Every musician knows that PA systems are crucial for producing premium sound. They are especially important for live bands as speakers are one of the factors that will make or break your performance. And in all honesty, it took me a while to learn that lesson.
Back in the day, when I was a complete novice, I thought it was my musical skills that mattered the most. Boy, was I wrong! After a series of failed gigs full of cracks, distortion, and humming, I realized that my equipment needed some serious upgrades.
That’s how my journey through PA systems began. Now that I know which qualities to look for, figuring out what the best powered speakers for live sound are is a piece of cake. Thus, I have decided to give you a hand and share my experience with you.
Of course, when buying speakers, you should base your decision on your own preferences and music style. A duo that plays in a small pub won’t need speakers as powerful and durable as a band that performs outdoors. Therefore, I decided to test different types and models that would suit anyone.
So, if you’re looking to buy a high-quality PA system, you’ve come to the right place. I have selected five of the powered speakers for live band, compared their benefits and flaws, and chose a clear winner. But before we get started with my reviews, let’s learn the basics and see what features you should look for when buying your new active speakers.
The Best Speakers For Live Band — Final Comparison
|Bose S1 Pro||It offers a Bluetooth system with Auto EQ and a built-in mixer. Its various features will improve your sound and ensure it reaches every member of your audience.||Prime||CHECK PRICE|
|QSC K10.2 Active 10"||As one of the most powerful and portable speakers, it will provide you with a lot of flexibility.||Prime||CHECK PRICE|
|Electro-Voice ZLX12P 12" 2-Way||Classy-looking and powerful, this speaker offers multiple options that you can use to optimize your every performance.||Prime||CHECK PRICE|
|QSC K12.2 Active 12"||Outstanding power, multiple presets, and top-notch sound quality of this speaker will make your gigs truly memorable.||Prime||CHECK PRICE|
|JBL EON610 Portable 10" 2-Way||Although small and lightweight, this speaker offers amazing coverage, premium-quality sound, and a Bluetooth app that provides you with a lot of options.||X||CHECK PRICE|
How to Choose the Best Powered Speakers — A Buyer’s Guide
PA speakers are one of the greatest investments for any band speakers that want to have superb live gigs. However, your final choice should depend on your needs. Check out the factors that I’d pay attention to when buying new PA speakers.
How Much Power Do You Need?
If you want to leave a lasting impression on your audience, it goes without saying that you should look for powerful speakers. Good speakers must be strong enough to fill the whole venue with sound and yet keep the sound quality intact.
Now, your choice in this matter mostly depends on what you need. You won’t need extra-strong speakers for a gig in a small bar. On the other hand, if you want to be equipped for an outdoor concert, you will need powerful ones.
Besides the location, there are other factors to consider, such as the volume level you prefer and the speakers’ efficiency. If you’re a small band that plays in bars and pubs, speakers with 750 watts of power should be more than enough. But, if you’re about to play in a larger venue or outdoors, you should go for at least 1500 watts.
Is Portability a Key Feature?
If your band performs regularly in certain bars and clubs, there’s no need to bother with portability. However, for a band speakers that changes the venue often, portability is a crucial factor.
To be honest, regular PA systems are massive and weighty, which makes them quite inconvenient if your band is always on the go. So, the best powered speakers for acoustic guitar are usually compact. Unlike the traditional ones, compact systems consist of only one device and are significantly lighter.
Do You Play Indoors or Outdoors?
Before buying PA speakers, you need to decide whether you want battery or non-battery active speakers. Your choice in this matter depends on where you will hold your gigs.
If you mostly play indoors, the venue will likely provide you with a couple of sockets on the stage monitor. In that case, non-battery speakers are the best option. You won’t have to worry about battery life, and without the battery, the speakers won’t be that heavy.
However, if you’re planning to have live outdoor concerts, getting corded speakers won’t be of much use. In fact, it’s likely that you won’t have a socket to plug them in.
Luckily, some of the best-powered speakers for live bands are battery-powered. They come with plenty of other advantages, too. For instance, they’re much easier and faster to set up on the stage monitor than the corded ones. Just make sure you get speakers with long battery life. I’d recommend going for those that can last for at least 10 hours.
Editor Sidenotes: Are you looking for a home theater? here is a guide on the best wireless home theater speakers in which we talk about a popular brand like Bose and Polk. We reviewed each product to help you decide which is the right one for your home and needs.
Do the Speakers Use Bluetooth Technology?
