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How to choose the right loudspeakers?

Power, loudspeaker size, price, efficiency, dimensions, passive or active version... Choosing a loudspeaker is no easy task! The profusion of models and technologies often confuse uninitiated consumers. In this guide, you will find several ways to help you make your choice according to your needs.

Yamaha StagePas

Categories of loudspeakers

In this way, we distinguish 3 main speaker "families" which are composed as follows:

Hi-Fi speakers: These are good quality speakers which, in some cases, can be used in studio monitoring but in no case as a PA system, the technical characteristics between these 2 families are diametrically opposed.

Home-Studio monitors: the particularity of these models lies in the very neutral and linear sound reproduction, in order to be able to listen to a recording as objectively as possible. These are "working" loudspeakers.

PA System loudspeakers: they are often powerful, the quality of the reproduction varies from model to model. The most commonly used components for the cabinet are wood or polyethylene. Active, passive, passive, passive-processed, broadband, two or three channels... In short, we find all kind of speaker depending on the applications.

Speaker classes

Broadband loudspeakers: generally used for installations where audio quality is not crucial, such as the sound of a walkway for example. They are most often equipped with a singlespeaker broadcasting almost the entire spectrum, resulting in a very moderate sound.

Passive 2 or 3-way speakers: these are speakers that consist of several speakers, each of them working on its own frequency range. An internal filter will modulate the whole. It will also be necessary to purchase an amplifier according to the characteristics of the speakers selected.

Processed passive speakers: they are intended for a rather professional installation. Depending on the models, it is generally possible to adjust the frequency settings of each loudspeaker, in order to optimize the sound output. Moreover, these loudspeakers are often equipped with a limiter, allowing an effective protection of the whole. Requires a power amp.

Stage monitors: more familiarly called "Wedge" , these monitors are used by musicians to hear themselves play on stage. Placed on the floor, their cut-off shape is designed for a position close to each musician, ensuring direct listening. The models offered by the manufacturers are numerous. They differ mainly by the diameter of the boomers, compressions, cabinet making, amplification, etc... Available in passive and active.

Self-amplified speakers: they are increasingly present on the market. They are "all in one" speakers. As the name suggests, they are loudspeakers with their own amplification and filtering system. Practical and suitable for use in facade or stage returns/balance, they are generally of limited power due to some compromises made for amplification.

Enclosures types

Closed: Rarely used in sound systems, closed enclosures are hermetically sealed and therefore have no vents. The blocked air in the enclosure will act as a compressor due to the movement of the diaphragm but at the same time will also distort some frequencies.

Bass-Reflex: The loudspeakers most commonly used in sound systems are equipped with vents, also called "ports". The air movement generated by the displacement of the speaker is not compressed like in a closed enclosure, which will accentuate the bass and increase the efficiency. However, in order to take full advantage of the loudspeaker's performance, a very precise calculation of the opening of the vent and its size must be written.

"Horn": Typically designed for small diaphragm drivers, the horn is screwed to the tweeter motor, which will propel the air more quickly, the goal being to increase efficiency... Very useful in sound systems for an outdoor use. Long-range speakers will be referred to as long-range speakers when the conical horns are installed around the mid-range and subwoofers.

"Coaxial": Frequently used for stage feedback, the sound quality of this technology is very homogeneous. The high-pitched motor is located just behind and in line with the boomer, which eliminates phase shift problems on the one hand and provides excellent transparency and linearity on the other.

The power

The concept of power in watts is quite relative. An important sound system will not necessarily satisfy your listeners and vice versa! Above all, it is necessary to adapt the power of the sound system in the space to be sounded. For a dancing evening in a 100m2 hall with 150 people, 2x400 watts RMS is enough. When you are outdoors, and due to the absence of reflection, you will need 50% more power to achieve the same result. We are here in the case of a classical configuration where the public is grouped in front of the broadcast source.

If we have an audience spread in depth/width (like a wedding dinner or a concert), multi-broadcasting is essential. Diffusion points must be added either on the floor by means of floor-mounted speakers or from the point of origin by installing speakers suspended in height and directed towards the ends of the space to be covered. This last solution translates concretely into line-array systems.
Ces trois facteurs constituent le socle de vos choix et de vos futurs investissements.

