DJ Speaker Configurations

DJ Speaker Configurations

The range of professional PA speakers on the market these days can be extremely overwhelming especially if you are not 100% sure on what you require when you are a DJ starting out.

In working in the live music industry and working with many DJ’s in the past. I believe that all DJ’s should know how to choose the right configuration of their speakers either owned or hired for gigs.

Types of speakers

There are 2 types of speakers you can choose from: Active and Passive

Active – Active speakers are my recommended go to speaker for DJ’s as it is easy to setup and you do not require an external amplifier to power the speakers. You can get active speakers in various configurations of High/Mid boxes as well as subwoofers.

Today’s active boxes have other built in features that reduce the amount of outboard gear you require. The majority of active speakers have a built in limiter or compressor, which adds protection to your speaker so when it clips, it limits the signal the amp receives. Other cool features are inbuilt equalisers (EQ). These EQ parameters shape the sound for different uses, which results in not having to have outboard Graphic EQ’s and the knowledge to tune the PA. You can just plug’n’play.  These presets could be something similar to FOH, Monitor, DJ, Band.


Adding additional speakers to an active system is easy, all you do is link them together, as the speakers have built in crossovers allowing you to seamlessly connect all the boxes and you are ready to go.

The downside to Active boxes is you have to run signal as well as power to your speakers. You can conveniently get cables that loom both together making is simple to run from your mixer to speakers.

Passive – Passive speakers have one real advantage for DJ’s which is, you only need to run 1 cable to the speaker as it is powered through the amp you plug your signal into. In other words, you have an outboard amp in a rack, which is connected to your mixer and powers your speakers.

This is a simple concept, and flows well when setup correctly.

The great thing about passive is you can use what ever amp you would like to power your speakers. You can have a basic stock standard amp, or a digitalised one with limiter and compression features that protect your speaker and amp.

The only downside I believe with running a Passive system for DJ’s is depending on the size of your PA rig, will determine how many amps you have to bring with you. If you only have 2-4 High/Mid boxes than usually 1 power amp is sufficient, but when you get subwoofers into the mix, you will require another amp on-top of this to run them. With a subwoofer system, you will also require a crossover to ‘crossover’ your low-end to subs and mid/high’s to appropriate speakers.

When choosing your powered amp, you need to factor in wattage and impedance.

Using your speakers

I have seen many DJ’s operate they systems and they run them into the RED. This not only scares me, but sends shivers down my spine just waiting for the speaker to pop or the amp to start smoking as it is working hard limiting the signal coming in. No matter active or powered, amplifiers act in the same way, they amplify the signal that comes in. If that signal is hot, you are going to clip the amp, but if you have a nice signal coming from your desk to the amp, than you can drive the amp giving you more head-room on the mixing desk to add dynamics to your music. On your amp meters, NEVER GO INTO THE RED. Red = Danger

With active boxes, you need to be careful with your inputs that you select Line not Mic. Line input tells the amp that you are coming from a mixing desk, where Mic thinks that it needs to power a microphone. Always select Mic.

On some of the powered boxes we hire out, the line and mic settings are on the same knob without a switch. from 7 o’clock to 12 o’clock it is Line and from 12 o’clock to 5 o’clock it is mic.

What configuration should I go for?

It is time to either purchase or hire your rig. Things you should consider are:

Number of people you will be DJ’ing for.

0 < 100 – Can easily get away with 2 nice 12” Speaker boxes. This will give you a nice clean well rounded sound. If you require a little more bass, I would add in 1 x 15” sub.

Your other option is to use 2 x 15” speakers. You will have your bass, and top-end. The mid range frequencies can get a little lost but it is a good alternative.

100 > 250 – Similar as above, but will definitely need minimum of 2 subs, to push the air. The room size and shape has a massive effect in how big a system needs to be.

My standard configuration would be 2 x 12” speakers, 2 x 15” subs.

If you require a bigger sound, either double the entire system or have 4 x 12” speakers and 2 x 15” subs

300 < +

If you are DJ’in to 300 plus and you are required to provide audio, I would recommend dropping me an email and we can discuss the event, checkout the venue and organise a pa system that will work for a large venue.

Your investment

Purchase 12” or 15” speakers start from $500 to $1800 +  I recommend brands like dB Technologies, Turbosound and Behringer. (Depending on your budget)

15” Subwoofer you can pay unto $2000

Speaker Hire:


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