Small PA System Vs Monitor Speakers For DJing


If you're serious about becoming a DJ who plays outside of your bedroom, it might make more sense to invest in PA speakers like these right from the off.

There's certain gear we all know you need when you start out. Of course, you've got to have a laptop for DJing. You're more than likely spend some time choosing a DJ controller too. And you'll need DJ headphones. Next - usually - you'll choose some DJ monitor speakers.

But what if you want to DJ at parties with your gear, or envisage yourself doing paid DJ gigs sooner rather than later? Would it be best to forget the studio monitors, and buy a PA system instead, that can be used at gigs and maybe even at home too? That's the question we look at today in part one of this two-part DJ PA mini-series.

Advantages of owning a DJ PA system

BY "DJ PA system", we just mean a speaker set-up you can DJ in public with. The "DJ" bit is a bit of a misnomer, as such a PA would be usable for other purposes too. There's nothing inherently special about a DJ PA. In fact, compared to a band PA, a DJ PA can be much simpler - normally, you'll just run a pair of leads from your controller to the PA system and that's it - far less complex than trying to plug a whole band in.

Of course, any PA system you'd even consider using at home has to be small - we're talking something that might work for 50 to 200 people when used out. but probably around 100-150. Next week we'll name-drop a handful of them. But for now, let's look at those reasons why you might choose this route:

  • If you use your studio monitors or DJ practice speakers for parties, you'll break them. Apart from the fact that they're not designed for party use (home speakers are designed for close-field or mid-field monitoring, ie with you near to them, and not for filling rooms), such speakers are incredibly vulnerable at parties. They generally have no protection physically across the woofers and tweeters, but even if they do, it's not sufficient. But worse than that, they are not designed to compensate for when you push them too hard. You'll never push a speaker too hard practising at home, but at a full party, the number of people and the overall noise in the room will force you to run loud, and as drinks flow, trust me, the temptation to turn everything up to compensate for underpowered speakers will often win. Next stop? Blown speaker-ville
  • You'll get more gigs and better set times. If you own a PA, you'll suddenly get asked to DJ at parties. And what's more, even if there are 10 DJs on the night, hell, it's your PA! That means you can call the shots more easily, and usually bag the best sets for yourself. Harsh, but true. If you want gigs, owning the gear can help you to get them
  • You'll be able to hire yourself out. Want to make money from your DJing? Once you have a DJ controller, a laptop, some headphones and a PA system, you've got all you need to "be" a mobile DJ of whatever flavour suits you. Suddenly, you can provide gear and a DJ (you) for all types of events - especially if you invest in a microphone too to cover all bases. Look at it this way: You're a hire company as much as a DJ for rent. You can confidently ask for cash for these bookings. It's a good way to start to pay for your DJ hobby, even if you don't take this side of things very seriously

Disadvantages of owning a DJ PA system

Of course, every penny counts when you're starting out as a DJ, and maybe this money may be better spent elsewhere. Here are some counter-arguments to consider when you're deciding if going for a PA system is the right route for you:

  • A good PA system costs more than good monitor/practice speakers. You can buy a reasonable pair of speakers for practice for a lot less than you're likely to pay for a reasonable PA system, at least three or four times less. Sure you won't be able to use them for parties, but maybe the places you see yourself playing already have sound systems, and maybe it'd make more sense for you to hire a PA system for special occasions rather than own one outright
  • A PA system is not ideal for home monitoring. Apart from being big, they're generally not very stylish to look at in a domestic environment, and as they get the knocks and bashes inevitable in public use, they'll begin to look less so. Also, PA systems are designed to fill rooms, not sit in front of your face, and so unless your practice area is quite big, using your PA at home may not be the most comfortable or practical choice. Plus, you'll need to set it up at home again every time you return from a gig, rather than just leave it in your garage or wherever
  • You need to watch it when it's being used by other people. Take your PA to a party and you've got to look over it, which means watching drinks balanced on it, other DJs turning everything into the red, even thieves. It can certainly take the enjoyment out of a night's DJing if it's your gear everyone's using. And them you've got to get it home again at the end of the night...

