Our Buying Guide For DJ Speakers, PA Speakers & PA Systems In 2021

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Speakers are a fundamental part of an artist’s gear. Whether you are a DJ, singer, solo performer, or part of a band. Selecting the right speaker for your needs is not an easy task.

There is a lot to factor in when buying speakers. Size, power, portability, and functionality are all factors that you need to consider.

In this guide, we check out some of the most popular categories of speakers. We’ll also break down the key features to keep an eye out for when buying.

DJ Speakers

DJ speakers are just as important as other pieces of gear in your setup. You can have an excellent mixer, great skills, and fantastic lighting. But without solid sound output, you’ll quickly leave a crowd feeling underwhelmed.

DJ gear set up at a function with colorful lighting.

DJ speakers need to be able to deliver a loud volume output with good bass.

It doesn’t have to be a complicated process when it comes to selecting DJ speakers that are right for your needs. Below are the top 3 features you should consider when buying DJ speakers.

Key Features

  • DJ speakers need to be able to fill a space with sound. And not just any sound. You’ll want loud and clear output. Where possible always opt for a speaker with a high Max SPL rating. Something in the region of 120dB or higher is ideal. This is loud enough for most small and medium-sized venues.
  • Another consideration is the quality of the bass output. DJs tend to play a lot of music that has an emphasis on bass. You want to ensure the speaker delivers a rich and meaty low-end response to satisfy the crowd.
  • Good DJ speakers should also be durable. You’ll be taking them from one gig to the next. And you’ll also be putting the speakers under plenty of stress due to the loud volume output. Aim to buy speakers from a trusted brand that has an excellent reputation for reliability. 

PA Speakers

PA speakers are very similar to DJ speakers. While the products are the same the application tends to be very different. They could be for a Karaoke bar, local church group, speaking functions, or a small band.

Photo of a small stage with chairs and microphones for performers

PA speakers are useful for a variety of event types.

Due to the variety of potential uses, the below features should be at the top of your priority list.

Key Features

  • Flexible EQ options are one of the most important features of PA speakers. You’ll want access to a range of effective presets to handle different types of events. More granular control is also welcome to adjust to different environments in more detail.
  • You should also consider the connection options available. You may need to have the ability to connect a wide variety of gear. A range of inputs is ideal to grant you maximum flexibility. Extra options like Bluetooth or AUX-in are also a welcome addition.
  • Clarity is very important for all speakers. But it is even more important for PA speakers. Singers and speaking professionals need defining and clear mid and high frequencies. You don’t want muddy tones ruining the experience for your audience.

Portable PA Systems

PA systems is a broad term that covers various speaker types. These can range from small portable speaker systems to larger column array options. Small PA systems are great for solo performers, buskers, and pop-up gigs. Larger systems are well suited to more complex scenarios like bands.

DJ gear overlooking a crows at a nightclub

Large PA systems are a good choice for bigger venues.

Here are some of the key defining features you should consider when buying a PA system.

Key Features

  • Portability is one of the most important aspects. This can be in the form of small speakers that are lightweight and easy to transport. For larger systems, convenient carry handles are also worth keeping an eye out for.
  • A large amount of mixer channels is also ideal. This allows you to connect several instruments to the system. A solid onboard mixer is also critical so that you can balance all the channels accordingly.
  • If you are looking for a small portable system you should consider battery-powered options. These are great for buskers and unusual gig locations like the beach. Long battery life and quick charging are essential for these types of speakers.

10-Inch Powered Speakers

10-inch powered speakers are the smallest option available. These speakers are often the backbone of a more comprehensive setup that may include a subwoofer. Due to their smaller size, you do need to pay extra attention to certain features.

DJ playing at a house party

10-inch powered speakers are well-suited for smaller parties.

These are the top three features to take into account when buying 10-inch powered speakers.

Key Features

  • The weight of the speaker should be a high consideration. You’ll likely have a pair of 10-inch speakers and possibly a subwoofer as the foundation of your setup. Having speakers that are light enough for one person to transport and set up is ideal.
  • Defined and clear mid and high tones are also very important. A dedicated subwoofer can handle the low end so you’ll want your tops to be crystal clear.
  • Value for money is also important. You’ll likely want a pair and possibly a subwoofer. Striking the balance between affordability and quality can be challenging. But there are plenty of solid and dependable options that offer both.

12-Inch Powered Speakers

12-inch powered speakers sit in the sweet spot between speaker types. For some gigs and performers, they will be enough to run solo. A pair can also be enough to handle medium-sized venues.

DJ performing outside with DJ speakers

A pair of 12-inch speakers along with a subwoofer is a common performance configuration.

Due to the more centralized nature of these speakers, there are a few extra factors that are critical to making the right choice.

Key Features

  • Excellent balance across all frequencies is very important. Due to the possibility of not running a subwoofer, you’ll want to pay extra attention to the low-end response.
  • Since these speakers are well suited to medium-sized venues you’ll want them to offer excellent coverage. Sound can quickly dissipate in a larger space along with absorption based on crowd numbers. A broad coverage range ensures even sound across the whole venue.
  • Solid construction is also important. Speakers of this size can be a little unwieldy. The occasional bump or knock is not unheard of. Investing in speakers with a robust cabinet and high-quality components will save you money in the long term. 

15-Inch Powered Speakers

15-inch powered speakers are often the largest size that you’ll likely come across. These large speakers often pack a serious punch. They are excellent at delivering a loud and consistent performance. Great as a solo speaker or as a pair without a subwoofer.

People at a concert with a DJ on stage

15-inch powered speakers are a good choice for larger gigs.

Since they are often an all-in-one style solution these are some of the things you should pay extra attention to.

Key Features

  • Clean bass should be high on your assessment list. They should be able to deliver a satisfying thump. Plenty of warmth without boominess is critical.
  • Convenient carry handles are another thing to keep an eye out for. These large speakers can be cumbersome to transport and set up. Good handles balanced with an appropriate weight can lessen the burden.
  • Power is also important. If you have intentions of just running one speaker it becomes even more important. A speaker this size should offer you plenty of headroom.

Choosing The Right Speakers

Performers of all varieties need to consider their choices carefully when buying speakers. Many factors can influence which speaker is right for you. Consider the types of gigs you play or intend to play. Factor in the other gear in your setup and what you’ll need to handle them. Understanding your audience and clients can also help steer you in the right direction.

Speakers have always played a critical role in any artist’s lineup. It is an increasingly competitive gig market out there. Ensuring you provide a satisfying and appropriate audio experience goes a long way in establishing your career.

Thankfully there are plenty of amazing options out there. From affordable entry-level choices to advanced options suitable for established performers. With the help of this overview and our more detailed guides, you’ll be well on your way to delivering memorable experiences for your crowd.

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Patryk Biernacki

Patryk Biernacki

For over 20 years I've been involved in the world of DJing. Now I want to share my experience so that DJing is more accessible for anyone with a passion for music.
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