There are a variety of portable PA systems available today. But such a broad term also leads to a lot of confusion. This guide conveniently defines the critical types of systems and the top choices in each category.
While the top choice for you will depend on your needs, our Editor’s Choice is the JBL EON208P. It’s a highly versatile PA system with impressive sound, functionality, and portability.
Our website is a treasure trove of detailed guides and reviews based on our over 15 years of experience in the music industry. We’re gear lovers at heart, so we take our recommendations seriously.
This guide required weeks of research to identify the best candidates in each PA system category. We followed this up with internal testing. We then combined that with the evaluations of our trusted friends and partners in the music industry to put together this thorough guide.
Are PA Systems Good For DJs?
PA systems are an ideal choice for DJs. These systems come in a variety of sizes that are perfect for a wide range of gigs.
Small battery-powered systems are fantastic for impromptu gigs down on the beach or at a friend’s house. It’s because of this that not only DJs like them. Acoustic guitar performers and singers also enjoy the convenience these small systems offer. Especially if you are busking or performing in intimate venues.
Larger PA systems are great for mobile DJs that are looking for the best portable DJ speakers they can find. Bands or karaoke bars need excellent clarity and volume. These same attributes make PA systems a solid investment for mobile DJs.
They are also a good choice for bar owners that need a system to pull double duty. Great for the weekend DJ or band but also ideal for mid-week karaoke.
Portable systems come in a large range of sizes. This first section covers some of the most versatile options available on the market today. These systems bridge the gap perfectly between convenience and power.
JBL EON208P Review
- Excellent Sound Quality – For a modestly powered speaker, the sound quality is better than expected. Clean delivery and coverage.
- Very Portable – Fantastic “suitcase” style design. Easy to carry and transport.
- Bluetooth Functionality – Easy and quick to pair and maintains the connection.
- Solid Value – Good build quality and solid component quality at a reasonable price point.
- Average Microphone – The included microphone is average and unlikely to be useful for most performers.
The JBL EON208P is a smart and impressive portable PA system. It features a convenient design that is ideal for a solo performer. Also great for larger groups due to the 8 channel mixer. Quick to set up and quick to pack away. Lightweight and feature-packed it offers exceptional value. Excellent coverage for smaller events with a solid low-end response.
The JBL EON208P is one of the best portable PA systems currently available and at a great price.
Yamaha StagePas 600BT Review
- Superior Sound – Yamaha continues to deliver on the sound front. The 600BT offers clear audio with excellent balance. The frequency response is impressive with a good low end.
- Simple EQ – One knob to rule them all. Simple to use and swings from speech to DJ setting quickly and easily.
- Excellent Build Quality – Rugged cabinet and high component quality. This is a PA system that will last you a long time.
- Self-Contained – The 10 channel mixer pops into the back of the speaker for easy transport. Intelligent and ergonomic design.
- Fan Noise – Internal cooling fan is a little on the loud side. Most noticeable at lower volume levels but negligible at higher volume.
The Yamaha StagePas 600BT is a portable PA system with Bluetooth. The 10 channel mixer is capable and easy to set up on stage. Audio delivery is a real highlight here. That unmistakable sound from Yamaha is on full display. Convenient features while also maintaining a low weight.
If you want a reliable and feature-rich PA system the Yamaha StagePas 600BT should be on your list of options.
Yamaha StagePas 600BT
Behringer Europort PPA2000BT Review
- Excellent Projection – The PPA2000BT offers good projection and capable sound levels. Clarity is good with no distortion.
- 7-Band EQ – Fully featured EQ section allows you to tailor the output to your preferences. 8 channels mixer and phantom power.
- Bluetooth Connectivity – Quick and seamless pairing. But, the Bluetooth range is on the short side.
- No FX Documentation – Over 100 presets but no information for what each preset does. Requires trial and error.
- Poor Wheel Placement – Awkward central wheels. Easy for the unit to tip if you are trying to roll it.
