Summer is upon us, the pandemic has waned, social distancing mandates have mostly lifted, and people are excited and ready to hang out and socialize together again. What better a way to commemorate the times than with a good old fashioned house party? And a keystone of any good party is the music, and thus the speakers playing it.
This article will cover everything you need to know about how to pick the best speakers for throwing a great house party, and we’ll offer some specific product recommendations as well.
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What makes a speaker good for house parties specifically?
There are definitely a few factors that are worth distinctly considering if your goal is to specifically play music for a fun house party:
The speakers need to, more than anything, be LOUD enough
This is definitely the most important thing – nothing will deflate the mood or vibe of a party than if the speakers can’t get loud enough. In a party setting, people are thinking about letting loose and dancing, not discerning and appreciating the fine details of a mellow Steely Dan song, for example.
When it comes to sound in an upbeat party setting, quantity definitely matters over quality – it’s better for the music to be plenty loud and merely sound good enough than to be too quiet. And in a party setting a speaker needs to be all the more prominent to overcome more ambient noise and a crowd of bodies that can and will significantly dampen sound projection.
Here’s what’s important for ensuring speakers will be loud enough:
- A high power handling and/or max dB output rating.
- A high efficiency/sensitivity rating, which means the speakers can get louder with less power. 90+ dB (W/M) is a reasonable benchmark.
- A design that prioritizes power/loudness – light metallic or polymer woofers as opposed to heavier/softer cloth or paper woofers and a ported cabinet that helps project and minimizes resonance above all else.
Klipsch is a brand that’s notable here because they definitely produce speakers with the above traits. Klipsch speakers are known to be a little shrill/bright/harsh, but they also can get very loud and are often competitively priced, which leads us to the next factor:
The speakers shouldn’t be too expensive
Loud “blue collar” speakers that will get the job done for throwing a fun house party do not need to be exorbinately expensive, and they shouldn’t be, because spilled drinks, knocked over furniture, and other such party fouls inevitably happen. Even if your domicile comes away completely unscathed, it’s no fun sitting on pins and needles worrying that uncle Barry is going to accidentally dump his margarita in the port of a ten thousand dollar reference monitor.
It’s entirely possible to get a set of speakers for no more than about 200-300 dollars that will be plenty for the vast majority of party rooms that aren’t unusually large.
The speakers need to be durable
Strong plastic or fiber board cabinet material as opposed to more traditional wood (or mock wood). Metallic or polymer drivers that are potentially more resistant to dings or errant liquid or debris. Hard grated grill covers as opposed to soft cloth/mesh covers. And a longer 3-5+ year warranty to back all that kind of stuff up ideally.
Bookshelf speakers are probably the way to go
Bookshelf speakers usually offer maximum performance for minimal price for any type of listening, not just fun house party music specifically. They’re also easiest to place securely and safely with minimal party foul risk, as opposed to tower speakers, stands, or platforms, which are inevitably more exposed and prone to getting knocked.
Outdoor/All-weather speakers might be a good idea
Just because a speaker is designated to be used outdoors certainly doesn’t mean that it can’t be used indoors like a regular speaker, and in fact many such speakers are marketed as either indoor/outdoor speakers. Not only are such speakers designed to withstand water, dust, debris, etc., but they also often have longer and more extensive warranties.
Active/powered speakers and/or portable Bluetooth speakers also might be a good idea
Passive speakers generally offer the most bang for your buck, both power/volume and quality wise, and if you’re looking for a permanent at-home set up they are probably the best option. The downside of them, though, is you’ll need to use speaker wire to connect them to a receiver or amplifier, and more equipment/cable is more expensive, more potential tripping/knocking hazard, and more initial work to set up.
Active/powered bookshelf speakers can be an appealing alternative, especially so for temporary setups, since they can plug right into a standard wall socket and be ready to go. Selection of such was limited until somewhat recently, but now there are a lot of great active/powered speakers that can be just as good (and loud!) as traditional passive speakers.
Wireless/portable Bluetooth speakers have also become very popular in recent years, but most of them are more suited for smaller low key gatherings and won’t get loud enough for a full sized house party. There are a few larger ones, though, that are big/loud enough, and we expect more to come out in the near future.
You can see our various specific product recommendations towards the end of the article – we’ll cover all the viable types/options.
