If you are doing a gig, DJing, or hosting a music event, a good quality sound system can be the difference between an average performance and an amazing one.
Active PA speakers are essentially powered speakers that have an amplifier built into the casing, meaning there’s no need for complicated mixing desks or separate amplifiers. This guide to the 10 best active PA speakers compares and reviews the models on the market today giving you the information you need to buy one.
If you’re considering buying or hiring some active PA speakers, this guide will help you make an informed choice about which of the many products on the market in 2018 is the right one for you.
What to consider when buying or hiring Active PA Speakers
Although this kind of speaker system is simple to use, that doesn’t mean it can’t be extremely effective in almost any venue. It’s important to consider the size of the room you will be using, how many people you expect and what kind of performance or presentation you will be giving.
For small events where spoken word or acoustic music may be performed, a small system will be adequate, however, if you plan to host a larger event involving DJs or live music, you will need to make sure that you have enough power to elevate the music level beyond background music. Portability is also an extremely important factor when considering which active PA speakers to purchase.
Many systems are now custom built to be transported between venues and set up quickly, though some are still quite heavy and difficult to move.
Finally, consider how much power you really need for your event. Although not being loud enough is a big problem, being far too loud can also create serious issues, not least for your audience’s hearing.
What type of Active PA speakers are available?
Depending on your budget and the size of your chosen venue, there is a diverse range of active PA speakers available. Some now come with graphic equalization as standard, meaning that you can fine-tune your sound without the need for a mixing desk.
Larger systems of around 1000 watts will provide a huge sound projection, even outdoors, whereas smaller systems can provide clarity and a steady background volume without being too overpowering. Some manufacturers have started to include overload protection circuitry to prevent unwanted cut outs or problems like feedback and distortion. There
There is also a range of products available that include carry handles, multiple positioning functionalities and purpose-built, lightweight stands.
Whatever system you decide to choose, this guide will give you all the information you need to find a product that is right for you.
10. Rockville RPG10 Powered PA Speaker
At number 10 we have the Rockville RPG10 powered PA speaker, which is described by the manufacturers as the result of a whole year of research and development. With a maximum power output of 600 watts, these speakers will deliver deep, warm bass tones and well defined, crisp high and mid range sounds.
Efficiency is key with this product and the lightweight design means that setting up and packing down is straightforward and simple, a definite plus point for mobile DJs, bands and other professionals who may travel to numerous events in a short space of time.
The high powered 10 inch woofer has an aluminum voice coil that offers a long-throw, meaning the sound can be heard from a good distance away from the speaker itself.
One of the smartest features in this model is the onboard equalization processor that allows you to control bass and treble levels. This means you can fine-tune your sound and also protect the speakers from overload or distortion. The frequency response on the Rockville RPG10s is 45-KHz to 20KHz, which is enough for any small to medium sized music event or conference. Although some more power may be required for those hosting large music events, this competitively priced set up will provide low distortion audio, superior transient response and overall volume and clarity.
9. Rockville RPG15 15 inch Active/Powered 1000 Watts DJ/PA Speaker System
Next up is the Rockville RPG15 15 inch Active/Powered 1000 Watts DJ/PA Speaker System. With a higher price tag but quality to match, this is a powerful, professional set up suitable for use in bars clubs, small concert venues and other performance spaces that require excellent quality sound that can be heard clearly in every part of a room or outdoor area.
More powerful than it’s budget cousin the RPG10, this pair of active P.A speakers has a maximum output of 1000 watts of power, which is more than enough to provide high volume and clarity. With a lower frequency response of 35HZ-20KHZ and a maximum SPL of 1w/1m, music will sound loud, full and crisp.
Whether you want to use this system to provide a low background level of music or peak volume during a performance, this product is custom built to be used in commercial spaces and events.
Rockville have considered the all-important practical elements when designing these speakers and the lightweight steel stands are fully adjustable to allow for a simple set up. Weighing in at around 100 lbs, this is not the lightest system on the market, but it’s still easy and practical to transport between venues.
The height range of the stands is 47.25 inches to 78.75 inches, meaning you have some room to adjust the positioning of the speakers to suit your chosen venue. With a small base spread that ranges between 15 and 40 inches, it’s possible to set these speakers up on small stages or in other areas where space may be an issue. .
8. Pyle Active-Powered PA speaker system
In the number 8 spot, we have the Pyle Active-Powered PA speaker system. With a very modest price tag, considering the power this unit can produce, users can expect versatile, powerful sound projection with a maximum output of up to 1000 watts.
The 12-inch subwoofer will provide round, deep bass response and the 1.34-inch tweeter will ensure your mid-range and top end is crisp and clear. According to the manufacturers, this unit has been tested for both studio use and stage use, making it a great all-around performer.
