Hifi Speakers Vs PA Speakers


Standard Member
A friend of mine is trying to convince me to buy PA speakers instead of Hi-Fi speakers for my Hi-Fi.

He says that PA speakers will sound BETTER than the Hi-Fi speakers and the only reason people buy Hi-Fi speakers is that they look better in the home, can anybody throw some light on this please before I spend my money.

I do not know a lot about Hi-Fi, so I appreciate any help on this...


k13 wjd

Active Member
you need a can of this mate


Reminds me of a guy i saw once with his technics hi-fi speakers in his car......Wired to the radio....

Presuming its like for like in terms of value.....

they'll look daft, sound dreadfull, and you'll need a different caliber of amp to drive them.

I used to have a pair of bose 801 series ones....the 8 driver array....Now, in a small concert hall, or a nightclub....these babys will make your spine tingle.....the bass hits you like a sledgehammer from 40m away !

But, i did try on of them in my living room......and it was crap....LOUD, but crap....

I know a few DJ's....all of them use Hi-Fi speakers in the house, even with proper decks.


Distinguished Member
PA speaker will certainly sound good, they will be loud, and they will handle lots of power, but they will not sound as good as HiFi speakers. But, again, 'not as good' shouldn't be interpreted as bad; PA speakers, assuming you've chosen reasonably good ones, will still sound good.

If you look at the frequency response specs on PA speakers, they are seldom as good as HiFi speakers.

Keep in mind that PA speakers are made for producing sound; HiFi speaker are made for reproducing sound. Stated another way, PA is made for producing original content, and any flaws or coloration they add merely become a part of that original content. HiFi, on the other hand, is made for reproducing what was originally heard as accurately and fully as possible.

Since coloration and distortion and other similar aspects are part of the performance, they don't matter that much. However, the demands on a HiFi system to create the original experiences as accurately as possible, make those demands much higher than a PA system.

Again, if you have a decent PA system for you HiFi, don't worry about it, if you like them, just enjoy them. However, if you have not yet bought it, I think it would be better to go with HiFi.

Just one exception, if you are using this for amateur or professional DJ'ing, then DJ speakers or PA speaker might be a better choice.

But, no your friend is wrong, home HiFi speakers are NOT all about looks.

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Standard Member
Dear K13 wjd, (respnse from my very technical pal)

The bloke with the car stereo should have wired 4ohm speakers to a car stereo instead of 8ohm stereo speakers!

thanks for responses.


Active Member
We use PA speakers sometimes, often they are the only option to generate high SPLs in large rooms. We have done extensive listening tests and concluded that high end PA speakers have a place in home cinema and HiFi.


See here for the ones we do, they come highly recommended.

k13 wjd

Active Member
IN your opinion they do.....

RE creating high SPL......My good friend has a REL stadium 2 in his living room......and i can vouch for there being NO further requirement for SPL in a home cinema situation.

I guess what im saying is, for the same given value...you'll be better of with home cinema stuff, than PA kit......90% of the time.......in terms of quality vs quantity.

as for those Funktion 1 R2's( presuming those are the ones you use).....you'd need the 15 inch driver version to go less than 250hz.......and...what cost is involved......2k ?
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Active Member
In a fair few peoples opinion I would imagine, not just mine... Generating 105dB with ease in large rooms is not generally possible with HiFi based equipment, you need huge amounts of power which destroys transient response of the loudspeaker (basic raise times, it take longer for an amp to generate 600W than 2 or 3W), and with all that power you get heat generated, non-linear behaviour starts to happen and distortion. Therefore once listening distances get into 4m+ PA speakers start to become very useful, high efficiency and robust designs.

I am not overly familiar with the REL, but have heard good things and I am sure it is great. I have made a decision to go to PA based products for my high end work based on extensive work I have done, I am happy, my customers are happy.

