When it comes to DJ speakers, they can either make or break your setup.
What might sound great in a club, would sound absolutely terrible in an outdoor event. These are the things you need to think of when choosing the best DJ speakers. Crowd size can also be a huge factor.
The speakers you choose for your setup will mainly depend on the range. So, if you normally spin for large outdoor events, then you’ll need some speakers with some serious range. But aside from range, you also have to think about sound clarity, distortion, and even clipping.
As you can see, there are many factors that will come into play when you’re choosing DJ speakers. Fortunately, I’ve reviewed several of the leading loudspeakers on the market.
However, only five made it to my list of the best of the best. These are the speakers that not only focus on range and power but sound quality as well.
DJ Speakers Comparison Chart
Below is a comparison chart that explains the main differences between these speakers including price, rating, package size, and whether the speakers are active or passive. This will give you an idea of the type of setup and additional components you’ll need.
DJ Speakers Buyer’s Guide
DJ speakers refer to any type of speaker that is powerful enough to play music at high volumes, smoothly and without distortion. There is nothing special about these speakers, in terms of them being designed specifically for DJing purposes. Instead, the speakers need to be large enough and tough enough to carry a DJ’s set. These speakers are also referred to as powered speakers, and PA speakers.
Many beginners may be tempted to use studio monitor speakers for applications they’re just not designed for, such as DJing, but these speakers cannot handle the type of volume that speakers that are commonly used for DJing gigs can. If you regularly have DJing gigs, then purchasing the appropriate speakers is a great investment.
The right speakers will allow you to take on a gig on the fly. Having all of your own gear for a gig will also make you come off more pro, which can result in leads for more work down the road.
Active or Passive Speakers
When you’re shopping for speakers, there are a number of factors you should consider. The first factor is choosing between active or passive speakers. Passive speakers are not able to output sound on their own. Instead, they need external power from an amp.
If you go this route, then you’ll also need to purchase an amplifier. Using passive speakers can involve a more complicated, expensive setup because you’ll have to purchase speakers that match the wattage of the amps.
While passive speakers are considered a more affordable option compared to active speakers, the additional cost of the amps can easily break the bank for the DJ on a budget.
Active speakers do not require the use of an external amp since they have an amp built right in. This makes for a simpler setup since you’ll find the EQ and volumes controls on the speaker. But, while these speakers are more convenient to use, the initial cost of active speakers is much higher compared to passive speakers.
On active speakers, the power rating refers to the power of the internal amp. Generally speaking, the higher the watts the more power the speaker can put out. In order to determine how many watts you need for your setup, you’ll need to consider the size of the crowd and the type of environment you’ll be working in.
If you’re DJing in a small space then you won’t need a higher wattage. If you’re working at an outdoor event then you’ll need a speaker setup that’s powerful enough to reach the entire crowd. If you’re DJing for thirty to fifty people then you’ll only need a power rating of two hundred. For large outdoor events or auditoriums, you may need a one thousand watt setup.
The woofer cone size will be measured in inches. The size of the cone is what determines how much bass the speaker is able to handle. For DJing purposes, the smallest speakers you’ll see is about eight inches.
If you’re playing for a smaller crowd or the type of music you play isn’t very bass heavy then a woofer of this size will work just fine. However, woofers that are around ten to twelve-inches will be a much better option if you play a lot of dance beats or hip hop. Hands down, the fifteen-inch woofer cone size offers the best bass response.
As I just mentioned, when you’re shopping for your speaker setup, you should consider how much bass heavy music you normally play. Any DJ that’s looking for new speakers for their setup will probably also be searching for the right type of subwoofer to complement their setup. When it comes to hip hop or electronic music, low frequencies are essential.
The subwoofer is also what can really boost your sound because they emit longer wavelengths. Bottom line, subwoofers are what encourage people to get out on the dance floor and move. For bass heavy sets, you can use smaller speakers at eight to twelve inches and pair them with a subwoofer, which can offer an even better sound than a fifteen-inch speaker.
However, purchasing a subwoofer will significantly increase the cost of your setup, not to mention it’s another piece of gear to lug around.
Transporting Your Gear
If you’re a mobile DJ, then portability will be a big deal. You’ll want to ensure the weight and size of your setup is something that you’ll be able to handle in terms of transporting your gear from gig to gig. If your setup is extensive you may need a bigger vehicle to haul it, not to mention a dolly or two to get the gear in and out of the club or venue.
