If you are addressing a large public gathering, or you’re a live music performer, then you definitely need sound equipment that are meant for that job. Some of the sound equipment you’ll need for addressing large gatherings are public address speakers. Public address speakers are popularly known as PA speakers. These speakers are specially designed to project sound over a large area at a distance. These speakers have drivers that reproduce loud sound and distribute it widely.
While there are many types of PA speakers available today, some may disappoint you when you least expect. The last thing you’d want is a speaker that will fail to deliver enough sound to your audience or deliver low quality sound when you’re performing live. Thus, it’s essential to choose top-quality PA speakers to guarantee your audience the best live sound experience. Luckily for you, we’ve reviewed the best PA speakers available today to make it easier for you to get a top-quality choice. Read on for the reviews.
Quick Comparison Table
How We Arrived At Our List of Top 10 PA Speakers
Have you ever tried to perform to your audience only for your speakers to fail you? Are you planning to upgrade to better PA speakers or it’s your first time to invest in PA speakers? Whichever the case, you’ve landed on the right page.
It’s very challenging to choose the right speakers for a public address system. The numerous brands and types available today can be quite confusing. Moreover, you wouldn’t want to take chances with your hard-earned money. You definitely want assurance that the speakers you’re investing in won’t disappoint. So what would you do if you’re in that state? Don’t worry for we’ve got you covered. We partnered with sound engineers and top live performers to come up with a list of the top 10 PA speakers available today. Thus, you can rest assured that the PA speakers we’ve reviewed are tried and tested.
Top 10 PA Speakers
You’ll come across dozens of different brands of PA speakers. Let’s look at the top PA speakers we shortlisted in our review, including their top features and shortcomings.
1. ION Audio Block Rocker Plus
The ION Audio PA speaker boasts of leading in our list. Why did we rank it as the top speaker? Read on to find out.
Most Desirable Features
- Easily portable– The most striking benefit about this PA speaker is its portability. It has two wheels at the bottom that will allow you to easily drag it along with you. To add to that, it features a retractable handle at the back that makes it easier to pull.
- Rechargeable battery– Another desirable feature about this speaker is its high-capacity, rechargeable battery. The battery is inbuilt and stores enough power to serve you for several hours. Thus, you can use it anywhere you’d want without having to connect it to the mains power, unless when recharging it.
- Multiple input options– You can connect your smartphone or any other Bluetooth enabled device to the speaker via Bluetooth. You can also connect a sound source to the speaker via AUX.
- USB charging port– Is your smartphone, tablet, or power bank running out of charge? Luckily, you can easily charge it via the USB port on the speaker. The USB port is dedicated for charging devices that are charged via USB.
- Hi-Fi sound– Your audience will definitely fall in love with the kind of sound that this speaker reproduces. Its inbuilt amplifier, combined with a powerful 8-inch woofer and a high-performance tweeter deliver Hi-Fi sound.
- A microphone is included
- Side handles
- Great build quality with a rugged enclosure
- Inbuilt AM/FM radio
- Onboard LCD screen
- Takes a little bit long to recharge the battery
- Only ideal for use in a small room
The ION Audio Block Rocker Plus is ideal for anyone who is always on the move, thanks to its rechargeable battery and portability.
2. Rockville RPG122K Dual 12″ Powered
The Rockville pair of powered speakers rank second in our review. Let’s look at the features that make the pair stand out from their competitors.
Most Desirable Features
- Large drivers– Each speaker comes with a high power 12-inch woofer that disperses powerful sound widely. The woofer drivers feature a 2-inch aluminum voice coil that reproduces powerful lows. The speakers also come with 25mm horn tweeters for crisp highs.
- Bluetooth connectivity– You can connect any Bluetooth enabled devices to the speakers via Bluetooth. That way, you’ll be able to stream your music wirelessly through Bluetooth. With these speakers, you’ll no longer have to carry cables to connect your portable devices.
- USB and SD card music playback– The powered speaker in the pair comes with a USB port that supports USB music playback and an SD card that supports SD music playback. You can connect USB drives via the USB port and an SD card through the SD card slot for seamless music playback.
