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Active 15" PA Speaker Comparison - Over $1000

Posted by Andy McQueen on

Alto BLACK15 vs HK Audio Premium Pro 15XA vs HK Audio Pulsar Active 15" vs JBL PRX715 vs Mackie SRM650 vs PreSonus StudioLive 315AI vs QSC KW152 vs Yamaha DSR115 vs Yamaha DXR15

At Buzz Speaker Hire Sydney we were looking to increase our hire stock range with some premium powerful 15’’ speakers over $1000 each. We shortlisted the 15’’ speakers in this price range available in Sydney and performed an intensive full range test to decide which we would add to our rental portfolio.

Speakers tested and their Australian retail prices:

  • Alto BLACK15 Black Series 15" 2400W Powered PA Speaker $1199
  • HK Audio Premium Pro 15XA Powered Cabinet $1299
  • HK Audio Pulsar Active 15" 2-Way Speaker System $1299
  • JBL PRX715 Powered 2 Way 15" Full Range PA Speaker $1199
  • Mackie SRM650 15" 1600w 2-Way Powered Speaker $1269
  • PreSonus StudioLive 315AI 15" 3-Way Powered PA Speaker $2519
  • QSC KW152 1000w 2-Way 15" Powered PA Speaker $2025
  • Yamaha DSR115 1300w 15" Powered PA Speaker $1449
  • Yamaha DXR15 1100w 15" Powered PA Speaker $1169

The test was conducted in three stages; the input volume was at 0db for each stage:

1.Speakers at 50%

2.Speakers at 75%

3.Speakers at 100%

The test was blind to make sure each speaker was judged impartially, not on perceived brand reputation, aesthetics or any other bias. We had three people judging each speaker for frequency response, volume output and clarity.

The top two performing speakers were the QSC KW152 and Yamaha DSR115.

The Alto BLACK15 has some very interesting features with the ability to manipulate DSP, speaker delay, polarity, filter and EQ settings from a smart phone or tablet via Bluetooth. You can set them up at an event and over the course of the night refine the sound from anywhere in the room. The sound quality was OK given the price but could not compete with many of the other models.

Despite being a best seller in this class the JBL PRX715 performed very poorly, like its predecessor the PRX615 it has poor bass response with muddy mid to high frequencies. We were also disappointed in the Mackie SRM650, it began to limit very early and we were unimpressed with the frequency response.

The PreSonus StudioLive 315AI was disappointing when considering the very high price. The manufacturer states: “Rather than take the usual brute-force approach to PA-speaker design, the team designed a coaxial loudspeaker that would employ Fulcrum’s unique DSP-based approach.” And you can tell, the volume output was not as high as many of its competitors and it sounded very ‘digital’ to our ears. We were not impressed.

Both offerings from HK Audio performed well and the 15XA had one unique feature, a Speakon out port where a passive speaker could be attached and powered by the HKs inbuilt amplifier.

The Yamaha DSR115 and DXR15 were both very impressive. Boasting fantastic clarity, very high volume output and impressive frequency response. The DSR115 had the highest overall volume output and was a close second in sound quality and clarity.

The overall winner was the QSC KW152, it had a slightly lower output compared to the DSR115 but had the best frequency response and sound quality. It is very clear all throughout the frequency spectrum and could be pushed very hard without any discernible distortion.

When using the QSC KW152 without a Subwoofer you can engage DEEP mode, which significantly increases bass output. When used with a subwoofer you can engage EXT SUB mode, cutting frequencies under 100Hz. This has two main benefits - firstly it allows the KW152 to focus on producing mid to high frequencies, which allows for greater volume before limiting. Secondly, it prevents phase cancelation or muddying of the bass frequencies, as both the tops and the subs are not trying to produce the same frequencies.

We looked long and hard and believe we have the best prices in Sydney for all of our equipment. We offer a BEST PRICE GUARANTEE! If you can find a cheaper price we’ll beat it by 10%.

To hire our new KW152s click here!

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