Competitive options clutter the PA speaker market. Being a music enthusiast myself, I’ve listed below the best passive PA speakers for you to add to your amplifier for any budget, room size, or event.
To me, there is one clear winner in this roundup – the JBL JRX215, due to its specific design being centered around music playback and live sound reinforcement.
Passive PA Speakers We Recommend
|Image||Passive PA Speakers||Power||Frequency Range||Dimensions||Weight|
$299.00 at Amazon
|250 W / 1000W||41 Hz - 18 kHz||(H x W x D): 699 mm x 460 mm x 432 mm (27.5 in x 18.1 in x 17 in)||27.4 kg (60.5 lb)|
|$599.99 at Amazon||400 W / 1600 W||46 Hz – 20 kHz||(W×H×D): 360 × 616 × 371 mm|
14.2 × 24.2 × 14.6 in
|23 kg / 51 lb|
|$329.00 at Amazon||250 W / 1000W||55 Hz – 20 kHz||(H x W x D) 610 mm x 356 mm x 356 mm (24 in x 14 in x 14 in)||14.9 kg ( 32.8 lb)|
|$169.95 at Amazon||1500 W / 3000W||35Hz - 22 kHz||(20.5+13.2)x13.8x46in||61.7 lb|
JBL is committed to providing a premier audio experience with its JRX lineup. That’s why, in this newer lineup of JRX speakers, JBL has taken significant measures to improve performance massively by removing all components that don’t directly impact sound quality.
Additionally, the parts that did remain were replaced with higher-quality components bought in bulk to mitigate a price increase. These upgrades help enrich the smooth, natural-sounding mid-ranges, as well as extended lows, with a frequency range between 41Hz – 18kHz.
The JBL JRX215 arrive in a sleek steel frame, providing excellent coverage control, and smooth frequency response. A 15-inch driver, alongside a 2-inch ribbon voice coil, allows you to experience the full depth of sound, while still optimizing for vocals to be heard loud and clear. Additionally, with a power rating of 250 watts continuous to 1000 watts peak, it allows for use in both quieter settings and noisier environments.
It’s dual-angle pole-mounted socket also enables it to be angled at 10 degrees downwards, providing a 90-degree coverage angle within the room. The acoustically superior steel closure also gives it a beautiful design while using the best materials for optimal audio performance. As a speaker specifically designed for live vocals, solos, speech, DJ, and music applications, I’ve selected these speakers as the overall best passive PA speakers.
Coming up second as a close competitor, QSC also aims to provide the passive PA speaker market with a quality product. Recently updated, it was designed to include a stronger subwoofer, with frequencies as low as 65Hz, making it a reliable choice for applications where budget or space doesn’t allow for a standalone subwoofer.
Similar to the JRX215, it features a dual-angle pole-mounted socket, allowing for a coverage angle of 85-degrees, compared to the JRX215’s 90-degrees.
The QSC E112BK comes with a 12-inch subwoofer, 3-inches smaller than JBL’s product, and a 3-inch vocal coil, which beats JBL’s by one-inch. These make for a less intensive bass experience but add more vocal clarity and depth. With a frequency response range of 64Hz – 20kHz, it doesn’t allow for the same deep lows as JBL but does allow for new highs to be heard.
It’s 15mm, 11-ply enclosure, with a perforated steel grill, arriving in textured black paint, is designed for ideal volume distribution. With a louder power rating, from 400 watts to 1600 watts, I’d recommend this speaker to those with budget or space constraints preventing them from adding a standalone subwoofer, or those looking for a louder alternative in a noisy environment.
Electro-Voice ZLX12 Full Range Passive Speaker
Ranking third, the ZLX-12 was designed as the ultimate solution for portability and power. Several inches smaller than alternative options, and also half the weight of comparable options, it makes it extremely easy to transport and mount.
Its sleek, all-black design looks great on a stage, while still providing the necessary power output to serve as a premier choice of passive speakers.
The ZLX-12 comes with a 12-inch subwoofer, comparable to the QSC, and a 1.5-inch vocal coil, compromising on size to reduce weight. Its frequency range is similar to the QSC as well, featuring slightly lower lows at 55Hz and the same highs at 20kHz.