- Tripod stands– Each speaker in the pair comes with a tripod stand. The stands are adjustable such that you can adjust the height of sound to a desired level. For instance, if you’re performing without a stage, the speakers will be on the same level with the feet of your audience. In this case, you’ll use the tripods to raise the speakers to the ear level of your audience for a better sound experience.
- Wireless remote control– The wireless remote control that comes with the speakers will allow you to control MP3 player functions, adjust volume, and control many more functions. Thus, it will make it more convenient to control various functions from a distance.
- Adjustable bass, treble, and volume
- You can connect two microphones
- Compact design
- LCD screen
- Heat sink extends outside
- Bluetooth range is minimal
- The microphone cable provided is not of top quality
Overall, the Rockville RPG122K Dual 12″ Powered pair of PA speakers is ideal for karaoke, DJ applications, and parties in a medium-sized room.
3. PRORECK PARTY 15 Portable 15-Inch
The PRORECK speakers are specially designed to make your party rock with the best sound experience. Here’re some of their most desirable features that will make you want to consider them.
Most Desirable Features
- Wired microphone– The speaker comes with a wired microphone. The microphone will allow you to address your audience in a more audible way. Additionally, the microphone and the microphone cable are of high quality such that they don’t produce feedback.
- Multi-function– The PA speaker set supports multiple functions including USB input, SD card slot, and Bluetooth. Thus, you’ll have multiple options to choose from when connecting devices to the speakers. Moreover, the speaker set comes with FM radio.
- Inbuilt equalizer– You can take advantage of the inbuilt 5-band equalizer that comes with the speakers to adjust the music band as you will. The equalizer features a 12dB boost and slider controls. There’s also a clip indicator that will light up in the event of distortion.
- LED lights– You can turn on the LED lights to enjoy lighting effects to please your guests. The LED lights are colored for great light effects, making them brighten your night party. The LED lights also flicker automatically when the speaker’s master volume goes beyond a certain level.
- RCA line outputs and inputs– The powered speaker comes with RCA line outputs for the left and right channels to connect to additional passive speakers if needed. It also has RCA line inputs for the left and right channels to connect to disc players, computers, TV, and any other audio source that supports RCA.
- Remote control
- Easy to transport
- LCD screen
- Large woofer cone
- Speaker stands are provided
- You need to turn the volume extremely high for the lights to flicker
- The controls are placed on the front panel
Overall, the PRORECK PARTY 15 Portable 15-Inch PA speaker set is most ideal for parties and social gatherings in a small to medium-sized room.
4. Pyle PA System (PWMA230BT)
The Pyle PA speaker is specially designed for quick audio setup. You’ll find it quite easy to get your party started. Let’s look at more benefits and features that come with this speaker.
Most Desirable Features
- Retractable pulling handle– You can pull out the retractable handle that comes with the speaker to make it easier to move the speaker from one place to the other. Moreover, the speaker has two roller wheels at the bottom for easier mobility. Thus, it’s ideal for mobile entertainment.
- Wireless microphone– The speaker comes with a wireless microphone for convenience when addressing your audience. An adapter for the wireless microphone is provided. To add to that, you can connect up to three wireless microphones simultaneously for a perfect karaoke performance.
- Multiple control options– The front panel has buttons for adjusting echo levels, bass, treble, microphone volume, guitar volume, audio volume, and MP3/iPod volume. Thus, you can adjust the level of each input source to your liking.
- Multiple input options– Another great feature about this speaker is that it features multiple input options at the front panel. There’re ports for microphone input, guitar, audio in, and MP3/iPod in. There’s also an audio out port.
- Inbuilt amplifier– The speaker drivers are powered by an inbuilt amplifier. Thus, you won’t need to connect it to an external amplifier. All you’ll need is a compatible audio source to get your party started.
- Rechargeable battery
- Bluetooth enabled
- Powerful 8-inch woofer
- Comes with RCA and AUX cables
- Affordable price range
- Takes a lot of time to recharge the battery
- Lacks an LCD screen
The Pyle PA System (PWMA230BT) is an incredible PA speaker for karaoke parties. It’s also ideal for DJ parties.