Should you own both?

The ideal situation is probably to own a PA system and some home monitor speakers. That way you can DJ confidently at parties or small paid gigs, and have a stylish system at home for practising. But of course, this adds to the cost of your set-up quite substantially. Whether or not you ultimately choose to go for a PA system as your only system or as an additional speaker system will depend upon how much use you think you'll get from it, how much you think it will jumpstart your DJ career, and of course how much money you have access to or are prepared to spend on your DJing.

But it's definitely the case that for many DJs, owning a PA system is the gateway to more gigs, to paying gigs, and to leapfrogging other DJs in the same situation as them. In these cases, it may be just what you need.

Next week...

If this sounds like you, then the next article will assist you further. In How To Choose A DJ PA System, we look in detail at what you need to know to make an informed choice, as well as name-dropping some popular brands at different price points.

Hopefully by the end of that article, you'll be ready to do your research and get a system that suits you, whether you want a "one size fits all" solution, or some speakers purely to use in public venues.

Are you looking to add a PA system to your DJ set-up? Have you made the mistake of blowing up your home speakers by pushing them a bit too hard at a party? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments.

Get access to all our free DJ training!

Join over 150,000 Digital DJ Tips members to get exclusive free DJ training videos, articles & resources plus twice-weekly emails with the best of our tutorials, reviews and DJ news. It’s free, and you can unsubscribe at any time!


  1. Good and relevant article.I use in my set up at home the Genelec 8030 with a Sub and the sound is absolutely amazing. So amazing that i decided to start using at outside and bigger partys the same brand with the 8050 model. Big, big mistake. Although at first the sound was really outstanding ( especially close to the speakers)as soon as the party went from warm up to full throtle, the speakers started kliping and it was impossible to push the volume up. Thank God the genelecs were well protected ( they should, they cost a fortune)and i didn't damage them.
    So, i'm now looking for some PA speakers and can´t wait for your next article! Maybe some JBL ?
    M. Velasco

  2. Just the article I've been waiting for. I've recently been looking at getting a single active PA for small house parties because I don't want to blow my Rokits. Looking forward to next week's article

  3. Good article Phil!
    Owning a PA is definitely worth it. Even for house parties, especially outdoors. To begin it doesn't have to be massive,doesnt have to be enough to cover a big club. 2 full range speakers with stands and an amp will do to start with imho. Im really looking forward to the choosing a PA guide. I already own one but looking to upgrade. Oh and definitely would love a guide about choosing lights.

    I wouldnt go and buy dedicated monitor speakers though unless i was into production. Let's face it, if you love music and i assume 99,9% here do, you re bound to already have some sort of old/new home hifi, weather that's micro system with book shelf speakers, a mini hifi, something with separates, or even a home cinema with a sub. Even upper market computer speakers will do. Inmho, for 90% of us anything like that will do for home/practise purposes (the rest 10% i presume are audiophiles). Of course, if money is in abundance, then i wouldnt say no, but then that's more for the love of gadgetry rather than necessity!

  4. I'd encourage any DJ's looking to buy PA systems to think carefully before opting for a pair of full range PA speakers like the ones pictured in the article (not picking on JBL, many other manufacturers produce similar products).

    A lot (most?) of the full range PA speakers on the market are designed to produce a high peak output, but NOT across the full frequency range. Without additional processing, listening to a budget (or even mid priced) pair of speakers on stands going full pelt is a pretty harsh, unpleasant experience if your music has any significant bass content.

    Rather than two large "speakers on sticks", instead I'd advise you look for one or two subs and a pair of smaller satellite speakers as a starter system - HK audio do a number of good little systems like this IIRC. Provided you have a decent sub, you really don't need a big powerful speaker to provide the mids and the highs.

    There is another option, which is to use a processor between your mixer and the speakers to pull down the mid and high frequencies significantly. This will give a warmer more balanced sound. If you are a bit more technically minded this can result in a more compact system for smaller events.