The Behringer Europort PPA2000BT has a lot going for it. The sound quality is clean and crisp. It is moderately loud and can handle small to medium-sized venues. The 8 channel mixer is another great addition along with phantom power for mic inputs. But despite a full set of advanced features, it does offer some odd design choices. Low-quality clasps and odd wheel placement do stand out.
Despite a few shortcomings the Europort PPA2000BT performs well and is worth considering.
Behringer Europort PPA2000BT
Korg KONNECT Review
- Ultra-Portable – Lightweight and easy to carry making it an excellent choice for solo performers.
- Clean Output – Audio delivery is crisp and clear. The bass response is a little lacking but it is only a 6.5″ low-frequency driver.
- Clean EQ Design – Solid range of easy-to-use Voicing presets that function as expected. The volume control also features a clipping indicator.
- App Control – Extra granular control available via the Konnect App. Also easy to use.
- Low On Power – At just 180 watts of power you can’t expect too much. Great as a monitor or for intimate gigs.
The Korg KONNECT is a compact PA system that is ideal for specific scenarios. It doesn’t have the oomph to handle larger spaces. But it is perfect for lounge bars or coffee shop gigs. Clear quality at moderate volumes. With a 4 channel mixer, it can also handle duos and larger groups. Well built and attractive. It’s an excellent on-the-go PA system.
If you need something lightweight and ultra-portable the Korg KONNECT is hard to pass up.
The Best Budget PA System
A portable PA system doesn’t need to be expensive. Depending on your needs you can pick up an inexpensive PA system that will still perform great. They are also great starter PA systems if you are not ready to spend a lot. Below are our picks for the best portable PA systems for those on a budget.
Peavey P1 BT Review
- Impressive Sound – The two 6.5-inch woofers deliver plenty of depth and punch in the low end. Generous and well-balanced mids, along with crispy highs, complete an impressive sound profile.
- Excellent Value – It is exceptionally hard to find a small PA system at such a low price. Excellent features while maintaining a price point that won’t hurt the wallet.
- Flexible Connections – Three channels cover XLR, TRS, and RCA connections. AUX is always a welcome sight, and the addition of Bluetooth ensures this system can handle anything.
- Solid Construction – Despite the low price the P1 BT offers a good level of build quality. It is also lightweight without resorting to cheap and flimsy materials.
- Bland Design – While exceptionally functional the P1 BT is not going to win any beauty awards. Very old-school design and a little plain compared to some other options.
Lenegardy audio gear manufacturer Peavy throws its hat into the budget space with this highly capable portable PA system. With a solid selection of drivers and flexible connections, it can easily adapt to various gig types.
Combine that with great tonal balance and dependable quality, and it is easily one of the most enticing new options on the market.
Peavey P1 BT
Behringer MPA40BT Review
- Rugged Build – The tough front grille is ideal for the demands of frequent use. The cabinet is also solid with just the right amount of heft to inspire confidence.
- Bargain Price – One of the cheapest portable PA systems available. Good feature set considering the price point.
- Bluetooth Integration – Bluetooth connectivity adds to the appeal. Easy to pair and stream music directly.
- Surprisingly Loud – At just 40 watts of power I was not expecting much. The 8-inch driver delivers. Loud enough to handle small gigs, karaoke, or busking.
- Not The Best Battery – Battery-powered PA systems are an appealing option but this one falls short. The unreliable battery indicator can lead to anxiety when performing.
The Behringer MPA40BT is a lightweight and convenient portable PA system. Good sound quality along with a robust level of build quality. 2 band EQ for tweaking output is also a welcome sight. An excellent set of features tip it over the edge. Once you factor in the price point it is hard to fault.
If you are on a budget the MPA40BT is one of the best portable PA systems available.
Samson Expedition Express Review
- Nice Sound Profile – For a small PA speaker the Samson Expedition Express offers above-average sound quality. Clean with no distortion.
- Good Bluetooth – Bluetooth connectivity is accurate and seamless. Easy to pair and use.
- Great Price – The attractive price point adds to the appeal. Excellent value for money.
- Light – Easy to transport and carry around. A great choice for everyday listening and small gigs.
