A PA system or ‘public address system’ is an electronic sound amplification device that is made of loudspeakers, microphones, and an amplifier. It is primarily used to address a large crowd such as in a public gathering, an assembly or a rock concert. Having an excellent PA system can enhance a band’s performance to a great extent. Depending on the size of the venue, various systems are available in the market.
A simple PA system can be used at smaller gatherings such as in a small bar, church or school auditorium. A PA system with many speakers is used mainly for large venues such as in commercial buildings, huge locations, or institutions. It can be installed in a building and it may have many microphones in separate rooms and the occupants can respond to the announcement. With these, there are a number of possibilities and it all depends on your particular needs and usage.
Best Portable PA System - Our Picks
Smartphone Users: scroll the table horizontally while browsing.
Reviews of the Best PA Systems of 2016
We keep this one on top of the list because it is a complete package for anyone who wants to have an all-in-one 12 inch PA system. It has all the additional features that one can require. The pro audio speakers are 12″ long with an impressive 1000 watts of total power. It is ideal for smaller crowds and comes with stands which can be used to mount the speakers as well as other parts of equipment such as connection cables and microphones.
With only minimal setup, you could get your party started within a matter of minutes. We recommend this PA system for various events from live music gigs to house parties, karaoke, and DJ applications. The system can also be connected through USB cable or Bluetooth integration which is an added bonus.
Peavey Audio Performer Package
This is an all-in-one audio performer pack, it has a compact design which makes it easy to carry. It has a new Pvi 4B powered mixer and also a PV series microphone with other accessories and loudspeakers. The Peavey performer pack is easy to use and it delivers a powerful sound for small performances with multipurpose use in a number of venues such as churches or schools and other intimate settings.
It features powerful rotary controls that can be quite handy in adjusting the level, tone, and reverb. It also has a set design made of four balanced microphones with 1/4 TRS inputs with the tape and CD input along with level control, the line out of the connection and external amplifiers so as to record the output. Peavey Audio is well-known for their popular audio products so definitely give this one a look.
This one works well for personal use and intimate, small gatherings and it ideal for outdoor gatherings if you do not have access to a wall outlet. If the battery gets low, one has the option to plug it into a wall outlet to charge it again. This model uses a powerful 40 watt speaker combined with a VHF wireless microphone which makes it quite a catch. The speaker is built-in using the long-life and rechargeable battery.
The speaker can also be charged using the cord of a 12VDC adapter which is included within the package. Its system consists of a handheld transmitter and a microphone with a one body pack transmitter which can be used with either a lapel microphone or a headset microphone. You can choose any microphone you need. Definitely not bad for those looking to travel with their PA system.
This one has been specially designed keeping different PA applications in mind such as audio devices, drum machines, keyboards, vocals and other musical instruments. It contains a 4.5-inch speaker and also a high-frequency driver that helps to get balanced mid and high range sounds at the same time helping the vocals cut within the mix. It has a heavy-duty steel grill for durability and it also features a 1/4 subwoofer output if an additional subwoofer is required.
The system has a 3 channel mixer with instrument inputs, and the two can be used together. Power link circuits let the user link two or even more units in one system but you’ll need to buy those separately if you don’t have them already.
This is a lightweight unit offering impeccable sound quality. It supports 4 input channels – two each for MIC/Line and stereo. It comprises one 5” woofer and a couple of 2.75” horn tweeters. This PA can conveniently fit small- to mid-scale events. This new version is not only three pounds lighter than the old one, it also sports an extra stereo channel and has improved speaker voicing. Its sound truly travels.
For this generation of Passport PA systems, Fender has reserved the best features of the previous models and added improved functionality so that this Passport speaker system is perfect for various applications such as presentations or party gigs or for music in small clubs or coffee houses.
This cost-effective unit meets the PA system expectations at both indoor and outdoor venues. Even though it is a small system, it puts out a lot of sounds. Notable features of this PA system include a mixer with 4 channels of MIC/Line input, an additional input for other personal music devices such as mobile phones and computers, a direct line for recording, special digital effects, and a full-range 10-inch 2-way speaker that sound equally well outdoors.
It is a good choice for parties, presentations, DJ’s and karaoke nights.
This PA system is wireless and portable and which makes it a great option for a smaller crowd or social gathering. It allows the user to get access to a powerful audio output with wireless freedom and mobility around the area. Using the built-in pin dock or iPod one can connect it to an iPhone or iPod in order to play their favourite music and it simultaneously keeps the device charged.
This system is capable of powering a 500 watt system with 8 woofers and 3 compression speakers. It has one VHF wireless microphone and it is used to operate at certain distances — so keep that in mind if you need to walk away from the unit. It also has a telescoping handle with castor wheels to offer portability as well as uses a rechargeable.