    A pair of full range speakers on stands are ok for DJ monitors when playing on a large PA, or for amplifying live musicians, but are usually a bad choice as the "main system" for DJ's playing dance music.

    • I really agree with this viewpoint Colin. I see that you mentioned HK Audio. Are they a good choice, in terms of best bang for the buck? I have a very limited budget, but I'd much rather see if I can squeeze this kind of setup in, instead of the two "speakers on sticks".

    • Wont using a processor cause a delay on the master output??

    • Arkadiusz Mikina says:

      Hey Colin Brown

      Are you still there please?
      It's like 3.5 years on and.......wonder what you think about PAs.
      Do you still support the idea that it is better to go for a sub + satellite instead of 2 full range speakers on poles please?

      many thanks

  5. "Of course, you’ve got to have a laptop for DJing."

    Excuse me? :-)

  6. At home, I run a connection from my Controller into a desktop computer and use my existing Logitech Computer speakers which have a separate Sub-woofer under the desk. Works fine for practicing and stuff.

    However, I produce comedy shows and parties. So, I just purchased a pair of Mackie Thumps (TH-15A) 15" Powered Speakers. I love them so far. They really do have some good thump and sound good when cranked up.

    Because I do stand-up comedy shows, I run a mic into my controller and it sounds pretty good as well coming out the speakers.

    I may invest in a mixer next to give me a little more control. But for now, everything is solid.

  7. When I decided I wanted to start doing mobile DJ jobs I purchased Two Peavey PV215 Speakers and a 1000w amp. They were the best spec I could get for my budget. To be honest I didn't get the tape measure out before I picked them and they are rather large and awkward to move around. Two 15 inch woofers in each cabinet. They have served me well over the last 5 years many mobile discos, house parties, open mic nights and I use them at home because I don't own any other speakers. They have more than paid for themselves. I think you can pick a similar package up for around £550/£600. If I could go back I would have gone for a Sub and satellite package. The Peavey speakers are great when they are on a stage but putting them at floor level means the average persons head is above the speaker. In an ideal world A scoop bassbin or two and two smaller PA speakers like the ones pictured above would be perfect. I have given up on mobile DJn as I have decided to switch my focus to producing but I will be sad to see them go when I finally sell them.

  8. I recommend the Turbosound Milan 15 speaker, used either singly or in multiples. It has a built-in amplifier, sounds clear at domestic levels and maintains the quality when cranked up for gigs. You can start out with just one, as there are inputs for both the left and right channels of your stereo mixer's main output. Naturally, if using just one speaker, the stereo sound is mixed to mono. Stereo is a disadvantage in a gig situation anyway, as only a handful of the crowd can be in the right place to hear the correct balance. As a side benefit, a mic can be plugged directly into the Milan 15 for non-DJ events such as presentations, speeches, commentaries, etc. Not a cheap speaker, but truly excellent value.

    • Turbosound is TOP. I have the TXP121 for over 5 years now and people still complement me with the crisp sound of those small speakers ... most of the time they do not see the 18" sub that is underneath the dj booth 😉

      But to get back to the article. I have my own PA (as already stated) from time to time I rent and I played on a lot of in-house PA systems. You cannot compare a PA system with monitor speakers. 2 completely different use cases. A monitor = nearfield while a PA system needs to cover a a lot of space. A monitor = honest sound without color while PA systems have to sound crisp and without distortion on very high sound levels.

      Decent monitors cost you an arm and a leg ... and decent PA speakers also. But purely for DJ use you could easily buy 8" active PA speakers and use them as dj monitors and if you use them for parties add a a sub ... even a 12".