5. Powerwerks PA System (PW50)
The Powerwerks PA speaker is built for simplicity. It’s lightweight and extremely compact for carrying it along with you when on the move. Here’re some of its key features.
Most Desirable Features
- High and low equalizer– The speaker comes with a three-channel equalizer. You can adjust the high and low equalizer and volume for each of the three drivers. This way, you’ll be able to customize the sound output to your liking.
- Line and AUX inputs– The speaker comes with two line inputs and a single AUX input. You can use the line inputs to connect audio sources such mixers and preamps, whereas the AUX input can be used to connect a DVD player, computer, smartphone, or any other device that supports AUX.
- Two microphone inputs– The speaker also comes with two microphone level inputs. You can plug in two microphones and use them simultaneously for an enhanced karaoke or party experience.
- Master volume– The back panel has a master volume level control. You can take advantage of the master volume to control the volume of all the speaker channels at once.
- Twin drivers– The speaker comes with two 4.5-inch speakers that reproduce midrange sound. Additionally, the speaker features a horn tweeter for reproducing highs.
- Three channel mixer
- Power link input and output
- Subwoofer out
- Heavy-duty grills and rigid corners for enhanced protection
- Very affordable for anyone with a tight budget
- Not powerful enough for a big event
- Very little bass
Considering the size of powerwerks PA System (PW50) speaker, it’s only ideal for use in small gatherings in a small room.
6. Behringer Eurolive B205D
Although the Behringer Eurolive B205D looks small and compact, it’s packed with many desirable features that make it a worthy consideration. Here’re its top features.
Most Desirable Features
- Three-band equalizer– The speaker comes with an inbuilt three-band equalizer. You can control the equalizer using the buttons at the front panel. You’ll be able to control the high, mid, and low frequency levels for enhanced sound customization.
- Instrument input– You’ll surely appreciate the instrument level input that comes with the speaker. You can connect instruments directly through the input.
- Microphone preamps– Another great feature that comes with this speaker is its two microphone preamp inputs. These inputs will clean and strengthen microphone signals before they are sent to the inbuilt amplifier. Thus, you’ll get clean audio reproduction from a microphone.
- Full-range driver– The driver that comes with this speaker is specially built for full range sound. You’ll be able to enjoy quality low, midrange, and high frequencies all from this compact public address speaker.
- Class D amplifier– This speaker comes with an inbuilt Class D amp. This amp is advantageous in that it amplifies sound with minimal losses. It’s also power efficient and great for use in a compact powered speaker.
- Main level volume control
- Line level control
- Left and right channel AUX
- Lightweight and compact design
- Inbuilt mixer
- Distorts at high volume
- May produce a buzzing sound if used nonstop for a prolonged period
- A little bit low sound output
The features in this Behringer Eurolive B205D PA speaker makes it ideal for a home recording studio, keyboard monitoring, and vocal monitoring.
7. Bose L1 Compact
The Bose L1 PA speaker is specially designed for portability, making it one of the best PA speakers available today. It features a simplifier setup and many more benefits to boast about. Here’re some of its key features.
Most Desirable Features
- Innovative sound dispersion– The speaker is specially designed with a patented Bose Spatial Dispersion technology. This sound technology allows the speaker to distribute sound evenly and clearly throughout a room. As such, everyone will hear similar sound regardless of their position in the room.
- ToneMatch channels– Another unique feature that comes with this speaker is its two ToneMatch channels technology. This technology allows for balancing of the frequencies coming from the microphone and acoustic guitar inputs with fixed presets.
- Different setup positions– You can setup the speaker depending on the size of the room. For instance, you can extend the interlocking extension speakers in an array for a large space or keep them collapsed for a smaller space.
- Extremely compact– The extension speakers are compact and come with a carry bag for enhanced portability. The main speaker is also compact and has a carrier handle for easier carrying. You’ll simply carry the entire speaker setup in one trip.
- Inbuilt mixer– The speaker comes with an inbuilt two-channel equalizer. You’ll be able to adjust bass and treble to your desired level. It also comes with control knobs for adjusting microphone and line level inputs.
