Best PA Speakers Review 2019 – Do NOT buy before reading this!

Looking for a quality sound system with professional clarity and reliability? Are you a DJ, live musician, band or public speaker looking for a portable system with exceptional sound quality? Maybe you own a pub, club or entertainment venue requiring a multi speaker set up? What ever your reasons, there are many speakers available which are perfect for your needs.

A poor quality sound system may not give a true reflection of your performance, decreasing your engagement. The same goes for a business providing music to their customers. Music can sound incredible through top end PA systems, creating a great atmosphere for everybody listening. Low quality, old or under powered speakers can actually do the opposite and may make people feel uncomfortable.

Check out the great range of PA speakers we have reviewed in this article. If you already understand how to accurately compare speakers, click here to skip our buyer’s guide and go straight to our top picks and reviews. If you don’t understand MAX SPL or MAX, PEAK & Continuous Power ratings we strongly advise you read our buyer’s guide so you know exactly what you’re buying. 

PA Speaker Buyer’s Guide – Everything You Need To Know

Working out the right type of professional PA speakers for your needs can quickly become confusing. Manufacturers and shops tend to advertise large numbers to make their speakers appear more powerful than they actually are in real life. Our buyer’s guide will help you to understand these numbers and tell the difference between sales rubbish and how to accurately compare speakers on the market. We have summarised each section with all the necessary information you will need to make an informed purchase. We have also provided additional information within drop down boxes, for those of you who wish to learn more in depth.

What are “Active” and “Passive” Speakers?

Quite simply an active speaker has an amplifier built directly into the speaker. Active speakers require their own power supply, usually from the mains, but some active speaker’s are battery powered. Battery powered active speakers are powerful and portable units, brilliant for buskers and street performers.

A Passive speaker does not have a built in amplifier and will require an external amplifier to work. Passive speakers do not require mains or battery power. However, they do require a powered amplifier which will need a power source. Typically passive speakers are lighter than their active counterparts, as they do not have a built in amplifier. One powered amplifier can power multiple passive speakers, which makes them great for large multi speaker set ups.

What Is A Two Way Speaker?

A two way speaker will contain two separate speakers, a woofer and a tweeter. The frequencies are split at cross over points, sending the low and medium frequencies to the woofer speaker and the high frequencies to the tweeter speaker. A three way speaker will have three speakers, splitting the frequencies into low, medium and high.

Power Ratings Explained

Peak – is the absolute maximum power a speaker can handle before failing.
MAX – is the maximum power a speaker can safely sustain without failing.
RMS – is the continuous power a speaker can sustain comfortably.

MAX and PEAK are mainly used as marketing tools. RMS is a more accurate figure for the power a speaker can handle.

What Is MAX SPL?

SPL stands for ‘Sound Pressure Level’ and is measured in dB (Decibels). MAX SPL is how loud (in dB) a speaker’s output sound is at a listening distance of 1 meter. This is calculated using two metrics, a speaker’s sensitivity rating and it’s maximum power rating (Watts). Unfortunately manufacturers don’t always use accurate data to work out the SPL rating, using larger figures as marketing tools.

Learn more about MAX SPL and how manufacturers calculate it.

Is Power Important?

Yes, but not as important as people think. There are many other factors that affect a speaker’s audio performance such as size, weight, voice coil size, frequency response and enclosure material. The amount of power you need is just one piece of the puzzle. Read on to find out how these things affect a speakers performance.

Are Larger Speakers Louder Than Smaller Speakers?

Larger speakers can move more air than smaller speakers due to their increased surface area. This results in a clearer, stronger and louder sound output. Low frequencies (bass) cause very strong and in some cases, violent vibrations. Which is why larger, heavier speakers are able to reproduce bass frequencies better than small speakers.

What Is A Voice Coil?

A voice coil is essentially an electro magnet that creates movement from an electronic signal. This is how your speaker creates vibrations (sound). You will see speakers with different size voice coils. The cost and performance of a speaker will increase with larger voice coils, with the main advantages being more accurate sound reproduction and the ability to handle more power.

What is frequency response?

