The best powered speakers are a minimalists dream. They feature built-in amplifiers, so there is no need for power-matching or racks of components. You can simply plug them into the wall and connect your sound source.
Powered speakers are increasingly being promoted as all-in one sound hubs. They combine the convenience of built in power with wireless connectivity, smart assistants, and offer a multitude of features. However, powered speakers offer more than just joy for those with smaller living spaces. They can also provide sonic benefits over passive models. The speaker’s amplifier is integrated into it, so it can be optimized for each speaker driver (or )) needs. The cabinet houses the amps. This eliminates the need to run long wires between amplifiers and drivers. It also reduces signal loss and cable-induced distortion. Integrated crossover design also gives designers more control over frequency response.
Note: Not every speaker manufacturer makes its amplifiers in-house. Sometimes, they rely on OEM parts. It doesn’t matter if this is a problem, but it does mean that you need to ensure the technology is properly implemented in order to get the best sound quality.
If you’re searching for a sweet new sound system, start your journey with our roundup of the best powered speakers of 2022.
- Best overall: JBL 4305P
- Best for the bookshelf: KEF LS50 Wireless II
- Best for record players: Kanto YU6
- Best powered PA speakers: Bose L1 Pro8
- Best budget powered speakers: Klipsch R-15PM
How we chose the best powered speakers
We looked at hundreds of products to find the best powered speakers. While we considered many listening options, we focused on speakers with extensive experience in designing powered models. Our active producers and in-house hi fi heads debated the best models and sought out input from experts. We also collected user impressions and performed listening tests when possible to narrow down our choices.
Things to consider before buying powered speakers
Buying powered speakers is an individual process that takes into account subjective considerations such as sonic preferences and objective benchmarks such as power output, input and output numbers, and convenience features. A number of factors affect the sound quality of powered speakers, such as cabinet size, type and quality of amplification and build quality. The size of your listening area also has a significant impact. You will also need phono inputs if you plan to connect a turntable. If you want to stream music, you’ll need Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. One drawback of powered speakers is the inability to mix and match or upgrade components, such as receivers.
What size powered speakers should I get?
Powered speakers are available in a vast array of sizes, from smart speakers you can fit in the palm of your hand to towers that top 6 feet in height. The speaker’s size will determine how much power it can output and how deep the bass can be produced. However, this does not necessarily mean that bigger speakers are better. The speakers should be small enough that they produce space-filling sound. If they are too big, they won’t be able to operate at their best performance levels and could end up sounding boomy. They must also be powerful enough to reproduce dynamic music, movies, and other content. Generally, bookshelf speakers with 5- or 6-inch drivers are good matches for offices, dens, and other small rooms, while larger bookshelf speakers and floorstanding models with 8-inch drivers are more appropriate for bigger rooms, like home theatres.
What kind of features should I look for in powered speakers?
Powered speakers are becoming more versatile than passive ones, and can be used as entertainment hubs for those who don’t have the time or desire to manage a lot of cables and components. If you prefer less, you will appreciate the built-in amplifiers, digital and analog inputs, Bluetooth streaming and Wi-Fi streaming.
Should I add a subwoofer?
Subwoofers are recommended if you wish to increase your system’s low end energy and make your listening experience more personal. Although you can mix and match subs and speakers, many of the products featured here are compatible with companion subwoofers. If you don’t feel enough room, you can always add a sub to your system.
The best powered speakers: Reviews & Recommendations
As more speakers manufacturers add powered models to the lineup, it can be overwhelming. Our top picks for listening situations range from bookshelf speakers to all in one PA systems that can power your next jam session or pool party. With models here starting below $200, you’re sure to land on the best powered speakers for your budget and lifestyle.
Best powered speakers overall: JBL 4305P
Why it was selected: The speaker’s advanced transducer design, high-resolution streaming and prosumer connectivity make it a great choice for casual listening and professional monitoring.
- Driver complement: 2 (one 1″ compression driver, one 5 1/4 -inch composite woofer)
- Amplification: 300 W rms
- Frequency response: 45 Hz – 25 kHz
- Dimensions: 13.2 x 8.3 x 8.8 inches (H x W x D)
- Inputs support both consumer and pro devices
- 24-bit/96 kHz converters preserve hi-res audio
- Optimize sound with room-correction EQ
- Pro sound comes with a premium price
JBL is no newcomer to powered speakers, introducing some of the first models as far back as the 1960s. The company’s brand-new 4305P compact bookshelf speaker ($2,200/pair), which debuted this past January at CES 2022, is the first powered model in its consumer Studio Monitor series. This fully loaded speaker features built-in Class D amplification, 24-bit/192 kHz converters, and six audio inputs that can connect to a huge range of digital and analog sources to provide comprehensive, hi-res wired and wireless connectivity.