If you’re not sure whether or not a particular speaker is right for you, consider the brand. Are you familiar with the manufacturer? If so, do they have a solid reputation for producing speakers that won’t blow out easily? When in doubt, always hit up DJing forums where you can learn more about the leading models of speakers on the market.
You can also read DJ speaker reviews to get an unbiased look at how the speakers perform in different environments and the type of load they can handle.
Your budget will determine how many speakers you can purchase for your setup. Unfortunately, the best DJ speakers can be pretty pricey. You won’t find a high-quality set of speakers for a hundred dollars or less.
Fortunately, as the popularity of the mobile DJing gig continues to rise, many of the leading bands have begun producing entry-level speakers that offer better than average power and overall quality. You can expect to pay at least two to three hundred dollars for a solid DJ speaker.
You can also expand or upgrade your speaker setup later down the line, once you begin lining up more gigs.
In the Club
When you’re playing a gig, the speakers can be just as important as the best DJ controller or mixer. Mixing tracks definitely takes skill, but without the right setup to play your set on, you’re not going to wow the crowd anytime soon.
Whether you’re a touring DJ or you mainly play local shows, finding the right speakers that can meet your DJing needs isn’t exactly easy. There are a variety of styles, wattage ratings, and sizes of speakers to choose from.
A complete setup for the DJ will include some additional accessories that aren’t usually included in a stereo set package. Each set of speakers will come with their own accessories to either interconnect them for the stage, allow you to stack the speakers on the sub, or protect them after a performance. Most DJs will add an extra speaker for booth monitoring.
A speaker enclosure can be made out of tough injection-molded plastic or from wood, both of which can offer structural rigidity. Of course, wood speaker cabinets will be much heavier than cabinets made out of ABS. Often, the weight of speakers will play a big factor for the traveling DJ.
While in the past, bigger speakers equaled better, louder sound, that’s no longer true with modern-day speakers. Now, finding a speaker that’s compact, lightweight, and loud is totally possible.
Outputs and Inputs
Speaker output and input options will vary from model to model. Most speakers will come with a quarter inch input line level jack or an XLR jack. Some with come with a type of combination input that will combine the design of both styles of inputs. Many powered speakers will come with thru or output options in an XLR format, which can be used to connect other speakers.
Some models will have ethernet jacks that allow you to connect to software for optimal control options. Before you buy speakers, make sure you check I/O’s in order to ensure the speakers you add to your setup are compatible with your existing gear.
Creating the Perfect Setup
The following tips will help you to get the most out of your new speakers, based on environment, setup, and even the type of music you’re spinning.
First, consider the size of your speakers. I spoke about this briefly, earlier. DJ speakers come in a variety of shapes and sizes because each type is meant for different applications. There are times when the size of the speakers really won’t matter, however, some DJs argue that the size of DJing speakers do.
Loudspeakers that are used for DJing will come in sizes that range from eight up to sixteen inches. In most cases, you won’t find smaller speakers that will work well enough for a large venue. When you’re choosing speakers based on size, think about the size of the space you normally gig in, as well as the size of the crowd.
Obviously, a bigger space will require bigger speakers.
Most DJ speaker setups will consist of a couple of speakers on stands and a subwoofer. Subwoofers are essential considering they help to reduce the low-end in your audio. Like regular DJing speakers, they also come in passive or active versions.
If you’re playing certain genres, such as hip hop, then a subwoofer will be an important speaker in your setup. They’re also needed for any type of genre where rumbling or punchy basslines are common. Subwoofers with a much larger cabinet and cone size that feature well-placed ports will also sound much louder and deeper.
Do I Really Need to Use Subs?
In bigger venues, for added low-end reinforcement, you’ll need to add one or two subwoofers to your setup. This will provide more power and thump to the sound, especially if you’re playing dance tracks. You’ll also need to configure the speakers correctly based on the space you’re playing in.
If you’re playing a wedding reception outdoors then you’ll need to take a different approach to setting up your speakers as opposed to how you’d place them if you were playing in a loft space. Most DJs will use a two to one ratio between the subs and tops for medium-sized spaces, however, whether or not you use a sub will depend on the type of music you’re spinning.
Most bass heavy types of genres such as techno, house, hip hop, and EDM will benefit from the lower-end sound generated by subs. In some cases, the DJ may need to use a couple of subs as well as two large speakers. If you want your audience to hear and feel the bass, then subs are essential.
But if you’re only playing acoustic or soft music such as jazz, in a small venue, then you won’t need to worry about bass reinforcement or where you place the speakers in order to give the crowd the maximum effect of a bass-heavy setup.