This one is an amazingly lightweight, portable, easy-to-use PA system which consists of a pair of high-performance speakers with a built-in powered mixer. It is easy to set up and play and can also be packed with great ease and speed. There is no compromise in either its sound quality or versatility and it also includes some advanced features you normally wouldn’t expect to find in systems in this class.
This one is ideal for live performances as it offers great sound quality with a dual 250-Watt amplifier and a versatile 10-channel mix which includes a monitor and record outputs.
Behringer Europort EPA 150
This compact, yet dynamic 150-watt, 5-channel PPA system is ideal for small and mid-sized events. It is a self-contained system that is equipped with power, speakers and mixers which are compactly packed together in a light-weight, clever design. It is perfectly suited for solo artists and presenters as it can easily be connected to a mobile phone.
Connectivity options in this system include extending support to balanced XLR microphones, electronic keyboards, electric guitars and even CD/MP3 players on specific channels, making EPA150 a good choice for various small-sized events.
The last one on our list but it is definitely a monster. The best feature is its Spatial Dispersion technology which distributes sound evenly across the stage and throughout the audience—even to the extreme sides. The L1 Compact system brings together the best of conventional PA and monitors into one sleek unit. The system’s power stand consists of a unified bass speaker and amplifier along with a built-in mixer thereby providing overall four inputs and two outputs.
Its line array covers a large area and it is easy to set up. Even though this one might be a little heavy on the pocket, its features and amazing sound quality make up for it.
Speakers and Their Types
Speakers are devices that convert electrical signals which are amplified by the amplifier, into vibrations of air that can be heard by humans as sound. Speakers are available in various shapes and sizes, types and models. A little knowledge about the types of speakers and their uses can help you select the perfect PA system for yourself.
Based on Amplification
Depending on where the signal is amplified, these come in two categories which are described below.
A speaker that doesn’t have a built-in amplifier; therefore you need to connect it to your amplifier through normal speaker wire. A majority of the speakers are passive featuring only basic speaker functionality.
Also known as ‘powered speakers’, this speaker contains an internal power amplifier. Therefore, it can be directly connected to a mixer, which reduces the number of cables required.
Based on Use
A PA system uses several kinds of speakers for different purposes. Broadly these can be divided into three categories.
These speakers deliver the maximum amount of the sound to the audience or listeners. So their size should be chosen according to your venue with the main speakers to improve the low-end sound range and are designed especially for the purpose of playing low-frequency sound playback.
3 Monitor Speakers
Band performers use these to monitor the sound. These can be positioned either on the floor or stand depending upon their shape.
While keeping these things in mind, also check impedance, power rating, and sound pressure level (SPL) by referring to a catalogue. To help you select the perfect system according to your needs and budget, I present below a list of the best PA systems. But before we begin our review it is important for you to know what exactly you should look for in a powered speaker.
This is undoubtedly the feature you should be most careful about and not compromise on. A PA system with great sound quality can do wonders to your party/ gathering and you must keep in mind the venue while choosing the system. The voice should be distinct and clear and articulate mids, airy highs, and taut lows. Those of you who are looking to power up a medium-sized house party or a church or other such not so large venue/locations, most of the options given in the list should be able to help you.
Technically, all PA systems are portable but you need to fit one into a smaller car or use one without a readily available power source i.e. on batteries, then you should choose one accordingly. Smaller and compact speaker systems that provide loud sound are most definitely a catch and shouldn’t be missed. The built-in amplifier found inside powered speakers adds weight and some bulk, as they are generally considered to be heavier than passive speakers. So, one must consider portability, features, especially when you have events at several different venues. Important features like handle location, weight and size should be taken into consideration.
PA systems come across all ranges starting from a few hundreds to thousands of dollars and this can be a huge investment. If you don’t want to shell so much money or if you want a PA system for your personal use then you must look at some of the items in this list which meet your requirements without burning a hole in your pocket.
Flexibility and Ease of Use
A good system should be easily deployed for mixed usage- whether it is to be used by a solo artist or a rock band, DJ gigs, public address or speaking, playing music in concerts and front-line monitors. Also, the reader user manual should be easy to understand so you don’t face much trouble while setting up the entire system.
The lesser components a device has, the better it is and therefore more reliable, as such it is imperative that you pick speakers that work well in the long run. The quality and rigidity of the material used for the enclosure are important so is the durability of the handle. Transportation and careful handling of the equipment are equally important.
The bigger the venue, the more power will be by your speakers to be able to easily fill the space. 700 to 1000 Watts of power will be adequate for small to medium venues, most of the speakers listed below would suffice, and you can then add more speakers as the need arises.
A PA system has the power to make or break a band’s performance. For music and party lovers, the most important thing is getting great sound quality which only the right PA system can provide. In this article, we have tried to cover portable PA systems across various ranges and tried to highlight their key components and strengths to help you select the perfect system and make your event a success!