Portable PA System Guide
Portable PA and Sound Systems
When choosing a portable PA system you first need to decide what it will be used for: speech, music or a combination, and if there will be other loudspeakers in the mix.
The main concern when choosing loudspeakers and PA gear should be to consider where it will be used. You will probably be using it outdoors, in public spaces and perhaps on a open-air stage.
If you have no time to read our selection, you can simply:
A normal stereo won't cut it in the open because it was built for enclosed rooms where you get help from walls and ceiling to bounce sound back. Out in the open sound just disperses, and you also need to overpower ambient sound distractions that break up your sound image. A PA is therefore designed to provide lots of power and more mid-range frequencies to be heard clearly in outdoor environments.
What is the best PA setup? Depends on how big an area you want to cover. We are here going to focus on small and medium sized PA systems that are portable and perfect setups for:
- public events in urban settings (crowds up to several hundred people)
- large garden parties, weddings etc
- small stage or street performances (speech and music)
- conference, educational and sport events
Image from Morguefile
Very compact size and simple setup PA system from a market leading brand. A complete 24 bit sound effects engine makes this a great choice as speaker set for instruments.
Behringer small PA system with mixer - Carry-case PA system that packs a punch
Briefcase format ultra portable PA system with mini mix table made by renowned studio sound system manufacturer Behringer. This small system is the ultimate PA setup for small events, boardroom presentations, educational venues etc.
The EUROPORT EPA150 also has a integrated and easy to use 24 bit sound processor with reverb, chorus, delay etc to modulate you sound with (you could even use it as a sound mixer).
ION keeps getting it right.
The ION brand has a couple of units that are topping the best seller lists. Part of their popularity can be traced the power source which allows these cordless PA speakers to play for a very long time between charging.
Shown here is the very compact ION Tailgater which accepts a tab or phone slot as a music source, offers bluetooth, and even a USB slot with which you can charge your mobile gear from the speaker battery.
Of the ION portable speakers, the Tailgater is the medium sized one and offers 50 hours of playback.
The other ION model I want to highlight is the somewhat larger Block Rocker which has been updated and now offers a new battery that delivers a mind-boggling 75 hour playback!
The built-in trolley handle and wheels makes this a better choice as a portable speaker for events and performances. The control panel is minimalist and un-cluttered and you simply hook up a keyboard or guitar and play.
The ION Block Rocker
This boombox also does the job at your BBQ, on your week-long roadtrip (bring the guitar), or your rave beach party where I promise it will outlast you (I defy anyone to party for 75 hours on a stretch)!
600 watts and a 10 channel mixer with individual reverb settings and USB slot. Perfect DJ system, or for the larger congregation. Records WAV files.
New Fender Passport PA systems
Fender Passport have always been the choice for the quality-minded. Recently updated, all these models offer superb sound and just the right amount of features, connections, effects to make set-up hassle-free while providing everything you need to get the job done. Excellent design that clips together into a suitcase-like form during transport.
Street music gold box with tap-tempo effects such as flanger, vibratone, several reverb types, delay and more!
Ultra small portable battery PA with microphone
The smallest PA's you can buy which still offer enough volume to cover a crowd effectively need to have a wattage of over 20 watts. Here are two examples of very small public address systems that are worthwhile.
This is a extremely small and lightweight PA unit that has top review ratings. 7 pounds is a portable as it gets and the unit which has a carry handle comes complete with microphone, 12 dc socket, wall plug, battery and carry case.
This is a wearable voice booster offering 12 hours of use on a charge. Perfect for any demonstration, workshop, sports practice, and instructional event. 50 watts is a lot - it'll carry quite well, even outdoors.
Wireless multi-channel microphones for stage work
Wireless PA system mics
You can't run a good show without being heard. While there are many microphone systems that can work with a stage speaker system, not all kits are alike. if you are going to be more than 1 person on stage - you absolutely must have a wireless microphone station that offers true channel diversity.
The comes with two hand microphones and 2 lavaliere headset mics. This is a professional wireless microphone system that offers 800 different channels for each mic to guarantee distortion free performance. GTD Audio G-787HL UHF Lavaliere Mic
Battery Powered PA system with iPod dock
Pyle Pro make some of the best portable PA sound systems on sale that offer perfect portability and versatile functionality. The Pyle-Pro 500W Portable PA is a small yet powerful PA system that is perfect for small urban events, outdoor parties, etc.
Pyle Pro are experts at creating portable sound systems and this unit has built-in wheels and telescoping handle.
The whole unit is essentially a boombox cart that you can take with you. Since it is battery operated and has a wireless microphone you can use it while carting it around!
You can connect multiple devices such as iPod, guitar, more microphones, keyboard etc and the front panel has knobs for everything including echo. The Pyle PWMA860I has a 8 inch woofer and 3 inch tweeter, 500 watts and separate bass and treble controls. Comes with a wireless microphone which has a range of about 100 yards.
Portable PA System VHF - Play anywhere with multiple power sources
This is the big brother of the Pyle-Pro system lineup offering a 10 inch bass woofer and 800 watts.
This is Wireless PA with wheels that is perfect for auditions, street performances and smaller events. 800 watts and good sounds makes this small PA the right choice for beach parties too.
Takes ipods and mp3 players as well as connects musical instruments and microphones.
900 watt Portable PA by Behringer - Quality power-horse with dual amplifiers
Behringer has several portable PA systems of varying output power. The EUROPORT EPA900 is one of the more powerful portable PA's with dual 450 watt amplifiers and 10 inch woofers. This PA kit is a perfect sound setup for events and parties that comes with a mixer table and effects.
A little bit more expensive but this system is pure Behringer build, with good power and sound quality in a portable package.
Bullhorns & Megaphones - Crowd control PA
If you only need to address a small crowd or need the maximum portability and a PA system for demonstrations or moving sport events - the traditional megaphones gets the job done. Modern bullhorns also have amplified sirens, separate hand mic and can operate on batteries or mains adapter. Same type of equipment used by armed forces, rescue workers, sport and event organizers, etc.