Choosing the right amount of speakers for DJing is like picking the right pillow for a good night’s sleep – in other words, it’s personal.
The right speaker setup depends on your specific needs and what you want from your audio.
In short, how many speakers you need as a DJ will depend on the space you have, the volume (loudness) you need, and how the speakers will be used. One speaker is enough for bedroom DJs, mobile DJs, and small parties, while two or more are for parties with a larger audience.
Sound, by nature, is three-dimensional and is affected by literally everything it faces. That’s why music sounds so good. To find out how many speakers are enough for you, keep reading.
Can You DJ With One Speaker? (Bedroom DJs, Small Parties)
Opinions on this will vary, but most of us would rather have one good speaker than two crappy ones. You can run a small house gig with up to 50 people with one speaker without any problems.
Just ensure the speaker you purchase has stereo inputs – some PA speakers only have a single XLR input and won’t work a stereo signal.
It’s also handy to have a small (8-12″) PA speaker with stereo inputs for everyday use where you don’t require a full PA rig – outdoor work, pool parties, etc.
Yes, you can DJ with one speaker. For home use, one speaker at mono is fine. Buying a single, quality speaker is a far better move than buying a pair of semi-quality speakers. Horrible sound in stereo is something that nobody wants.
Think of it as a large Bluetooth speaker. Just bring one speaker and a phone, and you have a sound system. Also suitable for DJ monitors.
You won’t need to get a splitter to get mono sound for most speakers – just run mono from your program or plugin both RCAs into the same speaker. I always run mono at house parties. It eliminates the sweet spot, so no one hears just one side.
If I’m starting with this DJ thing right now, I would buy one good speaker first and add another instead of two average ones that I’d have to change eventually.
If you’re looking for a speaker, I would highly recommend the ElectroVoice ZLX. I think they are a better value than the QSC K10 that a lot of people recommend. Even though the QSC is a little better, I think the EV ZLX is the ‘best bang for the buck.’
So on a budget looking for a cheaper but also good option, I’d pick ZLX over the K10. You can buy a 12″ ZLX for about $150 less than a 10″ K10.
To speed up the set-up / take-down time, some DJs use a very basic system with only one speaker.
Since most people don’t know most wedding DJs use the mono setting, some folks are like, “This DJ sucks because you need two speakers to get stereo sound.” Which is WRONG.
Because the audience is not equidistant between the two speakers, any stereo effect is distorted. The further off-center an audience member is, the greater that negative impact is. Not only is there actually no reason to use two speakers – it even can be a huge problem if they’re not good enough.
In our home stereo system, we have a fixed listening position, and in order to produce the stereo effect, we have to sit at about an equivalent range from each loudspeaker.
A regular DJ set up indicates that there is a very tiny part of the audience that actually gets a “stereo” effect, while the rest of the audience is not receiving the channel farther away from them.
Think you’re standing to the left of the left loudspeaker. The right loudspeaker will probably be 6-10dB down in level from the left (which is closest to you), which your ears interpret as “off” – you clearly are not hearing the music coming from that speaker since the sound from the closer speaker wraps it up.
Ignorant masses are more fascinated by more speakers. If you are going to start a mobile DJ business, you can effortlessly get away with only one speaker if the clients don’t complain (because they don’t know better).
Most digital DJ software, mixers, and controllers have a Mono feature. Just make sure to turn that on.
In terms of alternatives, I would also recommend QSC CP12 (loudest entry-level speaker), not quite as lovely as the K10/DXR10, but it’s plenty for most applications and can be used professionally if you get a subwoofer – should be $200 cheaper than the K10.
When Do You Need Two Speakers to DJ?
Two speakers make a huge difference when there are more than 50-60 people in the crowd. I was DJing college and house parties and small events on campus, and using two on stereo mode not only makes place bump way harder, but it also improves sound quality in larger “venues.”
For any sort of big party (over 70 people), you’ll want two speakers to balance out the coverage and any possible upgrades in sound because of the sub-bass frequencies, which are omnidirectional, meaning the audience can’t say which direction it is coming from.
With one subwoofer, you can only play one channel, and with more than one, stereo hinders your ability to pair. Coupling boosts SPL and, in the case of horn-loaded subs, achieves more significant bass extension.
Most single speakers have multiple small speakers housed in the same enclosure – along with massive amounts of digital signal processing – but the sound is all emanating primarily from the same point.
The capacity to reproduce decent quality sound from a single speaker housing is striking. Still, people generally prefer real “stereo” sound from two separate speakers where the imaging and soundstage are noticeably better.
When you go to a festival, the sound isn’t coming from one direction, and the PA speakers are spread across the venue. Not to consider reflections of that sound hitting the ground, ceiling, or back wall of the venue.
That is what makes live performances so impactful and exciting; there is sound arriving at you from every direction. Not only that, but your hearing is so powerful that it perceives all of these distinct directions, and even the slightest shift of your head can alter how the sound is perceived.
When it comes to DJ decks, you won’t find one that wasn’t designed with stereo outputs.
After all, the music producers’ records in the studio must be mixed and mastered before getting into our music collection. Mixing and mastering are art practices done by industry pros responsible for perfecting the EQ, timbre, volume level, and panning of every single note we hear.
And all of that is done while sitting in front of TWO speakers.
Do You Even Need Speakers to DJ at Home?
You could DJ without speakers. However, it is helpful to have a constant reference to your master when you are recording a set or are listening back to one for mistakes you may not hear in your headphones.
It’s possible to DJ with just headphones too. I normally mix in headphones, but I did get a pair of studio monitors for the previously stated purposes.
Recommended: How to DJ with Headphones Only (article)
If you’re a total newbie, you should probably get some monitors since you’ll be capable beat match by ear. Plus – get an RCA cable to connect your speakers to the controller. Also, buying a decent pair helps if you start producing as well.
My nephew bought these speakers, and they work like a charm. They’re cheap too but still are very high quality: Pioneer DJ Studio Monitor, RCA, Mini-Jack, Black (DM40)