The ideal speakers should be able to give the same clarity and detail to the bassline as it does to the screaming top notes of a guitar solo and should maintain that clarity even when you crank the volume. Look for woofers with stiffer and more durable cones that will stand up to pumping out loud music and a sophisticated crossover circuit that gives you smooth and uninterrupted play in the mid-range, where the majority of the music will be taking place.
Here are our recommendations for the 4 best speakers for rock music:
Klipsch Heresy III
When designer Paul Klipsch introduced his horn-loaded speaker design in 1957, it was such a radically new way of looking at acoustics that critics of the timed deemed it heresy. Klipsch immortalized this innovation with its line of Heresy speakers. This newest model (see full specs) is impressively compact given the power of its 12” direct-radiating woofer, with a durable solid wood cabinet that’s hand-built to ensure precision. Authentic sound reproduction is the ultimate goal in your home speakers, and the Heresy delivers. The crossovers are impeccably designed to give a smooth and seamless sound from the highs down to the lows, and the sound stays natural and clean at impressively high volumes.
JBL Northridge N24AWII
There’s nothing wrong with enjoying music when you’re alone, but the best part of having good speakers is being able to share the listening experience with friends. With their Northridge weather-resistant speakers, JBL lets you take your party outside. The WeatherPlas woofer is made of polymer-coated cellulose fiber for a tight, bone-shaking bass response, while the titanium-laminate dome tweeter gives pristine response in the treble range. The weather proofing is military spec—perhaps a bit of overkill for the neighborhood pool party, but the waterproof power port bass vent and rustproof hardware mean it’ll survive the party no matter what happens. If you want tough, this is likely the best speaker for rock music period.
If bass power is what you’re looking for, the XLS-215 is your answer. This speaker (see full specs) is especially great for anyone who’s using a low power amplifier because it’s got a high sensitivity rating but is still capable of delivering ground-shaking bass thanks to a pair of 15” cast frame high excursion woofers. Of course, drivers of that size demand an equally impressive cabinet, and this speaker is large—about four feet tall and over 100 pounds—and demands a larger listening room to really show its strengths. If you’ve got the space and budget, though, this is the ideal speaker if you’re into metal and hard rock and want to feel the music when you listen to it.
Infinity found a perfect balance of performance and value when they designed the Primus loudspeaker. It’s strongest in the mid-range, where it gives excellent clarity and a smooth response that’s especially impressive in its accurate reproduction of vocal lines. All of the drivers use Metal Matrix Diaphragm technology to ensure an accurate response and deliver consistently realistic sound without distortion. The compact design makes them perfect for any size of listening room, and they give equally great sound to television and movies, making them ideal multi-use speakers in your living room or entertainment room. If you’re on a budget, these just might be the best speakers for rock music.
When Size Matters
Speaker makers are constantly striving to find the perfect balance between size and power, especially when we’re talking about reproducing bass frequencies. In a very basic sense, the larger the woofer, the less effort it takes to make it play loud and low, but bigger is not always better.
Larger woofers can give bass sounds a muddy or boomy sound, especially at lower dynamic levels, if they’re not made from the right material. Of course, the material and placement of the woofer, combined with technologies like the horn loading used in the Klipsch, can alter the output of a given woofer. While you can’t always determine how much bass a speaker will give you strictly by its size, it is true that a larger speaker like the Cerwin Vega will inherently have a higher volume capability, especially in the low end, than a smaller speaker like the JBL Northridge, but it is also likely to have a slower response and give you less sonic detail.
Which trait is more important—and even which shortfallings you’re going to notice—all depend on your personal tastes and what you expect from your ideal sound. Most people will not want to play music at the volumes the Cerwin Vega is capable of producing, but most listeners also won’t be concerned with (or maybe even notice) the improvement to the bass articulation with the JBL.
In truth, the size-related consideration that will be of most importance to most people is the exterior dimension of the speaker. When you’ve got two 15” woofers like in the Cerwin Vega, you’re going to need a lot of cabinet space to fit it. Even if your listening room has space for a gargantuan speaker, you may not want a 4” tower taking up a corner of your room, and moving a 100-pound speaker might seem like too much of an undertaking. Even the Klipsch Heresy could be too bulky for some listening rooms, where the bookshelf size of the Infinity Primus could be more the right size.
Remember that a speaker should also be suited to the room where it’s situated. A speaker that’s designed for louder volumes and bigger spaces won’t fit right in a smaller room, playing at lower dynamics; a speaker that’s fantastic for your office might sound too think when it’s playing to a whole dining room or patio. The short answer is that when it comes to speaker equipment, size does matter but there’s no one right answer. All four of the speakers on this list are the best speakers for rock music in some specific application. Determining which one will fit best in your set-up is the most important step in making a satisfying purchase.