Before we get started, let’s make a distinction – when we use the term “DJ speakers” what we’re really referring to are monitors. What’s the difference? Speakers are something you would plug an iPod or laptop into. They are designed to amplify a signal that’s been processed by the kind of audio chip found in consumer electronics.
In contrast, a monitor is a totally different piece of equipment. Monitors are intended to deliver a dynamic range of sound from devices that are already amplifying the output. On a similar note, monitors don’t really have a “sound,” instead the sound is shaped before it is delivered to the monitors, most likely from a mixer and amplifier. Many engineers and audiophiles will refer to how “true” a monitor is, meaning it hasn’t changed the sound in any discernible way.
Therefore, the best DJ speakers are going to be true to the original sound of the tracks. This means that the tracks and mixes you are making and playing back on your speakers will have the same, or nearly the same sound when your fans play them back at home or in their car.
Top 7 Comparison Table
LF Amp Power
HF Amp Power
|JBL LSR305||?||?||43 Hz - 24 kHz||
|KRK RP5G3-NA Rokit 5||30W||20W||up to 35 kHz||
|Yamaha HS5||45W||25W||54Hz - 30 kHz||
|Mackie MR8 mk2||100W||50W||40 Hz – 20 kHz||
|Pioneer S-DJ80X||70W||20W||40 Hz to 20 kHz||
|M-Audio AV32||10W||10W||80 Hz - 20 kHz||
|KRK Rockit 8||75W||25W||35Hz - 35 kHz||
What to look for
Before we get into reviews and recommendations, let’s look a few key characteristics to consider.
To sub or not to sub?
This is probably the most important characteristic to consider for one reason – a sub will add more bass than is actually in the mix. If you’re looking to fit out a club or a full-blown studio, then yes of course you’re going to want sub woofers for play back. However, for the purposes of monitoring mixes at home, particularly as a DJ, a sub-woofer should be avoided. A good set of monitors will give you all the bass you need. Therefore, we’re not going to review speaker systems that include a sub.
Good studio monitors will produce a sound that is dynamic, varied and controlled. Hard to argue with that. But what does it mean?
Dynamic sound will deliver across the entire range, from deep bass through the mid and up into the higher registers. This means strong kick drums and bass lines, clear snares and hi hats that cut through the mix. As a DJ you want to be able to discern where instruments are in the mix without straining.
Controlled sound means that there is no loss. Bass should be deep but not muddy and punchy but not distorted. High frequency sounds like cymbals or horns should not distort.
Monitors that deliver engaging sound allow you hear instruments and frequencies in a track that you would not hear on a lower grade system, like Apple iPod ear-buds. For example, when you listen to a track played back on a good set of monitors you will hear more depth in the effects that have been applied, such as reverb and echo. You may also hear instruments, like a second or third guitar or synth, that didn’t hear before.
For the purposes of home practice and jamming you don’t need a massive speaker system. However, you don’t want under-powered equipment either. For the average bedroom or living DJ roughly 100 watts per speaker will be more than enough. You may be able to dip down to around 40 watts per speaker if they are high quality. One thing to remember is that the more volume you require of the speaker the more the sound quality deteriorates.
Powered studio monitors have become industry standard. This means they derive their power from an external source, and not a USB or other bus-powered source. The reason for this is to maximize the signal output. It’s also a plus for you as it won’t stress your laptop or desktop. Thus, all the speakers we’re going to look at here will be powered.
Generally speaking you’ll want an 8-inch woofer. Tweeters will vary by manufacturer, both in size and configuration. Again, if you’re mixing mainly in small to medium sized rooms like a bedroom or a spare room, an 8-inch speaker will deliver good volume and range without overpowering everything around it. You’ll also be able to push a decent volume level out of an 8-inch woofer when you want a bit more.
KRK Rockit 8 Powered Studio Monitors
KRK is one of the best-known names in studio monitors and speakers, and for good reason – they create very high quality products at reasonable prices.
The Rockit 8’s deliver 100w of overall sound output, which helps make them loud and clear. However, where these speakers really excel is in delivering the holy trinity of sound – dynamic, controlled and engaging. Across all frequencies the sound is very true and clear at high and low volume, especially the low end, which really delivers.
Feature wise, the Rockit 8’s have an 8-inch woofer and 1-inch tweeter. These deliver a clean sound that is difficult to distort. The rear panel allows you to adjust volume, low-frequency and high frequency, should you need it. Also, you will find RCA, balanced ¼-inch and XLR inputs on the rear.
