A good PA system is essential for any mobile DJ as offering an event package becomes much more appealing to a customer. Many DJs will have either passive or active speakers and knowing the difference between the two is important for every mobile DJ to know. 

Picking the right speaker often makes a great difference in the quality of sound. Whether you are a novice or a professional DJ, it is important to pay attention to the standard of your equipment, and to select the speakers that will suit you needs in order to conduct an event that will not only run smoothly but will sound great as well.

All speakers are different and whether you are playing to 100 people or 1000 people choosing a speaker that can accommodate audience size is a key component

Throughout this post we will explain the different features of PA speakers and why choosing the right speaker system is so important. 

Watts and Speakers

Watts measure the power of a speaker. The power of a speaker is what pushes the volume of an audio signal. The higher the watt doesn’t necessarily mean the louder the sound and this can be determined through frequency responses and other audio statistics. 

RMS Power vs. Peak Power

The peak power is what a speaker system can handle when it comes to spikes in audio but is not the recommended power for a continuous stream of audio. The number to look for is the RMS rating which measures continuous power. This concerns passive speakers mostly but it is important to understand the power capacity of your system to avoid blowing a fuse or frying your speaker. 

Active speakers are powered speakers which usually have an amplifier and crossover built into the same housing as the speakers; however they can also support external amplifiers, and cross over components. They are suitable for all types of use including outdoor festivals or indoor discos and weddings. 

The wattage on powered speakers depends on the power of an internal amplifier and the speakers are usually linkable as each speaker will usually have an “IN” for the source of the audio and an “OUT” to connect to another speaker. All you need to get started is a mixer, XLR cables and a good set of active speaker as the powered cables are simply connected by a single line cable from a mixer.

They are versatile and resilient as if one speaker fails during your gig you can use the other. Any part of your active system can be used independently or be added to. Alongside this the volume on powered speakers is controlled on each speaker and the speakers connect directly into the mixer, so if you are a DJ looking for a simple, user friendly, and all-in-one solution, then powered speakers are for you. 

Passive speakers are unpowered speakers and they do not have a built-in amplifier so therefore need to be connected to a separate amp or powered mixer using the speaker cables. Signals received at the speaker are powerful enough to render the sound without any amplification. The passive speakers feature crossover components, which split the audio signal and send each band directly to the loudspeaker drivers and a separate power amplifier that sends the full audio signal to the speakers.

Passive speakers do have a complex set up as they require routing the connection from the controller to an amplifier and from there on to the speaker. They are lighter in weight, easy to transport and can used both outdoor and indoor. The speakers do not need mains power but they must be matched to the power rating of the amplifier or mixer, therefore making your system slightly less versatile than an active one.

Users must keep in mind that wattage is crucial when it comes to passive speakers as those ratings determine which amplifier matches the speakers that are being used to avoid distorted sound. 

The user can add additional amplifiers, speaker management systems and upgrade different components of the system separately in order to customise their setup. Ideal for larger venues and installations, passive speakers are most suitable as they provide flexibility and both speaker and amplifier can be independently upgraded when required. 

Overall buying speakers as a mobile, beginner or professional DJ is essential and it can be a tricky process. There is a variety to choose from and it all depends on what suits your application and needs. 

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