- Underwhelming Battery – Despite the touted battery life, in practice, it does fall short. Runs out much quicker than advertised.
The Samson Expedition Express is a budget PA system that has a lot to offer. The excellent sound quality along with decent volumes levels will appeal to certain artists. Light and portable and offering Bluetooth. It is an excellent choice for taking with you to small gatherings. Battery life could be better but at this price, it’s hard to complain.
If you want great sound in a portable package the Samson Expedition Express is worth considering.
Read our full Samson Expedition Express review for more detailed information.
Samson Expedition Express
The Best Battery Powered PA System
Mobility is a high priority for some performers. Buskers and traveling performers may find themselves in a situation where accessing power is not easy or desirable. These are our choices for the best portable PA systems that feature a rechargeable battery or battery-powered option.
Bose S1 Pro Plus Review
- Neutral Delivery – The S1 Pro+ delivers excellent tonal representation across the full frequency spectrum. Clean highs, warm mids, and good low end kick.
- Excellent Clarity – Crystal clear audio without any muddiness. Works great at both low and high volume levels.
- Adaptable Unit – Capable of vertical, horizontal, and vertical tilted configurations. System adapts to placement automatically to deliver even coverage.
- Impressive Battery Life – 11 hours of battery life at moderate volumes. Around 6 hours at higher volumes. Can go the distance for most gig types.
- A Little Expensive – The Bose brand name does come with a slightly higher price tag compared to other options.
The Bose S1 Pro+ is a solid and dependable battery-powered PA system. It offers rugged build quality and impressive sound. Bluetooth connectivity is also great with long-range and very low latency. It also allows for full wireless capability with optional accessories. The unit is also lightweight and very portable.
If you like the Bose range of products, the S1 Pro+ is an excellent battery-powered option.
Read our full Bose S1 Pro Plus review for more detailed information.
Bose S1 Pro+
Mackie FreePlay LIVE Review
- Full Sound – Plenty of richness in the soundscape. Good depth in bass without muddiness. Clean highs and mids.
- Good Battery Life – Can go the distance. Up to 15 hours at low volumes. At higher volumes, it can still last the length of most gigs.
- Easy To Use – Simple to connect and use. Convenient access to connections and volume control. Mountable on a microphone stand for a simple setup flow.
- Granular Control – Built-in effects are solid but taken to another level when connected to the FreePlay Connect app. Plenty of flexibility.
- Could Be Louder – For small gigs, it performs well but will not be suitable for larger events.
The Mackie FreePlay Live is an excellent battery-powered PA system. Quick charging and solid battery life make it a great choice for busking. Small gigs featuring an acoustic guitar and vocalist are the sweet spot for this bit of gear. The app works great and Bluetooth connectivity is reliable.
If you need an ergonomic PA system the Mackie FreePlay Live is one of the best available.
Read our full Mackie FreePlay LIVE review for more detailed information.
Mackie FreePlay LIVE
Mackie Thump Go Review
- Good Sound Quality – The balance between frequencies is good. Excellent richness in tonal range, especially for vocals.
- Durable Build – Rugged and tough polypropylene cabinet that offers a textured finish. The steel grille is also impressive. Great for the mobile performer.
- Removal Battery – The lithium-ion battery lasts up to 12hrs and is removable. This allows you to carry a spare as a backup or for longer battery lifespan capabilities.
- Excellent Bluetooth Control – Stream music, connect to another Thump Go or gain access to granular controls via the Thump Go Connect App. Plenty of functionality.
- Low End – Despite the Thump name the low end may not be meaty enough for some.
Mackie takes another spot in this category with the Thump Go. A versatile unit that is ideal for mobile performers. It is lightweight and easy to transport. It offers enough features to handle a variety of gig types. It packs a decent punch as well making it a good option for small gigs.
If you want something a little bigger and packing some more power the Mackie Thump Go is a great option.
Read our full Mackie Thump GO review for more detailed information.
