Choosing a Portable Sound System

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The acronym "PA" stands for Public Address, and a portable PA system allows you to do just that—speak publicly to a large group of people. A portable PA is a compact audio solution for amplifying your voice and music. Before you buy a portable PA system, there are a few questions you should ask yourself first...


1)
What is the largest number of people I will want my PA system to clearly reach, and in how large a space am I going to operate my PA system? If you’re going to use your PA system in a large room or outdoors, its volume will be absorbed by the surrounding space and fewer people will be able to hear it. In these situations, you will want as powerful a system as you can afford.
2)
Do I want to use wireless microphones with my portable PA system? If so, what kind: a handheld microphone, a clip-on microphone or a head-worn microphone?
3)
Do I need a battery powered PA system, or will there always be a place for me to plug it in for power? Some portable PA systems can use battery power, others cannot.

Here's a comparison of some popular portable PA systems:
 

Fender Passport
The elegantly designed Passport series from Fender cleverly folds together in the form of a suitcase for easy traveling. There is a range of models available from the 80-Watt P-80 to the powerful 500-Watt Passport 500 Pro. It comes complete with all of the necessary cables and features an input for a CD or MP3 player.

 
Anchor Liberty
Built in the USA with a six-year warranty, the Anchor Liberty is easy to operate and is loaded with great features. It runs on an internal battery or uses AC power. It is equipped with a built-in CD player, and is available in a variety of configurations, both with and without wireless microphones and receivers. There are two additional microphone inputs for wired microphones and a line input to connect a CD or MP3 player. Having all of these elements together in one box is the key to easy traveling.

 
Peavey Messenger
Business professionals and musicians alike will appreciate that the Messenger’s 24-inch body makes it an acceptable piece of carry-on luggage for a flight. A completely self-contained system, it sets up quickly and provides 100 watts of power. The lid of the unit folds open and acts as an impromptu lectern/music stand. It comes complete with all the necessary cables and a wired microphone.

 
Anchor Explorer
The Explorer is a slightly smaller cousin of the Liberty system from Anchor, but it shares most of the same qualities. Two internal wireless microphone receivers are included, and instead of a built-in CD player it has an input for a CD or MP3 player. Its speaker is smaller than the Liberty’s, but it’s actually 10 watts more powerful and more affordable. Compact portable PA systems for business presentation don’t get much better than this.

 
Mackie SRM450v2
The popular SRM450v2 from Mackie is a speaker with a built-in amplifier. It can act as an entire PA system by plugging a microphone directly into it, or it can be used with a mixer to add more microphones and additional powered speakers. It packs 400 watts of juice and sounds great for live music performances as well as lectures and presentations.

Everyone has different needs for their sound system. There are many options for PA systems and wireless microphones to use with them. If you have any questions about PA systems, we'd love to hear them in the Comments section of this post!