As part of our series of DJ equipment reviews, here are the best DJ speakers for mobile setups, providing the most ideal combination of portability, control, power and value.
We took a long look at many PA speaker systems, and we selected the ones that are most suitable for mobile DJ use. We have grouped them into two categories:
Powered DJ Speakers
Powered Speakers come with a built-in amplifier and some even have DSP (digital signal processing), making them very cost effective and easy to setup. More and more DJs are preferring this bundle setup because of its added value, added features, convenience, and versatility. On the flip side, powered speakers are heavy because of the added components and require more cables. Making quick real-time adjustments can also be a challenge if you have to adjust the volume at the speakers.
JBL EON 515XT
The JBL Eon 515XT takes the top spot among powered speakers because of its ideal balance of sound, versatility and durability. A pair of 515XTs can go really loud, with each one having a JBL quality Class D power amp that pushes 625 watts into a 15" woofer, and 1.5" high frequency driver. This powered speaker is certainly more than capable of providing exaggerated lows and crisp highs that DJs require. What's amazing is it also has enough sensitivity and versatility for use with slow songs or even for a simple acoustic setup, thanks to its built-in mixer and multiple inputs. Finally it is built for the road with a lightweight composite enclosure that meets JBL's standard for sturdiness. With a 39Hz-20kHz frequency range, this is ideal for a DJ that's always on the move. So if you've got the dough, with the JBL Eon 515XT, you get what you pay for. Retail Price: $615
- Pros: Powerful and detailed sound, portable, and housed in a rugged case.
- Cons: Not as cheap as we all want it to be.
The Yamaha MSR400 is a powered speaker that sounds just as good as it looks. It features bi-amplification, which means two separate amplifiers are powering the 12" cone woofer and the 1.75" voice coil compression driver. This results in a clearer and more defined sound which at 400 Watts can fill small to medium venues. You also have the experience and expertise of Yamaha backing the speaker, assuring audio quality and build durability. DJs have been raving about the MSR400's good bass response, which is a very important quality to look for in a DJ speaker. Other features include a frequency response of 50Hz-20kHz, peak LED monitoring, versatile input, built-in EQ and compatibility with various speaker placement positions. Retail Price: $440.
- Pros: Clean sounds that works great for both DJs and live bands.
- Cons: Does not have enough power for bigger venues.
Mackie Thump TH-15A Active Speaker
The Mackie Thump TH-15A Active Speaker is highly recommended for beginners or those that are looking for a budget friendly DJ speaker. This active speaker also features a class D amp that pushes 400W of power to a 15" woofer and a 1" compression driver. Many DJs are quite happy with its ability to deliver deep low-end in an affordable, lightweight and portable package. The Thump TH15A also has Mackie active sound processing, which include a precision crossover, and driver time-alignment - helping improve the overall sound of the speaker. You also get a 3-band EQ, wedge and pole-mount compatibility. This speaker simply provides you with the best value for your money. List Price: $340
- Pros: Affordable and portable speaker, great for DJs that are starting out.
- Cons: Ironically lacks some low end thump in high volume levels.
Behringer Eurolive B215D
If like some purists you tend to dismiss Behringer products, you are missing out on some of the best bang-for-your-buck audio products. Case in point is the Behringer Eurolive B215D, a speaker with a powerful 550W class D amplifier, a 15" driver and a 1.35" aluminum-diaphragm compression driver. This speaker features an internal switch-mode power supply that makes it a surprisingly light and portable. Aside from enhancing audio, its built-in sound processor provides control and LF/HF transducer protection. An active high-pass filter also helps eliminate distortion. This full featured powered amp is gaining popularity among DJs, especially those that need powerful speakers without breaking their bank and backs. Retail Price: $250.
- Pros: Best bang for your buck active speaker, without feeling or sounding "cheap".
- Cons: It will need some extra handling care, not as robust as the others .
Passive DJ Speakers
Passive Speakers are simple speakers that do not come with amplification and DSP. Its familiar configuration continues to make it the go-to setup for experienced DJs. Since many DJs still use stand alone amplifiers, they prefer the transparency and sensitivity of passive speakers. And with nothing else inside its cabinet, these speakers are usually lighter than the powered ones. One thing to watch out for is that the impedance on the speaker inputs matches with the amplifier output - this isn't difficult as it's written on both pieces of equipment - a typical value would be 8 ohms.
Cerwin-Vega is known for their expertise on reproducing deep bass sounds, so it is not surprising that we consider the CVP-1152 to be the most viable passive speaker for DJs. This is a powerful 2-way passive speaker with a custom-designed 3" voice coil 15" woofer (1,000W peak handing) and a Mylar high-frequency driver. Sounding good and being powerful is useless if it easily breaks, thankfully this speaker is sturdy, with a Cerwin-Vega trademark rugged cast-aluminum grille that protects all the goods inside. Althougha bit on the heavy side, a pair of CVP-1152 speakers together with a powerful amplifier will give mobile DJs more than enough horse power than they'll ever need. Retail Price: $549 | Manufacturer: Cerwin-Vega
- Pros: Can go really loud and works with powerful amplifiers, great sound and durability.
- Cons: Extra protection and stability makes it quite heavy
If you have already invested on a good amplifier and are looking for a lightweight speaker, you should consider the passive Mackie C300z. This 2-Way Speaker is equipped with a 12" woofer and a 3" voice coil with a 1-3/4" titanium diaphragm compression driver, fine tuned for efficient performance. It can handle up to 600W of peak power at 8ohms within a 45Hz-20kHz frequency response, while weighing in at just 46 lbs. Aside from being portable, the C300z speaker's EQ and crossover points are meticulously chosen so that beam-width patterns match in both drivers, delivering a more balanced sound at all volume levels, ideal for multiple genre mixes. It can be used as a stage monitor, or mounted as mains, it is even flyable. Retail Price: $350.
- Pros: Loud and clear while remaining light and portable.
- Cons: It may not be as sturdy as the other passive speakers.
The JBL JRX115 is a versatile 2-Way passive speaker cabinet, it has enough bass response to handle DJ requirements while having good sensitivity for use with live instruments. It is a complete speaker system that features a 15" woofer, 2" coil compression driver and a 90° x 50° horn. The compression driver is Ferro-fluid cooled and utilizes a titanium diaphragm which improves high frequency performance as well as reliability. Another notable feature is its Progressive Transition highfrequency waveguide which provides superior coverage control, reduced distortion, and smoother frequency response. Experienced DJs know that the clarity of the JBL JRX115 is unmatched within its price range, so might as well try one out. Retail Price: $300.
- Pros: This is an affordable speaker that has satisfied many DJs.
- Cons: This model is a bit outdated, which can also be a good thing because it means that it is still relevant.
Peavey PVx 15
DJs don't want haul around heavy gear, this is why we considered speakers that provide quality and stability while still being lightweight and portable. The Peavey PVx 15 provides all this while maintaining an affordable price point. Although it does not offer anything fancy, it will get the job done without sacrificing audio quality. It has a 15" neodymium woofer and RX 14 titanium driver that can handle a total of 400W RMS and 800W peak, more than enough for mobile DJ purposes. Exterior durability is provided by molded polypropylene shells and scuff-resistant steel grilles, ideal for busy DJs with regular gigs. Retail Price: $250.
- Pros: You won't find a better passive speaker within its price range.
- Cons: It is a bit bulky compared to other speakers of the same rating.
Let our readers know of your experience with various speakers for DJ purposes and you can also give your recommendations through the comments section.
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