      • You're absolutely correct about the speaker definitions and about the price. I currently use two QSC K8s and a QSC KSub for a San Francisco bar and they are more than enough to fill- no, immerse the space even when the bar is packed while still being able to speak to your friend at the bar (over 150 people in the space), they ran over $3,000 for the kit (friend of a friend who works at a store type deal) but you won't need to go this big at first, just make sure any solution you consider uses the same PA speakers (don't mix and match, it's a real pain to try and balance and most of the time it sounds really bad when you do) and that the system is scalable (the ability to add more speakers to better fill out the space).

  9. I recently purchased the JBL EON 515xt speakers shown above which suit my needs and I am pleased with them. I am not one for ear-shattering bass and prefer good clean sound where people don't need to shout. Like any good audio setup, you have to tune your system to the venue you are playing in. The highs and mid-ranges are powerful on these JBL's, project well and these XT's have variable low and high end controls built in to supplement your other system EQ settings. They are good multi-purpose speakers.

  10. Michael L says:

    I prefer to rent PA systems when I need them (my main gig is in a club with its own system, but I do private parties on the side). I live in an apartment, and I just have no room to store big speakers in between gigs.
    Renting is a good way to check out different PA brands, too.

    • If you're renting equipment (from a company like V.E.R.), make sure you test the equipment, that all the parts are there (including power cords, screws for mount plates and that things aren't cracked or broken. Most of the time, you'll get a 24-hour assistance line and they should have the option for immediate replacement (within a few hours). Most of the time, they're very interested in having your business, but just in case, you might want to make sure they have equipment on stand-by just in case the gear doesn't operate as advertised. This is my professional advice but please don't take this as a mandate.

      • That's good advice. There's no 24-assistance line at the gear rental places where I live, so I've always tested the gear as soon as I get it home. I suspect many other renters are in the same boat.

  11. I am so happy to see this up on the blog! I have been chatting with a few people in the forums on this and would love to see more information on the topic. Thanks Guys!

  12. I use the Rockits 5 for both in home and giging as monitors. I have the behringer bd215 ($280 on sale) and the 1800proD ($599) as a sub and let me tell you that with just this set up alone I can cover close to 200 people. I've been waiting to grab another 215d but I dont see a need for it as my gigs don't exceed 200 people. I've had the set up for over a year and a half and not one problem.

  13. I've seen some of ya'll talk about what speakers you use. Keep it going. I'm new and budget is ok. How much for a pair of EON or should I look for something else?

    • It's important to make sure there is a subwoofer available for your family of speakers, it may seem like a lot of money for such a trivial thing "the boom", but it basically turns up the vibrance of the music. You don't have to get it at the same time you get the other speakers, but make sure you DON'T buy a subwoofer that isn't designed to "match" the speakers you're getting.

  14. These are really good EON speakers. I use these professionally at hotels and presentations ESPECIALLY when I use wireless microphones. The new generation of speakers are really something special and these are designed to handle a range of sound that would normally drop out. I have personally tested wireless lavalier mircophones (the kind you wear on your shirt with a wireless transmitter on your belt) and was astounded to find that I could go right up to the speaker and not get any "ring." These self-powered speakers also are much better behaved in the mid-range making a clean sound that almost seems unnatural because they sound clean at a much higher output level than previously made self-powered speakers, mainly because they are designed and built so well, but also partially because they're designed to work with and without a subwoofer much like the JBL VRX-900 speakers which are designed to operate independently, in a line array (speakers attached to each other in a vertical fashion) and with their subwoofer(s).

    If you have the opportunity, I strongly suggest getting these (even used if you can) because these new speakers are a lot better than larger self-powered speakers from 3 years ago at filling up your sound space.

  15. I have the Bose Compact L1 and I used only that for parties of 150 or less (I've been told that this system could do a room of 200). This system fills a room very easily. If you have $1000 to spare I recommend this system for small parties and for practice at home but I use a simple Bose Wave radio for practice.

    • I agree, it's a good concept - I was talking to their engineers at BPM about it and they were saying it's designed to fill rooms but not to deafen or hurt you when you're sat right next to it - sounds like the perfect compromise for home AND external use. Not cheap, though, as you say, and you really need two of them for stereo (well, you DEFINITELY need two of them for stereo!)