The 4305P aims to deliver the punch and power of a floorstanding speaker, using patented JBL transducer technologies: each speaker features a 2410H-2 1-inch compression driver mated to a High-Definition Imaging horn for crystal-clear highs and lifelike dynamics. A 5. 25-inch cast-frame, fiber-composite cone woofer operates in a bass-reflex configuration with dual front-firing tuned ports.
An onboard Class D amp delivers 25W to each compression driver and 125W to each woofer for a total system power of 300W rms. Additional features include a bass contour control that compensates for speaker placement issues and W to each compression driver.
When it comes to high-res streaming, the 4305P takes quality to the next level, thanks to an integrated streaming engine that provides wired and wireless network audio capabilities via Ethernet, Google Chromecast Built-in, Apple AirPlay 2, and Bluetooth 5.1.
A 24-bit/192 kHz high-resolution digital-to-analog converter preserves high streaming resolution; when speakers are tethered with the included 2m Digital Link cable, resolution can be extended to 192 kHz. The 4305P can render MQA files (the musical equivalent of a ZIP file, a way to encode and distribute full-spectrum audio in a compressed container) and is Roon Ready, giving you access to a compatible music server while on your local network. As a bonus, JBL has thrown in a 90-day Qobuz trial membership that includes a curated playlist of songs that showcase the speaker’s audio capabilities.
Analog inputs include combo XLR phono connectors, 1/4-inch TRS (tip/ring/sleeve) and a selectable input sensitivity switch. This configuration allows for balanced XLR, 1/4-inch TRS (tip/ring/sleeve), or unbalanced TS connections. These connections can be used to cover both consumer and professional gear. Asynchronous USB and optical digital inputs are also available, as well as a 3.5mm analog out. In addition to front-panel controls, the 4305P includes a Bluetooth handheld remote and can be controlled as part of a Google Home or Apple AirPlay ecosystem.
The 4305P’s enclosure is constructed from 3/4-inch MDF with internal bracing and is finished in wood veneer, styled in Natural Walnut with a blue grille or Black Walnut with a black grille. With its pedigree and presence, the 4305P can look as at home flanking a mix console as it does facing your comfiest listening chair.
Best powered bookshelf speakers: KEF LS50 Wireless II
Why it was selected: Build-in amplifier, high-res audio support and futureproof connectivity make this a fully-featured, audiophile-grade wireless hub.
- Drivers: 2 (one 1″, one 5 1/4 “)
- Amplification: 380W per speaker
- Frequency response: 45 Hz – 28 kHz
- Dimensions: 12 x 7.9 x 12.2 inches (H x W x D)
- Set up a whole-home system with Chromecast
- Robust wired and wireless connectivity
- Future-proof app tech
- Speakers and stands are very pricey
In 2016, KEF debuted the LS50 Wireless, a successor to its classic LS50 bookshelf speaker that added built-in amplification and streaming. The next-gen LS50 Wireless II boasts refinements to acoustics, connectivity, and the KEF Connect control app.
Inside each speaker, custom amps deliver 280 watts of power to each woofer and 100 watts to each tweeter for big, clean, distortion-free sound at any volume. Digital processing allows you to fine-tune your sound to suit your space using the free KEF Connect app or on-speaker.
The LS50 Wireless II is available in signature KEF Carbon Black, Titanium Grey, Mineral White, and Crimson Red finishes, with optional matching stands. KEF’s distinctive, copper-hued UniQ driver places a 1-inch vented aluminum dome tweeter in the acoustic centre of a 5-inch magnesium-aluminum woofer cone. This creates a wide listening area. A bass-reflex cabinet with two elliptical ports and a bass-reflex cabinet is designed to maximize musical low end. The drivers’ Metamaterial Absorption Technology reduces distortion and unwanted reflections. Much like the JBL 4305P (above) is precise and dynamic, the LS50 Wireless II is spacious and punchy.
The LS50 Wireless II supports Hi-Res Audio; network file support is 24-bit/384 kHz; a wireless setup supports 24-bit/96 kHz audio resolution, or connect the speakers with the supplied CAT 6 cable for 24-bit/192 kHz support. You can stream music over Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, AirPlay 2, Google Chromecast or the KEF Connect app for 85 kHz audio resolution. In addition, you can use the LS50 Wireless II as an endpoint if you set up a Roon music library on your local network. HDMI eARC, Ethernet and coaxial optical inputs are all available via wired connections.
The LS50 Wireless II is pricey, typically retailing for $2,799/pair, plus $449 for optional S2 floor stands. Will you sacrifice certain features in order to save money? KEF makes a baby brother Wi-Fi connected speaker system, the LSX, or you can opt for just Bluetooth connectivity and pick up the Dynaudio Xeo 2s at $699/pair.) But if your budget supports it, The LS50 Wireless II’s versatile connectivity options make it an ideal all-in-one listening system.