KRK also produces a version with a 5-inch woofer, obviously for slightly less and with less power. However, for the money, these are probably the best you can find.
Pioneer S-DJ80X Active Reference Speaker
Just as Pioneer is making inroads into the prosumer end of the controller market, so to are they getting into the prosumer end of the speaker market. Like the KRK Rockit 8, the S-DJ80X features an 8-inch woofer and a 1-inch tweeter. The S-DJ80X also features volume and frequency controls as well as industry standard RCA, balanced ¼-inch and XLR inputs. The speakers are also in a housing that is larger than most in this class.
One interesting feature is an auto stand-by switch. When engaged, this allows the speakers to go into sleep mode if unused for 25 minutes. The speakers wake up when they receive signal again.
Overall, the sound is good, but not great, especially at higher volume levels. In our trifecta of sound – dynamic, controlled and engaging — the S-DJ80X tends to under-perform with controlling bass. The speakers tend to rumble quite a bit and bass tends to get muddy. This may be due to the large housing that perhaps causes bass to be trapped inside rather than being driven outward.
Price wise, you can expect to pay a bit more than average due to the name on the front. If you’re in love with Pioneer you probably know you want these. However, if you’re open to other brands we think you might find better value elsewhere.
Mackie MR8 mk2 Studio Reference Monitor
In the DJ world names like Pioneer & KRK tend to get most of the attention, however for the rest of the music world Mackie has a long history of producing quality pro-audio speaker systems. Therefore, it’s no surprise that the MR8 monitors hold up well to the competition.
Feature wise these are identical to the KRK’s, with standard inputs, outputs & controls on the back panel. Design wise, Mackie has delivered a minimal yet futuristic looking speaker.
Regarding sound, the MR8s deliver well in all three of our criteria. The range of sound is dynamic and wide, with mid and hi-range particularly clear and distinct. The low-end is punchy and deep without the rumble that plagues Pioneer’s speakers. It’s also worth noting that the sound is as engaging as the KRK’s, meaning you’ll hear quite a bit of depth in your tracks.
While sound-wise these can’t outrank KRK, Mackie can outrank KRK with it’s reputation for building solid, long lasting speakers. It’s important to remember that build quality in a speaker is generally hidden from you – it’s the chips, wires, inputs and transistors that need to last. In this area, Mackie has a great reputation.
M-Audio BX8 D2 8-Inch Active 2-Way Studio Monitor Speakers
M-Audio has become a trusted name in digital music production and is notable for blurring the line between professional and consumer.
The BX8, like others we’ve reviewed, are independently powered, featuring an 8-inch woofer and 1-inch tweeter. The rear panel houses the standard inputs and outputs, as well as volume and frequency controls. Notably absent is an RCA input. You’ll have to go with balanced ¼” XLR or an adapter. This is curious feature to leave off, however, M-Audio states it’s for the better with regards to sound quality.
Initially, the BX8’s deliver an impressive sound. The range is dynamic and engaging and bass is tight and punchy but still very much in the low-end. In fact, the bass is almost too low. To our ears, the sound is not as true the KRK Rockit 8 and the Mackie MR8 monitors. Having said that, they still sound great. There was no noticeable distortion at high volumes and the sound quality remained consistent, something the Pioneer S-DJ80X was unable to deliver.
Overall the BX8’s deliver a good value, especially if you don’t require a speaker to be entirely true or if you prefer a little extra bass for home listening.
JBL LSR2325P Two-Way 5″ Bi-Amplified Studio Monitor
JBL is probably one of the best-known speaker companies, particularly with the prosumer market, so it’s quite logical that they offer a line of studio monitors.
The LSR2325P’s (someone please speak to JBL about naming their products J) feature the standard set of inputs and outputs as well as controls on the rear panel. The overall design is quite minimal, as JBL has chosen to not incorporate their trademark orange-color trim.
These monitors are quite beefy, weighing in at 30 pounds and featuring rubber padding on the bottoms. All that heft drives 95 watts of low frequency and 75 watts of high frequency, making these monitors quite powerful for their class.
The sound of these monitors is very true and nicely delivers the hat trick of dynamic, controlled and engaging. The low end is particularly well controlled and performs strongly even in the sub-bass range.
The market for studio monitors is very competitive and very crowded. This means that there are some great values out there, however there are hundreds, if not thousands of monitors to choose from.
We’ve tried to narrow the field down for you by focusing on key features and key players in the market. It is important to remember that as a DJ you’ve got specific needs from your speakers and equipment, with a true sound being the most important feature of the best DJ speakers.