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Best Portable PA System for Live Gigs and Special Events 

 June 9, 2021

By  Zen Chung

When planning for an event, you know well it is all about communicating with your audience and connecting with the minds and hearts of listeners. With the best portable PA system, you will be able to do so. The bigger is not always better in matters of PA systems; that why a lightweight PA system is a great choice.

Portable PA systems usually have simplified sound reinforcement, lighter, and occupy less space, making them easy to carry. They are easy to assemble and can work with various types of venues. Therefore, they are the more practical option for small events and gatherings where fixed installation PAs are lacking.

However, select a PA system is not easy. You will have to consider the venues and your intended audience, the expected power needs, how much weight you can carry around, how much coverage the PA system offers, and other factors that we will explain later. With nowadays' market flooded by cost-effective PA systems, it may be much hard to decide if you want to make do with a bite the bullet or a single-box PA and get an amazing, powerful multi-component system.

Now, are you ready to find your best portable PA system? Let's get started!

1. Electro-Voice Evolve 50 PA Speaker Array System-1000W

Electro-Voice Evolve 50 1000W Powered Column Speaker Array System, Black
  • Quickly and wirelessly configure, control, and monitor up to six EVOLVE 50...
  • High-quality Bluetooth audio streaming for background music or musical...
  • Ultra-wide 120 Degree horizontal coverage via custom designed waveguides and...
  • Quick Smart DSP provides best-in-class processing via EV's signature single-knob...
  • Light weight and intuitive assembly via the magnet assisted sub pole make a...

If you are looking for the best portable PA system for publication, count on the Electro-Voice Evolve 50. It consists of a sub-woofer and a column array, with a combined power rating of 1000 W. The sub-woofer has a 12-inch low-frequency driver, which, when combined with the column array, produces up to 127dB SPL. The column array speaker has eight 3.5-inch neodymium HF drivers and eight composite waveguides that allow 40° of asymmetrical vertical coverage and a wide 120° of horizontal coverage.

The Electro-Voice Evolve 50 PA system features two combos; mic inputs/XLR line and aux input, all of which have master volume control knobs. It also features five user-programmable presets, a built-in DSP, a three-band EQ, and you can use it for Bluetooth streaming. This system is an idea for various situations, including DJ events, band rehearsal, coaching and training, conferences, and more.

Pros

  • Very easy to set up
  • Ideal for publication purposes
  • Comes with effects and EQ
  • Features a Bluetooth input

Cons

  • Lacks sound projection

2. LyxPro SPA Compact PA System 100 (8-8")

LyxPro SPA-8-8" Compact Portable PA System 100-Watt RMS Power Active...
  • POWERFUL 100 WATT ACTIVE PA SPEAKER WOOFER SYSTEM : LyxPro SPA-8 Comes built in...
  • PERFECT CLEAR SOUND AND PERFORMANCE WITH BLUETOOTH CONNECTION : Enjoy your...
  • GREAT FOR ANY OCASSION AND LOCATION : Enjoy endless great music playing and...
  • MULTIPLE EASY CONNECTIONS : Easily connects to your phone with the Built in...
  • LINK MULTIPLE SPEAKERS AT ONCE : With a simple XLR Cable you can daisy chain...

LyxPro knows that customers are always right, so they fulfil their demands by engineering high-quality yet affordable audio products. LyxPro has you covered if you want new gear for your studio or wireless microphones to use casually. LyxPro has developed and designed a lightweight PA named SPA-8 to maintain its top reputation, and for users who want a handy party system, this PA is for you.

You should know that LyxPro has got you covered when it comes to the side of connectivity. It features ¼ inch jack, balanced RCA jack, XLR jack, and R/L RCA line inputs. The PA portable system also has an onboard EQ feature which enables the pro users to contour their sounds the way they would prefer. The PA has 100 watts of power and provides wider coverage for your band.

This PA unit has input ports, an SD card slot to play some band music, a USB port to charge your devices, and a Bluetooth capability to pair some of your favorite music. You also get an onboard music control display to help you operate and have full control easily.