Correctly Positioning Your Speakers
Head level on either side of the DJ is usually the optimal speaker placement in a club setting. But knowing where to place your PA can also be just as important. Make sure you leave the minimum of thirty centimeters up to one yard of breathing space between the ceiling, walls, and speakers.
You’ll end up blowing all of the moving air into the front of the crowd if you fail to mount the speakers correctly. This will have a huge negative impact on the sound of your set since the speakers will be unable to carry the sound past the middle of the dance floor.
If you fail to leave enough breathing room between the speakers and the walls and/or the ceiling, they will be unable to efficiently move the air, which can result in coloration that will make the music sound dull or muddy.
Subs are actually much easier to place. All you have to do is leave them on the ground, somewhere near the main speakers or directly below them. The subs can be placed on the ground since they transmit low range frequencies. Essentially, subs emit long waves that bend and reflect around people, yet they can still distribute the sound throughout the entire venue.
Are External Mixers Essential to a DJ Setup?
If the speakers you normally use do not feature EQ controls or a built-in mixer, then adding a small external mixer to your setup can allow you to use effects for the room. If the speakers do have onboard EQ controls, then you can just plug in a controller or mixer straight into it.
If the speakers only have volume controls, then you may want to get an external mixer. Keep in mind that your music will not sound the same in every setting or room you play in. Using an external mixer can give you the ability to tweak the EQ based on the quality of the sound coming out of the speakers. This alone will help you to get the most out of your speakers.
Once you’ve set up the playing space’s EQ using your mixer, you can start spinning with the knobs placed at twelve o’clock.
Beginner DJing Mistakes You Should Avoid At All Costs
One of the biggest mistakes the beginner tends to make involves their speaker, amp, and mixer combination. Often, the newbie will end up using components that are not evenly matched. As an example, if you just purchased a couple of three hundred watt speakers that provides six hundred watts at peak, this will provide an operating range in which to place the amp that you’ll use.
But you’ll need to check and see if the speakers are four or eight OHMs in impedance. Next, check the power rating on the amps at that load or impedance. It’s all too easy to do serious damage to your speakers by choosing an amp that doesn’t offer the type of power the speakers need.
The lack of reserve power or headroom can also cause the amp to clip, which will send a highly distorted signal to the speakers that can blow your subs.
The Perfect Placement Solution
Another issue is speaker placement, which I just touched on. If you’re not sure how to set up your speakers, based on room size, a great solution is to stand mount your speakers in order to counteract the fact that most of the sound will go through the navel of the crowd instead of their ears.
While it’s true that elevated speakers tend to lose the coupling effect that adds bass to the floor, if you have one or two subs, then this shouldn’t even be an issue.
Using the right gauge of wire that allows the music to move from the amp to your speakers is essential. Keep in mind that the smaller gauge numbers will actually indicate a large gauge in wire. I recommend using the minimum of sixteen gauge wire for short runs of fifty feet or less, although some people will argue that fourteen gauge is actually a better choice.
Because the wires have resistance, a good rule of thumb to follow is using larger wire for longer distances. If you end up using sixteen gauge wire for spaces that are a hundred feet or more, you can end up hindering your performance because the wrong wire gauge can affect sound quality.
This can also push your amp to the limits because it will work much harder than it has to in order to get the same level. This rule will also apply to any electrical cables that you use. If your cables normally run hot, it means that you’re using the wrong gauge. While the price of thicker cables can be steep, using them will increase the lifespan of your gear.
Know the size of your crowd before a gig and go in prepared. Don’t go in with gear that will only provide top quality sound for half the crowd. This won’t get you any gigs in the future. Before a job, go in, do some research and buy or borrow extra gear if necessary. This will not only ensure your sound is everything it should be it will also prevent some serious damage to your speakers.
Know How to Utilize Your EQ
Did you know that just a three-decibel increase on your EQ can equal double the power to tweeters, or horns in your speaker setup? Additionally, constant exposure to higher frequencies can also cause listener fatigue which will empty the dance floor in no time. Remember, less is more. Begin with a straight line theory and always use your EQ sparingly. If you must use your EQ a lot, this can indicate that your setup doesn’t sound like it should to begin with.
Take Proper Care of Your Gear
Routine maintenance can significantly extend the life of your DJ gear. When you’re not working, be sure to remove the grills on your speakers and wipe them down, removing dirt and debris. Take off the input panel and tighten up all the connectors and jacks. You can also touch up solder connections.