Mackie Thump Go
JBL EON Compact Review
- Authentic Sound – JBL has a consistent reputation for high-quality sound and the EON Compact maintains this tradition with a clean sound that is well-balanced while retaining a pleasant sound profile.
- Generous Output Level – With a Max SPL of 112dB, this compact unit offers a decent level of output without distortion. It might not be enough for larger parties. But for smaller performances, it is more than enough.
- Highly Portable – The EON Compact combines a modest footprint with a low weight rating to make it exceptionally easy to transport to and from gig locations.
- Fantastic Control App – The control app gives you instant access to fine-tune the speaker. Much easier than the onboard controls that can be difficult to see. But connectivity with the app can be an issue due to occasional temperamental Bluetooth.
- Odd On/Off Functionality – The On/Off button requires a firm press and hold. It’s an inconvenient option and requires a decent amount of force. I would have preferred a standard on/off button.
The JBL EON Compact is perfect for on-the-go performers that want a lightweight and capable system with long battery life. Excellent sound quality combines well with a range of flexible control options.
The Bluetooth is a little shaky at times, and the On/Off button is a baffling choice, but there are enough positives to still make it one of the leading options in the battery-powered PA market.
JBL EON One Compact
Yorkville EXM Mobile 8 Review
- Excellent Sound Quality – The combination of 3 drivers delivers superb sound across the full frequency response of 60Hz-20khz. Solid lows, smooth mids, and clear highs.
- Multiple Channels – 3 channels with various tuning options allow you to easily connect multiple instruments. The addition of Bluetooth and an AUX connection adds extra flexibility.
- Good Battery Life – Can go full blast for 5.5 hrs. Plenty of time for most gigs. I appreciate that they list the potential battery length at full volume. Other companies tend to obscure battery life by listing length based on low or moderate levels.
- Portable – At 17 lbs. (7.7 kg), the EXM Mobile 8 is comfortable to transport and set up. The integrated handle is also well-executed for easy carrying.
- Non-Replaceable Battery – You cannot remove and replace the battery. Eventually, all batteries degrade in their ability to charge up quickly and hold that charge. It would have been good to be able to replace the battery when that time comes.
Yorkville has a hit on its hands with the EXM Mobile 8. This portable, relatively lightweight, battery-powered PA system offers exceptional sound quality and a versatile set of features. Solid construction and an excellent 3-way design make it an appealing choice for various performers.
It is a little expensive, but the quality is up there with the best. A capable and portable choice.
Yorkville EXM Mobile 8
Roland BA 330 Review
- Good Dispersion – The range of drivers does an excellent job of dispersing the sound across a broad area. At 109 dB it is loud enough for small venues.
- Solid Construction – Built like a tank gets thrown around a lot. But, this unit is as solid as they come. Something that is needed in a portable system.
- Classic Batteries – Doesn’t charge up. Eight AA batteries and you are good to go. Can last a full day on one set of batteries.
- On The Heavier Side – Battery systems are for portable gigs at the beach or remote venues. At over 30 lbs (13.8kg) it is a little cumbersome.
- No Bluetooth Streaming – AUX port is convenient but the lack of Bluetooth does highlight the age of this model.
The Roland BA-330 is a reliable and easy-to-use portable PA system. This portable battery system forgoes an internal battery and opts for classic AAs. You can also use AC power. Simple to use with a basic 2-band EQ along with a couple of FX. While it is a little heavy it can take a beating.
If you don’t mind the lack of some more modern features the Roland BA-330 is a great little PA system.
Read our full Roland BA 330 review for more detailed information.
Samson Expedition XP106w Review
- Super Portable – Lightweight and easy to transport. Ideal for pop-up karaoke, small venues, or buskers. A mini sized option.
- Long-Lasting Battery – The battery is fantastic. Up to 20hrs dependent on use. More than enough for most gigs.
- Clear Sound – Excellent clarity across the mids and highs. Accurate representation with no distortion.
- Poor Wireless Microphone – The wireless mic is not the best. Sensitive to external noise with little balance.
- Bluetooth Connectivity – Temperamental connectivity with some dropout issues. Short-range doesn’t help the situation.
