This guide deals with TOP-5 best portable PA systems, which differ in prices, capacities and have various features. You will learn which model is more appropriate for one or another event and what product properties should be considered when buying an item. Find a beneficial F.A.Q section providing answers to most common questions asked by those who are planning to purchase these products.
To help you in your search for the best portable PA, we've taken a look at 5 of the market's most notable models and are including our analysis alongside a Buyer's Guide.
For many performers, having the perfect setup is just as important as having a solid performance. However, having to deal with different PAs each time you play might make it difficult to truly settle into your performance, instead having to deal with different specifications depending on the occasion. Though some performers prefer the independence that comes with not having too much equipment, lacking your own PA can sometimes be more complicated than it's worth.
For many, this means looking into a dedicated portable PA to bring with them for their performances. However, the market for portable PAs is so vast that it can sometimes feel intimidating. After all, when there are so many different options to choose from, how do you know where to start? So, without further ado, let's get right into it!
What You Will Learn From This Guide:
- What is a portable PA system and how does it work?
- What are the types of portable PA systems?
- What to look for when buying a product?
- TOP-5 best portable PA systems
Before you understand what a Portable PA System is, you should know the origins of such a device. Public Address systems (otherwise known as PAs) are often used to output sound, similar to a speaker. As the name suggests, the goal of a PA is to amplify sound so more people can hear it, typically being used at public gatherings to address a crowd of people.
Since their creation, PAs have come to be well-known for a variety of different uses. For example, PAs have become essential in a variety of art forms, such as their prominence in music performance. Though many bands will have their own sets of amplifiers, typically PAs are used to streamline many different aspects of the band's sound. Vocal mics, drum mics, and similar types of sound pickups are often sent through the venue's PA, allowing the sound engineer to mix and balance the sound more effectively.
Because of their size and weight, though, PAs are often thought to stay where they are used. Portable PAs defy this concept by being devices that can be easily transported, making them more ideal for someone who wants to optimize their sound and be ready for any occasion.
Just like with any piece of audio equipment, portable PAs come in many different forms, largely depending on what they're meant to be used for. Basic portable PA systems will come with a single PA, mixer, and microphone, allowing you to amplify sound simply and compactly. However, once you begin investing more time into the nuance amplifying sound brings, there are multiple ways systems will differ.
For multiple microphones
For instance, getting a true stereo sound will require a system that comes with two PAs, while those who want to connect multiple microphones to a speaker will likely invest in a system that allows you to have multiple inputs. There are also PAs specifically designed to be used by bands and as a result, will include subwoofers and more in-depth mixers to allow you to control the bass sounds specifically.
Some portable PA systems will focus on being lightweight, coming as all-in-one packages that you can easily carry and setup directly at a venue. Because there are so many different situations in which you might need a portable PA that doesn't connect to power, these models often run off of batteries, to make the process even easier.
For many PAs that are more detailed than others, though, it's worth noting that these types of models are often more difficult to carry than others. This is because with more features also comes more to pack into a single object, causing the associated PAs to be heavier. There are some products on the market that allow you to combine customization with portability, but they are frequently more expensive than your average portable PA system.
How expensive they can be
Price also plays a huge role in differentiating between different portable PA systems. Though PAs are quite expensive when compared to other types of audio gear, the price tag on more elaborate models will definitely dig deep into your wallet. Though this does not necessarily affect the quality of the model, it's worth having a price in mind (or limit) at the beginning of your search so you can truly find a model within your budget.
It's worth noting, though, that the most common types of portable PA setups you'll come across are typically a single speaker with a microphone connected to it. These are budget models that are meant to help anyone who is looking for a quick fix to any PA troubles they might have. These common models are typically without the level of customization and nuance that more high-end models include, but they're still great to use and very intuitive.
Determining which portable PA system is right for you depends on what specifically you're looking to use it for. For example, if you are simply looking to amplify someone's speaking voice to a small crowd, perhaps it's best to invest in a more budget portable PA system that will focus solely on just the amplification. This might take the shape of just one PA, a mixer, a microphone, and a mic stand.
However, if you're somebody who is looking to get more in-depth regarding the nuance of amplification, investing in a system that contains a larger mixer, two PAs, and perhaps even a subwoofer is the logical solution to ensure that you're getting the most out of your setup.
If you're somebody who intends to use your portable PA system for a variety of different types of events, you should look for a system that is flexible. These types of systems typically allow for multiple inputs, include detailed onboard mixing, and some bass power within each speaker. These types of systems are typically advertised as having a great deal of variety, making them easier to spot.
Read a review of the 5 best products on the market within the price range from $100 to $600. Each model has its advantages and disadvantages. Some items are compatible with Bluetooth while others are more powerful. Depending on the model, the wattage varies from 40W to 400W. The battery life also differs between various devices, reaching as much as 50 hours on a full charge. You will be able to compare these products in terms of their usage and decide which one would meet your needs. Are you going to hold a meeting, music performance or just an outdoor event? In this review, you will find the most appropriate portable PA system for you.
Affordable Portable PA System | ION Audio (iPA77)
As the cheapest portable PA setup on this list, this model is perfect for those looking for a budget product that does not sacrifice quality. This PA is made specifically for outputting a single microphone, but there are also ways to input an auxiliary cable (which is included, by the way!). If you want to play some music after speaking and don't have a specific playlist in mind, there is also the option to use the PA's built-in radio, something that definitely distinguishes this product from the rest of its competition.
If you're using this product for an outdoor event, you'll be relieved to find out that it also has a rechargeable battery included that makes it perfect to bring with you in any situation. The rechargeable battery can be used for up to 50 hours after completing a full charge, making it an especially important product for those who need a portable PA setup for use at long-lasting events. The Bluetooth capabilities of this portable PA system also makes it especially useful for those who want to be able to control the system from afar.
