How to Choose DJ Speakers: Things You Need to Know

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If you’re a DJ, then you know that good speakers are essential to your craft. There are a lot of factors to consider when choosing DJ speakers, and it can be tricky to make the right decision. In this blog post, we will discuss some things you need to know before making your purchase. We’ll talk about speaker size, wattage, and other important factors. By the end of this post, you’ll be able to choose the perfect DJ speakers for your needs!

Try Before You Buy

This is probably the most important piece of advice we can give you. Whenever possible, try to listen to the speakers before you buy them. This way, you’ll know for sure whether or not they’re right for you. If you can’t listen to them in person, then read online reviews and watch videos about the speakers. Pay attention to what other DJs say about the sound quality and durability of the speakers.

Local DJ Store

We always recommend supporting local businesses, so look up your nearest DJ store, introduce yourself, explain what you’re looking for and ask if you can see, hear and feel the speakers you might want to purchase.

The DJ store staff will be more than happy to help you out and might give you some good tips.

DJ Exhibition

You may have to travel for this option, and you may have to wait a while but this is another great way to test out some speakers before you spend that hard-earned money. Not only will you find manufacturers and distributors of DJ speakers, but you will probably also see national retailers that will have more of a range of speakers.

Both suppliers and retailers will have special offers, only available at that particular event, or they might have a voucher code for attendees.

Often, there will be a speaker sound test where the popular products will be showcased, and they should play the same track on each one for a real test.

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All Lit Up: JMAZ booth at DJX. MetroMix Media

Other DJs

If you can’t find either of the above examples to test speakers, you might have a friend or fellow DJ that you can visit to see what they use. Ask them questions, like why they chose them, what do they use them for, how much did they pay for them?

Even better – you might be able to see them perform at a gig with them, so you can see how they perform in real life.

What are you using the speakers for?

This is a really important question as it will help you in the decision process.

Club DJ

If you’re a club DJ, then you’ll need speakers that are powerful and can handle a lot of bass (although you’re not likely going to need to supply your own speakers for a club).

Mobile DJ

However, if you’re a mobile DJ, then you might not need as much power. You’ll also want to think about how big your venue is. If you’re playing in a large room or outdoor space, then you’ll need speakers that can fill the room.

You’ll also need to think about what type of events you’ll be playing at, as each can effect the requirements:

  • Children’s Parties
  • Birthday Parties
  • Christenings
  • Corporate Events
  • Weddings

Pub/Bar DJ

If you’re playing in a smaller pub or bar, then you might not need as much power or size. However, you’ll still want to make sure the speakers can fill the room.

Wedding DJ

Weddings are typically small- to medium-sized events, so you won’t need a ton of power. However, you’ll still want to make sure the speakers can fill the room.

You may also want to consider the overall look of your setup and the speakers. Often, white speakers are chosen for weddings as they blend in better with the decor.

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Image credit: AmplifiedDiscos.co.uk

Home DJ

If you’re just using the speakers at home, then you won’t need as much power. However, you might still want to consider size if you have a small space.

Now that we’ve discussed some things to think about before buying DJ speakers

Music Genres

Think about what type of music you’ll be playing, too. If you’re a hip-hop DJ, then you’ll need speakers that can handle a lot of bass. On the other hand, if you play more pop or rock music, then you won’t need as much power.

Audience

How many people do you typically play for? If you play for large crowds, then you’ll need more powerful speakers. However, if you play for smaller groups, then you won’t need as much power.

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Budget

Finally, think about your budget. DJ speakers can range in price from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars and up. The reason this is the last in the list is that it shouldn’t actually be the priority factor. Though it is obviously important, you should be looking at what you need rather than just what you can afford.

Now that we’ve discussed some things to think about before buying DJ speakers, let’s move on to the next step:

Specifications: What do they mean?

Watts, RMS, Frequency range… what does it all mean? Let’s break it down:

Watts (Power)

The wattage of a speaker is how much power it can handle. The higher the watts, the more powerful the speaker.

RMS

RMS stands for root mean square and is a measure of continuous power that a speaker can handle.