If you want to make use of the latest technological advances, a Bluetooth speaker system might be the perfect option for you. These cutting-edge speakers have plenty of benefits and very few downsides, which is why I think they’re the best passive pa speakers.
Bluetooth speakers are light, portable, and they usually don’t need any installation. You will connect them to other devices, such as microphones and mixers, quite easily. Also, they are wireless, so your stage monitor won’t be covered with cables that are so easy to trip over. Instead, the stage will look clean and classy.
But most importantly, these speakers do not require much power. In fact, most of them use simple AAA batteries. Thus, you won’t have to use any external power adapters.
Another great thing about Bluetooth speakers is that they are incredibly durable. After all, they are designed to be moved a lot and used outdoors. So, they are quite sturdy, and you won’t need to worry about damaging them.
Unfortunately, many Bluetooth speakers can’t compare with the regular ones in terms of wattage. Therefore, if you do decide to get Bluetooth speakers, make sure you get ones that are powerful enough for all venues.
Do You Need an All-in-One System?
Playing live requires a lot of equipment. Small groups that perform in bars and pubs have it especially hard, as these venues may not have a built-in PA.
For this reason, many of the best sounding pa speakers include all the components that you need. Whether it is an internal power source that wireless speakers provide or a built-in mixer, these additions will probably come in handy.
Additional Features and Effects
PA speakers can include various features that should make things easier for you. So, think about what exactly you need. For example, you may opt for speakers that include special sound effects. That way, your band will get a recognizable style and tone.
In addition, if you don’t want to bother with multiple devices, pick a PA system with a built-in sound mixer. You might also want to consider speakers with automatic EQ adjustments. If you don’t like setting the EQ yourself, this feature will be especially useful.
Finally, quality DSP, various factory presets, and user-defined settings are always welcome.
My Top Picks for the Best Powered PA Speakers For The Money
Now that we’ve covered the basics, it’s time to check out the best active pa speakers. When choosing the items for this list, I made sure to include speakers that cover all the points that I mentioned in my buyer’s guide. So, let’s get down to it.
#1. Bose S1 Pro Portable Bluetooth Speaker System
Of course, no list of the powered pa speaker reviews would be complete without at least one Bose product. What I especially like about this model is that it is quite affordable, and yet, it provides exceptional quality sound. In fact, a couple of times, I’ve come across speakers that are more expensive than Bose S1 Pro but offer the same level of quality.
The thing about Bose S1 Pro that I love the most is that it is a Bluetooth device. Since it has a high-grade Bluetooth version, the connection range is exceptional. You can connect your devices to this speaker system from up to 30 feet (9 meters). I found this range to be more than enough for any kind of stage.
Bose S1 Pro is a wireless, battery-powered device. Still, that shouldn’t put you off. With this model, you won’t need to worry about losing power in the middle of your performance. This speaker system uses a lithium-ion battery that can last for an outstanding 11 hours! In addition, the battery is rechargeable, so you won’t waste your money on buying new ones. All you need to do is find a socket after your gig and plug the speaker in.
However, even though the battery life of this PA system is outstanding, many users have complained about its reliability. Most notably, keeping the speaker in the Standby Mode can drain the battery quite quickly. If the battery empties completely while on Standby, it won’t perform as well as it used to.
There’s another downside to Bose S1 Pro that I’ve noticed. Despite its amazing sound quality, the bass extension is not as great as that of other similar models.
What I especially like about Bose S1 Pro is that it includes special positioning sensors. This amazing feature makes it one of the best powered speakers for live bands, as it ensures that the sound is top-notch regardless of the speaker’s position. You can put it on the ground, tilt it back, or put it into the Monitor Mode. Based on its position, the sensors will set the aim, and your audience will get the best audio experience possible.
In addition, the sensors also work if the speaker is elevated. If you’re playing in a larger venue, all you need to do is put it on a traditional speaker stand. From there, your music will reach your fans even in larger venues or outdoors.Auto EQ
Bose S1 Pro also includes the Auto EQ feature. With this feature and the positioning sensors that I’ve mentioned, you can be sure that the sound will always get to your audience. It automatically adjusts the tone, thus making the sound natural, clean, and full. Many users, myself included, appreciate this feature because there is no need for an additional subwoofer.A Built-In Mixer
Another amazing feature of Bose S1 Pro is its built-in mixer. It has three inputs — two for the microphones and musical instruments, and one for external devices.
Inputs 1 and 2 also come with some special characteristics. They have a volume level control, as well as reverb, bass, and treble controls. Thus, you can easily adjust the sound according to your needs. What’s more, you can use one of these inputs to adjust Bluetooth-connected devices.
