaker can handle in an instant which is not the real number it can consistently handle. This is where manufacturers try to get a little tricky. They can list the Peak value to make it seem like their speaker is better than it actually is. Make sure to use RMS as your comparison point.

Watts is also a way you can judge how loud the speakers are by using the comparison table below:

WattsDecibels
187
290
493
1097
20100
40103
100106
200110

As you can see to get an increase of 3 dB you need to double the watts required. Don’t be fooled by large wattage numbers as the loudness difference will not be as much as it may appear.

Frequency Response

Often called Frequency Range this specification is measured in Hertz (Hz). This specification will let you know how low and how high the speaker can play. It’s usually represented with a Hz rating for the low end followed by a kHz rating for the high end.

The first rating in Hz is for the bass output so the higher the number the deeper the bass. Most people generally can only hear up to 20 Hz so anything beyond that is more felt rather than heard. Usually, if you can get a speaker in the 50Hz or higher range you won’t need to look at adding a subwoofer. The thump you’ll experience from those speakers should be more than adequate for your home DJ studio.

The second rating in kHz is the treble. Likewise, most people can only hear up to 20kHz. A high rating on this side usually translates into a clearer and crisper sound. This means none of the treble is washed out.

This rating is usually followed by a +/- dB rating. This rating is actually quite important so be sure to check that the speaker you are buying lists this. It means that every sound the speaker produces will fall within that many decibels in that speaker range. This will ensure that the sound is well balanced so that your ears don’t miss out on anything.

A Word of Warning

Now that you have an understanding of some of the core specifications to look out for it’s time to throw some of that knowledge out the window! Unfortunately, there is no industry standard when it comes to the measurements. It’s very easy for manufacturers to make claims that while not untrue is also not an accurate representation.

This is where reputation is so critical when it comes to selecting speakers. Buy from a company that has a track record of producing quality products. That way you can more accurately use the above specifications to compare various speakers.

Studio Monitors

When you dive into the world of purchasing speakers for your home DJ studio you are likely going to come across two main types of speakers. Studio monitors and DJ speakers. While on the surface these appear to be the same there are some very important differences between the two.

Photo of a single studio monitor.

Studio monitors are designed for clear, crisp and accurate sound.

Normal speakers tend to try to “enhance” the music by providing richer bass, mids and treble. Studio monitors are designed to give you the most accurate representation of the sounds that go through them. If you want to be fine-tuning your mixes or plan on creating your own music the clear, crisp and unaltered sound will be more desirable. It’s because of this flat sound that good studio monitors are the industry standard in most studios. They allow artists to hear every imperfection in their music.

Considering the high level of technical engineering that goes into Studio Monitors they can get very expensive. You can still pick up a pair of affordable studio monitors but they will end up costing more than generic speakers.

The majority of these are powered studio monitors. They are internally powered with an amp that has been built-in and tailored to that specific speaker. Not having to worry about purchasing an amp is one of the benefits of these speakers but you will need an audio interface for the speakers.

Since Studio Monitors are designed for the professional working in a studio the field of sound tends to be smaller. If you want to fill your room with booming sound Studio Monitors may not be your best choice. If you want crisp and clear sound in an intimate space there is no denying that studio monitors will be a better choice.

If you are interested in studio monitors you can check out our guide with the best affordable studio monitors currently available.

DJ Speakers

The other range of speakers to consider are standard DJ speakers or even Hi-Fi systems. I’ve grouped these two together since both tend to colour your music. They have been designed to enhance music to make it sound as good as possible. It’s this enhancement which makes it a good choice if you want to fill your room with club-like sound.

Picture of two loudspeakers on stands.

DJ speakers will fill large spaces with sound and are ideal for performing DJs.

These speakers tend to place more emphasis on the lows and highs to provide deep bass and crisp highs. This also makes them a good choice if you do plan on playing at house parties or need your speakers to fill a large area with sound.

DJ speakers tend to be sold individually so keep this in mind when shopping around as you’ll want to have two for your home DJ studio. This is also where cost can become an issue. These speakers can get rather expensive. Unless you want to play your music really loud an affordable pair of quality Studio Monitors may be a better option.

PA systems also fall into this category. They do have the ability to fill large spaces with sound. If you’re setting up a small studio at home it’s going to be overkill. If you want to play parties and want access to extra functions like plug-in microphone jacks it may be good to invest in this system from the get-go. This will save you having to spend more money on speakers down the track.

It’s likely that your existing home Hi-Fi system will be able to plug into your DJ gear. There may be some drawbacks to this. For example, if your system is connected to your TV are you able to easily move it into your home DJ studio and then back again? Some of these systems have also been designed for home theatre applications and may not deliver the type of sound you want when it comes to music. You may need to spend some time tweaking settings to get things sounding right. On top of that, some of the ‘budget’ Hi-Fi systems sold in big-box stores don’t actually offer great sound so you may be disappointed with the output.

DJ speakers will give you the ability to fill a larger space and play your music much louder than studio monitors. The tradeoff is you’ll lose out of that pure unaltered sound that the best studio speakers provide. If you do want to expand into music production you’ll want a set of Studio Monitors. In this case, you may be better of getting them from the outset as opposed to traditional DJ speakers.

