Ready to find out how many watts should your speakers have and boost your room’s sound? Awesome!
In this new guide, you’ll learn everything there is to know about the watts you need for your speakers, including:
- How to calculate the watts you need for a party
- Average wattage by the size of the room
- How do watts relate to speakers
- How does wattage relate to how apart the speakers should be
- Why doubling the wattage won’t double the volume
Most PA speakers range from 100 watts to 2000 watts peak. The advantage of greater wattage is the potential volume boost and better tone quality and coverage at lower volumes.
Less than 500 square feet will be covered with a pair of 100-watt speakers. For 500 to 1000 square feet, look for 300 to 500-watt speakers. 1000 to 2000 square feet will be covered with two 500 to 700-watt speakers and a subwoofer of 1000 watts. To cover over 2000 square feet, use two tops of 1200-watt and a 2800-watt subwoofer.
When you’re looking for the wattage of speakers and subwoofers, you will often find two numbers for the power handling rating: RMS (root mean square) and “peak.”
Mean power, or root mean square (RMS) power handling, refers to how much continuous power the speaker can work. The peak power handling rate refers to the highest power level that the speaker can use in short bursts.
For example, a speaker with a 50W RMS rating but a peak rating of 100W means that the speaker can easily run with 50 watts of continuous power, with occasional bursts of up to 100W.
The answer to the question “How many watts is a good speaker?” depends on the size of your house or venue. A good speaker for a small house party can have 50 watts if the dance floor is tiny. In contrast, if you’re a host to a party for 200-300 people, you can hardly get away with less than 1500 watts.
Average Wattage by the Size of the Room
This is the average wattage you’ll need. It includes the wattage sum for speakers and subwoofer.
|Room size in square feet||Wattage sum (peak)||Best Affordable Speaker|
|Under 500||20 – 100 watts||Bose Soundlink Color II|
|500-1000||100 – 500 watts||Proreck Freedom 12|
|1000-2000||500 – 2000 watts||Electro-Voice ZLX-12BT 12″ 1000W|
|Over 2000||2000 – 4000 watts||Electro-Voice ZLX-15BT 15″ (pair)|
Under 500 square feet
Here you don’t need an extra subwoofer. It’s probably an indoor house party with less than 20 people attending, so you can live without it.
Along with Bose Soundlink, which I own, I can easily recommend these beautiful Edifier R1280DBs (Amazon link) that will be more than enough for your needs.
They’re bookshelf, also very compact, and have a Bluetooth connection, so you don’t have to mess around with cables.
500 – 1000 square feet
This is probably a decent-sized living room or even a whole apartment, and you’ll probably pack 30-40 people there.
You could go with a fantastic Proreck Freedom 12, which is also a cheap option for the quality you get with it and will serve you if you’re going to need it for a bigger house.
This one will more likely bring the police than chase all the people out of the room with poor sound.
Bose Surround Speakers 700 are for you if you want something more classy. The 700s provide enough bass and have a bass boost button. They’re also for sharp listening and have a 5-band customizable EQ and four other EQ presets.
They put out 120 watts of peak power and have two separate amplifiers. It doesn’t sound like much, but it can reach a tremendous >100+ Db.
1000 – 2000 square feet
If you’re looking for a simple sound system with good bass for throwing parties at your house and not expecting too many people (140 tops), you’ll be fine with two 700-watt speakers and a subwoofer.
My friend DJs college parties every week, and his current setup contains two Electro-Voice ZLX-12BT 12″.
It’s more than enough for a rooftop full of 100 drunk students. Something like that should also do it for you. You can easily get away with one!
The only other tip I have is that when stepping up to full-sized speakers, ensure you have high-quality audio files.
Over 2000 square feet
The Electro-Voice ZLXs are foolishly great speakers. The most vital reason I use them is how effective they are. When you only have 1000 watts of electrical power, you want to choose your speakers thoughtfully.
I normally get two speakers, which are the Electro-Voice ZLX-15BT 15″ (pair) with the subwoofer. I did a lot of digging, and these seemed to be the most sound for the least amount of power. They still sound amazing at deafening volumes as well.
We regularly get about 250-350 people, and those tops are loud enough for a crowd that size.
I find that in the summer, we don’t require nearly as many watts of speaker power to get the music to sound great. In the wintertime, you need about double to get the same kind of effect because the snow consumes a lot of the sound.
Generally, I use two generators, I have a 1000-watt one for the lights and DJ booth and a 2000-watt one for the sound system. This is usually overkill, and I’ve even run the whole setup on a single 1000-watt generator, but we were risking blowing a breaking constantly.
How many watts is average for a good speaker? Here’s the research we conducted on wattage for solid outdoor, computer speakers, party speakers, etc.
How to Calculate the Watts You Need for a Party?
