Turn up the music: rent vs. buy speakers for a party
December 16, 2013 9:40 AM   Subscribe

I've got a house party coming up in a couple weeks. I will be playing downloaded, not great quality mp3s from a laptop via Winamp (please assume this setup cannot be changed/improved). Should I rent a standing speaker, or buy something suitable from a store like Best Buy? I am not looking to crank the music super loud, but it there will be dancing and I want the music heard. Details: party to happen on main floor - open concept, approx 45 people, detached house. Minimal room for speakers. Simple set up desired. Budget - around $200. Location - Toronto
posted by walkinginsunshine to Technology (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
you can get some loud but not audiophile quality speakers from bestbuy for that much. then you'll have them forever... i'd lean toward buy
posted by carlodio at 9:54 AM on December 16, 2013

The Logitech UE Boom Wireless Speaker impressed the crap out of me when I heard it in a store recently. It's extremely powerful, can fill a room, and is just under $200. They have them at some Verizon stores and Best Buys if you want to try before you buy. It's primarily Bluetooth, but you can plug a regular miniplug into it as well.

It's also battery powered, good for 15 hours, but you can plug it in via USB long-term. It pumps sound out in all directions, which is especially neat.
posted by disillusioned at 10:00 AM on December 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

Perhaps throw "borrow" into the options mix? Maybe one of your friends has something to lend that would save your money for other party accoutrements.
posted by cecic at 10:54 AM on December 16, 2013 [2 favorites]

Buy. What you buy depends on what you want in the long term, but for a house party with 45 people, there are lots of suitable options - you certainly don't need to rent something higher powered.
posted by ssg at 11:01 AM on December 16, 2013

Can your laptop do bluetooth? Or else can it be sitting close enough to connect via cord to the reasonably-sized Jawbone Jambox? Because that is what you want.

Disclaimer: I have the "BIG" model, which is outside your stated budget. However, I am so impressed by the sound and depth of this little speaker, that I am sure the smaller versions are equally good. I bought one the day after I heard it perform disturbance- and distortion-free at a rowdy tailgate, and have listened to it during normal house parties, both inside and out. Also, I think it is cute.

Bluetooth is ideal (because then you can stow your laptop safely elsewhere, charging, and no one can mess with your mix - haha kidding, kind of) but check the cord situation and see if that's compatible as a second option.
posted by juliplease at 11:13 AM on December 16, 2013

The all in one speaker amp combos are convenient, but not necessarily the most cost effective. I own this amp and these speakers and they sound fantastic while getting pretty loud. Of course you'll also need to get some speaker wire and RCA cables to make it all work.
posted by sewellcm at 11:33 AM on December 16, 2013

Consider speaker sets for video games. They're usually pretty compact, get pretty damn loud, and the subwoofer will a) take some load off the tiny speakers, and b) really fill the room with decent bass for dancing. And they're within your budget range. You'll just need the 2.1/2 speakers+subwoofer package.

Downsides: not audiophile quality (pish posh, big whoop), size/space might not be within your requirements, and lastly, the speakers will need power from an electrical outlet and corded to your laptop (though >10ft miniplug-to-miniplug cables exist).

I'd go to your local bigbox electronics store to check 'em out in for size and sound. But really, most of the gaming speaker sets out there get pretty damn loud.
posted by herrdoktor at 12:46 PM on December 16, 2013

Just a little tip: Audiophiles are often chasing the next upgrade and they can spend prodigious amounts of money on speakers. As a result, if you look around, you can pick up amazing bargains on older secondhand speakers that have _terrific_ quality. Craiglist/Ebay etc, but also audiophile forums in your country will snag you some real bargains.
posted by smoke at 2:31 PM on December 16, 2013

You could probably rent a couple of speakers on sticks plus the necessary cables for a good bit less than $200. Call around sound rental companies. I use a couple of QSC K10 speakers as computer speakers (which is only a function of me being weird). They would work quite well for your use. So would many other plastic-molded powered speakers, which many companies will have for rental (the small K8 would work well too).
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 2:32 PM on December 16, 2013

And for an example of what kind of prices to expect, here's a rental listing of a couple of systems that would be serviceable for your use (I don't know about the company, I just found it by googling). I think your party is at the boundary between what you can do with home speakers and what definitely requires DJ/sound reinforcement speakers. I'd set up the 10" or so speakers near the dance area, and then use home/computer speakers elsewhere for ambiance.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 2:59 PM on December 16, 2013

Don't get a Jambox or similar. The noise of 40 people once they've had a few drinks will quickly eclipse anything small. At previous parties 2 sets of 2.1 computer speakers with the volume at max and the bass all the way up has always ended up feeling underpowered. If it's not loud enough to be fairly uncomfortable to listen to on your own, then it's almost certainly not loud enough to make 40 drunk people happy.
posted by leo_r at 9:06 AM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'd go with a rental, so you can also rent stands to elevate the speakers and point them down to teh dancefloor rather than having noise travel horizontally through bodies. I'm not a scientist, but my instincts tell me it would be a better arrangement.
posted by WeekendJen at 10:00 AM on December 17, 2013

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