These allow the speaker to provide quality bass, while still maintaining the ability to hit those higher-pitched sounds as well. Similar to our JBL winner, the ZLX offers the same coverage angle of 90-degrees, allowing for wide sound distribution across a spread out audience. However, it lacks the same steel frame as its competitors, swapping it for Polypropelyne plastic instead.
Still, it maintains the same power output of the JBL JRX215, being 250 watts continuous, and peaking at 1000 watts. Due to its lightweight construction, excellent coverage angle, and versatile power output, I’d select this as a terrific option for those demanding portability.
Yamaha Club V Series S115V
Yahama, one of the best-known music equipment production companies worldwide, created the S115V to provide artists a versatile yet powerful music speaker.
As the fifth-generation of the S115 lineup, it continues to refine the speaker series, including a larger enclosure for better low-frequency performance, and improved drivers for better power handling. Widely used among Gigging bands and mobile DJs, the speaker has excellent sonic performance, while still being an excellent value buy for those with a tight budget.
Similar to the JBL JRX215, the S115V comes with a 15-inch subwoofer and a 2-inch vocal coil. The more massive subwoofer, compared to Electro-Voice’s and QSC’s products, allows for a louder and more vibrant bass. With a similar frequency response to those two products, from 55Hz to 20kHz, it provides both deep lows and beautiful highs, expressing the fullness of the music being played.
Featuring a power rating of 500 watts continuous, and 1000 watts peak, it doesn’t give you the same level of control of the other options, but still allows for softer tunes and roaring chords. However, with power comes weight, and compared to our more portable option above, the S115V weighs in at 61lbs instead of 34lbs.
Optimized for music use, I’d recommend this product to my fellow rockstars, looking for a powerful option to echo their music throughout the audience.
Rockville RSG15.28 Dual Passive PA Speaker
Another music product speaker, designed for DJs, the Rockwell RSG15.18 is a budget-friendly alternative to our more premium options above, while still delivering similar performance.
The RSG15.28 features two subwoofers and three vocal coils, causing it to weigh significantly more than its competitors. However, built from lightweight materials, it weighs in at a surprising 31 lbs, making it a few pounds lighter than the other options.
The dual-subwoofers are both a whopping 15-inches, the three tweeters are 3-inches a piece, and the vocal-coil is a solid 2.5-inches. As this is a set designed for loudness, its power output crushes the others, at 2000 watts continuous, and 3000 watts peak.
While this is impressive, keep in mind that these levels of noise are reserved for large concerts, where sound needs to travel hundreds of feet out to the nosebleeds. The frequency range is also vast, allowing for frequencies from 33Hz – 22kHz. Due to the specs on this speaker being absolutely overkill, I’d only recommend it for a niche audience.
If you plan to host a large concert, requiring a noise-blasting speaker to drown out the cheers of hundreds of fans, then this speaker is for you.
Behringer Eurolive B212XL PA Speaker System
Another excellent budget option, the Behringer 212XL is a portable option that packs a solid punch at a reasonable price. Compared to the standard B212, the XL version features upgraded bass and treble/mid transducers for better sound and power handling. As far as portable options go, the B212XL weighs in super light at only 24lbs.
The B212XL features a 12-inch subwoofer like many of our previously discussed options and a 1.75-inch compression driver for vocals. The subwoofer is still large enough to pack a nice punch, while the vocal coil won’t have an ideal amount of clarity as other models with a large transducer.
Additionally, the power output is another thing to discuss, coming in low at only 200 watts continuous, and 800 watts peak. Due to these restrictions, this is a speaker designed to not roar in a cheering audience, but for smaller house gigs, or live speaking at a quieter event. However, I do applaud Behringer for this product, as they build their transducers in house, rather than outsourcing their development, retaining high-quality sound even with lower-end specs.
Another thing to note is while most of the other products come in just black, these speakers have an alternative color option in white, for those of you concerned with “the look.” So, for those on a budget, looking for a transportable speaker to fill a smaller room, this is the speaker I’d recommend.
JBL Professional JBL PRX425
To end this list, we’ll end right where we began, with the JBL PRX425. Rather than designed for all-around PA use, these are designed for those seeking a powerhouse for low-frequencies, specifically at venues like clubs or other entertainment centers.