I think the reason PA stuff gets a bad reputation is that there is so much cheep rubbish about, piezo tweeters etc, the PA designers I have met compare there speakers to live performances and studio monitors, ATC, Genelec etc. they spend years (30+) getting the designs right, developing new loading techniques etc just like HiFi designers. Descent PA speakers are just big HiFi speakers…..


k13 wjd

Active Member
i noticed they quote 105dB @1M with 1W.....thats pretty impressive....

so is your 105dB @3m with 2w.....what was it with....

and.....cumon.....spill the beans....what kind of damage does pair of R2's do to my wallet ? without any amplification ?


Active Member
That figure comes from the Resolution 1 mid/high driver, which covers 550Hz to around 16kHz. This is 112dB @1m with 1W, hence the 105dB line.... This uses a paper 5" drive unit, the Resolution 2 has a 8" paper driver which covers a smaller frequency range.

They are a different beast needing a minimum of Bi-amping and most systems are tri-amped, quad-amped or even 5 way if you add in infrabass units. A pair of active Resolution 2, all UK designed and manufactured come in at less than £10k, the 3 way passives are around 3.5k less. The Resolution 1s are less again and start to represent good value when compred to the equivelent HiFi speaker. Loads of options are possible including skeletal cabinets which save more money as in a domestic situation you don’t need a touring grade cabinet!



Most pa speakers sound very harsh in the highs, if your close to them. Unless they are very expensive like Funktion One or use slot tweeters say.

Some of the pa mids sound pretty good such as Beyma 6MI90 6.5 inch with phase plug.

However not many small PA subs have huge xmax except for the Eminence HL-10(11.1mm xmax) 38hz, Eminence Lab12(13mm xmax,22hz),Ciare 12NDH, and Ciare 12.00 SW 11.5mm xmax, 1000w aes and goes to 20hz.

Theres plenty of pa 18 inchers that go to 20hz or 25hz and have over 15mm xmax.
Ciare 18.00 SW goes down to 20hz with 14mm xmax.
Eighteen Sound 18NLW9600 has a 14mm xmax.
B&C 21SW150 has a 6 inch voice coil, and 15mm xmax. But is 21 inch.


Distinguished Member
BassHead indirectly brings up another point, which PA speakers vs which HiFi speakers? Good PA against bad HiFi and the PA wins, but good HiFi against bad PA (and there are lots of those), and HiFi wins.

If we are talking a pair of £500 PA against £500 HiFi, I would say it is likely to be pretty close.

However, if we are talking £100 PA against £100 HiFi, without a doubt in the fidelity department, the HiFi wins. In the loud and power handling department, the PA win.

Also, you have people talking about +100db sound levels. Do you really know how loud that is in your living room? IT IS REALLY LOUD.

I was recently running some tests on my speaker recently, and I was curious just how loud 100 db was. So, I got out my Sound Level meter and checked. Slightly loud by very comfortable listening was in the 65db to 75db range (average level, not peaks).

When the sound for either TV or Music went over 80db, it started to become annoyingly loud. I did crank it up to 90db (average), but that was very uncomfortably loud in my living room. In a concert hall, it might have been fine, but in the average living room, it was way too much.

Now, in another similar discussion, someone responded and said they listened at +100db levels on his home cinema all the time, but I suspect he was talking about transient peak levels, not sustaining an average +100db level. That is loud enough to cause hearing damage.

Likely if you get even close to sustained or average 100db levels it will drive people out of the room.

The 80db to 90db level is far and away loud enough for most people, except perhaps the neighbors.

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Neil Davidson

Well-known Member
AVForums Sponsor
You would never want 100dB average levels for exactly the reason you have noted.

Nominal level of Dolby Digital tracks is 85dB with a peak of 105dB. getting that 105dB peak (gunshots, explosions etc) playing cleanly is what costs the big bucks though.


Distinguished Member
The one thing I hadn't had time to test was the levels of an action movie at normal listening levels.

I found essentially what I found before, 70db to 80db was comfortable, but loud. When the average went above 80db it got a little too loud.