What does “frequency response” mean?
From the lowest frequency a speaker can reproduce, to the highest frequency. A PA speaker will cover most of the sonic spectrum, however, some speakers have a better frequency response range than others. PA speakers do not have built in sub woofers but they will have a built in tweeter, most are brilliant at reproducing high frequencies, some reaching all the way up to 20,000hz.

Enclosure Material

A speaker’s casing will affect their sound output. A good enclosure will provide little to no sound reflections and will sound “dead”. Wood has naturally acoustically helpful properties. It’s know to be naturally non resonant, which means sound wont reflect off it. A well made speaker in a wooden enclosure will naturally sound good, having less reflections than plastic or metal.

Molded Design
People prefer molded speakers for transportation and portability as they tend to be lighter than speakers in wooden enclosures. Modern molded designs provide a quality enclosure with minimal reflections, making molded designs the preferred choice by many for both sound quality and practical reasons.

Do I need Sub Woofers?

There are times when you may need more than full range PA speakers. For example: If the venue is large with lots of people (250+) your full range PA speakers might struggle to provide low frequencies (bass) to the back of the venue. This can also occur in outside performances. The low frequency bass notes are absorbed by people, and objects whilst travelling through the air.

Learn more about Sub Woofer and Tweeter speakers.

Why don’t full range PA speakers have Sub Woofers built in?
Low frequencies cause extreme vibrations. These vibrations would seriously affect the quality of the PA speaker’s high end frequency reproduction. If a sub woofer were to be built into the same housing as a PA speaker, the low frequencies would over power the high frequencies, outputting a very muddy sound.

What is a flat response?

What does a speaker having a “Flat Response” mean?
Sometimes two different speakers can reproduce the same sound input differently. A speaker with a flat response will reproduce sound as close to the original signal as possible. If a speaker reproduces bass frequencies more prominently than high frequencies, we usually describe the sound as “warm” or “muddy”. When a speaker reproduces high frequencies more prominently the sound can become “Harsh” or “Thin”. This is usually all subjective as everyone hears things differently, but the closer a speaker can reproduce a sound to the original signal the flatter we describer the response.

Choosing The Right Speaker For You

In this industry a known brand name will ensure quality, reliability and longevity. There are many entry level speakers made with cheap components on the market, which may be suitable for home use. If you need a system that you can trust to produce professional audio quality consistently and still withstand a battering on the road, you’ll need a good brand. Below we have provided full specifications for the best performing speakers from leading brands. Tried, tested and known to produce quality and reliable products.

RCF ART Speaker Range

RCF have been making speakers for over 70 years. The European based company created the ART range to provide “Maximum output with minimum transportation weight.” making these top quality speakers perfect for traveling around with. RCF originally started out making transducers and now actually sell them to other speaker manufacturers. The ART range won a Red Dot award for their design, which means you can be sure they wont disappoint. The newest version of these speakers is the MK4. If the logo is at the bottom of the front facing speaker grill, it’s an MK4. If the logo is in the middle of the grill, it’s an older version. 

Please Note:
All the speakers below are excellent value for money, the price field indicates how expensive a speaker is and does not to measure value for money.

ART 3 Series

The 3 series is the ART ranges’s entry level trio of 2 way active speakers. With less power than the 7 series these speakers are made to be affordable, professional and extremely portable.

ART 310

The 310 is a two way active speaker with a 10″ woofer designed for live sound. If you’re looking for lightweight, quality PA speakers on a budget the 310’s are for you. Providing incredible value for money this is the smallest and lightest speaker in the 3 series.

  • Portability 95% 95%
  • Price 95% 95%
  • Power 50% 50%
  • Low Frequencies 70% 70%
  • Vocal Clarity 85% 85%

Weight: 12.5 KG (27.3 lbs)
RMS Power:
400 Watts
Venue Size:
Small
Audience size: 30 – 50 people (x2 PA speakers)

ART 312

The 312 is slightly larger than the 310 with a 12″ woofer and two extra handles added to the sides making for easier transportation. Weighing in at only 16KG this is still a very portable unit.