Best for record players: Kanto YU6
Why it was selected: Connect your analog and digital gear to these speakers. They are available in seven beautiful finishes.
- Driver complement: 2 (one 1″ silk-dome tweeter, one 5. 25-inch Kevlar cone woofer)
- Amplification: 100W rms
- Frequency response: 50 Hz – 20 kHz
- Dimensions: 13. 98 x 6. 89 x 10. 71 inches (H x W x D)
- Versatile inputs support turntables
- Well-balanced sound with respectable bass
- Seven gorgeous finishes elevate any decor
- USB connection is underutilized
Enjoy listening to both analog and digital sound? The Kanto YU6 ($399/pair) has you covered, with analog RCA and 3.5mm mini-jack ins, a switchable phono preamp/line-in, optical TOSLINK inputs, and Bluetooth 4.0 streaming with aptX support.
This versatile powered speaker has 1-inch silk-dome tweeters, and 5. 25-inch Kevlar cone woofers, powered by built-in Class D amps (50W rms per channel); it’s all housed in rear-ported fiberboard cabinets that come in a spectrum of bold finishes, including matte black, matte white, gloss black, gloss white, gloss red, bamboo, and walnut. (Available stands support a range of desktop and home theater scenarios. )
Vinyl lovers will love the YU6’s rear-panel RCA stereo in, which can be switched between moving magnet phono-preamp-in or analog line-in. An optical in connects TV, CD player or game console digital audio. A USB jack charges devices and a subwoofer output with 200 Hz lowpass filter provides the ability to extend the low end with a standalone sub.
One note: If using the YU6 speakers as a turntable sound system, you should position your cabinets and turntable on stands or furniture. Are you just starting your vinyl journey? Fluance makes some great options to consider when it comes to turntables we like, such as the RT81 and RT85. )
A front-panel control knob allows for simple access to volume or input adjustments. Twist it to adjust volume, and press it to cycle through the inputs. The remote control includes power, volume and mute buttons. It also has EQ, source input and Bluetooth pairing. Rubber feet are available, but they are not included.
Looking for an upgrade to the YU6 Kanto’s premium TUK powered speakers ($899) feature onboard DSP, high-performance AMT tweeters and 5. 25-inch aluminum drivers, active crossovers, plus dedicated phono, RCA, and Optical TOSLINK inputs, onboard USB DAC and headphone amp, and Bluetooth 4.2 with aptX HD and AAC codecs.
Best powered PA speakers: Bose L1 Pro8
Why it was selected: This all-in-one system can be taken from vehicle to venue in one trip.
- Driver complement: 8 2″ neodymium drivers, 1 7×13″ subwoofer
- Amplification: 60W (driver array), 280W (subwoofer)
- Frequency response: 45 Hz – 16 kHz
- Dimensions: 78. 94 x 17. 32 x 38. 92 inches (H x W x D) assembled
- Eight-speaker array provides broad coverage
- Control mixes from your mobile device
- Two phantom power inputs
- Assembled system can feel unstable in windy conditions
Whether you’re a singer/songwriter, band, DJ, or just looking for a plug-and-play-simple way to transform your next BBQ into an impromptu dance party, a portable powered public address system is the perfect all-in-one sound solution. Powered PA systems can do multiple tasks. They deliver high-quality sound reinforcement and have built-in mixers, amps, and audio effects. You can carry your guitar or beer in one hand, while the system is portable.
Nearly 20 years ago, Bose introduced the shockingly portable L1 PA, which became a go-to gig staple for indie artists thanks to its premium sound and built-in amplification, mixer, effects, and subwoofer. The series has been updated over the years and the L1 Pro line debuted in 2021, in driver configurations up to 32 speakers.
The L1 Pro8 ($1,199), the most portable array in the Pro series, is ideal for singer/songwriters and mobile DJs. Inside, a C-shape 8-driver array that provides 40 degrees of vertical coverage and 180 degrees of horizontal coverage, with an integrated subwoofer that features an elongated RaceTrack driver, which Bose says delivers low-end performance that rivals a conventional 12-inch woofer in a slimmer footprint. All L1 Pro models have a built in 3-channel mixer. Channels 1 and 2, with phantom power, can receive signal from combination XLR/TRS Jacks. Channel 3, however, can receive signal either from a 1/4-inch TRS jack or Bluetooth streaming.
This system sets up fast, is easy to operate, and packs a sonic punch, powering the speaker array with 60 watts of Class D amplification and the subwoofer with 240 watts, for 118 dB peak SPL.
Use the Bose L1 App to adjust mix and effects settings from any place in the room (including Bose ToneMatch library custom EQ presets). The system weighs just 35 poun