Pros

  • Versatile PA unit
  • Support for Bluetooth, SD Card, and USB port
  • A budget portable PA system
  • Features an EQ for contouring the sound quality

Cons

  • Offer poor customer support.

3. Bose L1 Compact PA System

Bose L1 Compact with Carry Case
  • Bose Spatial Dispersion loudspeaker technology delivers sound evenly across the...
  • 2 Tone Match channels with fixed presets for a handheld microphone and an...
  • Integrated bass speaker in power stand
  • 2 setup positions: collapsed for smaller spaces or extended for larger ones....
  • Ideal for musical performances, mobile DJs, classrooms, business presentations...

If you are looking for the best portable PA system, you found one of them, the Bose L1 Compact PA System. This system is ideal for one-person bands or duos and corporate DJs. It is super-compact, taking up less footprint, making it great for acoustics acts playing in small venues such as coffee shops. At the same time, the Bose Spatial Dispersion speaker technology distributes sound equally across the stage, also throughout the audience, even to the farthest sides.

The size makes this unit easy to transport and carry for one-person setups, even if you use a small sedan. Ideal PA system for churches, schools, and community centers. Although this battery-powered PA system produces a meaningful amount of power its size, we won't recommend using this L1 Compact with live drums as they will eventually overpower the speakers, even though you have a double stack setup. However, for an electronic drum kit and percussion, this system is effective.

The Bose L1 Compact comes with a dual subwoofer, wireless mic, and 6 x mid/high compact speakers, which are configured to deliver a 180° dispersion enough for small rooms entire audience. Additionally, the power stand supports the integrated bass speaker for good distribution of sound to all room corners.

Pros

  • Easy to set up, no need for cabling
  • Ideal for one-person bands or duos and corporate DJs
  • Very compact
  • Delivers a 180° dispersion of sound

Cons

  • Lacks EQ or effects

4. Yamaha STAGEPAS Portable PA System,(600I )

Yamaha STAGEPAS 600I Portable PA System
  • 680W (340W + 340W) power output
  • Detachable 10-channel mixer
  • iPod/ iPhone USB connection
  • One-knob master EQ with virtual bass boost
  • High-quality effects built in

If you are looking for the best portable PA system that can handle midsized or small venues, Yamaha STAGEPAS 600I is ideal. Yamaha STAGEPAS 600I delivers 680 watts of power output and features two low-frequency speakers, and high-frequency delivers. Also, it has built-in stand mounts and a power-driven 10-channel mixer that has Bluetooth connectivity. With all these features PA is offering, your band is likely to give a great stereo performance to your audience without putting a lot of effort into setting it up.

The STAGEPAS 600I mixer provides you with two powered XLR inputs, two XLR combo inputs with a hi- Z that is switchable, and stereo line input channels to cycle it out. Moreover, this unit's channel is equipped with an effects level control and an EQ. Be assured to get the best coverage from Yamaha STAGEPAS 600I because it has a custom waveguides feature for extensive sound distribution.

Pros

  • Has a Bluetooth connectivity
  • Great for larger bands
  • Eliminates problems that can disrupt frequencies
  • Ideal for small and medium venues

Cons

  • Poor quality design

Factors to Consider When Buying the Best Portable PA System

1. Portability and size

When shopping for the best portable PA system, consider the size and the weight or portability. If you intend to use the unit at small-sized venues, it should be portable, meaning it should be lightweight, easy to carry, and transport from one place to another. Besides, it should fit into the compartment of your vehicle while moving from one event to another. Having a difficult-to-move system might make you not use it frequently as you wanted to.

All PA systems have a particular degree of portability. Even the large units are, to a particular degree, portable. Therefore, it will depend on you on how much you want your system to be portable. However, if you want to use it just in small events, you should consider the portable PA system.

2. The area coverage

This factor is crucial to your choice of PA speakers for live music. Since there are different PA units, large, medium, and small PA systems, you should consider smaller PA systems if you intend to regularly use your unit in small-sized gatherings or in-house parties. Conversely, if you plan to use the PA unit in a huge place with hundreds of audience, you should consider a large-sized PA system.

