Jargon – Sound systems explained

Active Speakers vs. Passive Speakers

When people talk about Active Speakers, they generally mean ‘powered’ speakers that have amplifiers built into them. They also have the crossovers before the amplifier in the signal path, which saves any amplifier power being wasted on ‘passive’ electronic components before it gets to the speakers. This means that active speakers can squeeze every drop of power from lower quality amplifiers and makes them much cheaper to build.

The vast majority of low-end sound systems available for hire are based on active powered speakers to save money and also weight.

The most popular of our active speaker systems are based on one pair of Mackie SRM450, or something similar from JBL, or EV Electrovoice. They are generally described as 800w systems and they are loud enough for a party of around 50 people, but the sound quality is not in the same league as our Martin Audio systems, so we don’t recommend them for weddings and events unless the budget is very tight.


Subwoofers are speakers designed solely to play bass frequencies. For some sound systems, a separate subwoofer is essential, as the main speakers are too small to produce bass frequencies or have had them filtered out. Most of the time though, a subwoofer is an optional extra that improves the sound of your system and gives you greater control of the bass – this can be especially useful if you want to use a system late at night without disturbing the neighbours for example.

As a general rule, for a proper party or wedding system, a subwoofer is pretty much essential if your main speakers have bass drivers that are smaller than 15”.

Martin Audio

From a sound system point of view, we are completely independent, and not swayed by particular business deals or PR based equipment loans. Our preferred sound systems are Martin Audio and we have a huge stock, so if you want a little piece of Fabric London or the Ministry of Sound at your event, you have come to the right place! They have very solid wooden cabinets rather than the plastic cabinets of the cheaper powered speakers and this, in addition to the higher standard of components, makes a huge difference to the sound quality. The only other speakers in the same league are Funktion One, d&b audiotechnik, or L-Acoustics.

Martin Audio have an extremely good reputation within the sound hire industry and they have won many awards over the years, especially at the Ministry of Sound in London, which is one of their flagship systems. Fabric London is another famous Martin Audio install and they have been running the same system more or less unchanged in room one for over 10yrs – it still sounds amazing!!

Other Martin Audio systems of note have been installed at Matter/O2 Arena in London, Eden in Ibiza, Clapham Grand, Rock Ness, Pacha London, Prodigy at V, Glastonbury Pyramid Stage, the list goes on…….


Funktion One

For really large events, we recommend Funktion One speakers. The coverage and dispersion is excellent and the bass is quite frankly ridiculous when set up correctly. The main room at Space sounded fantastic and we feel that it would not have been possible to achieve those levels of quality and coverage without a custom designed Funktion One system – full credit to all those involved.

The downside is that it can be quite hard to contain the sound from a Funktion One sound system – there are not many villas or venues in Ibiza where you can get away with it these days! Another problem is weight & size – it’s not easy to install a proper Funktion One system and this is reflected in the hire cost.

Budget Systems

Many people just want the bare minimum for a villa party or weekly sound system, and we have lots of experience with this. Our active and passive JBL and Bose systems are very popular, as are the smaller active Mackie systems, such as the SRM450.

We even have systems for as little as €30 per day and they are all suitable for connecting a DJ setup to. Please don’t hesitate to give us a call, whatever your budget.