The best portable PA system will give us some amazing on-the-go audio playing capabilities. Suitable for those who perform, DJ, karaoke, or really anybody who’s into playing music at a higher and louder quality than a simple aftermarket “Bluetooth speaker” will find use in this guide. We took the time to sift through the many models out there (there are quite a few) to compile a list of the 10 best portable PA systems; however, before you choose which is “best” for you, let’s keep a few questions in mind.
Finding the best portable PA system
- How heavy can you go? Weight is always something to keep in mind when it comes to ‘portable’ gear; however, there isn’t really a set ceiling that constitutes a PA system as ‘portable’ and one that is not. Whether you’re traveling alone or perhaps with a few can help give us a feel for how much weight you can suffice. Most of these are fine to carry yourself, but keep in mind just how large you’re going to want your system to be.
- Where are you playing? What’s your intended environment or venue? A smaller show in a decent-sized venue? A bar? Larger audience at a big stage? A house party? All of the above? This will determine the next few factors we list below, such as power, money, design, and as previously listed, size and weight.
- Let’s talk power – Of course, we may all just want the most powerful of the bunch. However, we want you to throw that ‘the loudest is the best’ belief some may have. We recommend only going with enough power to suit your needs, which will also help you save some money. Unfortunately with pretty much all speakers in general, the more Watts of power, the more expensive, since they have to stuff larger and more advanced circuitry in the unit itself. If you’re performing at a smaller house party, venue or bar, a decent 300+ Watts will be fine. If you’re going to be at a larger venue (don’t they all have their own PA systems?), go higher towards the 700+ Watt range. Don’t forget, if there are two speakers in the PA system, you’ll just add the Watts of each to get a grand total.
- What’s your budget? Money is always a freedom thing, and in today’s case, even if you need the right amount of quality, size and power but don’t have the budget, you’ll have to start saving or go with something with fewer capabilities. Great portable PA systems tend to hover near the $1,000 mark, but you can always go with cheaper if you’re able to sacrifice the “features”, “power” and “quality”.
- Additional PA system features – When we say “features”, we mean more than just simply playing audio. Here are some PA system features we’ve gathered in our list we think you should keep in mind when justifying the price of a particular model:
- PA system design – Do you want a vertical PA system? Traditional two speakers with a mixer? One unit by itself? This will depend on a few factors, such as of course personal preference, but also intended use, since a major pro of vertical systems includes fitting it in a sleek spot. If you’re unsure, try to visualize where you’ll be, or at least what design will span across the various environments you may be in.
The best portable PA systems
Fender Passport Event
First up is in our opinion one of the best portable PA systems in the market today. The Fender Passport Event is an easy to assemble and easily transportable unit. It is self-contained, looking almost like a suitcase when packed, making setting up for an event easy and quick. A lot of people who have purchased this system claim that it is easy to learn how to use, plus the system has a Bluetooth feature which allows one to connect their smart phone or tablet and control audio from a distance if that’s what you fancy. There are also volume, bass, and treble controls for each different channel, allowing you to have some firm control over your mixer. The Fender Passport Event is an all-in-one PA system with full-range speakers and most importantly, the sound clarity is great; the 375 watts of power make this system ideal for smaller venues, parties, presentations, and so much more. This unit weighs about 55 pounds, so make sure that you are able to carry that much weight before trying to move it. They have a few other models in the ‘Passport Series‘, such as the Conference (smaller and cheaper), or Venue (larger and more expensive).
The Bose L1 Compact System is minimal and sleek in design. It is a fraction of the size of traditional PA speakers, making this system unique on our list of the best portable PA systems. Unlike the Fender Passport Event, the Bose L1 Compact is lightweight, weighing in at only 29 pounds total including the power stand, loudspeaker, and extensions. There are two different setup positions for this unit. The collapsed position is for smaller spaces, while the extended is for larger. Although minimal in design, a big highlight and what makes this one so expensive is the Bose Spatial Dispersion technology, which allows sound to reach all corners of a space evenly. Another unique aspect of the Bose L1 is the fact that an amplifier, mixer, and bass cabinet are already built-in, removing the need to buy and transport them separately. There is also a Bluetooth function which easily connects your devices and two ToneMatch channels which are preset for handheld mics and acoustic guitars.
This is compact, all-in-one stereo PA will definitely catch your eye as one of the best portable PA systems. All new for this year, the Korg KONNECT is a single unit system which however gives us a nice balance of being small in size with a large power source. It delivers high-quality audio and can cover a surprising amount of space for its size. The system has a dedicated app called the “KONNECT App” which allows one to control the mix wirelessly and there are a variety of EQ presets for various instrumental and musical styles, allowing for the optimal experience depending on your use. For example, The VOICING feature lets the user choose the preset settings optimal for the experience that they want to create or The SCENE function on the KONNECT allows users to recall previous settings instantly for less hassle from show to show. The Korg KONNECT system also and most notably has a built-in mixer, power amplifier, and feedback cancellation in case you’re going to be performing at a smaller venue (recommend something bigger if you’re at a larger show). The interface is easy to understand, even for those who are non-musical, but allows for great control over output. You can also read our latest Korg KONNECT review for some more in-depth information on the PA system.
JBL EON ONE
This system is beautiful although not as sleek and minimal as the Bose L1, however packs a punch in terms of overall power. The most unique aspect of the EON ONE is the quality of the bass. A lot of effort was put into making bass tones of this system top-notch, and it definitely shows. There is an unobstructed 10” subwoofer (the largest of its type) and also ‘bass-reflect technology’ that increases bass impact to allow listeners a unique experience when feeling the full force of bass tones. The EON ONE has a special configuration of the speakers that produces exceptional sound coverage. This system prides itself on being “the only all-in-one linear-array PA that you can carry with one hand” making this an easily transportable unit and one of the best portable PA systems. There is a built-in 6 channel mixer with EQs which makes sound quality great — connecting mics, instruments, or Bluetooth devices is simple, and once connected, the sound projected from the JBL EON ONE is of high-quality. Grab this one if you wanted a vertical PA system with a bit more power than others.
