Powered speakers are an invaluable component of any DJ’s arsenal. They give you the capability of playing in or out without the need of amplifiers, just plug your mixer outputs into the speaker’s inputs and play!
DJs are expected to have all their own gear these days, the more you have, the less you’ll have to request from gigs and venues and the more gigs you’ll get!
Obviously, you aren’t expected to own a pro audio system but adding a powered speaker or two to your inventory will go along way. Once you have them, they’re very unlikely to break in a hurry and you’re bound to get tons of use out them.
Powered speakers are perfect for practicing but many are very high in spec and pack superb power, easily enough for large house parties, small venues or compact gigs. They also make excellent monitor speakers to have behind the stage and are obviously also perfect for other live audio use including band practices and gigs. Of course, it’s easy to hook up two or more powered speakers together in a stereo or surround-sound setup, which simply adds to their awesome flexibility.
Powered speakers come in many varieties from many different manufacturers including the big name brands like Yamaha and Mackie, there’s tons of choice but we’ve narrowed it down to the best ten which are all specifically well-equipped for DJ use.
|Bose F1 Model 812||1000W||1 x 12″ LF Driver; Mid/High Line Array: 8 x Drivers; Frequency Range: 47 Hz to 20 kHz;||PRICING|
|Mackie Thump 12||1300W||Frequency Response: 50 Hz to 23 kHz; 12" Woofer; HF Driver: 1.4" Titanium Compression||PRICING|
|Electro-Voice ZLX-12P||1000W||For Live Stage, Theater, DJ Setups; 12″ Woofer; Frequency Response: 65 Hz to 18 kHz;||PRICING|
|JBL EON612||1000W||12" Woofer with Bass-Reflex Cabinet; 1000W Peak Class-D Amplifier; 5-Way User Definable Parametric EQ;||PRICING|
|Mackie SRM650||1600W||Front Ported for Maximum Low-End; Precision 2-Way Digital Crossover;||PRICING|
|Yamaha DXR 8″||700W||8″ Woofer; Bass-Reflex ABS Cabinet; Biamplified Design, 1100W Peak Output;||PRICING|
|QSC K10 1000W 8″||1000W||2000 Watt QSC Class-D Amplifier; Powerful, Lightweight and Versatile; DSP: EQ, Delay, Frequency Contours;||PRICING|
|Yamaha DBR10 700W 10″||700W||10″ Woofer; Bass-Reflex ABS Cabinet; Biamplified Design, 1100W Peak Output;||PRICING|
|Behringer Eurolive B112D 12″||1000W||1x 12″ Woofer; 1x 1.35″ Aluminum Compression Driver;||PRICING|
|Rockville RPG122K Package||250W per unit||High Power 12″ Long-throw Woofer with 2″ aluminum voice coil; USB input for MP3 playback from thumb drive;||PRICING|
Bose…the expectations are already high, as is the price. However, this active speaker system is extraordinary..read on to find out why!
Firstly, with 1000W RMS, this speaker system is very powerful. It has a 12” woofer which is very well tuned for bass and eight 2.25” drivers for mids and highs. Yes, eight individual speakers, 9 in total! This speaker system is a little different from the competition, which is partly why it costs so much. It’s a decidedly pro-level active speaker for medium-large venues and will pump out awesome audio at superb volume levels.
With XLR / ¼ inch combo inputs, stereo RCA inputs and two-band EQs, the F1 Model has all the necessary and convenient connections.
Bose are expert engineers and they’ve really broadened their scope recently to provide lots of flexible live audio solutions for musicians and DJs. This is one of their most popular offerings and it’s easy to see why, it looks great, sounds even better and it’s perfectly designed for playing any audio, from electronic music to jazz or pop!
Bose has engineered this enclosure to accommodate its unique set of 9 speakers. The speakers are designed to disperse audio over a wide angle, which is awesome for parties in large halls or rooms. One of these speakers can provide extremely impressive coverage and volume and two is a force to be reckoned with.
Weighing in at 20kg, these speakers are not light, perhaps unsurprisingly given their components. Bose has obviously created an extremely professional aesthetic here, too. The speakers look the part.
These speakers sound extremely impressive. Loud, deep and clear, it’s difficult really to foresee how they could sound any better. They have a wonderfully wide 3D image that gives music space and depth. Basslines pump, percussion, hi-hats, and snares sound super crisp and synths and ambient sounds are perfectly reproduced. Even when used as a solitary mono speaker, the F1 Model 812 provides a 3D image.
The Mackie Thump has become famous for its ability to really thump, as its name implies, and it’s a slim price for a powerful speaker. This speaker has an RMS of 500 watts but it’s cheap and it really fires out a super-thick bass-heavy tone which is sure to get the dancefloor thumping!