  16. Maybe it's good to clarify the terms we are taking about, esp. for non-native speakers:

  17. Bill Greenberg says:

    I got into hobby DJing recently. We have had some pretty bad DJs at my camp (kind of a resort/campground type of place where we spend most weekends.) Our Communications Director just bought a JBL EON 210P which I played around with a little to see how it worked and sounded. He suggested I should check out Guitar Center for used equipment, so I did.

    I found a new Fender Passport 150 system for $400 which seemed like it would meet my needs but was still more than I wanted to spend (remember, this is just a hobby.) They had a used Fender Passport 150 marked $250 so I figured what the heck? When they rang it up, though, the computer spit out $19.95. Yeah, that's not a typo - 20 bucks. OK, for $20 well worth it!

    Since then I've actually DJ'd a couple of casual potluck/dinner dances at camp for mostly friends. I'm still learning how to do this DJ thing but it's fun and better music than if I didn't have my kit. Last year I used to just plug my iPhone into the crappy stereo feeding the in-ceiling speakers in the Community Center - this is a step up. The Fender Passport 150 is just about adequate for a small room, maybe 50-100 people. Certainly not the best sound or the loudest but people seem happy.

    I evaluated a bunch of different DJ programs. I liked Djay but it was missing easy pre-cueing (I was screwing up the next song I wanted to play while trying to listen to another one) and good history (you have to remember to manually save your play list) so I moved on to VirtualDJ, which I like. I also messed with MegaSeg which was interesting but not quite what I was looking for. I pretty much just play some dance music for my friends off my MacBook Air (which I bought to do iOS development but never really did much with.) I learning how to sync and beat-match but for my small crowd it really doesn't matter that much as long as I'm playing some good up-beat tunes that everybody likes. I also bought some cheap lights off of eBay to add some ambiance.

    The scary thing is that the Recreation Director asked me to DJ an event after Thanksgiving. Uh, I'm not a real DJ (yet??)!! Better off hiring one of the good regulars to do an actual event...

  18. Willem van der Marel says:

    I remember the first gig I did about 30 years ago with the bedroom Amp and speakers... It could play real loud at home (until mum shouted to turn it down) but after playing top volume for about 45 minutes it just stopped because of the temperature rising. We had to cool it with ice-packs to get it going again.
    Since that first gig I've had a lot of more or less professional amps and speakers. Some of them good, others a little less.

    If you're on a budget, make sure to check second hand equipment on the various website that offer equipment in your area. There is a lot of good used equipment around. Just make sure that the speakers and amp work before you buy them.

    I used to have a basic set that I upgraded over the years to be able to do bigger gigs, have better sound and, not unimportant if you do a lot of gigs, equipment that could be setup quicker and handled easier during transport. All at a cost of course, starting with the mentioned 200€ bedroom set up to a set that cost well over 10.000€.

    Rental is always a good option. If you own a basic PA set that will allow you to do gigs up to 100-150 people you can always rent extra equipment should you need it for bigger gigs.

    In the end it is a matter of economics: if you do 2 gigs a year for 50 to 150 people, rent or borrow. If you start doing more and more gigs and you spend hundreds of euros a year renting, buying your own PA makes sense.

    One last remark from a Mobile DJ veteran: even though PA equipment becomes smaller and smaller, to produce good sound speakers need a certain size. This means that they're bulky. Keep in mind that you need storage for your gear, unless you don't mind using your bass cabinets as coffee table

  19. If you're really looking to get the most out of your system, you'll want to additionally get a 31 channel EQ, a flat mic (with cables) a pink noise generator (your computer hooked up to the PA) and a spectrum analyzer (you can get one for your laptop)... this process is called "ringing out the room" and it's very important for using microphones, but it's pretty important for balancing the room for sound. Move the falt mic to various spots in the sound space to see where your highs, mids and lows are, this will give you the best sound you do on your own... anything better will require a professional.

