Powered speakers contain their own amplifiers, a feature that makes them a bit more versatile than passive speakers. They can be used with a turntable (without needing other equipment), as computer speakers, or BT speakers and deliver a powerful and impressive audio experience.
In addition, the best powered speakers come with high-end amplifiers, which are usually well-matched to their driver, so you won’t need to think about an upgrade anytime soon. However, you need to know a bit about the internals of a powered speaker in order to know how to choose the one that’s best for you.
To help you out, we put together a short but comprehensive how-to segment and reviewed some of the best products on the market. Even more, the products we reviewed cover a wide range of preferences and budgets.
How To Choose The Best Powered Speakers
One of the main reasons powered speakers are so popular is that, in spite of being compact, they can deliver booming, powerful sound. However, you don’t want the low-end to be overwhelming or sound distortions on higher volume levels.
Look for speakers with high-quality cabinetry, dampening elements, good wiring, and more. As you can see from our reviews, a good powered speaker has a nice mix of drivers that cover the whole sound spectrum and support a wide frequency response.
Most speakers will have a standard headphones port (3.5mm) and an AUX input. This is enough if you plan on using your powered speakers for home entertainment (movies, games, music, and so on).
But, if you want a bit more control, you may want a device that supports Bluetooth connectivity. This will allow you to stream audio from your phone or tablet and control volume and tracks from a distance.
Lastly, if you want a more versatile speaker, you should choose one that accepts a wider range of inputs such as XLR or RCA.
Where are you planning on using your powered speakers?
If you want one for home entertainment, a compact design, with BT and high-quality cabinetry is more than enough. However, if you want one to help your stage performance, you should consider an all-in-one system that comes with a mixer, signal processing, and sound effects. These are easy to set up in minutes and some even come with power stabilization features (to avoid interferences from unreliable power grids).
Best Powered Speakers
Edifier R1280T Powered Speakers
The Best Powered Bookshelf Speakers
Support two Aux inputs, which makes it easy to connect them with any device that has a 3.5mm and/or dual RCA output. It also means you can connect to two devices simultaneously.
In addition, the speakers can be controlled remotely using the included remote control with access to volume settings. If you want to adjust the bass and treble settings, you’ll find them on the side of the main speaker.
The high-quality MDF wood cabinet of each speaker houses a 13mm silk dome tweeter, a 4-inch full-range bass driver, and built-in bass reflex ports. All this technology is fine-tuned to create natural sound reproduction with robust, rich bass notes and amazing clarity and balance. The same cabinets provide a classy design that lets users place these speakers near a computer monitor, a turntable, or a TV.
The R1280T powered speakers from Edifier are some of the most versatile bookshelf speakers at such an affordable price. They bring a lot of value for the money!
- Elegant MDF wood cabinet that looks classy
- Good sound capabilities and nice low-end
- Dual RCA input
- Can be used with a wide range of devices
- Bass, treble, and volume can be adjusted
- Great value for the money
- No wireless connectivity
- There is no max for volume up or down (on the side knob)
- No indicator for maximum volume
The Best Powered Speakers for a Turntable
Whether you’re looking for some amazing bookshelf speakers for your bedroom or you live in a small apartment, the R-51PM speakers are the ideal choice. These speakers don’t occupy too much space and don’t come with a lot of cables. Also, the wood-like cabinet encompasses Klipsch’s famous horn tweeters and copper-colored woofers (hidden under the magnetic cloth cover).
Like many models this size, there is a master speaker (the right one) and a passive one that’s connected to the main one via a wire. This does somehow limit the range between them, but there is enough space so the speakers can frame a PC monitor, a turntable, or a smaller TV screen.
In terms of sound, these speakers are powerful for their size (due to the integrated Class D amp) and can dynamically match the ear’s ability to hear lower frequencies (Dynamic Bass EQ). The sound is warm and rich, with impressive detail on the low-end.