The Thump range was always engineered for low-end, they’re designed for parties and small venues where subwoofers are inconvenient or unnecessary. Just stick one of these on a desk or table and let rip! It has a 3-band EQ and a single XLR / ¼” combo (which is fine because you’ll be running it in mono unless you have two), so all connections are covered for normal DJ use.
The Mackie Thump is one of the best selling DJ speakers for a reason. It’s excellent in every respect, loud, bold, strong, light and cheap. You can buy two for the price of many other DJ speakers – a stereo pair of thumps is extremely powerful!
Mackie Thumps can survive a bump or two, they’re very strong and use impact-resistant tempered plastic for maximum durability. They’re very much designed to be a rough-and-tough DJ speaker that can survive the party and the road. Weighing in at 13kg or so, these speakers are pretty manageable for transportation, though they are quite bulky.
The 12” woofer of the Thump packs bass, which is its main aim. High frequencies can be tuned up or down with EQ, so it’s perfectly possible to achieve a more balanced sound if this is more appropriate. The enclosure Mackie designed for the Thump is nicely engineered for low-end, it’s well-rounded, warm and punchy. It’s actually probably the loudest speaker in the list.
Mackie Thump 12 Highlights
Electro-Voice has been around for decades and this modern powered speaker is a tremendous example of how industry experience counts for a lot, even in the digital era of music. The ZLX-12Ps have been designed with music in mind, not pure volume, and thus, despite their 1000w peak rating, they have an RMS of 250w.
That might seem stingy but in reality, the superb quality of these speaker’s audio makes up for what they lack in pure power. And to be honest, as we said earlier, wattage can be overrated anyway!
With 12” woofers and 1.5” high-quality titanium compression drivers, the ZLX-12Ps produce excellent audio across the entire spectrum and are especially clear in their high-end. In fact, the clarity of these speaker’s high frequencies is something else, they aren’t harsh, or glassy, just smooth and precise – awesome for snare drums and percussion.
With XLR / ¼ inch combo jacks and a 3.5mm input for connecting phones and digital devices, this speaker is pretty flexible in terms of connectivity.
These speakers look very professional but they’re not the lightest at around 15kg. That won’t break your back, though, and is easily manageable. The enclosure is very well designed for optimal sonic performance, though it may not be the most durable compared to the rough-and-ready Mackie Thump. Once again, this is a powered speaker designed for the music!
ZLX-12Ps shine in the audio department. They’re clear, precise and powerful with enough bass and enough high-end to fill a decent-sized room with excellent audio. As mentioned, they won’t pour out super sub-bass but they do provide very well-rounded and warm low tones which will do basslines proud!
Electro-Voice ZLX-12P Highlights
A company respected for top speaker quality brings back a popular series with the JBL EON612. The combination of the 300W peak powered wave-guided high-frequency transducer and the 700W peak powered 12″ woofer with bass-reflex ports delivers a frequency range of 48 Hz to 20 kHz with a Max SPL output of 126 dB for a wide range of applications.
JBL EON612 comes equipped with dual combination mic or line XLR-1/4″ input connectors with individual signal gain knobs and a master volume knob for the overall level. An XLR loop-thru allows you to route the signal to additional EON600 series speakers.
To enable fine-tuning of the speaker in different acoustic environments, you can take advantage of the built-in DSP processor with Bluetooth v.4 control through an iOS or Android app. The app provides wireless control over the speaker’s 5-band parametric EQ, saving and recalling presets, and adjusting the master volume. Now we are talking!
Furthermore, a single button on the back of the speaker allows you to physically switch between four different modes: Main, Monitor, Speech, and Sub for when incorporating a dedicated subwoofer. Additional controls include a button for engaging the built-in EQ, disabling the speaker’s front LED indicator light, and configuring Bluetooth control. Weighing in at 33 pounds and built to withstand the rigors of transportation, the Professional EON612 delivers a lot of value at a good price point.
The produced sound quality and clarity by the JBL EON612 across the spectrum are improved over earlier models in the series. On top of that, the speaker is designed to work in a variety of configurations including on its side as a floor monitor, vertically as a floor monitor, suspended from above, placed on a tripod stand, placed on a pole mount on top of a subwoofer, or stacked on top of one another using their molded index feet.
JBL EON612 Highlights
The Mackie SRM650 powered speaker delivers SRM ruggedness, output, clarity, and simplicity in a 15″ design that is suitable for any DJ gig. Truly built-like-a-tank, this unit is paired with custom transducers within professional-grade, internally braced all-wood cabinets that redefine tough.
The loudspeaker features High-Definition Audio Processing, including acoustic correction DSP for high-definition sound plus system optimization tools like application-specific speaker modes and an accurate feedback destroyer. The integrated 2-channel mixer with Wide-Z inputs can handle any signal with ease.