Computer Speakers

With the explosion of digital DJing, it’s worth touching on computer speakers. A lot of DJ gear works with software and it’s likely you have some speakers already connected to your computer or laptop. If you haven’t invested in a great system already you may be disappointed. You may find that when it comes to DJing these speakers will not provide you with the sound you are craving.

Picture of computer speakers.

While fine to start with, computer speakers are not great for home DJs.

The most common type of setup is 2.1 (Two satellite speakers and a subwoofer). This can get you by, to begin with, but you’ll find yourself yearning for better sound quality. Software packages for your speakers can give you some good choices in altering the sound coming from them. This can mitigate some of the sound quality issues you may encounter. Additionally, some of these setups can get rather bulky. They also need to be close to your computer or laptop further limiting your flexibility in setting up your home DJ studio.

Computer speakers tend to be best for a small field of listening. Unlike Studio Monitors they do tend to have more coloured sound much like traditional Hi-Fi systems.

If you’re starting out your existing computer speakers might well be enough to get you going. Be mindful of connection options as some gear won’t have the required connections available. It’s possible you may not be able to plug them directly into your DJ gear.

Bookshelf Speakers

When searching for speakers you may come across the term “bookshelf speakers” quite a bit. From the perspective of setting up your home DJ studio, they are an attractive option.

Bookshelf speaker sitting next to a TV.

Bookshelf speakers are a compact solution for small studio spaces.

They’re designed to be placed on an elevated surface like a shelf or table. They are not designed to sit directly on the floor. These speakers tend to also be more compact which is well suited to small to medium-sized rooms.

Many of the best small studio monitors fall into this space but there is a lot of variety in specs. Some bookshelf speakers are more appropriate for watching movies or gaming. If you do want compact bookshelf style speakers you should aim to find ones which are specifically made for listening to music.

Bookshelf speakers are an excellent choice for those with limited space. Keep in mind that due to their smaller size you won’t get a lot of low-frequency output. You’ll need to find space for a subwoofer to go with your small bookshelf speakers if the bass is important to you.

Your DJ Speaker Setup

Now you have an understanding of some of the important specifications to look out for in speakers. You’ll also now be aware of the types of speakers that are available. There are some other things you should consider when picking your DJ speaker setup.

The most important part of selecting speakers is to make sure that they will fit your needs and will be perfect for your individual setup. Look at the space where you plan on setting up your studio and picture where you want the speakers to be. You want the speakers to be at your head height so you may want to consider picking up some speaker stands.

If you plan on sitting down while mixing you may be able to have them sitting on your desk or even slightly elevated if need be. If you do go down this path it’s worth looking into speaker pads for them to sit on. This will prevent vibration both within the speaker and across your whole workspace.

Also, take some time to assess how large the room is and if you want to fill the whole space with sound. Also factor in how loud you want to be able to play your music. If you’re in a small apartment there is no need for massive DJ speakers. They will take up too much space and also annoy your neighbours. In this case, you may want to consider a pair of the best home studio monitors that you can afford. If you have your DJ speaker setup in a large space and want to replicate that club-like feeling you may want more powerful DJ speakers.

One other thing to factor in is if you want your DJ speaker setup to be portable. Lugging around your huge speakers to a friends house along with your gear may not be the best idea. Even moving between rooms in your own home can be frustrating when you have a large DJ speaker setup so keep this in mind when selecting your speakers.

This is where it can be difficult to give recommendations. Every home DJ studio is going to be different and your individual needs are going to be different. Even going into a store to test different speakers will not give you a good indication. They will likely be set up in a space that doesn’t reflect your space at home. Irrespective what speakers you buy try to buy from somewhere which has a good returns policy in case you get home and the speakers don’t meet your needs.

Close-up photo of a studio monitor

Understanding your space is critical to selecting the right speakers.

Your home DJ studio will be your personal sanctuary to hone and develop your DJ skills. It will also give you so much joy when you do those amazing mixes. You want to make sure your speakers help make that experience even better.

Which Type Is Better For Home DJ’s?

As you may have gathered by now there is no easy answer to this as it comes down to your individual needs. If you want high-quality unaltered sound go for the best monitor speakers that don’t break your budget. They’re perfect for a small home DJ studio. If you have an eye to creating your own music down the track they should also be high on your consideration list.

If you want to play your music loud and replicate that in the club feeling aim for high-quality DJ speakers. They will be able to make you feel that bass to your core and rock any party both at home and out and about.

If your budget is tight you can get started with your existing Hi-Fi system or computer speakers. It’s okay to get started in the world of DJing with some mediocre speakers. You can even mix in a pair of cheap DJ headphones. Either way, don’t hold yourself back because you can’t afford some new speakers. You can always upgrade down the track. The most important part is to get started learning the art of DJing with the speakers you already have.

If you are looking at adding some speakers or it’s time for an upgrade to your home DJ studio you should have all the information you need. Go out and buy quality speakers that will keep you dancing and smiling for years to come!

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Robert Calabrese

Robert Calabrese

I've loved electronic music since the age of 12. From listening to tapes on my walkman, buying CD's and now in digital format. As the music evolved so has my experience and I'm passionate about sharing my journey with you.

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