  • Portability 90% 90%
  • Price 90% 90%
  • Power 50% 50%
  • Low Frequencies 75% 75%
  • Vocal Clarity 85% 85%

Weight: 16 KG (35.2 lbs)
RMS Power:
400 Watts
Venue Size:
Small
Audience size: 50 – 70 people (x2 PA speakers)

ART 315

The 315 has a 15″ woofer but is enclosed in the same size cabinet as the 312. Weighing only 17.1 KG (37.6 lbs) is a great full range PA speaker for vocals a live performances.

  • Portability 85% 85%
  • Price 85% 85%
  • Power 50% 50%
  • Low Frequencies 80% 80%
  • Vocal Clarity 85% 85%

Weight: 17.1 KG (37.6 lbs)
RMS Power:
400 Watts
Venue Size:
Small
Audience size: 50 – 70 people (x2 PA speakers)

ART 7 Series

The 7 series are a group of 7 two way active speakers which come in different sizes and specifications. Made to provide powerful, professional level audio whilst still being portable.

ART 708

The 708 is the smallest in the 7 series with a 8″ woofer. 400 RMS power and only weighing 10.6KG (23.3 lbs). Being a small and light speaker it’s extremely portable but if you want strong bass reproduction look for larger speakers in the range.

  • Portability 95% 95%
  • Price 95% 95%
  • Power 50% 50%
  • Low Frequencies 70% 70%
  • Vocal Clarity 85% 85%

Weight: 10.6 KG (23.3 lbs)
RMS Power:
400 Watts
Venue Size:
Small
Audience size: 30 – 50 people (x2 PA speakers)

ART 710

The 710 has a 10″ woofer. 700 RMS power and only weighing 14.4KG (31.8 lbs) this is a very loud speaker for it’s size. I have personally used two 710’s for 5 years as a solo musician so I can vouch for their quality and reliability. The output volume still amazes me considering it’s such a small unit.

  • Portability 90% 90%
  • Price 90% 90%
  • Power 90% 90%
  • Low Frequencies 80% 80%
  • Vocal Clarity 85% 85%

Weight: 14.4 KG (31.8 lbs)
RMS Power:
700 Watts
Venue Size:
Small – Medium
Audience size: 70 – 100 people (x2 PA speakers)

ART 712

The 712’s have a 12″ woofer and 1″ tweeter speaker which provide excellent vocal clarity and good control of the low frequencies. Weighing only 16.8KG (37 lbs) this unity is portable, sounds really good and is very well priced. 

  • Portability 85% 85%
  • Price 85% 85%
  • Power 90% 90%
  • Low Frequencies 85% 85%
  • Vocal Clarity 85% 85%

Weight: 16.8 KG (37 lbs)
RMS Power:
700 Watts
Venue Size:
 Medium – Large
Audience size: 80 – 110 people (x2 PA speakers)

ART 715

The 715 has a 15″ woofer and  Weighing only 17 kg (37.48 lbs) is a great full range PA speaker for vocals a live performances in larger venues. 

  • Portability 80% 80%
  • Price 80% 80%
  • Power 90% 90%
  • Low Frequencies 90% 90%
  • Vocal Clarity 85% 85%

Weight: 17 kg (37.48 lbs)
RMS Power:
700 Watts
Venue Size:
Small – Medium
Audience size: 90 – 150 people (x2 PA speakers)

ART 732

The ART 732 is a 12″ active speaker, also available as a passive speaker (ART 732-P). Weighing 17.8 KG (39.2 lbs) this speaker packs a punch with a 3″ voice coil

  • Portability 85% 85%
  • Price 75% 75%
  • Power 90% 90%
  • Low Frequencies 90% 90%
  • Vocal Clarity 90% 90%

Weight: 17.8 KG (39.2 lbs)
RMS Power:
700 Watts
Venue Size:
Small – Medium
Audience size: 80 – 110 people (x2 PA speakers)

ART 735

The ART 735 has a 15″ woofer and 1.4″ tweeter producing crystal clear highs. The 3″ voice coil provides accurate control bass and middles. Weighing 21.8 KG (48 lbs).