Heavier and notably more powerful than their previous model, these speakers weigh in at a whopping 74 lbs.
The JBL PRX425 features two 15-inch subwoofers, but lack a vocal coil, unlike all other previously discussed options. Although these speakers still make speech intelligible, they are meant to deliver low-frequencies with a punch that will knock you off your feet.
The power output range is extensive, starting at 600 watts continuous, and up to a massive 2400 watts peak. That makes it perfect for artists requiring both somber and intensive moments. The frequency range is decent, dropping down to 48Hz for the lows, and up to an impressive 19kHz for the highs. However, for those concerned with size, this is not your speaker of choice, as these speakers are nearly 2x as large as the others we’ve discussed.
Due to the lack of a vocal coil, I’d recommend this speaker to those who are looking to play electronic/EDM type music at larger venues where that extra power would be useful to have.
What is a passive PA speaker?
Passive speakers are fashioned to work along with an exterior power amplifier – this could either be a powered mixing console or a standalone power amp. This also makes passive speakers lighter, easier to troubleshoot and maintain. Another advantage this setup provides is how it easily accommodates expansion as far as you remain within your amplifier’s limits.
Passive PA speakers are only ideal for sound engineers with some sort of expertise in mixing speakers and amplifiers without burning out the voice coils. Keep in mind that tweaking amplifiers to get volumes greater than their potential might fry these units.
How To Select a Passive PA Speaker?
When it comes to selecting a passive speaker, you should be concerned about the size of the venue, how noisy it will be, what types of drivers are featured, what frequency range to choose, and weight.
How many watts should a PA system have?
Size and noise both go in tandem – large events, as well as ones with lots of cheering or singing along, will require additional power to drown out the noise of the audience, and ensure that the sound reaches the far-end of the audience as well.
To start, you need to figure out how many decibels you require. From there, you can reverse-engineer how much wattage you need at the venue. The rule of thumb is that for 100W, you get 100dB of volume. If you double the 100W, the decibels increase by 3dB, going up to 103dB for 200W, then 106dB for 400W, and so forth.
As these are passive speakers, you need to factor in your budget. If you do not already have an amplifier to power the speakers, you need to consider the additional cost of purchasing one. More importantly, you need to ensure that your amplifier can pump in the required amount of wattage into the PA speaker. So, when analyzing this list, make sure you reference the peak wattage of each speaker, as that is the upper limit of its capability in terms of power.
Does the driver’s size matter?
Drivers are another factor you have to consider. If the event revolves around someone speaking, or is music-related and heavily relies on vocals, you would immediately want to look at speakers with a more substantial vocal coil. Similarly, if the music features tons of bass or low-frequencies, investing in a more massive subwoofer would be ideal.
The size and quality of the transducer directly correlate to the clarity of the noise. For professionals seeking out the best of both great vocals and booming bass, I’d recommend a 15-inch subwoofer with a 2-inch or larger vocal-coil. Those of you who are on a budget, you might have to settle for a smaller size to keep your price lower.
The frequency range is relatively simple to figure out. You want speakers that will be able to play the full range of sound that is being inputted, so determining what range of frequencies you need from your speakers is as simple as reverse-engineering your input.
For speaking events, the average human voice is between 85 – 180 Hz, so all of these options work. Meanwhile, for artists, I’d use your production software to analyze the frequency range in your tracks or recorded demos you’d want to play, and figure it out from there.
While most frequency ranges go up to 18kHz – 20kHz, often unutilized, low frequencies are what you want to watch for specifically. When it comes to entertainment, there is nothing like feeling the bass shake the hairs on your skin, so I’d ensure you purchase a speaker that reaches the lowest range you require.
Weight is another relevant specification to consider. If you’re someone who’s always on the move, moving speakers from place to place, you’d want something more portable to ensure the speaker’s safety during transportation on and off stage.
In the case where you primarily play at larger venues that require additional power, weight isn’t something to compromise on, and precautions to protect your speaker as it moves should be taken. However, for the indie artist wanting to spec out their production booth in a garage or room, weight isn’t an issue, as the speakers will rarely be moved once set up.