R-51PM speakers support several types of connectivity such as Bluetooth, digital optical (for a TV), analog RCA (3.5mm port), and USB (for PCs). There’s also a phono preamp or line input for a turntable and a sub out if you ever want to add a subwoofer.
- Impressive design with or without the magnetic cover
- Easy to set up with a wide range of devices
- Bluetooth & wired connectivity
- Good low-end representation due to the Dynamic Bass EQ
- Built-in Amp and DAC
- The cabinet material can feel cheap
- The phone stage is lacking
Audioengine A5+ BT
The Best Powered Speakers for DJs at The Start of the Road
Cute, compact, easy to transport, and undeniably loud for their size – the Audioengine As+ wireless speakers are among the best DJ speakers for beginners. The 100ft Bluetooth range and the remote control allow you to make changes on the fly, while the 24 Bit DAC and built-in analog amplifier take care of the booming sound volume.
Given their size and build, you’ll see them used in a wide range of scenarios from PC speakers (for music, movies, games) to wireless bookshelf speakers (for more refined tunes). Luckily, the aptX HD Bluetooth codec is just perfect for delivering audiophile quality sound from a streaming service!
In addition, these speakers accept other inputs as well (RCA & 3.5mm jack). As such, regardless of the device, you decide to connect, the sound quality will always be rich in detail, clear, and voluminous. This is due to the custom Kevlar woofers and silk tweeters built inside the hand-crafted MDF wood cabinets.
Lastly, the speakers are magnetically shielded to reduce any interference from neighboring devices.
- 150 watts of combined peak output
- Compact design that’s easy to move around
- 100ft Bluetooth range
- Easy to set up and connect with a wide array of devices
- Stellar sound quality for their size
- Three connection types (BT, RCA, and 3.5mm)
- The price is a bit high
- Could use more diversity in the type of available connections
JBL Professional 305P MkII
The Perfect Powered Speakers for a Small Space
Audiophiles love the crystal-like clarity and richness of a turntable, but not everyone has access to one. Luckily, with a speaker from the MkII series from JBL, most devices will sound a lot better (especially if you’re new to this).
This speaker features a 5-inch driver, next-generation JBL transducers, new Boundary EQ, and a modern design that fits any room. While it may be small, it is perfectly capable of filling any small or medium-sized room with sound.
Equipped with a broad sweet spot, this is a speaker that will deliver impressive sound quality and bass power even when placed near a wall. While tiny in appearance, this is a speaker capable of producing 82 watts of power (built-in Class-D amplifiers) at 94dB (108dB in peak power).
- Sleek & modern design
- Sound with stunning detail and precise imaging
- A wide sweet spot
- Great dynamic range
- Superior deep bass response due to JBL patented technology
- Frequency range: 43 Hz – 24 kHz
- They can get very loud for common use
- There is a noticeable hissing sound when you power them on
Ideal For Streaming, Music Production, and Entertainment
Compact and modern-looking, these powered speakers manage to deliver an amazing audio experience that’s both clear and punching (the 120-Watt power is quite exhilarating). While the producer promotes the BX3 as computer speakers, users can connect them to a wide range of devices such as phones, tablets, gaming consoles, and even TVs.
This is possible due to the multi-connectivity feature (1/4”, 1/8”, headphones, and RCA inputs) and impressive build. The acoustically-inert MDF cabinets have bass-reflex capabilities which creates a smooth low end. In addition, this pair of speakers (one passive and one active) is fitted with Kevlar low-frequency drivers and enhanced rear ports that help increase low end and improve the gaming and movie experience.
- Powerful pair of speakers (one active and one passive)
- Well-built for the best audio performance
- Multiple connectivity options
- Punchy bass & low end
- The front-panel controls could be better
- The cables may need replacing
Solid BT Multimedia Monitors for your Desk
Compact and modern-looking, the CR3-X powered speakers are designed to fit the modern user’s desk (be it at the office or at home). The design is simple, with a touch of color that adds an elegant note to the entire ensemble.
