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Whether you’re a musician, DJ, or just speaking at an event, you’re going to need a portable PA system to be heard all the way in the back row. The best portable PA systems are ideal for backyard parties, presentations, and any situation in between. Here’s what you need to consider before buying one for your next activity.
Buying Guide: How to Pick the Best Portable PA Sound System
From their volume to their setup, here’s what you should keep in mind when shopping for your next portable PA sound system.
Volume: First and foremost, a portable PA system needs to be loud. If not, you won’t be getting the main benefit of what it’s meant to do. Make sure it’s got enough output power, around 100W, to handle the job. Pro tip: It’s a good idea to overestimate the volume you might need.
Portability: Think about your portable PA system’s proximity to a power source. If you’ll be teaching an outdoor class, for example, this will need to have sufficient battery power to keep up throughout the entire time without running out of juice. Some systems now have multiple battery options that limit volume but last significantly longer. Weight is a factor to consider too. While these are all portable, some are noticeably lighter than others.
Audio: For music, a portable PA should have an all-around sound that powerfully projects. If you want to hook it up to an additional PA (or to a bigger home system), most have an output connector. But the PA unit and speakers by themselves should be enough that no one in the audience is straining to hear you, and that your voice isn’t crackling or cutting out when in use.
Setup: If you’re not an audio wizard, don’t worry — PA systems can be extremely easy to set up. If all you need is a mic, some allow you to literally just plug in and you’re good to start speaking. Others with multiple channels provide the option for two mics and/or musical instruments, acoustic or electric, along with effects right on the unit itself, like reverb and even feedback protection. EQ can be easily managed as well.
If you’re planning on mounting the speakers to a pole, be sure it has the properly sized hole in the bottom. If not, having a built-in kickstand is a great and practical way to project the sound upwards and outwards.
What Are the Best Portable PA Systems?
With the above buying advice in mind, here are our top picks for the best portable PA systems, from brands like Bose, Fender, and Roland.
1. Fender Electronics Portable PA System
This Fender PA system folds out for easy setup whether you’re emceeing an event or setting up a band performance. The full-range speakers feature Bluetooth connectivity, and your voice comes through clearly even when cranking it up loud. Plus, the seven-channel mixer allows you to balance it to produce the perfect levels for all different types of events. It comes with everything you need, including a mic and two speaker stands, along with an XLR and instrument cable.
2. Ecoxgear EcoTrek System
For outdoor events, this EcoXGear beast is 100 percent waterproof and dustproof. Not only can it stand up to a downpour, this can even withstand falling into the pool — and still floats. There’s no sacrifice of sound either, as the EcoTrek is still seriously powerful, blasting 100W of max output power. Dual 2.5-inch tweeters, along with two full range 5.25-inch speakers and dual 5.25-inch passive subwoofers create a balanced stereo sound, complete with crisp highs, uncluttered vocals, and a thumping bass. It’s also ready for just about any connectivity you can throw at it, and linking up two systems to each other is easy via EcoConnect. Bluetooth works from up to 100 feet away.
At a low volume, this can last up to 50 hours, and comes with six preset EQ modes to find the exact balance you’re going for without wasting time. The backlit buttons and LED display are perfect for viewing in the dark, and this also connects up to AI assistants like Siri and Google.
3. Roland BA-330 PA System
The four 6.5-inch speakers inside this solid PA, along with two tweeters, spread your sound far and wide, with optional effects, reverb, and delay. There are two channels for mics and instruments, plus another two for stereo inputs. The option for AC power is always available here as well. But for those times you’re far from a power source, this can run on 8 AA batteries. It’s fully mountable on a PA pole, and has a built-in kickstand to better project audio to your audience.
4. Bose L1 Compact With Case
This space-saving PA is super skinny, while still being able to project a powerful sound outwards to your audience of roughly 100 people. It’s awesome for acoustic guitar especially, amplifying a balanced array of audio evenly to all sides of the room. The two ToneMatch channels make it really easy for performers who just want to plug in and start playing, automatically optimizing for your instrument and mic.
While the speaker is slim, the base still has some heft, weighing in at about 25 pounds total. This also comes with a carrying case to make travel more convenient.