Input 3 is great for connecting other devices. For example, you can use it to play some pre-recorded songs to your audience while you take a short break. Also, it can connect your phone to the speaker. I found this especially useful as I can use the same speaker for live gigs and while listening to music at home or during rehearsals.Portability
Since I move around a lot, one of the reasons I love this PA speaker system so much is its outstanding portability. At just 15.5 lbs, Bose S1 Pro is quite compact and easy to carry. There is also an incredibly convenient handle that makes transporting it much easier. So, if you opt for this speaker, you’ll be able to go wherever the music takes you.
#2. QSC K10.2 Active 10″ Powered 2000 Watt Loudspeaker
The successor of K10, brings some fantastic features to the game. It’s a big upgrade from the older model, as it includes more options, better angles, and impressive power. I have to say — while testing this model, I was astonished to find so many differences between K10 and K10.2. In all honesty, this model truly raises the bar for QSC PA speakers and is certainly among the best pa speaker system.
QSC K10.2 is quite small and weighs only 32 lbs, which makes it a fantastic grab-and-go device. If you often move from venue to venue, its compact size will come in rather handy.
A major strong point is that it possesses almost twice the power of other similar models. This active speaker produces 1012 watts, while the peak power output is 2000 watts. Having in mind its size, I didn’t expect it to be this powerful.
Because of its amazing strength, it can match even high-performance compression hf driver and woofers. Thus, this is powerful enough to play the role of the main PA during your performance. It can handle venues of almost all shapes and sizes. Even in larger halls, the quality sound will be full and crystal-clear.
In addition, this PA speaker system has a digital display that significantly improves user experience. You can use it to choose and control your preferred loudspeaker functions. What’s more, you can save scenes for applications that you use most often.
The only area where this PA sound speaker systems falls short is durability. Many users feel that it’s not sturdy enough. Also, there are no rubber pads or any similar protection, so the bottom can wear off after a while. Therefore, you really need to be careful when moving the speaker around to avoid damaging it.
QSC K10.2 has advanced DSP that will significantly improve your performance and the sound reach. DSP provides Intrinsic Correction, which is a feature that uses filters that adjust frequency, time, and amplitude responses. This feature is common in the best powered speakers for live bands because it allows for the sound to stay consistent.
In addition, DMT (Directivity Matched Transition) ensures that the sound covers the whole area. With this speaker, there will be no hot and dead zones. What’s more, mid-range frequencies usually found in vocals and solo instruments won’t get lost in the background noise.Multiple Factory Presets and User Settings
Another amazing thing about QSC K10.2 is that it includes more than a few factory presets. It comes with Vocal Monitor, Stage Monitor, Dance Music, Instrument Amplifier, and Cover Stage options. This feature makes QSC K10.2 incredibly flexible — you can use it for different purposes and performances.
To make things even better, this PA system has other parameters that you can set according to your needs. To me, the most useful settings are related to EQ, crossovers, delay, and input configuration. What’s more, the system is quite user-friendly, so you won’t have any trouble trying out different options.Positioning Flexibility
Another reason QSC K10.2 is one of the best powered speakers for live bands is that you can set it up in any way you want. And trust me — there is nothing as irritating as a speaker that limits you and your performance because it can handle only one position.
You can put this PA speaker on the floor, place it on a speaker stand, or mount it on a wall or a truss. In addition, you can tilt it down up to 7.5 degrees. I found this extremely useful when performing in small venues or on small stages. You can just place it wherever it doesn’t get in your way, and your audience will enjoy full and clear sound.
- Plenty of user-defined parameters
- Uses both Intrinsic Correction and DMT
- 6-year warranty
- Outstanding UI
- Not sturdy enough
#3. Electro-Voice ZLX12P 12″ 2-Way 1000W Full Range Powered Loudspeaker
The first thing I noticed about Electro-Voice ZLX12P is its outstanding design. Compared to the previous versions of Electro-Voice speakers, this PA system seems truly sophisticated and professional. However, this little speaker has much more to offer than just good looks. There are a couple of features that truly make it one of the best budget powered pa speakers.
Good baffle design does wonder for quality sound. Luckily, Electro-Voice has high standards when it comes to this feature. This speaker’s split-baffle design ensures optimal hf driver time alignment. In addition, it improves both the sonic impact and intelligibility.