- Comes with a cover bag for the base unit
- Superb bass and treble response
- Interlocking external speakers
- Easy and quick to setup
- It may be quite expensive for someone on a tight budget
- Bass and treble overpowers midrange
- Not ideal for outdoor use
Are you a performer who’s always on the move? If that’s so, the Bose L1 Compact with Carry Case will be your best bet due to its ease of carrying.
8. Alto Professional Trouper
The Alto public address speaker is designed with modern technology and top-quality performance in mind. It’s packed with some of the best features you would want from a PA speaker. Here’re some of the reasons why you’d want to consider it.
Most Desirable Features
- Three-channel mixer– The speaker comes with an inbuilt three-channel mixer, featuring a two-band equalizer for each channel. Each channel also comes with its own volume adjustment button. Thus, you’ll be able to adjust bass, treble, and volume for each channel. It also has a master volume to control the volume level of all channels at a go.
- Two-way speaker system– Another key feature of this speaker is that it’s designed as a two-way speaker system, featuring three 6.5” woofers and a single 1” tweeter. The two-way system delivers decent bass and highs.
- Multiple sound source inputs– You can connect two microphones at the same time. The speaker also comes with an AUX input port for connecting MP3 players, smartphones, TVs, DVD players, and other devices that support AUX. It also comes with line input ports.
- Extended-range Bluetooth connectivity– The speaker is Bluetooth enabled to allow you to pair Bluetooth enabled devices. Its Bluetooth antenna has an extended-range capability that allows pairing from a wider range.
- Trapezoidal-shaped enclosure– The speaker enclosure has a trapezoidal shape that minimizes internal resonance that results from standing waves. Thus, you’ll get cleaner vocals and bass.
- Rubber feet
- Stand mount socket
- Thermal and overload protection
- Inbuilt crossover
- Rear handle
- Weak wireless stereo link
- Not powerful enough for music with heavy bass
- Some buzzing noise when using Bluetooth
The Alto Professional Trouper is a perfect choice for anyone looking for a PA speaker for home studio recording and solo artist performance in a small venue.
9. Electro-Voice ZLX12P 12″ 2-Way
This speaker is designed as a small-format but powerful public address loudspeaker. It stands out from other lightweight speakers based on its great features. Here’re its desirable features.
Most Desirable Features
- Powerful drivers– The speaker comes with a powered 12” woofer and a 1.5” compression driver. The two-way speaker system delivers 500 watts RMS and uses a class D amplifier for enhanced power efficiency. Thus, you’ll get powerful sound from the drivers.
- Unique handle design– The speaker comes with two handles, one at the back, and one on the side. You can carry the speaker vertically by holding it using the handle at the back or horizontally using the handle on the side. Both handles are designed for a firm, comfortable grip.
- Visual assisted control– Another great feature that comes with this speaker is its digital signal processing with an LCD screen. This way, you’ll easily monitor and set various controls and presets with enhanced precision as you’ll be able to see different modes and levels on the screen.
- Toughened grille– The speaker comes with an 18-gauge steel grille for enhanced speaker driver protection. It’s extremely tough and still allows sound to pass through without obstructing the sound coming from the drivers.
- Rugged enclosure– The enclosure that comes with this speaker has a rugged finishing that makes it non-slip. It also has a sturdy construction for enhanced durability.
- Custom-engineered drivers
- Black powder coating
- Can be used as a floor monitor or pole mounted
- Ideal for wall mounting
- The handles distribute weight evenly
- Not Bluetooth enabled
- May pop if driven very hard
- Not loud enough for a large venue
The overall design and features of the Electro-Voice ZLX12P 12″ 2-Way PA speaker makes it a great choice for sound reinforcement in small venues and for stage-monitoring.
10. JBL EON610 Portable 10″ 2-Way
If you’ve been dealing with sound equipment for some time now, then you’ve definitely heard about JBL. The company is never left behind when it comes to PA speakers. The JBL EON610 PA speaker made it on our list based on its unique features and top performance. Let’s look at these features.