The Samson Expedition XP106w is a solid portable PA system. Light and easy to use it offers great sound and impressive throw range. A solid selection of inputs is also welcome. But, Bluetooth connectivity is its weakest feature. Looking past that it has plenty of power and offers excellent value.
If you don’t need reliable Bluetooth the Expedition XP106w is a solid little portable PA system.
Samson Expedition XP106w
The Best Column Line Array PA System
Another popular option for PA systems is Line Array systems. These integrated all-in-one solutions offer plenty of dispersion and power. They are also convenient for performers due to the ease of assembly and disassembly.
EV Evolve 50 Review
- Excellent Clarity – Crisp and clear sound that is pleasing to listen to. Even at higher volumes, there is no distortion or imbalance among frequencies.
- Serious Volume – At 127 dB the Evolve 50 packs a serious punch. An ideal choice for larger venues where you need the extra headroom to break through larger crowds
- Precise Presets – The 4 factory presets are well-tuned and work as expected. You can also add a further 5 custom presets.
- Choice of Color – One of the few line array systems that offer a choice beyond basic black. The white version is a showcase system that may suit certain venues better.
- Phantom Power – I’m always happy to see phantom power to support peripherals but at just 15V the Evolve 50 will limit you to what you can use.
There is a lot to love about the Electro-Voice Evolve 50. It’s 12 inch drivers have serious power to deliver exceptional volume, clarity, and coverage. Full-range frequency response with excellent depth. It offers plenty of advanced features to suit a variety of potential gig scenarios. The bass response is satisfying without any boominess. Rugged and dependable.
The Electro-Voice Evolve 50 is one of the best portable PA systems currently available.
Read our full EV Evolve 50 review for more detailed information.
Electro-Voice Evolve 50
Turbosound iNSPIRE iP2000 V2 Review
- Loud Delivery – At 123 dB the iP2000 V2 can easily fill up venues with a smooth soundscape. An ideal choice if you prefer to only bring one pa speaker system.
- Satisfying Low End – The bass response is excellent. A good choice for DJs that need deeper bass delivery.
- Klark Teknik DSP – Detailed EQ adjustment options along with advanced signal processing. The result is clean and clear sound.
- Bluetooth Streaming – Simple to pair and easy to use. A great option for backing tracks or to play music pre or post-gig.
- Bulky – At 68.1 lbs (30.9 kg) it is on the cumbersome side. There are lighter options available if you don’t enjoy lugging around heavy gear.
The iNSPIRE iP2000 V2 from Turbosound is among the most popular portable PA systems available. The line-array setup features 16 high-frequency drivers. Precisely tuned these drivers deliver excellent clarity and depth. The bass response is meaty with plenty of kick. A good choice for solo performers or smaller bands.
The Turbosound iNSPIRE iP2000 V2 is among the best portable PA systems available today.
Turbosound iNSPIRE iP2000 V2
RCF EVOX JMix8 Review
- Impressive Clarity – The JMix8 offers excellent clarity, which is something line-array systems can often struggle with. Smooth progression from the lows to the highs.
- Extensive Connectivity – A total of 8 channels makes this unit an ideal choice for multi-piece bands. It also features reliable Bluetooth connectivity.
- Reliable Build Quality – Speaking of reliability, the build quality of the JMix8 is also superb. A robust PP Composite cabinet ensures the unit can stand up to the rigors of frequent transport and use.
- Comprehensive App Control – Elevating the JMix8 also offers app control so you can tune the system and access all settings in the palm of your hand.
- Can Be Overwhelming – While it might be feature-packed for some people all the various options might be too much and could lead to confusion.
The RCF EVOX JMix8 is an excellent line array system with exceptional sonic performance. Thumping bass, warm midrange, and precise and clear highs. Comprehensive inputs and outputs and remote control ensure it can tackle a range of potential gig types.
If you are a multi-piece band and want full flexibility at your gigs, the RCF EVOX JMix8 should be on your list of options.