3. Intended use

The intended way of the use of your best PA system is also a vital factor to consider. If you're in a music group or band, you might need to remember that good audio quality is the key to what you do. Nonetheless, if you're only trying to entertain a group of people at a birthday party, you might consider the size and weight first instead of sound quality.

4. Battery Life

Consider the life and length of the battery when buying a PA unit. The last thing you would wish to happen is your unit's battery dropping dead mid-way through the party. Since portable PA units are for small events, some exceptions don't expect them to be loud enough for open-air concerts or big stages. Besides, most of these units are battery-powered PA systems, with most of them having a battery capacity of 50 hours.

Furthermore, when shopping, look for that unit with enough headroom to get your sound to your audience. Be aware that the higher the output power, the larger the coverage area, however, at the cost of additional bulk and weight. Therefore, you will have to keenly weigh all your needs to get the right size and power system.

5. The input options of the PA system

Input options are a vital characteristic you should consider before committing to purchasing a system. These inputs can be at the back of the device, at the front, or on the sides. The best portable PA system should have multiple input options for better and convenient use. It should also have provision for wireless connectivity and Bluetooth connectivity, which allows you to stream music. Thus, when choosing the best PA system, keep in mind the aspect of expandability and the value of more inputs.

With a PA system, you can likewise get a standalone mixer to raise and expand the inputs option of your system. This standalone mixer eliminates the need to purchase bigger PA units. However, if you're planning to use a backing track you made or play on top of a recording, it is important to ensure that two devices are compatible and can work for your benefit.

6. Built-in EQ and effects

When shopping for the best portable PA system, consider the built-in EQ and effects feature to configure it for better live sound. These features are necessary so that you can improve the quality of sound that is produced by your PA system. Besides, the effects and built-in EQ allow you to calibrate the sound according to the size of the venue. However, it doesn't inevitably mean that you should select portable PA speakers with many effects.

Conversely, what is essential is that your right portable PA system has effects and workable built-in EQ that can improve the sound produced by the system. If you have selected a PA speaker that lacks effects, you can look for a third-party system that could offer you the necessary effects to enhance the sound of your PA system. This third-party effect device is normally enough and a better option than opting for a larger PA system. Nonetheless, it can prolong your setup time and may add extra weight to your system.

7. Additional accessories

When shopping for a PA speaker system, you will find yourself aching for the one that has extra gears. These extra gears include an additional mixer, microphones, extra stands, headphones, extra cables, and other additional accessories. Therefore, before you decide to purchase the PA system, ensure that you have considered these additional accessories and have included them within your budget.

Nonetheless, it is nearly impossible for you to benefit from all these accessories in a less pricey model. Conversely, if you have already bought a PA system, you can invest more in these additions.

8. Your budget

Lastly, consider your budget. Most professional portable PA systems can be more pricey than the ones for amateurs. You can go for a larger PA unit with all the necessary accessories for an ideal PA system. Avoid an average portable PA system on the market. However, if budget is not a problem to think about, you can consider the factors we discussed, and you are good to go.

Frequently Asked Questions on the Best Portable PA Systems

1. How easy is it to move a PA system around?

Portability has different levels. Although all systems on this list are portable, some are more portable than others. Therefore it will depend on your capability to move the units. Conversely, if you want to reduce the amount of gear you are carrying around, you should opt for an all-in-one system.

2. What wattage do PA systems require?

Think about the size of the venue you will be playing on regularly; then, you can determine the power output you need. Various variables affect how loud a speaker performs. Besides, to know the wattage needed, we recommend you check the manufacturer's guidelines.

3. How many inputs do I need? 

You need to know how many instruments will be running through the PA system before anything else. Since you don't have to amplify every instrument on the stage with the PA system, you will need only enough inputs for the acoustic guitars, vocals, bass, and even a keyboard.

Zen Chung


I'm Zen Chung, a piano and violin teacher based out of Plano, Texas. I started this blog because my students (and their parents) kept asking about the best musical instruments to buy online. Look no further I'm here to save the day! 

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