Using PA Speakers In A Home "Audiophile" Application!

Hi guys,

I am a bit inspired to explore/trial usage of a pair of PA speakers at home after i attended a live event recently. 

I looked at some Yamaha PA models and zoomed in on one that isn't too huge/heavy, relatively easy to move around perhaps. 

Are there any audiophiles here who had relative satisfaction trying such speakers at home? I am also thinking that this may not be a great idea, but, just curious at the moment.




1) most (not all) music venues are mono - not stereo. This is because you want people everywhere to hear roughly the same sound. Given that pressure levels drop by 3 DB as you square the distance, people on the left side of the hall are not going to hear separate information on the right side of the hall. PA speakers are not designed with imaging in mind if this is important to you.

I am not sure why a well designed PA speaker with a decent off axis response and dispersion characteristics shouldn’t image just as good in a stereo setting. Image depth/perception of layering, etc gets killed largely by the likes of goofy PA amps like Crown, etc. But, hifi amps and dacs should address that.

2) because of the demands for high acoustic volume, most PA speakers (even relatively large ones) will have limited low frequency extension unless you adopt a line array structure (not practical for home use). You’ll also notice how big the subs typically are (often multiple cabinets the size of a VW Bug w/ twin 18” woofers). They’re pretty poor at low bass definition (these are not the most rigid woofers because of their size) but wow can they put out the volume. However, even those huge subs don’t go to 20 hz - typically only down to 30 hz.

IMO, it is good that they don’t have low bass extension. “Full range” is essentially a problem speaker catered to old school audiophiles who don’t wanna deal with subs. Loads of low bass output/extension in the inevitably “wrong location” for bass, ( i.e. the optimal location for a speaker’s imaging) leads to room chaos/ modal hell in a home setting…Not to mention the fact that cabinet costs have to soar exponentially now to contain some chaos when adding octaves on the low end. Subwoofers (modal treatment devices, not just for low end extension) in the right locations are the right tool to address bass extension and modal hell.


3) as others previously mentioned, crossovers built in are for power handling. Many better sounding PAs use outboard crossovers with separate amps.

This…I’m not entirely sure because I’ve never dissected crossovers in any higher quality passive PA speaker. But, I would think they play it conservative/safe with the crossover points to mitigate heat and mechanical distress for the drivers at high SPLs (lot more so than in home speakers). The quality of the crossover components themselves can play into how much detail can be perceived, etc. That may be the only compromise if corners get cut.

4) The cabinets are designed to take the abuse of the road. They’re felt covered plywood or vinyl covered plywood, or plastic. And, they ring like crazy. Because they’re driven to high volumes in larger spaces, nobody cares.

Well, it appears that the speaker the sample speaker I linked on the OP appears to be made of Finnish birch! all the way from Finland!! I’ll sand it down a bit and give it a nice rustic wood stain, make it look pretty. 😁


On the video link I posted above, Levinson is charging audiophiles a measly 100k (!) for what I’m essentially reading as a Pro audio speaker with a nicer looking cabinet and so on. My hope is there are some diamonds hiding in the humongous list of PA speakers out there that would shine at a much lower cost, if the audiophile ethos for front end electronics, room, etc are applied.

I always run PA systems in mono sometimes with a little stereo reverb to make people think they’re having more fun, and the soundcheck stereo thing is for my own amusement...if you mixed an act in stereo, even relatively small venues, people on the edges would deserve a ticket refund and the crowd could riot and burn the place down.


I’m not trying to discourage you from experimenting. Nor am i suggesting that you wouldn’t be happy with the result. What I am trying to convey is that there are compromises in pro audio gear you should be aware of. Just because they’re “pro speakers” doesn’t make them better than home speakers. Again - engineering is engineering. Tell the engineer what’s most important and they design accordingly.

On the question of imaging. You mention off axis response. Pro touring speakers are designed with relatively narrow dispersion intentionally to concentrate that acoustic energy so that it makes it to the back of a large venue. It also helps reduce the smearing from side wall reflections. If you widen the dispersion - you diminish its “throw”. If you’ve ever walked around a venue doing a sound check - moving just 5 feet in any direction you’ll hear the sound change - sometimes dramatically. This is due to the phase cancellations of the multiple speakers throwing a narrow beam of sound. You don’t notice it during a show because you’re seated in one place. Move around before a crowd gets there and it’s pretty remarkable. So, pro speakers in home - unless it’s a very large room - may seem “beamy” relative to home speakers.

The other element affecting imaging is the ringing cabinet. When a driver moves - it makes sound. When a cabinet vibrates, it makes sound which competes with the drivers reducing imaging. Personally speaking - imaging is over-rated. But I like my speakers to disappear and you probably would find pro audio speakers don’t disappear. Full disclosure - I’m extrapolating from what I know. As I haven’t tried pro speakers in my listening room, I could easily be wrong.

I actually hope you try it and let us know your findings.



@OP, just coming back regarding the Yamaha speaker you posted. While the specs mention "full range", that speaker is actually for what back in my live sound days, we would call a 'vocal PA' i.e. really designed for sound reinforcement of vocals, guitars and keys but not bass and drums - typically the kind of PA you'd use in a small pub.

One other observation, a couple of posts conflate pro sound with studio sound. Studio monitors are totally different in design to PA speakers and there are plenty of studio monitors that are entirely usable domestically.

But @yoyoyaya is there any (lower priced) studio monitor that puts the PA energy into music playback? They seem tangential to the goals here.
Seems OP is hoping to save money and get a more live experience but the trouble might come from studio-recorded (mastered) music lacking the dynamics of live music. After all, the idea to use PA in home would probably be based on how good it sounds with live music, right?