  • Portability 75% 75%
  • Price 70% 70%
  • Power 90% 90%
  • Low Frequencies 95% 95%
  • Vocal Clarity 90% 90%

Weight: 21.8 KG (48 lbs)
RMS Power:
700 Watts
Venue Size:
 Medium – Large
Audience size: 100 – 150 people (x2 PA speakers)

“Flagship” ART 745

The 745 weighs in at 19.8 KG (43.6 lbs) with a massive 4″ voice coil for perfect vocal clarity. The 15″ woofer has a 3.5″ voice coil reproducing incredible low frequencies. This speaker output professional level audio good enough for any live event or situation. You can put these on a pole, mount them or suspend them. 

  • Portability 80% 80%
  • Price 65% 65%
  • Power 90% 90%
  • Low Frequencies 95% 95%
  • Vocal Clarity 95% 95%

Weight: 19.8 KG (43.6 lbs)
RMS Power:
700 Watts
Venue Size: Medium – Large
Audience size: 200 – 300 people (x2 PA speakers)

QSC K.2 Speaker Range

Californian based QSC have been making quality audio and video equipment for nearly 50 years. Globally recognised as an industry leader. QSC’s Corporate Offices, Engineering, Sales, Marketing, Technical Support and Service are all located under one roof, with other offices spread around the world. QSC provide compelling solutions for cinema sound, professionally installed systems and portable loudspeakers. The main difference between the new K.2 series and the original K series speakers is the built in amplifier. It has nearly twice the amount of peak power than the legacy versions. 

Please Note:
All the speakers below are excellent value for money, the price field indicates how expensive a speaker is and does not to measure value for money.

K.2 Series

The original K series became an industry standard throughout the music industry. With crystal clear high end and tightly controlled low frequencies, the K series stood out as a top product in the market. The K.2 series is the updated version. How do you improve on what is already an industry standard speaker? QSC changed the way the amplifier delivers power to the woofer and the tweeter. Implementing unique power distribution technology the K.2 series provides 500W RMS to the woofer and 500W RMS to the tweeter. QSC have reported peaks of up to 2000 Watts. The massive 2000 Watts is used mainly as a marketing ploy as it has no direct affect on their sound quality, we have judged the speakers below on what they’re actually capable of and not their power rating. However, don’t be put off, these are still professional quality and very powerful speakers.

K8.2

The K8.2 is the smallest in the K series making it very portable, weighing only 12.5 KG (27 lbs) with an 8″ woofer. Incredible power for such a small speaker hitting a max SPL of 128dB. Bass frequencies are good, but if you’re playing bass heavy music you should look at a larger speaker.

  • Portability 95% 95%
  • Price 80% 80%
  • Power 70% 70%
  • Low Frequencies 60% 60%
  • Vocal Clarity 80% 80%

Weight: 12.5 KG (27 lbs)
RMS Power:
500 x 500 Watts
Venue Size:
Small
Audience size: 30 – 60 people (x2 PA speakers)

K10.2

The K10.2 provides great power and portability combined. Weighing only 14.5 kg (32 lbs) this speaker is crystal clear at the top end and reproduces bass frequencies well. Built in EQ options and presets.

  • Portability 90% 90%
  • Price 70% 70%
  • Power 90% 90%
  • Low Frequencies 85% 85%
  • Vocal Clarity 90% 90%

Weight: 14.5 kg (32 lbs)
RMS Power:
500 X 500 Watts
Venue Size:
Small – Medium
Audience size: 70 – 100 people (x2 PA speakers)

K12.2

The K12.2 is a favorite for many in the live sound industry. Proving clear highs, quality low frequency reproduction and an array of built in features including EQ and compression. Weighing 17.7 kg (39 lbs) it’s still very portable.

  • Portability 85% 85%
  • Price 65% 65%
  • Power 90% 90%
  • Low Frequencies 90% 90%
  • Vocal Clarity 90% 90%

Weight: 17.7 kg (39 lbs)
RMS Power:
500 x 500 Watts
Venue Size:
 Small – Medium
Audience size: 90 – 140 people (x2 PA speakers)

We hope you’ve found this guide useful and are now well on your way to finding your perfect PA speakers. There are many other great speakers and brands on the market, the above are just a selection of the most popular and reliable. We will keep updating this page with more recommended speakers as the market changes.

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