How to party/idiot proof your sound system
A lot of a product’s performance and reliability in a party setting will come down to you, the user, setting it up well. Here’s what to be mindful of in that regard:
Good cable management
Do not leave any loose or errant wires. Run wires directly to the wall and room corners. Use electrical/wire-harness tape to tape down wire, and run it under a rug or carpet if possible.
Put speakers on firm ground, ideally in a place that’s more tucked away and less likely for a party goer to accidentally knock into. Consider slip resistant pads, reusable adhesive like Blu-Tack, or even bolting a speaker to the wall or ground if it has hooks or brackets, which many do.
If using a receiver or amplifier, try to keep it secured behind a closed door of some kind and control it via Bluetooth with your phone (pretty much all modern receivers and many amplifiers can do that).
Use hard covers or grills
We mentioned this already but it bears repeating: don’t leave speaker drivers exposed when there’s any risk of them getting physically damaged. Almost every set of speakers comes with covers, and you should use them. Sometimes the included covers are a soft fabric style, and while that’s better than nothing, we strongly recommend getting separate hard grill style covers if you don’t have them.
The important truth about buying audio equipment
We always say this in our recommendation articles:
Product prices can fluctuate significantly in the audio market, and often times for no apparent reason.
Therefore, the “best” product choice often comes down to whatever the best available deal is at the time among the top/popular contenders. It’s definitely worthwhile to shop around. One tool that’s useful for doing this is Amazon best-sellers lists – they update hourly and these good deals often rise to the top. The table below is populated in real time with data from these best-sellers lists. You’ll usually see our picks among them.
Specific products we can recommend
There are a lot of viable options, and the best choice for you will depend on a variety of situational factors (including current prices/deals as we just said), but there are a few products that we think will be solid choices for most people:
The Klipsch R-41M is a great passive speaker for throwing house parties:
Klipsch speakers are known for being loud and proud, often offering the most power at multiple price brackets, and their older reference bookshelf speakers (circa 2019) now go for very cheap – we’ve seen them over 40% off their original MSRP. With 50/200 watts of continuous/peak power handling and a high 90 dB sensitivity rating, these will give *plenty* of volume for just about any room in a house that isn’t exorbinately large. They also have the aforementioned design and build materials that are ideal for speakers to be used in a house party setting.
They also come in an active/powered style for not all that much more money – the R-41PM:
With 70/240 watts of continuous/peak power handling, and 105 dB of max output, these too will be *plenty* loud for most people, and are a great alternative plug-in-and-play option for those who can’t or don’t want to deal with a receiver or amplifier. They also have onboard Bluetooth, or a simple remote for the oldschoolers.
The back panel has every current and legacy input anyone should ever need, and also a sub-out input which gives you the option of adding a subwoofer if you want to (and adding a subwoofer is generally a great idea).
If you’re interested in speakers graded for outdoor/all-weather use, which we said might be a good idea to use indoors all the same, consider the Klipsch AW-650 indoor/outdoor speakers:
These are a little pricier, but still a great value. We’ve recommended them on our best outdoor speakers article for several years now (anything from that list will work well too), and they still have some of the highest power and efficiency ratings we’ve seen on non commercial grade speakers, meaning they can get very, very loud. They’re also water/dust resistant and come with a long 5 year warranty.
If you’re interested in similar indoor/outdoor speakers of the active/powered variety, the OSD BTP525 is a viable choice:
These are a plug-in-and-play option similar to the Klipsch R-41PMs, but they don’t have as much power handling and thus might not get quite loud enough in larger, noisier, or more crowded rooms/areas. The OSD speakers’ advantage, though, is their fully sealed design for maximum water/debris resistance, so if one of these manages to get damaged in your house… well at least it sounds like it was a heck of a party.
While a lot of portable Bluetooth speakers are now quite good, most of them won’t be loud enough for a house party, but one notable exception, and a viable option for many situations, are the increasingly popular Ion Audio Box speakers:
We reviewed the older/legacy Pathfinder version (which you can still get for pretty cheap it looks like), but have also listened to the newer ones and they are all good and get decently loud. Like the smaller OSD BTP525s, the ION speakers might not suffice for larger, noisier, or more crowded rooms/areas, and they’re not going to be able to compete with the likes of the Klipsch speakers, but it’s nice to have a chargeable/wireless/portable option that will definitely work for many situations.
Need an receiver or amplifier for some passive speakers?
Want a subwoofer to really help bring the house down?