RCF EVOX JMix8
JBL PRX ONE Review
- Satisfying Sound – JBL has delivered on the sound front. Smooth and satisfying with plenty of clarity. The low end is also decent enough for small to medium-sized gigs.
- Several Channels – The standout feature is access to 7 channels. Many column systems only offer a couple. Great for larger bands.
- Wide Dispersion – A 130-degree dispersion range is excellent for coverage. Especially if you are running it as your only unit.
- Intuitive Tuning – The one-knob tuning system makes EQing quick, simple, and intuitive. Saved presets and App control take it even further.
- Not For Everyone – While it’s great to have multiple channels for solo or two-piece performers, the PRX ONE is a little overkill.
The JBL PRX ONE is another excellent column-array system. It packs plenty of power and delivers smooth sound over a wide area. A fantastic choice for bands that require several channels for various instruments. It also maintains a decent weight making it easy enough for one person to carry.
If you’d prefer to run a single system for your multi-piece band the JBL PRX ONE is an excellent choice.
JBL PRX ONE
Bose L1 Pro 8 Review
- Outstanding Clarity – Sound delivery is excellent. Crisp and clear with no distortion. It offers a defined tonal range that is well-balanced.
- Fantastic Dispersion – Even sound across a large area. No dead spots and clean delivery across the full 180-degree horizontal range.
- Easy Setup – Quick and easy to dismantle and put back together. Two setup configurations add extra flexibility to adapt to different spaces.
- Loud – The 8-inch driver packs a good punch. Can comfortably fill small venues and often enough for medium-sized venues.
- Array Connections – The connections between the array pieces are not the best. It’s a little loose at times and made from plastic which doesn’t inspire confidence.
The Bose L1 Pro 8 system is one of the best PA options available. The trademark high-quality Bose sound is present here. Excellent coverage allows you to fill large spaces with even sound. Clean and attractive design along with portability. It also offers a 2 channel mixer.
The Bose L1 Compact system is a high-quality system that delivers on multiple fronts.
Read our full Bose L1 Pro 8 review for more detailed information.
Bose L1 Pro 8
LD Systems Maui 28 G3 Review
- Wide Delivery – The latest generation of the popular Maui series offers 120 degrees of horizontal dispersion and 30 degrees vertically. Enough spread to comfortably cover a decent-sized area.
- Punchy Bass – The 12-inch subwoofer component delivers ample low-end to satisfy DJs. The mid-range frequency drivers also have a lower crossover for a smoother transition.
- Tough Cabinet – Rock solid cabinet that is impact resistant. Speakers tend to take a beating going from place to place so it’s good to have a PA system that you can rely on.
- Simple Setup – The connection system is straightforward and beginner friendly. The connections are also extremely secure without any wobble.
- Sharp High Frequencies – The top end of the Maui 28 G3 is a bit too bright for my liking. Not too bad at greater distances, but people in front of the speaker will notice some sharpness.
The LD Systems Maui 28 G3 is the latest version of the popular Maui series. Its user-friendly design and meaty low-end will appeal to beginners. With a max SPL of 127 dB, the unit is also loud enough to be a solo system for mobile DJs that play small to medium-sized parties.
If you don’t want all the bells and whistles and prefer a reliable and straightforward line array system, the Maui 28 G3 is a good choice.
LD Systems Maui 28 G3
Yamaha STAGEPAS 1K MKII Review
- Clear – Yamaha delivers exceptional sonic clarity. Dispersion is fantastic, and the larger 12-inch low-frequency driver delivers excellent bass response.
- 5-Channel Mixer – In-built mixer that is perfect for multi-piece bands. Everything is at your fingertips. Simple and effective.
- Durable – Rugged build quality that will be able to handle frequent use. The added protective bag is a great bonus.
- Setup Time – The Yamaha STAGEPAS 1K MKII is quick and simple to erect and dismantle. Plug and play within minutes.
- Bland Design – The STAGEPAS 1K MKII is not the most attractive line array PA system out there. Functional but a little bland.