Another great thing about Electro-Voice ZLX12P is that it offers you plenty of presets and user-defined settings. But, with so many controls, handling this PA speaker systems must be hard, right?
Actually, it has an LCD display that makes it incredibly easy to use. You can rely on the display to control the presets and modes, as well as access DSP. Also, with the help of this little display, you can optimize the sound according to your needs and set volume controls.
I found the overall sound quality of this PA system amazing. However, the low end is not to the highest standards. This issue is especially obvious when it comes to bass response. For an acoustic band or a band that plays in small bars, it will be barely noticeable. But, if you’re playing with a bigger band or in big venues, you should consider getting a subwoofer.
In addition, the plastic parts of Electro-Voice ZLX12P are easily scratched. Even if you drop the speaker, you won’t damage it. Still, the scratch marks will remain visible.
What I like the most about Electro-Voice ZLX12P is that you can use it for different kinds of events. This PA system has several built-in modes that will adjust the sound to fit any occasion or venue. You can keep it at the neutral live settings, or play with the sound a bit. Thus, you can add some bass, treble, or mix things up using the Crossover preset.
The default application mode is Music, which you can use for all sorts of occasions. However, the mode that I found most useful is the Live mode. As you can see, this PA system has a setting specifically designed for live gigs. With this mode, you can be sure the sound will be full and top-notch.
In addition to these two modes, there are other settings that you may find handy. I personally liked the Club EQ mode — great for both bands playing in clubs and DJs. And, there is even a mode designed for public speaking.Location Settings
In my opinion, one of the qualities that makes a certain PA system one of the best powered speakers for live bands is how it handles different locations. Electro-Voice ZLX12P excels in this area, as it has three location settings. All you need to do is set the control to fit the speaker placement, and you’re good to go.
The Monitor setting is perfect if you want to keep the speaker on the floor. You can also place it on a stand or a pole, and the Pole setting will do the work for you. What’s more, these two settings control the low end, so overall, the sound quality will stay intact.
Finally, there is the Bracket setting that will ensure the bass doesn’t overtake in case you decide to mount the speaker on a wall.Portability
Yet another fantastic thing about Electro-Voice ZLX12P is that it combines great power with low weight. Even though the speaker has a 1000-watt amplifier, it weighs only 34 lbs. It also comes with two handles — one on the top and one on the side. Thus, the device is exceptionally portable.
In addition, you won’t need to worry about damaging the speaker while carrying it around. Besides plastic, other materials include polypropylene, steel, and rubber. So, Electro-Voice ZLX12P is super-durable.
- Easy-to-navigate LCD display
- Multiple location and application options
- Light and compact
- Mid-quality low end
- Easily scratched
#4. QSC K12.2 Active 12″ Powered 2000 Watt Loudspeaker
QSC K12.2 is another speaker from the QSC K series and the successor of QSC K10.2. While these two PA systems have many similar features, I found that QSC K12.2 takes the quality sound to the next level. In comparison to his older brother, it offers increased power and SPL, as well as improved DSP.
One of the reasons I believe QSC K12.2 is one of the best powered loudspeaker for live bands is its outstanding power. With its 2000W D-class amplifier, QSC K12.2 will give almost twice the power to the woofer compared to K10.2. This increase in power results in various overall improvements.
First, the speaker can reach SPL of 132 dB. In addition, because of the extra power, the bass extension is significantly improved, and the live music sound is almost impeccable. Even if you hit the maximum volume level, the sound will remain clean.
Also, you don’t have to worry about overheating. QSC K12.2 contains variable-speed fans that will keep it cool at all times. What I like the most about these fans is how silent they are. You probably won’t even notice they’re there.
However, in my opinion, this model has one great flaw — its weight. QSC K12.2 is the heaviest PA system on this list, so it can’t pride itself on its portability. Since it weighs 47 pounds, it will probably take two people to carry it around. Still, it has two aluminum handles that make transporting it a bit easier.
QSC K12.2’s sound quality is incredible, especially in terms of low frequencies. In fact, they can go down to 45 Hz. I’m sure that every bass player will love this feature.
What’s more, this PA system can do all the work on its own — getting a subwoofer is not necessary. Still, an additional subwoofer would probably improve the sound even further.Advanced DSP
This model has similar audio variables to K10.2. However, there are plenty of improvements. While the older model has five factory presets, QSC K12.2 has eleven! It can handle probably every single application that crosses your mind. In addition, DSP is of outstanding quality — you won’t hear any distortion.