Turbosound iNSPIRE iP2000
This system is another taller and thin linear system, breaking the norms of traditionally shaped PA systems. It is minimal with very few buttons or slides. Control over this portable PA system comes via a separate remote control. Another unique aspect of this system is the fact that it has a comprehensive remote that is located on your Apply iPhones or iPads. The TurboControl App allows users to have precise control over the volume, different modes, lighting, and a variety of other features, making this one of the best portable PA systems we found with a personality like this. Let’s talk power, however. With 1,000 Watts, the column loudspeaker produces high-quality sound and some of the most powerful in this guide. There is also a 12” subwoofer allowing for excellent bass tones to evenly distribute those frequencies to your audience. The system also uses something called ‘Klark Teknik’s Spatial Sound Technology‘ which gives users the feel of a 3D acoustic environment. The Turbosound iNSPIRE iP2000 PA system reaches a wide range and provides even sound dispersion, making this system worth looking into for sure.
Behringer Europort PPA500BT
This system has the appearance of traditional, sturdy PA systems. There are three separate units that make up the Europort PPA500BT (two speakers and one controller). Although the Europort may seem bigger than many of the other models on our list of best portable PA systems, the total weight is around 45 pounds, which is lighter than some of the previous units, and it’s located within the middle price-point as compared to others to help save some money. The system is very versatile and has various inputs for two microphones, two other instruments, and has a ready to use built-in Bluetooth connectivity. The Bluetooth aspect of this device makes it easy to stream your personal music, which would allow you to have a lot of mobility when speaking. The Europort PPA500BT is a 500 Watt system, which produces clear and powerful sound (although not as powerful as the previously listed iNSPIRE). There are 6 mixer channels and treble, bass, and 5-band graphic EQs to complete the picture.
Let’s take a look at another vertical system. Fishman is a huge high-end brand in the PA system world. This particular model is very tall and thin and does not take up a lot of space in a room. This is a 330 Watt system, making it one of the lowest powered units on our list but don’t let that steer you away just yet because the sound is some of the clearest in the market. This being said, this is the most lightweight units, weighing in at a total of 20 pounds with a tripod and a padded carry bag included with purchase. The SA330x also has two microphone or instrument channels that each have XLR/TRS combo inputs. There is also a footswitch input that allows for the control of Channel Mute and Reverb Mute features. That being said, there are various separate systems that you can connect to the Fishman SA330x to make it more powerful. The only catch is the fact that these pieces are sold separately.
Peavey Escort 6000
If you don’t just want to connect a few mics to your portable PA system, here’s a good one to grab. The Peavey Escort is an updated and improved version of “one of the most successful and most often imitated portable PA systems in the world.” With 600 Watt (300 Watt each) powered speakers, this unit produces clear audio, and evenly distributes it throughout a room. The effects knob allows for precise control over the kind of audio you are wanting to produce. There is a 9-channel powered mixer with seven XLR mic inputs, so this one is geared towards those with larger bands. The 7-band graphic equalizer makes dialing in your sound simple. All of the various features that make the Escort 6000 so powerful can be easily stowed away when wanting to transport the system. The speakers, cords, speaker stands, and much more are conveniently packed into one suitcase-like unit. This unique design plus the numerous connections makes the Peavey Escort 6000 one of the best portable PA systems on the market — it is easy to set up, take down, and carry with you wherever you go. Attaching devices is also easy via Bluetooth.
This PA system is another model that proves to be much stronger than it looks. It is smaller in size, and compact, but provides high-quality, evenly distributed sound. A unique aspect of the BA-330 is the fact that it is run off of AA batteries, making this system extremely portable and customizable in terms of where you want to place it when using. There is no worrying about having to be close to a power source with this system, and that is why we consider it one of the best portable PA systems in the world today. It was shocking to us that a system so powerful and professional could be run off of only a few batteries, when most other professional systems require a direct power source, making this one of our best portable PA systems that’s well, truly portable. This will probably be a make or break for some — it isn’t recommended for a more professional show in a venue or even bar, however more towards leisure performances, karaoke and personal listening. It’s quite powerful, however — they’ve essentially packed 4 separate speakers into one unit, which helps to provide for their high-quality and powerful sound. Another convenient aspect of the Roland BA-330 is the fact that there is no setup required, you just unload and plug-in.
ION Audio Tailgater (iPA77)
To top off our list, this is another compact and smaller PA system that is easily portable for those who need a PA system on the go. It’s extremely cheap to give you a budget-friendly pick to leave off with. This being said, it has only 50 Watts of power, making it the least powerful system on our list, however that may be all you need depending on your intended use. There is a built-in rechargeable battery which gives users up to 50 hours of continual audio, which is a plus for those who need to constantly move their systems and do not have time to charge or plug-in. Another interesting aspect is the ability to play AM and FM radio which high-quality sound — we’re not sure who does so anymore, but why not? There is additionally a USB powerbank that allows you to charge smartphones and tablets, assuring that you will never lose connection and can always have control of what you want to play. This feature is unique to the ION Audio Tailgater and makes it one of the best portable PA systems on the market to cap off our list strong. Did we mention it’s waterproof, too? It’s more of a higher-end personal speaker with Bluetooth connection.