Choosing Between PA Speakers

What is a good PA speaker worth?

A 12” 2 way speaker (the most commonly sold type of box for PA use) can vary in price from £40 through to £2500, and there are lots of engineers who feel very strongly about different brands being better than the next, but I simply want to ask, ‘What should you pay for a speaker system you will be happy with?’

Let’s start off by looking at the extremes…. ultra-budget, and the ultra-high-end of the market.      

When you are looking at speakers that are in excess of £1000 per speaker you are dealing with very good equipment.  You are getting established research-led designs, high quality materials and components that are manufactured to high levels of consistency.  Top engineers will be arguing about the relative merits of them on industry blogs but for the most part the tuning and application of the whole speaker system will make more difference than the brand.

With sub £100 speakers you will get a speaker which will be reasonably loud but the speaker will not sound sweet, be durable, or behave consistently (think of it like listening to a louder version of your ‘phone’s internal speaker!). These speakers are perhaps appropriate for people piping a bit of background music at a market stall or maybe for a pub quiz but not for any application where people will listen to the music with any level of attention, and if you use it for live use the chances are you will be replacing them very soon.  


Ignore any specification you read on ultra-budget speakers as they are totally fictional.  I read 127db peak power from a £40 speaker specification which I wouldn’t recommend attempting unless you want it to catch fire!

After this point you then have some low to mid-budget speakers.  These are usually your plastic cabinets.  They are often active units and you should be able to expect a compression driver for the tweeter and some more helpful data.  These speakers vary a lot – you will find some are really useable and some are not, and this will depend on what you need them for, as well as your taste.  Lots of people use Mackie SRM350 speakers, but to my ears the treble sounds very brittle/harsh and does not resist feedback too well.  However, some models like Yamaha DXR12 and QSC K12.2 are decent speakers.  They will give you a good sound for £650/£800 each but now you are heading towards the professional price range but not quite getting the professional tools.

When you hire speakers from CMS PA Hire you will receive outstanding professional quality speakers that are worth in excess of £1000 each after you include the amplification.  That might be beyond the budget of many people.  Some of them might be heavy but they will deliver great sound in a controlled way and are quoted with genuine, relevant specifications.  Even our active speakers have unique Crown amplification and the latest neodymium drivers.  Call for deals.


CMS PA Hire has been operating out of central London for 10 years and has been specialising in bringing high end ‘touring quality’ sound to small and medium sized music events. 

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