However at those average levels I was able to general peak levels of 100db or more. It is difficult because my meter is set up in 20db ranges so I can't average 80db or 90db and measure over 100db. But I suspect I was jumping up to 101db, 102db, and only on the very rarest occasions maybe reaching 103db.

But here is the interesting part, all this was done with my Volume Control set at about 1/3 or near the 10 o'clock position. I had plenty of volume control left and could have easily reached peaks in far excess of 105db.

Also keep in mind that I don't have a Subwoofer.

Philips Standard DVD player
Onkyo TX-8011 50w/ch Receiver
Wharfedale Diamond 9.6
DIY 3-way box speakers with 12" woofers

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Distinguished Member
I had plenty of volume control left and could have easily reached peaks in far excess of 105db. ... Also keep in mind that I don't have a Subwoofer.
Careful! Reference level is defined as 105dB on the main channels, but 115dB on the LFE. If you don't have a sub, you need to get that 115dB on the main channels and unless you're using Accuphase monoblocks or very high efficiency floorstanders, it is very unlikely that you are going to manage 115dB at 20Hz (or even something quite a way away). That's why the standard is to use a decent active sub.


Novice Member
I found this thread to answer the same question. I already have Mackie srm450's swinging from the ceiling of my living room and a Mackie 15" sub nearby. I'll give them a go and let you know. There is no room for proper hifi speakers.

spyder viewer

Distinguished Member
Not sure who you are "letting know" as this thread is ~5 years old.

Either way, give us the info, you never know somebody might find it useful.

(Mind you: I might be dead then ;) )


Novice Member
Due to having a large living room(8meters by 4 open plan) and a desire to have full range sound which is able to go loud, I couldn't decide what system to have. I didn't have a big budget and had to build my system when I had spare cash. I started with a Kenwood 3020se amp and Jamo GF 35 speakers - this was ok but bass lacked depth and speakers a little too boomy, these could go quite loud but nothing serious. I added x2 15" tornado car subs in home made MDF enclosure and wired all of the speakers in parallel to channel A (as the Kenwood amp could drive a 2ohm load). Sound was loud and powerful but precision was totally void as you can imagine - this was louder than some low powered PA systems I have heard.

After a lot of experimenting and component swapping, I now have PA/hifi combination (Daisy chained through a mixer) in my living room. I have never been so satisfied and have not heard a set up like it, It might not be to everyone's taste but everyone who has heard it has been impressed. I listen most genres mainly house music. I started with the Yamaha as500 amp, mission 700 bookshelf speakers x2, mission 771 bookshelf speakers x2. The sound quality was decent but not loud enough and as the speakers are wall mounted - lacked depth, so I added a Tannoy TS2.12(500w RMS) subwoofer, to which a was initially ecstatic at how low and powerful this subwoofer sounded and spent a long time setting it up - the only trouble was that the subwoofer had the power to drown the missions speakers and they lost the punchy sound, to which I quickly became irritated by the lack of mid/high bass . I added a graphic equalizer - this didnt help. I applied some Jamo D265 which I picked up cheap(Yamaha can also cope with 2ohm load with no cutting out at maximum level without distortion) this helped but not like id hoped. Ive recently added a Kam Kxr 1500 amp and Wharfedale EVP-X15b bass drivers x2 and 2 Wharfedale EVP-X12 mk2, which run from the headphone socket of the Yamaha amp through a Behringer mixer - which enabled to achieve a full range sound with the deep bass coming from the tannoy subwoofer the powerful punch and lower mids coming from the wharfdales and the high frequency sounds coming from the mission speakers and this system goes very loud! without distortion. I have found that the pa system individually doesn't sound good in my living room on its own as it lacks bass depth and high frequencies are to harsh - although it sounded excellent outside and In a hall. It also sound poor at low volumes.

I listen to some high end hifi systems cost lots of money £4000 in showrooms and expected to be blown away only to be disappointed - I feel there are no experts in listening but ourselves - its all about personal taste! Thanks for reading any feedback is welcome.

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