Most Desirable Features
- Intelligently positioned handles– This speaker comes with two handles that are positioned intelligently for easier carrying. This is especially important if you’re always on the move.
- Indexed feet– The speaker has indexed feet that are strategically molded into the enclosure. This feet design makes it more convenient when storing or transporting the speaker. The indexed feet design also makes it more secure to stack the speakers in a stand up configuration, stage monitoring, and acoustic configurations.
- JBL waveguide technology– JBL has integrated its exclusive waveguide technology in designing this speaker. The technology ensures that sound coverage matches at low frequencies, high frequencies, and at the crossover point. Consequently, you’ll enjoy consistent sound response.
- Great enclosure design– The enclosure of this speaker is designed for enhanced acoustic performance. It’s built using high-performance acoustic materials to enhance the overall sound reproduction.
- Fully-featured interface– Another great feature that comes with the speaker is the fully-featured interface located at the back panel. The interface has controls for EQ switch, LED switch, selecting the equalizer presets, master volume, and gain for each channel.
- Bluetooth 4.0 integration for EQ control
- Rugged and lightweight enclosure
- Wide frequency range
- Neodymium compression driver
- Perforated steel grille
- High price range
- No LCD screen
- Challenging to connect via Bluetooth
The JBL EON610 Portable 10″ 2-Way speaker is most ideal for use as a stage monitor in live performances for a small to medium room.
Top Features to Consider When Buying PA Speakers
The ease of carrying a PA speaker is very important, especially if you’re always on the move. For instance, if you’re a DJ or a live performer, you obviously move regularly from one venue to another. That calls for investing in a powerful, yet portable speaker for easier mobility. The best speaker for mobility should have well-designed carrier handles. It would be an added advantage if it comes with roller wheels for enhanced portability.
Also, if you’re a street performer or you often hold events in camping sites, then you definitely need a portable speaker. In this case, a speaker that has a rechargeable battery would an added advantage for enhanced portability and convenience.
If you’re a DJ or music producer, you definitely need a PA speaker that allows you to fine tune sound. In this case, a speaker that has an inbuilt mixer or equalizer would be your best bet. An equalizer that allows you to control highs, lows, bass, gain, and to even choose various presets would be an added advantage.
Public address speakers are either powered or passive. A powered speaker, also known as active speaker, is the one that has an inbuilt amplifier whereas a passive speaker is a speaker that doesn’t have its own amplifier and gets fed by an external amplifier or a separate powered speaker. A powered speaker makes a better choice since it’s easier to setup and doesn’t need an external amplifier. Some PA speakers come as a pair, featuring an active speaker and a passive speaker, which is a great choice since the active speaker will power the passive one.
Supported Sound Sources
There’re certain sound sources that a PA speakers should have for convenience. For instance, a PA speaker should have at least one microphone input, especially if it’s used for speech presentations. If you need a PA speaker for karaoke, then it should have at least two microphone inputs or more for enhanced performance. If you’re a live music performer, DJ, or music producer, then you definitely need a PA speaker that has line level and instrument inputs. Other sound sources such as AUX input and Bluetooth would be an added advantage in a PA speaker.
Another important consideration to make is the power rating of the speaker. You need to consider a speaker that is powerful enough to serve the size of the room you’ll be placing the speaker. A less powerful speaker can suffice for a small room. If you’ll be using the speaker in a medium to large room, then you’ll need a more powerful speaker. For outdoor performance, then you’ll need a large and extremely powerful speaker. When checking the power rating, the most important rating to consider is RMS power, which is the continuous power rating.
Public address speakers are a must have for a perfect live music performance, street performance, DJ events, parties, social gatherings, public rallies, and other events with a large audience. However, you need the best PA speakers for your audience to enjoy the best listening experience. We hope that our reviews will assist you in making the best choice.
Michael Evanchuk is a San Francisco-based sound engineer with 20 years’ experience installing, troubleshooting, and repairing commercial, automotive, and household sound equipment. Evanchuk owns an auto stereo center, where he offers highly competitive car audio installation and repair services. He has written dozens of articles on different sound engineering topics, all of which have been published in leading journals, blogs, and websites.