One particularly user-friendly feature on this system is the digital file playback capability. This means users can insert a USB flash drive or SD card and play music from this directly. A great feature for those on the move or in a hurry.
The package includes a standard quarter-inch microphone input, two line out cables as well as an XLR input and output jack. If you want that extra level of control over the sound at your event, the Pyle comes with a built-in three-channel mixer as well as the customary onboard amplifiers.
Although these simple built-in mixers are not quite as accurate as using a sound desk, they do provide you with the opportunity to adjust the finer details of the sound at your event. This can be extremely helpful for bands with a particularly loud or distorted sound or speakers with quieter voices who require amplification but only using certain frequencies.
In summary, this is a very reasonably priced system that offers great performance and value for money.
7. Behringer Eurolive B212D Active 550-Watt 2-Way PA Speaker System
As one of the heavyweights of the audio industry, Behringer have a good reputation among DJs, producers and musicians alike. The Behringer Eurolive B212D Active 550-Watt 2-Way PA Speaker System with 12-inch Woofer and 1.35-inch Compression Driver is certainly not the cheapest product on the market, but as its name suggests, it has a few more professional features than a lot of the entry level active PA Speakers on the market today.
As you might expect with the higher price tag, the build quality and components used in this product are excellent.
Ergonomically shaped handles allow the unit to be easily transported and set up and the nifty design also means speakers can be tilted on their side for use as a floor based monitor. If you plan to host an event that requires a great deal of power, you can also attach addition speakers to this unit to boost your overall sound.
When it comes to sound quality, Behringer’s product is definitely in a class above other, cheaper systems. Even at extremely high volumes that can cause distortion and loss of quality on other systems, these speakers will provide faultless performance every time.
The class D amplifier means that even at a lower level of maximum power output (550 watts) this system can still pack a huge punch in terms of volume, bass response and clarity. Using the large-format exponential horn, these speakers provide an ultra-wide dispersion, so even if some of your audience aren’t positioned directly in front of your set up, they will still be able to hear very clearly.
For the price, this Behringer have created a diverse, user friendly but extremely professional product.
6. Pyle PPHP 103MU PA system
At number six, we have another entry from PYLE, this time in the shape of the PPHP 103MU P.A system.
Designed to endure the rigors of touring with bands, mobile Djing and public speaking, the manufacturers promise this product is built to last.
With a built-in protection circuit and a specially reinforced ABS box, PYLE also provide a one year manufacturer’s warranty for that added piece of mind.
Simplicity is the key here and these active PA speakers have been designed for use with any media. In simple terms, that means you can plug in your iPod, iPhone, MP3 player or any other device you would like to use in order to play music or sound.
Although this is not the largest or the most powerful unit around, it can still provide exceptional sound quality and serious volume. With a maximum output capability of up to 800 watts and robust, self powered 10 inch subwoofer, your bass frequencies will be deep, round and most importantly, loud enough for all of your audience to hear.
The entire audio spectrum is covered extremely well by this system, though, so mid range and treble will be clear and well balanced. If you do need to make any adjustments, the high, mid and bass frequencies can all be tweaked using the pots on the side of the speaker, so changing volume and tone for indoor or outdoor use will not be a problem.
5. Seismic Audio Tremor Powered 15 Inch PA/DJ Subwoofer Speaker Cabinet
Our number five spot goes to the powerful but premium priced Seismic Audio Tremor Powered 15 Inch PA/DJ Subwoofer Speaker Cabinet.
With a much larger subwoofer than any of the other systems on our list so far, this piece of kit is appropriately named “tremor” due to its ability to create ground shaking bass response in venues.
Perhaps not the best choice of system for a small event in somewhere like a church hall or community centre, but a great option for professional DJs who want to make sure they can compete with some of the bigger, custom made club sound systems out there.
The manufacturer’s promise “deep, window rattling bass” so this is perfect for dance music events or live bands who incorporate elements of electronic music in to their sound.
This is a powerful set of active-powered PA speakers constructed from seven-ply birch plywood and a full metal grill, so it does feel like a sturdy, solid piece of equipment. The 15-inch woofer operates at 300 watts RMS and 600 watts peak power, so low frequencies above 35hz will sound clear and strong without being distorted.
As the higher price might suggest, Seismic Audio have established a very strong reputation in the music industry and they’re confidence in their products matches their quality. This subwoofer comes with a pole mount for an additional satellite speaker for high and mid-range frequencies in case you want to add more depth to your sound.
4. Behringer Eurolive B212xl 800-Watt 2-Way Pa Speaker System
Behringer returns in the number 4 position, this time with their Behringer Eurolive B212xl 800-Watt 2-Way Pa Speaker System With 12″ Woofer And 1.75″ Titanium Compression Drive.