If you’re hearing a rattling noise coming from your speakers when you’re moving them then you need to search for the source of the problem and fix it immediately. Always check knobs and switches for damage and make sure that all of the grounding posts are intact.
This should be done at least once a month, but you may need to clean your speakers more frequently if you’re DJing full time.
It can be too easy to become careless about your equipment during a set, considering how busy and focused you are. But using your equipment correctly can save them plenty of wear and tear. Always remember the correct turn-on sequences. Never turn the mixer or console off with the amp still powered on.
Doing so can cause serious damage. Never bang on the mic with the palm of your hand as doing so can actually lead to a blown woofer. Keep a close eye on your overall volume settings, especially when it comes to your bass.
Best DJ Speakers Reviewed
Below you’ll find my top five choices for the best DJ speakers on the market. I’ve included single speakers and pairs, some of which come with powerful subs that are designed to boost sound quality, bass response, and range.
The C300z DJ speakers feature a durable, lightweight design, which makes them very travel-friendly. The weight, combined with the ergonomic handles and impact resistant cabinets also make the speaker a great buy for the mobile DJ in need of speakers that can handle life on the road.
These speakers feature a two-channel power amp, two twelve-inch passive two-way speakers, a tripod speaker stand, and a carrying case for the ultimate protection during transport. The speaker’s large LCD display allows you to keep a close eye on the speaker’s performance and sound quality, so you can always ensure your setup is reaching every member of the dance floor while always providing the best in sound quality.
The speakers also come equipped with important safety features including a limiter, which will prevent distortion and clipping. What more could a DJ ask for?
These powered Yamaha speakers are the latest to hit Yamaha’s PA line. It offers an impressive range, yet it also features that type of rich, full, crystal clear sound that would also make it a welcome addition to your home DJ setup. This is an eight-inch speaker that has a lightweight design, so transporting it will be a breeze.
Additionally, the speaker provides clear audio, thanks to a design that focuses on enhanced bass performance, while minimizing distortion. The internal AD processor further improves the speaker’s range and sound clarity, while the easy setup and lightweight design make this speaker a good choice for the mobile DJ.
However, considering it’s made out of ABS plastic, I recommend purchasing a carrying case in order to prevent breakage and other types of damage during transport.
This Bluetooth powered loudspeaker can work as the main speaker in your mobile DJ setup, or it can be used for live music performances, recording purposes, home get-togethers, and much more. Versatile, lightweight, and built tough, Electro-Voice has created a speaker the DJ, musician, and music enthusiast will love.
The speaker’s simple controls will allow you to tweak the settings in order to get the most out of the speaker, based on environment, crowd size, and the genre of music you’re spinning. The speaker comes with a Quick Smart DSP controller, in addition to an SST waveguide design, so you know it will offer excellent bass response and better than average range.
This twelve-inch model also offers one thousand watts, which is decent for a speaker of this size.
If you’re not familiar with Bose and their wide product lines that include only the best loudspeakers on the market, then you’ve been living under a rock. Their latest package, the 812s is crushing the market, thanks to its sound clarity and flexibility.
This set will work best for live performances, but it’s also right at home as a part of a permanent setup in a nightclub. These speakers and subs are that good. In terms of flexibility, the speakers really shine, thanks to the adjustable array pattern, which is the same setup that’s used on speakers that you’ll find at concerts and other types of major outdoor events.
This innovative design allows you to optimize the sound quality based on the size of the crowd you’re spinning for and the type of environment you’re spinning in. If you’re looking for speakers that can take your sets to the next level, then your search is over.
These JBL Professional loudspeakers offer a high-powered performance thanks to the dual fifteen-inch subs. These speakers are able to offer six hundred watts of continuous power, with an impressive twenty-four thousand watts of peak power. Basically, these speakers can handle all of your audio needs, whether you play rock, or spin hip hop sets.
However, the large, heavy design of these speakers can make them a poor option for the traveling DJ. Yet their durable speaker cabinets make them a great choice for speakers that can handle life on the road. Basically, they offer impressive clarity and detail, in speakers that are not only durable but affordable as well.
What are the best DJ speakers to buy? If you still don’t know the answer to that question, first, focus on your work environment. Do you normally play for major outdoor events? Do you regularly play house parties or clubs? Are you looking for speakers that are easy to transport or do you need speakers that can complement a permanent setup in a club?
The answers to these questions will help you to choose the perfect speakers that can meet your needs and take your set to the next level.