1. Number of guests
We use this old-school method if we’re organizing an outdoor party with no space limit (e.g., woods, beach, large private property).
2. Size of the venue (The most important)
This is what most of us care about most. If you’re organizing a house party (basement, rooftop, apartment), you want to know the square feet and how the walls are set up to get as much acoustic surround as possible.
3. Is it indoors or outdoors
If it’s outdoors, we usually double the wattage even though it’s the same number of guests in question because of the wind or anything that could interfere with the sound. Outdoors you should go for 10 watts per guest minimum.
How Does Wattage Relate to Speakers?
A watt (W) is a measure of energy called after James Watt (the man who began the practical steam engine). In the DJing world, we use watts to measure the power-handling capacities of audio devices’ power-output ability.
You’ll find two universal values for power handling.
The RMS (root mean square) value points to how much continuous power the audio device can handle.
The peak value relates to the maximum power level that the speaker can manage in short bursts.
If you have a speaker valued at 75 watts RMS and 160 watts peak, it can manage 75 watts of continuous power, with rare peaks of up to 150 watts.
It would help if you also were careful of comparing the wattages of two separate powered speakers. Why is that? RMS values refer to continuous, real-world usage. They’re better than peak values at measuring a speaker’s performance.
Sadly, some companies market their gear using only peak values because the larger numbers look more impressive. So be sure to have this in mind when comparing speakers. That 1000-watt sub may not be a 1000-watt RMS-capable subwoofer; thus, you may not be making an apples-to-apples comparison.
Are watts even that important for speakers!? Well, not as much. Here’s why watts don’t matter that much in speakers and what are the main factors when choosing the best one.
How Does Wattage Relate to How Apart Should the Speakers Be?
The average ratio for the sound performance range is based on the audio devices’ SPL (sound pressure level) compared to the typical ambient background sound.
The general rule of thumb is that a 200-watt speaker will cover a 60-foot range. I recommend testing with the speaker position to find out where and how far apart they must be for the best performance.
Why Doubling the Wattage Won’t Double the Volume?
Sound pressure level (SPL), declared in decibels (dB), represents how much louder or quieter one sound is compared to another.
Because decibels are logarithmic, you can’t just double the number to get something twice as loud. For example, 60dB SPL isn’t twice as loud as 30dB SPL.
So, duplicating the power (wattage) effects in a +3dB increase. A notable volume increase, but not the double.
The doubling of volume requires adding +10dB.
Why Wattage Doesn’t Even Mean More Volume?
Contrary to popular belief, it would be best never to expect that more wattage corresponds to more volume when analyzing two speakers.
While wattage is an important factor when you’re picking speakers, sensitivity is even more decisive.
Sensitivity, shown in decibels, measures a speaker’s ability to turn power into sound efficiently.
It defines the SPL that a speaker can give from a 1-watt signal at a range of 1 meter.
It’s a meaningful sign of a speaker’s overall loudness and one of the reasons why a 2,000-watt speaker isn’t necessarily more powerful than a 1000-watt one.
A 1000-watt speaker with a sensitivity of 96dB will be the same volume as a 2,000-watt speaker with a sensitivity of 93 dB.
How loud are speakers by wattage on average? In the linked article, we compared the average wattage of speakers and loudness.
Active or Passive Speakers? Which One to Choose?
Passive (non-powered) speakers don’t have power amps.
When we speak about the wattage rating of a passive speaker, we refer to its power-handling capability.
Passive speakers are great if you’re building an extensive, complex sound system. Because of these systems’ immense power, having separate amplifiers and speakers allows custom designs to be tailored to the venue’s needs.
An unencumbered passage to the amplifier ensures simple support (climbing walls and soaring rafters every time you want to make an amplifier change is not fun).
Active (powered) speakers have built-in amplifiers that are precisely suited to the speakers. This is excellent for you since you won’t have to worry about matching your speakers with the correct amp — it’s already been solved for you. And they’re a breeze to work with. Setup is as simple as plugging your speaker into an electrical plug and connecting your other devices to the speaker.
Here’s our more in-depth article about the differences between active and passive speakers and recommendations.
All in all, go for active speakers as opposed to passive ones. If you’re a beginner, it makes the entire task of setting up much more straightforward. Otherwise, you may find yourself dealing with amps, wattage and ohm loads, and more other stuff.
That’s what I said to my cousin in Australia since I didn’t have time to explain every bit of the equipment. Eventually, he decided on two Electro-Voice ZLX-12BT and a sub.
I also highly advise getting a crossover; it divides the low-end frequencies from the high-end ones. This indicates the subs and speakers only get the frequency range they were intended to play. It makes the speakers much more productive, which means they sound much louder without attaching more speakers, and the speaker cones are less prone to breaking.
Ensure you get all of the right cables too.