Power and efficiency

The ear is stimulated by a pressure, this acoustic pressure for a given amplifier depends directly on the efficiency of the loudspeakers. This efficiency, expressed in dB/Watts at 1 m, is the number of decibels produced by the LP for an effective watt applied to its terminals, measured using a microphone placed one meter from the loudspeaker. One must always pay attention to the efficiency of its LPs to determine their operating qualities and predict what they are capable of producing as sound pressure. So don't just focus on power in Watts (RMS) but also on speaker efficiency.

The loudspeakers

Here it is necessary to determine your use to filter the possibilities according to the efficiency (acoustic pressure) as explained in the previous paragraph. Then filter according to the desired power by relying on the Watt RMS value, i. e. the continuous power of your speaker without damaging it or reducing its lifetime.

While studying your needs, you will be faced with the choice between purchasing a passive system and an active system. Active loudspeakers have recently become increasingly popular, mainly due to recent technological advances. Indeed, these advances and innovations have allowed manufacturers to directly incorporate class D amplifiers inside: lighter amplifiers with higher efficiency! In addition, some active loudspeakers have built-in DSPs, i. e. a microprocessor allowing digital signal processing.

If you choose a passive system, you will need to find the right amplifier for your speaker's RMS power.


Once you have chosen the speaker, you must select the appropriate amplifier (unless you have chosen active speakers of course). The rule is simple: the amplifier must be slightly higher (by 25%) in terms of power than that indicated by the speakers.

In the overall picture of your broadcast, volume control is always done via the mixer by controlling the source meters. Once the source levels have been set and the amplifier is at maximum, we can then adjust the master level of the mixer. With this setting we obtain the maximum power and capacity of the diffusion system. This prevents damage to the components and ensures that the system will operate normally with clean, clear sound. The master level can of course be reduced to suit the needs and characteristics of the room.

Head Loudspeaker and subwoofers

If you want to add bass to your system, there are certain rules to follow:
The diameter of the loudspeaker in a cabinet must be at least equal to the largest loudspeaker in the head speaker. Ideally, the cabinet's speaker should be larger than the one of the head speaker. Similarly, the efficiency (dB) of the subwoofers must be higher than that of the head speakers. This will give you a better rendering, especially outdoors.
Regarding amplification we apply the same principle as explained in the previous paragraph (25% more).


Perhaps the most complex notion here... In loudspeakers and sound systems, prices are extremely varied and the powers announced by the manufacturers too! It is difficult to see clearly in this entanglement of references.

You are an occasional guitarist in a band and you need a stage comeback, so opt for an amplified model (practical, sufficient power) at the entry level (you do not play too often, remember). Be careful! Entry-level does not mean the cheapest. It is necessary to remain rational and not to be seduced by a pair of speakers announced that seems to cheap for the performance. All that glitters is not gold. Get advice from our sound system specialists.

Would you like to set up a performance company to produce groups that are still little known several times a week and often outside?
I therefore strongly advise you to invest in an active system so as to be comfortable with power and performance and not stall too much on prices. A frequent use like yours justifies a minimum of investment, especially since it is for professional use.

If you are a DJ and you are performing regularly, then invest in a progressive system that starts with two speakers in 12" or 15" or two active speakers in 12" or 15" or two passive speakers with an amplifier and, as you progress, add one or two subwoofers depending on the configuration or type of performance. Opt for robust and qualitative material, this will certainly be an important investment but you will thus offer quality service to your customers!

Once again and before all decisions are made, get advice from our teams either by phone or in-store, they are there for it!

The accessories

If you regularly carry your speakers and equipment, invest in covers/cases to protect your equipment. Scratches, split plastic or moisture will alter the quality of the loudspeaker and cause irreversible damage to your equipment.

Loudspeaker stands and coupling tubes (to connect subwoofer - speaker satellite systems) are also essential, look carefully at the weight of your speaker to choose your stand. Ask our specialists for advice on the right equipment!

Any questions?

You now have all the basics you need to get started and choose your sound equipment. Obviously, not everything is summarized in this guide and you may have some questions or require additional advice on choosing your sound equipment. The Star's Music team is at your disposal to guide you in our stores or by phone 00 33 1 80 930 900.