Overall, Mackie SRM650 delivers modern output, amazing sound, and the proven durability seasoned professionals demand from a portable loudspeaker. There’s no doubt that these speakers have the sound power and the fidelity to handle a wide range of events.
Mackie SRM650 Highlights
For a fairly compact speaker with durable design, the Yamaha DXR8 8″ 1100W provides clear audio and high output levels, ideal for live sound applications.
The cabinet has a rugged ABS construction with a bass-reflex design for enhanced bass performance with reduced turbulence. The 8″ woofer and 1.4″ compression tweeter offer high-resolution audio with wide frequency response. The crossover uses a FIR-X linear phase filter to optimize driver performance.
Each Yamaha DXR8 unit can be placed on a floor or stage, but also has useful mounting options. A standard 35mm pole socket allows you to mount the speaker on top of a subwoofer, while M8 fly points allow suspended installation. An optional U-bracket is available separately for wall mounting.
The speaker has a bi-amplified design that provides a combined peak output power of 1100W for a strong performance with minimal distortion. A D-contour processor allows you to use the speaker as a main/FOH speaker or as a stage monitor. The rear panel has XLR, 1/4″, and RCA inputs, as well as XLR thru and output connectors for wide compatibility with a variety of professional sound systems and devices.
Yamaha DXR 8″ 700W Highlights
This speaker is very difficult to beat, it’s a real class leader given its combination of awesome power, precision audio, and physics-defying light-weightedness. In fact, the whole QSC K range is worth a look, including the smaller K8 and the larger K12, all of which pack excellent stats and performance. The K10 is certainly a happy medium and even though it’s expensive it’s sure to last you a long, long time.
The QSC K10 is rated at 1000 watts RMS, considerably higher than most powered speakers, and has a 10” woofer combined with a 1.75” compression driver for high frequencies. That makes it a full range speaker. 1000 watts is at the upper end of powered speaker power ratings – this speaker is super loud for a 10” woofer and 1.75” compression driver.
The QSC K10 also has some intelligent features like a built-in limiter to prevent damage if over operated at high volumes for long periods of time. It has EQ settings for lows and highs, a DEEP setting for improving bass depth. DEEP actually works really well, it intelligently improves bass response without over-emphasising it or creating a muddied tone, it’s not just a ‘bass-boost’ type gimic.
In terms of connections, you have two XLRs and two ¼ inch jack inputs, which is pretty standard.
This speaker is built from super-sturdy and very lightweight plastic. It’ll stand up to some abuse, it’s going to get scuffed and scratched but cracking it open would be pretty tricky. It’s certainly roadworthy, you wouldn’t want to chuck it about to test this but it should shrug off accidental knocks with ease.
One of this speaker’s most awesome characteristics is its weight. It weighs just 14kg, which is pretty amazing considering that some high powered speakers can easily weigh upwards of 30kg. Through a combination of high-tech plastic and well-built drivers, QSC has shaved off a crazy amount of weight from this speaker, especially considering its wattage.
QSC K10s are very reputable in terms of their tone and sonic performance. They balance crisp highs with seriously impactful bass, and that’s quite rare for a speaker of this type and size. Loudness is not lacking whatsoever and even if you do push the volume, you won’t reveal any hidden mud in the low end or crackles in the highs. This speaker remains clear even when you push it.
QSC K10 1000W 8″ Highlights
Yamaha’s powered speakers have never exactly been poorly built, which is what we fully expect from one of the world’s greatest tech companies. The DBR10 is a superb speaker is far cheaper than the QSC 10 and it’s still one of the most powerful active speakers around at this price tag. Once again, the DBR10 comes in a range of DBR speakers that includes the DBR10, DBR12 and DBR15. They’re all superb speakers for the money and have quickly become industry ‘classics’, or go-tos for DJs and musicians.
The DBR10 is a 700w speaker but it has an RMS of 325 watts. Seems low? Well, wattage isn’t always all it’s cracked up to be and this speaker packs some awesome tech to make it sound great and very weighty. In fact, it’s probably the case that Yamaha is actually honest with their ratings – other companies inflate readings as a marketing tactic. Overall, this speaker is best for smaller parties or venues and it doesn’t extend below 55Hz, which means you can’t access super-low bass.
With 2 EQs, XLR and ¼ inch combo-jack inputs and a stereo RCA input, this speaker has all inputs and outputs covered for standard use.
So, we said the QSC10 was light but this weighs in at just 10.5kg, which is very light indeed. Obviously, this speaker is comparatively small compared to others but still, it’s portable and light which is great for quick setups and teardowns. Made from super-strong plastic and with a tried-and-tested rectangular build, this speaker is strong and durable.
