You’ve been gigging for a while now at bars and pubs, maybe you’ve even done a private parties where you took along your DJ gear. That’s awesome – getting out of your bedroom and in front of people is part of your evolution as a DJ.
But maybe you’ve begun to realise that you want to do more house parties and Sunday barbecues and you want more “oomph” from your kit that will really kick the vibe up a notch instead of using a small Bluetooth speaker. Or maybe the bars you play at have poor sound systems that you wish you could do something about because you know it’ll make for a better atmosphere.
That’s what goes through the mind of a mobile DJ: it’s all about providing a better experience for your audience. Today’s loudspeakers are cheaper, lighter, and more compact than backbreakers from the 20th century, which makes taking along speakers even more financially and physically possible for the one man mobile DJ crew.
In this piece we’ll go through five active loudspeaker options at different budgets for those wanting to get into mobile DJing.
5 PA Speakers:
1. Alto TX210
Specs: 10″ woofer, 300W, 7.6kg
Price: US$169 each
If you’re just starting out and you’re on a tight budget, these Alto TX210s are a great place to start. They are compact, light enough be to carried and set up by one person, and they’re cheap. A pair of these can power a house party, backyard barbecue or even a small pub. It doesn’t have an onboard mixer though, so if you plan on plugging in a mic or other line input device like a synth, you’re going to have to do that via your DJ controller (or a separate PA mixer if you have one).
Buy it now: Alto TX210
2. Mackie Thump 12A
Specs: 12″ woofer, 1300W, 16kg
Price: US$299 Each
Another good option for budding mobile jocks is the Mackie Thump series. The Thump 12A model packs a two-channel omni input (ie lets you plug either an XLR or 1/4″ jack), switchable EQ settings to tailor-fit the speaker response, and a Mix Out jack that lets you daisy chain other Mackie Thump speakers of different sizes. That means you can start out with a pair, and then add more speakers later on as needed. At 16kg per piece, the Thump 12A is still light enough to be transported by and set up by one person, which makes getting in and out of gigs easier.
Buy it now: Mackie Thump 12A
3. Samson Expedition XP1000 PA System
Specs: 10″ woofers with 10-channel mixer, 1000W total (500W each speaker), 24kg
In the middle of this list is this portable package from Samson that consists of two 10″ loudspeakers and a 10-channel mixer with built-in effects and Bluetooth connectivity. It also supports Samson’s wireless microphones which are sold separately. This is more for mobile DJs who need to accommodate a variety of inputs such as microphones, instruments like keyboards, as well as other playback devices like media players.
Bluetooth connectivity means you can connect your smartphone and play from Spotify too. An all-arounder for the soon-to-be full-service mobile pro which can also be used for non-DJ applications should the need arise (karaoke party, anyone?)
Buy it now: Samson Expedition XP1000 PA System
Should I add a subwoofer?
A subwoofer is a specialised speaker that only plays back very low frequencies. These allow people to “feel” the bass, which is a huge part of the clubbing experience.
Subwoofers in a mobile DJ set-up depend on a few things: the number of people on the floor, the size of the venue, and whether or not it’s essential to recreate that feeling of being on a club’s dancefloor.
If you’re doing functions in smaller venues where big, powerful bass isn’t needed (ie people aren’t necessarily going to be dancing) you can skip the subwoofer and maybe go for PA speakers with larger woofers (eg 12″ or 15″). But if you’re doing parties and weddings where dancing is a top priority, having a sub or two can really bring people to the dancefloor and create a more powerful party mood, especially with bass-heavy music like hip-hop / trap and EDM.
4. RCF ART 732-A MK4
Specs: 12″ woofer, 1400W, 17.6kg
Price: US$899 each
For those with bigger budgets and are looking for speakers that will grow along with their skills and reputation, these RCF speakers are your first port of call. They are a great value because they sound amazing and are built to withstand the rigours of the road, but have a pricetag that won’t necessarily break the bank and, more importantly, can be recouped after a few gigs.
My current wedding set-up consists of a pair of these on top of subwoofers, and they are worth the price of admission: I’ve not had problems with them, they sound brilliant, and they bring so much energy to my dancefloor. Setting up with clarity and power in mind are key to recreating a club atmosphere at a function, and that’s how I’m able to bring the party to my shows with confidence.
Buy it now: RCF ART 732-A MK4
5. Pioneer Pro Audio XPRS12
Specs: 12″ woofer, 1200W, 23.1kg
Price: US$1099 each
Last on this list is an aspirational speaker set from Pioneer Pro Audio: the XPRS12 packs a heavy punch and sound absolutely fantastic. I DJed a burlesque performance and after party (it was in a small performance gallery that could hold 150 people) and it was crystal clear with beautiful mids and powerful bass. The only downside is that they’re quite pricey and are the heaviest compared to the other models in this roundup (the cabinet is made of birch plywood – go figure), so if you’re setting up solo and you’re on the shorter side (like me!) you may need a bit of help getting them set up.
That said, if I had a few thousand dollars lying around, I’d throw my money at these and take them to every gig (and maybe hire someone to help me get set up). They sound that good – just take care of your back!
Buy it now: Pioneer Pro Audio XPRS12
Having your own loudspeakers means that you can play anywhere, long as you’ve got mains power. It also means that if you actively gig in a town where underpowered / bad sound systems are the norm, you instantly set yourself apart from every other jock when you take them along.
Not only does this lead to a better sonic reproduction of your performance, but you can also use it as leverage to negotiate higher DJ fees at venues: this works especially well for restaurants and cafes where DJ sets and parties only happen on weekends. Instead of them investing in speakers for parties, just have them pay you extra for your speakers.
Having your own PA set-up gives you flexibility, lets you DJ at unusual venues, and ultimately lets you gig more. What’s not to love?
What PA speakers do you use? Which brands would you recommend to our readers? Let us know in the comments.