Yamaha has another winner on their hands with the STAGEPAS 1K MKII. Offering plenty of raw power, the unit is capable of tackling medium-sized venues. Built tough to Yamaha’s exacting standards. The flexible mixer section includes FX and adjustments for room types.
The STAGEPAS 1K MKII is a well-rounded and flexible portable PA system that packs a serious punch.
Yamaha STAGEPAS 1K MkII
Our Expert Buying Guide
Selecting the best PA system for your needs can be a difficult task. In this guide, we break down the key questions you should consider when purchasing a portable PA system.
How Does It Sound?
By far one of the most important elements. As a performer, you want to always put your best foot forward. Having a capable PA system that can help you deliver your best performance is critical. Poor audio is a quick way to lose a crowd and potential bookings.
The audio should sound clean and be distortion-free. Especially at higher volumes. The whole frequency range should be well balanced. The high frequencies should be sharp but not grating with precise clarity.
Mid frequencies should offer a good level of warmth and balance to represent a wide tonal range. The bass response should be meaty without boominess.
Assessing the frequency response of the PA system can give you an insight into its potential. But it is not always the best indicator.
Live sound environments can be challenging. The best PA system should be able to adapt to different gig types and deliver excellent sound no matter what environment you find yourself in.
How Powerful Is It?
Understanding how much power you need is a big step in determining which portable PA system is right for you. If you don’t need epic volume levels you can often save yourself a lot of money by exploring lower-powered PA systems.
A portable PA system that is mainly used for intimate gigs or busking doesn’t need to offer huge projection and epic loudness. It may also be suitable as a small church system.
Smaller venues don’t need powerful PA systems.
But, if you are a band or DJ you may need something with more oomph. Depending on the size of gigs you play an underpowered system will likely not be enough. You’ll want a powerful PA system that can break through larger crowds that absorb sound.
People at the front should be having just as good a time as people at the back. Also, take into account if you play indoor or outdoor gigs. An outdoor PA system requires more power to push through open space. This can be especially critical if you play an outdoor wedding.
Power ratings can be confusing due to the lack of standardized models. Many manufacturers will like peak power. This is often is not an accurate representation of its usual performance capabilities.
Factoring in power and other elements like Max SPL can help guide you towards the best PA system that is right for your needs.
Is It Easy To Set Up?
The best PA system should be convenient for both transport and setup. Portability can mean different things to different people.
For some musicians, they’ll need something they can carry with one hand. These types of PA systems should have a convenient carry handle and be lightweight.
If you are a guitarist you’ll likely have one hand busy carrying your acoustic or electric guitar. The other can carry your speaker.
Finally, a backpack will often be enough to carry any other accessories you’ll need. This is where a compact PA system is ideal.
Mobile DJs already have a lot of gear to bring. Portable PA systems are a convenient choice.
Bands and DJs may have different perspectives. Portability to them is often a combination of weight and convenience. The weight can be a little higher as long as it is still easy enough for one person to carry.
If you are a live band you’ll want to be able to arrive at your gig and set up quickly and easily. This reduced the amount of time you spend not performing.
Whether your a mobile DJ, live band, or busker take into account how you’ll transport your gear. The last thing you want is to regret your purchase because of something that could be easily avoided.
Is It Good Value?
Value for money is something to always be on the lookout for. Not just in portable PA systems but across all your gear. The system features are often the first place to make an assessment. It should offer plenty of flexibility to handle all your needs.
High-quality brands can sometimes attract a higher price point. But this doesn’t mean they offer less value. Often respected brands offer the best PA systems available.
Years of experience tend to lead to better and more refined product offerings. But there is a large range of quality manufacturers that offer PA systems at various price levels.
Excellent build quality is often a feature found in PA systems from trusted brands.
Understanding how much you have to spend can narrow your choices. From there you can assess the various offerings to see how much value they provide.
Another consideration is your needs. There is no point splashing out and paying extra for features that you’re unlikely to need or use.
Quality components, good system features, and a fine balance between price and performance are what to look for.
How Flexible Are The Connections?