The DBR range is very well known for its punchy and clear tone, capable of producing crisp highs and defined bass. The obvious limitation is that this speaker won’t extend below 55Hz, so don’t expect extreme sub-bass or anything like that! Even so, it’s warm and precise and it’ll produce lovely defined bass all the way up to its sub-bass cut-off point.
Yamaha DBR10 700W 10″ Highlights
The Behringer EuroLive B112D Active PA provides amazing sound quality with its 12″ woofer and a 1.35″ aluminum high-frequency compression driver that are capable of a maximum output of 1000 watts.
The unit has an integrated mixer that provides you with independent input trim control of its two combination XLR/TRS mic/line inputs. The B112D is also wireless ready, featuring a USB 3.0 input designed to work with Behringer’s ULTRALINK wireless systems.
The loudspeaker’s rear panel features a 2 band high and low EQ that allows you to tune the PA to its environment while the built-in optical limiter is designed to protect its speakers. The Mix XLR output allows you to connect multiple B112Ds for increased output. Ergonomically shaped handles, on the other hand, provide easy carrying and setup.
Overall, the Behringer B112D is a solid piece of audio equipment that delivers exceptional sound quality for its price. So, if you don’t have $800 to $1,000 to spend on the upper end 12’s and most of your DJ gigs are from relatively small crowds (up to 200 people) and venues, this is your speaker.
Behringer Eurolive B112D 12″ Highlights
The Rockville RPG122K package is a top seller on Amazon for its great combination of two 1000-watt speakers (250-watt RMS) that come packaged with stands and a microphone for a great price.
Value hunters who appreciate the convenience of a full-fledged package have been snatching this one up on a regular basis. So, yeah, the Rockville RPG122K combo is definitely worth a try, especially when you consider all the extras you get for the price.
Rockville RPG122K Package Highlights
So, What Should You Look for in a Powered Speaker?
The powered speakers we’re reviewing here are the larger single block powered speakers, not studio monitors. These kinds of speakers pack enough volume for parties, even if you have just the one. For small or medium-sized venues, you’ll probably want a pair so you can run them in stereo.
Passive vs Active: Just to clarify the difference between passive and active speakers. Passive speakers require external amplifiers to work, they won’t work on their own without an amp. They can pack more power but you’ll need amps to use them!
Active, or powered speakers, which we’re focussing on here, do not require amps. They essentially have their own amplifiers built in, meaning you simply plug and play. Also, EQ and volume controls will be mounted on the speaker housing itself for added convenience. They’re generally lighter than passive speakers and are more flexible and far easier to set-up. Also, active speakers can pack some serious power these days – they certainly aren’t lacking in any department!
Power Rating: Speakers are rated in watts but there are two typical measurements, peak, and RMS. Peak is a theoretical max running volume but RMS is far more important, as this is essentially the max volume that the speaker is capable of outputting on average.
The more watts the better? Well, if you want to play loud music to a lot of people then this is a reasonable rule of thumb. However, speaker quality plays a big part and components like the built-in amps in powered speakers will influence both quality and volume – don’t read too deeply into wattage ratings, more is not always louder, and especially not better.
Speaker Size: Speaker cones range from a few inches all the way up to 18” or even 21” in the case of some pro cabinets. For powered speakers, you won’t find speakers larger than 15” and that’s rare enough – you’ll usually be looking between 8” and 12” for powered speakers. Generally, bigger cones will produce greater bass whilst smaller speakers will efficiently provide higher frequencies at a decent volume whilst ultimately lacking bass.
Speaker Quantity/Type: Powered speakers in this review are ‘full range’, so they are equipped to emit sound across the whole frequency spectrum – highs, mids, and lows. This contrasts to powered subwoofers, which are designed purely for bass. You can pair these powered speakers with powered subs if you need extra bass in your setup.
Ten excellent speakers here. Each and every single one is the result of many years of cumulative experience in manufacturing pro audio equipment. For DJs, these speakers combine portability, power, flexibility and ease-of-use into one convenient package that is ideal for practicing or performance.
The beauty of the powered speaker is simply that you don’t require amps to run them. Amps are expensive, heavy and they represent another thing to carry and connect to your setup. The Bose F1 setup shows how far you can go with powered speakers these days, it really is possible to create a massive setup powerful enough for even the most serious venues, all without amps! Even 10 years ago, the thought of that would have people laughing. Now, it’s a reality!
So, which is the best?!
As usual, it’s very hard to say. The Mackie Thump provides crazy volume for a low price, perfect for bumping at house parties. The Electro-Voice ZLX-12P is gorgeously well-tuned for music. The QSC K10 is powerful, intelligent and extremely highly-rated in user reviews. The Yamaha DBR10 strikes an excellent balance between power, precision and high-tech features. The Bose F1 Model 812 is in a different league in every department, including price. It’s worth it, though!
In short, you can’t go wrong with any of these excellent speakers!