Frequency Range

The frequency range is the range of frequencies that a speaker can reproduce. The human ear can hear frequencies from 20Hz to 20kHz, so you’ll want speakers that can reproduce at least those frequencies.

Maximum level (SPL)

The maximum level is the highest sound pressure level (SPL) that a speaker can produce. This is usually measured in decibels (dB).

Size

The size listed on a website for speakers refers to two main things: the overall dimensions of the speaker unit, and the size of the physical speaker within the unit. For example, you could have 12-inch (12″) main speakers – that is the size of the speaker cones.

The bigger the physical speaker, the louder it can play.

Dispersion angle

The dispersion angle is the angle at which the sound from a speaker starts to disperse. This is important to consider if you have a large room as you’ll want to make sure the sound can reach all corners of the room.

Watt is important? – Excuse the pun, but actually the wattage is not as important as you might have thought. A higher wattage does not necessarily mean a better speaker. In fact, many club sound systems are powered by amps that produce less than 500 watts per channel. The reason for this is that club sound systems are designed to produce a lot of bass, which doesn’t require as much power.

The SPL is what you should be looking at if you want to know how loud a speaker can get. The higher the SPL, the louder the speaker.

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Active or Passive?

One final thing to consider is whether you want active or passive speakers.

Active speakers have a built-in amplifier, so all you need is to plug them into a power outlet and connect them to your audio source.

Passive speakers, on the other hand, require an external amplifier.

If you’re just starting out, then active speakers are probably the way to go. They’re less expensive and easier to use. However, if you’re an experienced DJ, then you might prefer the flexibility of passive speakers.

All about the bass

Do you need a separate subwoofer/s?

This is something you need to consider if you’re a hip-hop or EDM DJ. These genres require a lot of bass, which regular speakers might not be able to handle. In this case, you’ll need one or more subwoofers in addition to your regular speakers.

Similarly, if you regularly play large venues, with a wide range of music, the extra bass provided by a subwoofer will give you more flexibility.

Line Array or Traditional Speaker?

Another thing to consider is the type of speaker. There are two main types: line arrays and traditional speakers.

Traditional, point source speakers radiate sound in a cone shape. Line arrays, on the other hand, are made up of multiple smaller speakers that are vertically aligned.

Line arrays

These are made up of a number of smaller speakers that are arranged in a vertical line. This means they generally give good vertical coverage control, but the horizontal dispersal will be predetermined. They are often used in larger venues where the sound needs to reach a large area, such as an outdoor festival. Although there are more line array speakers available now for smaller events including club and mobile DJs.

They tend to consist of a number of smaller speakers that are arranged in a vertical line for the high and mid frequencies, with one or two larger subwoofers at the bottom for the low frequencies.

The advantage of a line array is that it gives you more control over the vertical dispersion of sound. This is important in larger venues where you need to make sure the sound reaches everyone in the audience, without being too loud for those at the back.

The disadvantage is that they can be more expensive than traditional speakers.

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Traditional Speakers

Traditional point source speakers, on the other hand, radiate sound in a cone shape. This gives you more control over the horizontal dispersion, but not the vertical. They are fairly modular, meaning you can use them in a variety of different configurations.

The advantage of traditional speakers is that they are generally less expensive than line arrays. They are also more versatile, as you can configure them to suit the event you’re playing.

The disadvantage is that they don’t give you as much control over the vertical dispersion of sound, so they might not be suitable for larger venues.

The make-up of traditional speakers is generally a cone-shaped midrange and tweeter for the high frequencies, with one or two subwoofers for the low frequencies.

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Size Matters

When it comes to DJ speakers, size does matter. The larger the speaker, the more bass it will be able to produce. However, you also need to consider the size of the venue you’re playing. If you’re a mobile DJ playing smaller gigs, then you might not need speakers that are too big.

Conversely, if you’re a club DJ or you regularly play large venues, then you’ll need speakers that are big enough to fill the room.

You may want to have a pair of traditional speakers with one or two subs for those larger gigs.

Research

Now that you know what you need, it’s time to start your research. The best place to start is online.

You can read reviews, compare prices, and find out more information about the different products. Make sure to read reviews from multiple sources, as some might be biased.