  20. Just get a pair of high quality 12" active full range speakers & you will be good to play most gigs! I went the amp & full range/ subwoofer route for several years, but more recently appreciate the active route overall!

  21. This is a brilliant article. I have a home theatre setup with Bose speakers, where i have can do my practice. For out door parties i have two sets of speakers for weddings (150pax max) i use the Bose Model-L1 and for school balls (300pax max) i use my good ole Peavey 115 internationals that i have had for 10 yrs and have never let me down.

  22. I literally just bought a PA system for my DJing and already am getting offers to play gigs. I however purchased a seperate pair of monitor speakers to act as, "portable" monitors. So I can leave my studio monitors at home safe Ann's sound. Keep in mind it's quite expencive to go this rout. To give you an idea I got:

    Mackie 450srm v2 (x2) = 1,199.99
    Mackie 1801srm sub (x1) = 699.99
    M-Audio monitors = 100.00
    Yorkvail speaker stands (x2) 150.00

    So as you can see its quite expencive compared to getting some monitors. But this artical said it will help you get gigs.. PAYING GIGS! And you could always start a wedding DJing buisness if you wanted.

  23. Chuck van Eekelen says:

    Howdy fellow jocks,

    I am in the fortunate circumstance that I have been in this racket for about 35 years and have come to the point where DJ-ing has paid for all my gear and then some.

    I only started buying my own gear some 6 or 7 years ago. Up til then I usually got hired to work for mobile disco's or venues with their own gear. In that (still predominantly pre-digital) period I just carried my CD case around and off I went.

    When I got more requests for doing smaller, but very well paying (private) parties and/or smaller, more upscale venues I decided to get a set up of my own. I have since upgraded a few times. My last PA upgrade was also the ultimate one in my slightly biased opinion.

    I did extensive listening tests and ended up buying a set of Mackie HD1221 speakers (I had 15" PA speakers but found them too bulky for smaller rooms). They are bi-amped i.e. separate (digital) amplifiers for high and low range. At 100W/500W RMS respectively they pack an enormously powerful punch. I have done 200+ parties with them without a problem. Running them full steam all night without as much as a sigh of complaint. Last year I ended up getting the HD1801 subwoofer to add some UMPH to the really low end. I was planning to get a second one, but after the first few gigs decided that this was a great balance, 1* 800W RMS 18" subwoofer and the two 12" speakers. Total RMS power 2000W RMS in a relatively small package I can fit into my Renault Kangoo with the rest of my gear (even some light) and cables.

    I could not be happier with this PA. They weren't cheap (it's not Behringer, American Audio or DAP) but they are certainly not the most expensive around and they sound absolutely phenomenal (sp?).

    As a bonus, they can be used as a floor monitor (might come in handy if you play over the house PA at a bigger venue) or as moreof a speech system (you never know who you find to hire your equipment. Easy three way switch determines the use and sound profile.

    So if you are going out to look for a new PA, be sure to check out the Mackie HD series. Find a dealer and have them run them from whisper to windowshattering loud. I am sure you'll love 'm.

    I don't get endorsed by Mackie, but using their products (just bought a 16 channel digital mixer from them for live sound application) has made me a true believer.

    Greetinx from Holland and keep on spinning!
    Chuck van Eekelen

  24. Thanks for an excellent article and I'm looking forward to more technical details and some compare/contrast info on different brands next time. I hope you'll be including stuff like: active / powered vs passive systems, importance of size of venue, how well different systems can scale up (i.e. adding extra speakers), how easy/difficult it is to transport different systems, how much protection is needed (bags, flight cases etc), importance of raising speakers off the floor and cost of tripods.

    I've been DJing professionally for about 10 years after a few years of hobby DJing. When I decided to try to make a living out of DJing, I wasn't at the stage where clubs were clamouring to hire me for 4 or 5-figure sums, fly me first class and put me up in a 5 star hotel with hot and cold running floozies on tap. I had to (and still do) rely on a fair few gigs of the "wedding/birthday party/corporate bash" variety - up to around 250 punters.These gigs often require a sound system. Renting from a sound/light company is a solution, but I soon realized that having my own reasonable sound system would allow ME to charge for it; cutting out the middle man and making extra money, offering a 1-stop-shop to the customer, plus having total control and peace of mind that the equipment actually works properly. I reckon I recouped my investment after about a year and a half of DJing.