In terms of performance, the speakers can produce 50 Watts of powerful and clean sound, and come with one 3″ polypropylene-coated woofer and one 0.75″ ferrofluid-cooled silk-dome tweeter. In addition, you can use them for a wide range of applications, from home entertainment to creating content and upgrading your home studio.
In addition, these speakers can be connected to a wide range of devices due to the multitude of wired connections they support (1/4”, 1/8”, RCA, and headphones).
- The sound is accurate, clean, and powerful
- Supports several wired connections
- Can be used in a wide range of situations
- Compact and sleek design
- Not for high-end professional studios
Presonus Eris E3.5
Reliable Powered Speakers with Impressive Features
Presonus is a brand with a good reputation in the audio world, and this can be seen in the E3.5 design.
Besides looking extremely dashing (high-quality industrial design), these speakers are fitted with protection against RF interference, over-temperature, and turn-on/off transient. As a result, their performance won’t be affected by surrounding devices.
Considering their rather compact appearance, it’s easy to think there won’t be much bass coming from them. However, the 3. 5-Inch woven composite low-frequency drivers would disagree. The E3.5 speakers are quite intense in terms of bass and the sound accuracy is close to perfection.
In addition, the system allows for acoustic tuning, which allows users to adjust the sound according to the surroundings. Lastly, these speakers are fitted to be used with a wide range of devices due to the front panel that features a stereo aux input, headphone jack, volume, and power on/off, for your convenience.
- The sound is rich and clear
- A very accurate sound stage
- The ‘acoustic tuning’ feature allows for a more precise customization
- Aux & headphones port in the front
- Professional & elegant design
- The cables are rather mediocre
- The cabinet build feels a bit cheap
Yamaha HS5 Powered Studio Monitor
The Best Speakers for Home Entertainment
The HS Series speakers provide users with honest and accurate sound experience in a compact and durable package. The cabinets are designed to eliminate unwanted resonance and the speaker port incorporates advanced noise reduction technology. Also, the material used to build the cabinet is a dense and resilient MDF with a damped acoustic response.
On the inside, these speakers feature a 5″ cone woofer and 1″ dome tweeter, supported by a bi-amp system for high-performance with 70W power amplification. As a result, these speakers can provide an impressive frequency response (54Hz-30kHz) and high-resolution sound with an exceptional representation of the sound spectrum.
Lastly, the speakers are fitted with room control, which allows you to adjust the low-end output if the speakers are placed next to the walls. There’s also a high trim feature that controls the high-frequency response. In addition, the HS5 speaker works with a full range of devices such as mixers, keyboards, and audio interfaces with XLR and TRS phone jacks.
- The sound quality is truly impressive for its size
- Solid build that’s d durable in time
- Can be used with lots of different devices
- Good frequency response
- Advanced audio technology
- Great value for the money
- No BT connectivity
- A bit lacking in low-end for bass-heavy music
The Best Powered Speakers For DJ-ing
The dual-angle design and built-in handles make this a perfect stage speaker. It’s also designed for a quick set up and can be connected to several different devices. This speaker features four-speaker modes (to fit the occasion), a built-in 2 channel Wide-Z mixer, and ultra-efficient Class-D power.
The Mackie Thump12 is a 1300W loudspeaker with one 12″ high-output woofer, one 1.4″ titanium dome compression driver, and thermal limiting for system protection. In addition, it comes with a Power Factor Correction system, which keeps the power in check making sure that power fluctuations don’t affect your performance.
- It is capable of a powerful performance
- Clear and balanced sound quality
- Easy to set up
- Built-in handles for easy transport
- Dual angle for use on stage
- The design doesn’t allow stacking
- The bass response could be better
As you can see from our reviews, the best-powered speakers are not that difficult to find. As long as you are aware of your needs, our guidelines and reviews should help you find the best device.