Connection options are another critical component to selecting the best PA system. The best PA will give you a variety of connection options. This gives you maximum flexibility to handle a large selection of gear.
The number of connections is also critical. If you are a solo performer or mobile DJ you may not need an extensive amount of channels. But for a live 5 piece band, this should be the first point of reference when selecting a portable PA system.
You don’t want to have to buy extra PA systems to cover the whole band when one system could be enough.
If you perform at weddings you’ll want a PA system with good microphone connection options.
Other connection options are worth considering. Bluetooth and AUX input are the most commonly used. Bluetooth allows you to easily stream music before and after your gig. It can also be useful for backing tracks for singers.
An AUX input option can be a great way to handle requests as a mobile DJ. It is also a convenient option if you also want to use the PA system for general listening.
Understanding what type and number of connections you need can rapidly point you towards the best PA system for you.
How Good Are The EQ Options?
Every gig is different and every performer is different. The easiest way to be able to handle and accommodate a variety of scenarios is to have solid EQ options. Whether that is via presets or more detailed EQ choices.
A DJ will have very different expectations of a PA system compared to a solo singer that focuses on vocals. A 2 band EQ sometimes will not be enough. Often even a 3 band EQ is insufficient.
You may need more granular control to adjust the system to your needs. Each live sound environment is different. Good sound systems will be able to handle them all.
Access to a mixer on the PA system is also handy. Some performers will still prefer an external mixer. But for beginners or those looking for convenience, an onboard mixer is ideal. It allows you to balance all channels accordingly to provide outstanding performances.
PA Systems For Different Types Of Gigs
There are so many options available when it comes to PA systems. It is such a broad term with a plethora of different products. Below is a summary of different types of gigs and performer types. Each has some guidance towards the right type of PA system.
Busker – The best PA for you is a lightweight and portable option that will be easy to set up. A battery-powered option is also great. It is often the case that you won’t have access to power. You don’t need epic volumes but you do need clear and crisp audio.
Karaoke – Flexibility is the key for karaoke. Extra features like Bluetooth are handy for backing tracks. The system doesn’t need to be overly loud but should provide clear audio for singing. Simple to use and convenient setup are also very important.
PA systems for Karaoke need excellent clarity for vocal performances.
Solo Performers – This covers single instrument musicians and singers. High-quality audio along with flexible EQ options are ideal. The best PA option for you should also offer good portability as you’ll need to do all the heavy lifting yourself.
DJs – If you are a mobile DJ you’ll want a portable PA system that can handle the size of events you usually play. Is it a small venue or a large venue? When in doubt go for a bigger system. People at a party expect the music to be loud. The bass should also be rich and full. Having extra headroom when DJing from a more powerful system is a good ace up your sleeve.
Bands – Power and connections come to the forefront for bands. Whether you’re a rock band or jazz band. Focus on a system with ample connection options to handle all the various band members. A good built-in mixer is also ideal to properly balance output. Depending on your average gig size you may also want to lean towards more powerful PA systems. Though smaller systems are good for band practice.
Every gig is different and every performer is different. Take the above advice into account but always make sure to assess your needs.
How Much Does A Portable PA System Cost?
A portable PA system can range in price. Small and compact PA systems can be a few hundred dollars. Larger and more powerful systems can run into the thousands. The bigger the venue the more you’ll need to spend.
How Big Of A PA System Do I Need?
The size of a PA system will depend on the venue and audio requirements. Smaller systems are great for simple speech presentations or background music. These could be as small as 50 watts of power. Larger venues, bands, and DJs will want a bigger system with at least 1,000 watts of power to fill a space with sound.
Which One Should You Buy?
So which PA system should you buy? That is difficult to answer as everyone has different needs when it comes to PA systems. But there is one system that ticks a lot of boxes for a large number of gig types.
The Electro-Voice Evolve 50 is a line array PA system that performs in every category. Loud and powerful, easy to use, great features, attractive design, and portable. Whether you’re a DJ or a band, it will deliver and exceed expectations. That is why it is our choice for the best portable PA system available in the world today.
Electro-Voice Evolve 50