What’s more, DSP includes both Intrinsic Correction and Directivity Matched Transition. These features will make sure that the sound spreads consistently throughout the whole venue. Thus, every member of your audience will enjoy your music to the fullest.Multifunctional LCD Display
Another thing about QSC K12.2 that makes it one of the best powered speakers for live bands is its display. It’s quite easy to handle, so you won’t have any problems controlling this PA system. It covers all sorts of user-defined parameters and settings. You can use it for crossover settings, high-pass filtering, or delay settings.
Moreover, it includes four-band EQ, and to make things even better — you won’t need an external mixer since there are plenty of basic mixing options. Once you set up the PA system according to your needs, you can save all your settings and recall them if needed in the future.
#5. JBL EON610 Portable 10″ 2-Way Multipurpose Self-Powered Sound Reinforcement
Even though JBL EON610 is the smallest member of JBL’s 600 series, it is surely one of the best powered speakers audiophile currently available. I’ve used other JBL’s speakers before, and I have to say that the EON 600 models truly raise the bar. They have plenty of useful features and do their job well.
Since portability is an important feature for live bands, I’ve decided that EON610 is the best fit for this list. Its size and design make it a fantastic speaker for live gigs.
At 26 lbs, EON610 is among the lightest PA systems available but includes various special features that increase its portability. Despite its small size, it has handles on all four sides. It has indexed feet molded into it, which makes it especially handy for transport and storage. In addition, the enclosure contains hardware mounts, so in case you need to fly the speaker, you can do so without any inconvenience.
EON 610 is a Bluetooth speaker, which is a quality that truly makes it one of the best speakers for live performance. You can control the system remotely, which I find incredibly useful. Also, it makes DSP control practically effortless.
The interface can control master volume, as well as the 5-way. What’s more, you can control EQ and user-defined parameters, not to mention save your favorite presets.
Once you install the EON Bluetooth connectivity app, you’re good to go. And don’t worry — the app supports both Android and iOS.
What I feel is a major downside of JBL EON610 is that it doesn’t have an angled pole socket option. In addition, while the bluetooth connectivity app is incredibly useful, the interface is a bit complicated. Thus, users who don’t feel comfortable using complex apps will have difficulties finding their way around.
Also, I’ve noticed that many people are confused by the Bluetooth integration options. Since the speaker is advertised as a Bluetooth device, a lot of users believe that they can also stream music using this feature. However, the Bluetooth app doesn’t support streaming.
Those of you who are not tech-savvy will be glad to hear that the Bluetooth app is not the only way to control EON610. The speaker includes a control panel where you can set all parameters manually.
Besides the regular controls, such as master volume, the panel also gives you access to EQ options and presets. You can choose between the Main, Monitor, Speech, and Sub options.
The first three are pretty self-explanatory, while the Sub confuses many users at first. In fact, it’s quite simple. With the Sub mode, you can use this PA system as a subwoofer.JBL Waveguide Technology
This latest technological upgrade improves the coverage pattern and sound radiation. It controls the high frequency, the low frequency, and the crossover point, making sure everything runs smoothly. As such, it increases the quality of the sound.
Because of this feature, the sound coming from the PA system is even and consistent. What’s more, the intelligibility is rather high. Throughout all 110 degrees that EON610 covers, the sound will be smooth and clear, without any traces of humming.
- Consistent sound in every venue layout
- Has nylon coil zippers
- The app is a bit confusing
- Doesn’t support streaming
And the Winner is… Bose S1 Pro Portable Bluetooth Speaker System
Once I tested all these PA systems, there was no doubt that, to me, Bose S1 Pro is the best speakers for vocals. Even though its competition is exceptional and includes veterans like QSC and JBL, I found that this speaker tops them all for several reasons.
With its 11-hour battery life, you can rely on Bose S1 Pro to perform well during both indoor and outdoor gigs. It’s a wireless, Bluetooth device, which takes those irritating cables out of the equation. It’s even light and portable, so you can move around from venue to venue without having to find hired muscle to carry your equipment. What’s more, its built-in mixer and great connectivity options are incredibly useful for any band, not to mention that the Auto EQ and positioning sensors will do a lot of work for you.
Of course, Bose S1 Pro is not without its flaws. Still, they are quite minor and do not diminish the value of this fantastic PA system.
Don’t get me wrong — the other four models on this list are quite outstanding and deserve to be considered as the best bluetooth pa speaker. However, if you’re looking for a high-quality PA system that truly packs a punch, you won’t make a mistake if you go for Bose S1 Pro.