Cheapest possible speaker for public presentation
January 30, 2019 5:25 PM   Subscribe

My organization does once a week presentations in an open courtyard. For sound we have a little 8" all-in-one amp/MP3 player/cuisinart that sits up front. We're looking for recommendations for a speaker to attach to its Speakon OUT port.

The courtyard is about 20 yards deep and people are having trouble hearing at the back, so we'd like to hook up a speaker to help them out. The amp has a Speakon out port on the back so theoretically it's just a matter of a long cable and a speaker.

Difficulty 1: We have no idea how to pick a speaker that would be good to use for this.

Difficulty 2: The budget is making shoplifting an attractive option.

The purchase will be made in Mexico so I'm not sure model numbers will help much. It would be nice to have an idea of what to look for though.
posted by Tell Me No Lies to Media & Arts (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It's not unusual for companies that make these kind of little all-in-one portable systems to also make "extension speakers" for exactly what you plan to use it for. So I'd look for that first.

Otherwise, if you just need to get someone talking a little louder, another small 8" speaker should be fine. Ideally one that you can mount on a tripod stand or microphone stand so it can be at least at average standing ear height.

Might be able to come up with more specific suggestions if you can give us the make & model of what you've got - lots of this stuff is truly global, the same pieces of gear go to all sorts of countries, with maybe some minor tweaks for local electric voltages.
posted by soundguy99 at 6:46 PM on January 30, 2019

It's a speakon connector and not an XLR? A speakon connector seems very unusual for something like that.

Assuming it's actually got an XLR output (or even a 1/4" output), and also assuming that the extension speaker needs to be powered (because 8" all-in-one amp/MP3 player/cuisinarts usually down have enough power to power an external speaker), I would suggest a small self-powered PA speaker like this (which doesn't have any speakon connectors):

If you need more info, it would help to know exactly which "cuisinart" it's hooking up to.
posted by jonathanhughes at 7:11 PM on January 30, 2019

Umm, yes, well, about that make and model...


I’ll see if Steren makes an expansion speaker. They do have their own little Latin American ecosystem going.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 7:36 PM on January 30, 2019

Well, look at that — it does have a speakon connector. Unfortunately, I'm baffled (or BAFLEd). I found the manual online, which has an English section, and it doesn't give any info as to how to connect another speaker (aside from saying that that connector is the speaker connector). Sometimes speakers have two speakon connectors, and you can daisy chain them, but with just connector, I can't imagine how that could work. I suggest seeing if there's a Steren dealer nearby and seeing what they suggest. Sorry I couldn't be of more help — this seemed like it was going to be easy!
posted by jonathanhughes at 8:00 PM on January 30, 2019

One speakon connector for this is fine - the unit the OP has is powered, there's an amplifier built in to the unit. So the speakon connector is just tapping off that for output to an additional speaker.

You're basically looking for a PA (public address) speaker. You want an UNpowered or "passive" speaker. ("Portable" also mostly means "powered", these days, so those are not what you want.) The impedance of the extension speaker should be 8 ohms (I couldn't find an ELI5 explanation of impedance, but in context it's probably not that important), which most passive speaker cabinets are, just double-check.

I was actually unable to get to a manual, the link on the product page gives me a 404, but looking at the specs it seems about what I expected. It's a fairly low-powered 100 watts, and your extension speaker's power handling shouldn't be less than 100 watts.

The catch, sort of, is that very small unpowered PA speakers are actually pretty uncommon, now, at least in the US. Building power amplifiers into speaker cabinets is now so cheap (and easier for the target market to understand, not too many cables) that most companies that make small stuff like what you've got don't make unpowered cabinets - Steren themselves don't seem to have any. So most of what I'm finding in budget unpowered speaker cabinets is going to be larger (with a 10" or 12" woofer) and capable of handling 300 to 800 watts, far more than your little all-in-one is putting out.

Technically for what you seem to be using it for a larger speaker capable of handling more power should be fine, and you should be able to find at least a few models under $200 US. Something like this Rockville SPG88 8" Inch Passive 400w DJ PA Speaker ABS Lightweight Cabinet 8 Ohm looks about right, although Rockville is not exactly a name brand.

"Unpowered speaker" results from Amazon.
posted by soundguy99 at 9:36 PM on January 30, 2019

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