    At the time, I went for the amp + 2 x passive speaker setup. I think I spent about 600€ for a solid no-frills Belgian brand JB Systems C2 450 amplifier and 2 Bravy PB500 passive speakers. They have served me well for over 10 years. Sound quality is pretty good - even without a sub woofer.
    I can *just* fit my entire soundsystem plus a large flight case with 2xCDJ1000s + DJM600 mixer, plus 5 crates of CDs (yes, I don't need a laptop to DJ!) into a VW Polo with the back seats down.

    This might be more relevant to discussion after next week's topic, but anyways, heres some things to bear in mind:
    If you're going for the amp + passive speakers: you'll probably want to get a flight case for the amp to protect it in transit. That means an extra expense to remember. Bear in mind how heavy it all is! Amps and speakers can weigh up to 30kgs or so. Another thing to bear in mind is cabling. I guess this will be discussed in the next article, but you need to make sure you get the correct cabling and factor in it's cost.

    Just a few thoughts!
    Onwards & upwards,

  25. foldabledisco says:

    I've got PA from Mackie, the Thump tops and one 18" woofer. They are up for the room I mostly play and they sound good in my opinion.
    The good part is that I rent them for a reasonable fee to other dj's that play in the same pub/bar and sometimes outside of that. I own them for about 2.5 year and I'm almost break even.
    My 'rental' price is very reasonable, because I don't want to make money out of it. It's more a saving for the possibility of replacement or repair.
    The best earnings are the friendships I built up through the rental or sharing my equipment.

  26. From my experience over the years, you are better off getting a matched PA & Amp package. Unless you really know your stuff, you need to get advice from a few live sound engineers and PA (electronic) technicians. Live engineers will know what sounds good, and repair technicians will know what lasts. Trying to match up PA speakers to amps is a pretty in-depth exercise, that can turn out to cost you a heap of cash if it's done wrong. So, before you go and talk to the sales man, go and get some SOLID advice. Get the best you can afford, you won't regret it.
    Remember that different brands have a different sound, and are aimed at different music genres. Go check out the gear at every gig you go to, get there early so you can chat to the technical staff. Go to an audio hire shop and ask them for advice, check out their brands (as they will use the long lasting hardy equipment) better still, hire as many different PA's as you can, before buying any of your own. Do your homework and you won't be disappointed.

  27. Great article. I bought a PA system last October. Definitely paid for itself within the same month of purchase. It's a great and easy way to earn some extra cash. If you're a club DJ, DJing house parties sometimes just as fun and they typically treat you like royalty... free booze and sometimes a place to crash if it is a late-night party.

    Definitely a worthy purchase!

  28. Hello friends.

    Great article and thread - kept me glued all the way to the bottom. Have read the other DDJT arts on this topic too (keep up the good work Phil!), but still unsure on the below...

    I'm looking to upgrade my home ‘practice’ sound system from the cheap, old and crapulous 90 watt Philips hi-fi I’ve used and abused for years. I’m mainly a bedroom dj but play the odd house party and club/bar night. I’ve done a fair bit of research and am currently leaning towards entry level studio monitors, but have got some fairly specific requirements and wonder if you can help me make a decision – please bear with me on this!...