With a surprisingly low price, this piece of equipment is great value for money and provides professional quality sound for a range of different purposes.
As with all Beringer products, these active PA speakers are built to a very high standard, using good quality components so you can expect this product to last. The manufacturers are particularly proud of the transducers (woofer and tweeters) which they build from scratch in order to provide maximum performance and reliability.
Using the titanium-diaphragm compression driver for outstanding high-frequency response and an extremely powerful 12 inch, long-excursion driver for heavyweight bass, this PA system will be more than adequate for any gig or event in a small to medium sized venue.
Like some of Behringer’s other models, these speakers can be titled and used on the floor instead of on poles. This freedom of positioning means that although this might not be the most powerful set up you can buy at only 800 watts maximum output, you can still achieve professional quality sound at your event.
Safety has also been carefully considered here as overload protection circuitry is a standard feature. Overall, this good value for a very diverse and high-performance system.
3. Powerwerks PW50 P.A system
The first of our top three active PA speakers is The Powerwerks PW50 P.A system which comes with one of the lowest price tags you will find for a product of this quality.
Built with transportation and storage in mind, the unit can simply be picked up by the handle and moved to suit your needs. The construction of this product is very similar to other Powerwerks speakers and includes a solid grill and robust corners that won’t chip or dent easily, unlike some other products on the market.
As something that has been designed for a range of uses in different environments, the PW50 P.A is a diverse and adaptable product that combines ease of transportation with professional sound quality.
Using a high-frequency driver, the manufacturers of the Powerwerks PW50 promise crisp, accurate reproduction of treble frequencies, which will be an excellent feature for those who wish to use this product for amplifying speech at conferences, meetings or other events.
Large concerts or events would not be suitable for this product, however, there is an option to add and link multiple units together if you need to expand your system; a great feature for those who might want to set up speaker systems of varying power and size, depending on their audience.
2. Behringer’s B210d Active 200-Watt 2-Way Pa Speaker System
Narrowly missing out on the top spot, Behringer’s B210d Active 200-Watt 2-Way Pa Speaker System With 10″ Woofer And 1.35″ Compression Driver is small, extremely well made and perfect for small to medium venues. It’s maximum output is 200 watts, which is more than adequate for most small to medium sized wedding parties, christenings, small gigs or DJ nights.
Behringer pride themselves on providing high-quality sound even at high-pressure levels, which in lamens terms means that you can turn this system up to full capacity without it distorting or causing any deterioration in sound quality.
A great feature for those who want plenty of bang for their buck, but don’t want to venture in to the territory of full sized P.A speakers.
Compatible with laptops, iPods, phones and MP3 players, this system will project sound clearly, accurately and with no additional noise, feedback or hiss.
As with many Behringer products, this pair of active P.A speakers has a built-in sound processor that controls the quality of the output while simultaneously protecting against overload or burn out. A lightweight design and low power consumption make this one of the best portable systems on the market, so if setting up quickly is an issue for you, this could be for you.
Although this is probably better suited to mobile DJs, public speakers and iPod or laptop inputs, it can also handle live music very easily. Overall, this is a great all-around system that is one of the best powered PA speakers for the money.
1. Mackie THUMP12 Thump Series 12-Inch Powered Loudspeaker
In our number one spot, the Mackie THUMP12 Thump Series 12-Inch Powered Loudspeaker is in a class of its own.
With a predictably higher price tag, this is not the cheapest powered active PA speaker system on the market, but it is definitely one of the most professional.
Mackie are among a select few manufacturers of audio products who are considered to be the standard bearers of quality. The build quality, design and above all, the sound quality of these speakers definitely reflects that.
With a maximum output of 1000w, the manufacturers promise chest thumping bass that will make your audience sit up and take notice. The 12-inch high end output woofer is comprised of a titanium dome for absolute clarity, meaning that this unit will deliver well balanced, professional sound at any event.
Unlike many of the alternatives on the market, the Mackie has dynamic bass response meaning that even at low volume, those all-important lower frequencies are not lost or overpowered by the mids and the high end. This is a fantastic feature for those who intend to use these speakers in bars or settings where the audience may wish to talk without having to raise their voices.
The quality and clarity of the sound is just as good at low volumes as it is when it’s turned all the way up. The 3 band eq allows you to refine your sound and the flexible mounting options make this one of the most diverse, yet powerful products on the market today.
Overall, this reached our number one spot for a good reason. As a premium quality, industry standard speaker system, Mackie’s Thump 12 series is head and shoulders above the competition in terms of build quality, performance and durability.
Definitely one of the best active PA speakers money can buy!