Though this portable PA does not come with wheels, it's important to note that it is pretty lightweight and therefore easy to carry. It also is a great example of a truly budget product, being significantly less expensive than any other product on the market. ION is also notorious for having great customer support for their durable products, making this an ideal product for someone looking to quickly purchase all of the materials necessary to project sound outdoors. Did we mention it also comes with a microphone?
ION Audio: Check the current price
Powerful Portable PA System | Behringer
In contrast with the aforementioned ION Audio Tailgater, this Behringer model is a step up for those looking for better quality in their sound setup. It is also Bluetooth compatible, letting you control the speaker from a great distance, but does not come with a microphone and auxiliary cord like other models. Something that we really enjoy about this product, though, is the amount of power you can get without much effort. It supports up to 40 Watts of power, allowing you to project the sound very, very far. Those who are using it for a public speaking effect will appreciate how far it can reach, while those using it to play music will be happy with how loud it emphasizes all frequency ranges.
This type of product is most recommended for those who want a heightened sound quality with their portable PA setup but are not looking to spend too much money in doing so. The unique 2-way speaker system gives you a crisp clarity that can't be replicated with cheaper setups, while the battery gives you up to 12 hours of sound at full volume. Though it's not the most efficient battery charge on the market, it's still more than enough for a majority of events.
The model's portability is what makes it soar above the competition, offering a really light-weight design, wheels, and even a handle to wheel it along with.
Behringer: Check the current price
Conference PA Speaker System | Fender
This is the perfect portable PA system for those who are looking for an increased sense of customization with their setup. Not only does the Fender Passport Conference PA Speaker System offer you an incredible amount of customization with some very detailed onboard mixers, but also the possibility for true stereo. The two high-quality speakers included with this system can be mounted or placed anywhere, giving you the opportunity to encompass your entire event in great sound.
With 175 watts of power, you can also project your sound incredibly far, making this an ideal set of speakers for someone who is looking for something to use for a public speaking event as much as a music performance. Because of this, I believe the Fender Passport Conference PA Speaker System to be the most versatile system currently available. Its price is also incredibly moderate for a system of its flexibility, making it even more ideal. This product is very portable as well, with both speakers clipping on easily to the main mixing unit!
Fender: Check the current price
Portable PA System for Public Speaking Events | Yamaha
Finding a PA for a full band event that can also be used for a public speaking event is often more complicated than doing the same action in reverse. This is because PAs that are built for music performances are often too big to be considered portable, meaning that you have to carefully search for one that will not only have the capability required to output an entire band's sound, but also be able to be easily transported.
This is why the Yamaha STAGEPAS 400I is such a unique product, as it can do both of these things with ease. As a moderately-priced portable PA system, this product allows you to not only plug in an auxiliary cord but also use any of the device's 6 different inputs. Not only that, but you can also mix every channel delicately in the on-board mixer! The only downside to this product is that it is not battery chargeable and as a result must be plugged in the entire time it is used, but this is a very small detail in the grand scheme of things, as there are many different ways you can utilize extension cords to make it work in many different situations. There are also handles included on each unit to make them easy to carry, making this a much better option than other full-sized PA systems out there!
Yamaha: Check the current price
Bluetooth Speaker System w/ Battery | Bose S1 Pro
If you are somebody whose only concern is finding a single incredibly high-quality speaker, this Bose S1 Pro Bluetooth Speaker System w/Battery is for you. As one of the leading companies in terms of making very lossless-sounding products, Bose transfers their general ethos to this incredibly high-quality device. Not only are you able to connect via Bluetooth, but playing lossless audio such as CDs or FLAC files will not be affected by using a wireless connection.
There isn't much to customize with the on-board mixer, but customization isn't necessary once you factor in how natural the sound is from the get-go, requiring little balance. This is a high-priced product because it is a high-end one, truly giving you great value for your money.
Bose: Check the current price
Comparative Chart of Portable PA System Effectiveness
Overall Performance: 9
Overall Performance: 8
Overall Performance: 10
Overall Performance: 10
Overall Performance: 9
The portable PA system that we think gives you the most value for your money and overall flexibility is the Fender Passport Conference PA Speaker System. This is because it allows you to compactly store two high-quality speakers within a very portable setup and is also very moderately-priced.
The best portable PA system for outdoor effects is surely the ION Audio Tailgater (iPA77). This is mainly to do with the battery power that allows you to keep it running for up to 50 hours on a full charge, making it ideal for long outdoor events.
The amount of watts that you need for your PA system depends on the system itself. However, if you're looking for an easily adaptable option to use with many different types of wattage, the Bose S1 Pro Bluetooth Speaker System w/Battery supports a few different options and can be adjusted with a proper power strip.
Line array speakers are when a PA system is constructed of multiple different speakers on top of each other. Though none of the products on this list come with that built-in (they must be purchased as add-on speakers), the Yamaha STAGEPAS 400I Portable PA System is compatible with various types of line array speakers and able to provide a foundation for such a setup.
A PA system is typically comprised of a speaker, a mixer, and an input. Though there can be complicated aspects to it such as multiple speakers, inputs, or elaborate mixing options, these typically aren't covered under the basic components.
Finding the right portable PA system is not the easiest task in the world. There are many different factors that you must take into consideration, all having great potential effects on the quality and versatility of the device.
However, it doesn't have to be difficult to find a product that is right for you. We hope this Buyer's Guide is helpful so that the next time you're in the market for a portable PA system, you can make an informed decision!