    I need a set up that:

    -Is fairy compact in size (i.e. will fit in my flat – preferably nothing bigger than, say, a pair of KRK Rokit RP8 G2s)
    -Is preferably active/powered, both for convenience in set up and reduced size
    -Is fairly loud with full bass – I’ll mostly be using these at home to mix bass-heavy dance (DnB / Garage / House etc) at low-moderate volumes so as not to annoy the neighbours, but want to be able to fill a smallish room of 20-40 people with a good sound when playing the odd house party etc. Taking the speakers out to parties is a secondary requirement, and if I needed a system for a ‘proper’ gig I’d hire a big PA, but would like to be able to pump it when needed! Having heard them in action, the active Alesis M1 MkII’s would easily suffice in terms of volume requirements.
    -Has a reasonably good sound. I’ll only be using these for djing and I don’t produce, so I don’t need pro-quality flat monitoring and don’t really want to pay for this when I don’t need it. But would ideally like a good range (particularly at the bass end) and a half-decent level of honesty so I can effectively practice my Eq-ing in the mix
    -Has some form of protection / will take a little abuse ... While I don’t intend to run things in the red, you know how it gets at house parties after a few drinks (as Phil has quite rightly alluded to!!). While I’m leaning towards studio monitors I know these can easily get shredded by rowdy mixing and the over generous (drunken?) boosting of gains and master volume in packed rooms.
    -Is good quality – I’d rather go for reliable pro-brand gear with no frills rather than budget brand with bells and whistles (love Denon, Technics and Pioneer for turntables / mixers etc)
    -Is affordable. My max budget is around £150 / US$200. Very low, I know, but I’ve found pairs of decent b-stock studio monitors (M-Audio BX5s, active Alesis M1 MkII’s) for this much or slightly more and am happy to buy used gear from reputable suppliers. Not too keen on ebay and the like though.

    So the question is: Studio monitors or small active PA system?!

    Active PA cons:
    My current logic is that the size limitation issue rules out a PA system. 2 speakers and a sub (and an amp if not active) is just too space consuming. I doubt if an active PA small enough for my flat (ref my Rockit RP8 guide mentioned above) will be loud or bass-y enough. I also understand that PAs don’t give a great sound at low-ish volumes, which is how I’ll mostly be wanting to mix at home.
    Active PA pro’s:
    Could take a bit more of a hammering without blowing than a pair studio monitors. Not near-field so better for occasional house parties. Also more physically robust. Perhaps a bit cheaper too.

    Active studio monitor cons:
    Liable to get shredded when cranking for a crowd: While I will only be doing this rarely, it only takes one idiot one minute to blow them! Less physically robust too. Also will possibly be paying for accuracy in sound reproduction that, while nice (particularly for playing at low volumes at home) isn’t strictly necessary. Near-field speakers, so less useful for playing parties, but this is not a huge problem (probably wouldn’t matter too much for the type of party I’m thinking of)
    Active studio monitor pros:
    Nice sound quality for mixing at home at low-moderate volumes. Good range / bass response (depends on model obviously). Relatively compact and easy to set up / move around, look nicer in a home environment too (this will appease my girlfriend).

    As mentioned I have found some decent entry level studio monitors within my budget – I’m all but decided on the (used) Alesis M1 MkII’s, but the relative ease of blowing studio monitors has given me second thoughts. It seems that a sound system somewhere between a small active PA (a little more robust) and active studio monitors (compact, louder for their size, good sound quality) is what I need!

    Does such a thing exist within my budget? Should I just go for the monitors and be very careful with master volume levels? Is anyone still awake after reading all of this? :)

    Thanks in advance guys - your advice will be very much appreciated!


  29. Thanks for getting back, Phil.

    To clarify, do you refer to the Alesis M1 MkII’s with your above comment and therefore recommend them as reasonably suitable?

    Also, do you have any tips to avoid blowing them while mixing, other than keeping the eq's in the green of course!?

    Thanks again

  30. scott mackenzie says:

    hi my wife and i just bought a hercules mk4 dj mixer and 2 m audio bx8 d2 100 watt moniter speakers and a 300 watt polk audio psw111 sub for our son for xmas. Can you help me figure out the wireing of these speakers and sub to the mk4 mixer. This system is for practice in his room and he would rent larger pa speakers for events. He is brand new to this as am i any help i could get would really be appreciated. thankyou.

Have Your Say