You can also find forums where DJs talk about their setups and ask for advice. This is a great way to get unbiased opinions from people who are actually using the products.

Once you’ve done your research, it’s time to start narrowing down your options.

Make a list of your top three choices and then compare them side by side.

Consider things like price, features, and reviews.

Connectivity

One of the most important things to consider when choosing DJ speakers is connectivity. You need to make sure the speakers you choose are compatible with your equipment.

The most common type of connection is a standard XLR cable. However, some newer models might use a different type of connector.

You may also want to think about other options such as a microphone input, 3.5mm socket for a phone or tablet, or Bluetooth connectivity.

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Accessories

There are other things you will need when buying speakers, and some things that are just nice to have.

Depending on the type and setup, you will probably need speaker stands or tripods to mount the speakers at the right height.

You will definitely need cables to connect your mixer or controller to the speakers, and power cables for your active speakers.

Cases or covers are a recommended investment, as they will protect your speakers from bumps and scrapes when transporting them.

Buying the speakers

Once you’ve made your decision, it’s time to buy your speakers!

Wherever you choose to buy your speakers from, think about the whole package, not just the cheapest available. You’ve researched your speakers, but make sure you do your due diligence on the store or supplier too.

Check reviews and make sure they have a good reputation. Find out if they deliver or if you can collect from the store or warehouse. Ask if they have after-sales support and how long for, including any servicing you may require.

Used/Second-hand speakers

You may decide to buy used speakers, and there are pros and cons to this.

The main advantage is that you can get some great deals on second-hand speakers. However, it’s important to do your research first.

Check reviews and make sure the speakers are in good condition. If possible, see and listen to them before you hand over any money.

Be aware that there may be no warranty with second-hand products, so if something goes wrong, you may have to pay for repairs.

Weigh up the pros and cons and decide what’s best for you.

Conclusion

Purchasing DJ speakers is a big decision. But if you take your time to research and compare your options, you’ll be sure to find the perfect set-up for your needs.

Now that you know what to look for, get out there and start shopping! And don’t forget, have fun!

FAQs

What should I look for in a DJ speaker?

The most important thing to look for is the range of frequencies the speaker can reproduce. You’ll also want to consider the power handling, as this will determine how loud the speaker can get.

What is the difference between a traditional speaker and a line array?

A traditional speaker has a cone-shaped midrange and tweeter for the high frequencies, with one or two subwoofers for the low frequencies. A line array is made up of multiple small speakers that are mounted in a line. Line arrays have a more focused sound, making them ideal for larger venues.

Do I need a subwoofer?

If you’re playing smaller gigs, then you might not need a subwoofer. However, if you’re playing club gigs or large venues, then you’ll need a subwoofer to add bass to your sound.

How do I connect my speakers?

Most DJ speakers have Speakon or XLR connections. Make sure your mixer has the same type of connection so you can plug everything in. Alternatively, some mixers have Bluetooth, so you can wirelessly connect your speakers.

What is the difference between active and passive speakers?

Active speakers have a built-in amplifier, so you don’t need an external amplifier. Passive speakers require an external amplifier to work. Active speakers are usually more expensive, but they’re easier to set up and you have more control over the sound.

How many watts should DJ speakers be?

There is a general understanding that you should aim for 5 watts per person for indoor gigs, and up to double that for outdoor gigs. However, it ultimately depends on the size of the venue and how loud you need your speakers to be.

I’m a beginner DJ. What speakers should I buy?

If you’re just starting out, then you might want to consider buying used speakers. This way, you can get some great deals on second-hand speakers. Just be sure to do your research first and check reviews to make sure the speakers are in good condition.

How many speakers should a DJ have?

Generally speaking, speakers should be used in pairs. This will give you the best sound quality and allow you to create a stereo image. However, if you’re playing smaller gigs, then you might be able to get away with just one speaker.

Do DJs need a subwoofer?

If you’re playing smaller gigs, then you might not need a subwoofer. However, if you’re playing club gigs or large venues, then you’ll need a subwoofer to add bass to your sound.

Mike is a Mobile DJ company owner, providing entertainment services for Weddings, Birthdays and other events for over a decade.

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