Audio-speakers, in general, have the same function in that they convert electric impulses into sound. Many types of audio-speakers essentially perform the same job. So, you might be wondering if you can use studio monitors for more than just mixing and listening to tracks, for example, as PA speakers.
You can’t use studio monitors as PA speakers. Public address (PA) speakers must be sufficiently audible for very large crowds. On the other hand, studio monitors are good at producing an accurate sound suitable for music production or listening, but they can’t get loud enough to act as PA speakers.
This article will further explain why studio monitors cannot be used as a PA system by citing critical differences between PA speakers and studio monitors. We’ll also discuss choosing the right speakers based on your needs.
Why You Shouldn’t Use Studio Monitors As PA Speakers
Studio monitors and PA speakers each have unique traits to perform their intended tasks more effectively. Each type has specific features that will hinder their performance or longevity if used for something other than their primary purpose.
Below are characteristics of studio monitors that make them unsuitable to perform the functions of PA Speakers.
Studio Monitors Aren’t As Loud
A studio monitor’s main objective is to reproduce sound as accurately as possible. They don’t need to be loud, as you’ll often sit close to them in monitoring the audio in the studio.
Studio monitors are near-field speakers, which means they project sound within their proximity, so they sound best when you’re near them. In this capacity, studio speakers don’t have to be loud as they’re predominantly used in relatively small rooms by one or a few individuals at most.
Unlike studio monitors, a PA System has to be heard by more people and utilized in bigger rooms or outdoor venues. Given their task, far-field PA speakers need to be significantly louder than studio monitors to reach a greater crowd and cover a more expansive space.
Studio Monitors Have a Flat Frequency Response
Studio monitors have to stay true to the source. Accurate sound reproduction relies heavily on a flat frequency response to achieve as little coloration as possible.
A “flat” sound means a slight variation in intensity from low to high frequencies, creating a more natural output.
Unlike most consumer speakers, which enhance sounds for a more pleasurable listening experience, studio monitors reproduce sound that’s very close to the original recording.
The accuracy of studio monitors allows musicians, sound engineers, and music producers to hear everything accurately, helping them make the necessary adjustments to produce sounds that will appeal more to consumers.
PA speakers will have a more pronounced mid-frequency response since these are the frequencies that human ears are most sensitive to hearing.
Related article: Are Studio Monitors Good for Parties?
How To Choose The Right Speakers
Now that we know the difference between the speakers and their dedicated functions, below are some tips for buying the right set of PA speakers.
Buying PA Speakers
There are many factors to consider when purchasing PA speakers. Your audience, venue, and the number of inputs you need to plug into the device will all determine the type of equipment you need to buy.
Below are some factors you want to consider:
Do You Need The Portability?
Traditionally, PA speakers come with a host of other equipment such as:
- Signal processors
PA speakers with built-in features negate the need for external equipment to a certain extent. Still, it’ll ultimately be a toss-up between portability and control.
Portability might be a bigger priority if you need to transport your PA system frequently and have a limited workforce to do the heavy lifting.
Conversely, suppose you use a PA system at a fixed venue and need it to accommodate numerous audio signals (i.e., instruments and microphones). In that case, you may opt to use PA speakers designed to work with other peripherals.
If you want an affordable set, consider getting the Peavey Audio Performer Pack (Amazon.com), a complete portable PA system.
This package comes with essentials such as the speakers themselves, mixers, and built-in amplifiers.
The best part is that it’s all portable, and you can still use most of the components should you decide to upgrade in the future.
We’ve already established that PA speakers need to be loud, but that doesn’t mean compromising sound quality altogether. Some PA speakers have a single full-range driver that can transmit sound across a hall but struggle to reproduce low and high frequencies, causing a lack of bass and clarity.
Full-range drivers may suffice if you use PA speakers for verbal audio. However, if you want to use them for a concert or club, 3-way speakers with a tweeter, mid-range, and woofer will provide sound quality better suited for music.
How Much Power Do You Need?
With PA speakers, you want to ensure that the sound is audible for the entire crowd. So, the size of the venue will play a huge role in determining how much power you need. But aside from the speaker’s power output, it’s also a good idea to check how loud the speakers “really” are by checking the speaker’s SPL (Sound Pressure Level).
I won’t get into too much detail about the differences between SPL and power output, but in a nutshell, you can have two different speakers with the same wattage that are not as loud as each other. So, it’s best to check both with live audio or PA speaker applications.
Below is a table that shows the required wattage and SPL for various venues:
|Type of Music||Venue||Required Power (watts)|
|Folk Music||Coffee Shop (50 Seats)||25–250W|
|Folk Music||Medium Size Auditorium (150-250 Seats)||95–250W|
|Folk Music||Concert Hall (2,000 Seats)||250W|
|Pop/Jazz||Medium Size Auditorium (150-250 Seats)||250–750W|
|Pop/Jazz||Concert Hall (2,000 Seats)||400–1,200W|
|Rock||Medium Size Auditorium (150-250 Seats)||At least 1,500W|
Studio Monitors and PA Speakers are very different, so you can’t use them interchangeably. Studio monitors do a superb job of letting you hear the raw audio, while the primary function of PA speakers is to be loud and clear.
Even different types of studio monitors and PA speakers cater to specific needs within their respective functionality scopes. PA speakers are simply not capable of accurate sound reproduction. Using studio monitors to perform the functions of PA speakers is practically a death sentence for them.