Every day, someone needs some sound amplified. Maybe it’s just one mic for a fast-talking auctioneer, a mic and a laptop for that better-be-good wedding DJ, or multiple mics and instruments for a band hoping to get their music heard by the right people. In times like these, large-scale systems are absolute overkill, and that tiny Bluetooth speaker you carry around in your bag is no good, either. This is where portable PA systems are perfect. Here are seven of them from Bose®, Sennheiser, JBL, Behringer, Denon, Galaxy Audio, and ION Audio, each with a different set of advantages.
The Pathfinder is waterproof and powered via its internal rechargeable battery or connection to AC power, making it a great choice for moisture-laden outdoor events where electrical outlets aren’t readily available. Frequent transport won’t be a problem, thanks to its side handles, a telescoping luggage handle, and built-in wheels. It has an 8" woofer, 3" tweeter, and 100W peak power rating. To get you going with music, it comes with an integrated AM/FM radio and a Bluetooth receiver. For non-Bluetooth devices, there’s a standard 3.5mm stereo input. Bluetooth or not, you can charge your smartphone or tablet via the USB charging port. Microphone connectivity is about as simple as it can be. Plug a dynamic mic such as the included one into the 1/4" jack via the supplied cable. A neat little perk is the sound-reactive LED bar. Sure, it won’t compete with an all-out light show, but it does add some extra visual pizzazz. From hangouts at the pool or lake to small parties and presentations, the Pathfinder has a place.
The TV8 comes in many configurations; this one includes an installed CD player and a wireless handheld mic. You’ll find the same powering and transport options as the Pathfinder’s except for the carry handle. The TV8 employs a top-mounted handle rather than side handles. Unlike the Pathfinder, it doesn’t have AM/FM radio, but it does sport an 8" woofer, 1" horn, more powerful amplifier (120W peak), and pole-mount socket. Stream music wirelessly over Bluetooth or play tracks via CD, USB flash drive, or SD card. XLR, RCA, 3.5mm, and 1/4" inputs accommodate anything from dynamic mics to stereo line sources. Level controls and overall two-band EQ offer basic tone shaping, and the selectable voice priority function allows the music to be attenuated when mic signal is detected. For announcements, hosting, or instructing, that’s slick!
Like the Pathfinder and TV8, the Audio Commander can be powered via AC power or a built-in rechargeable battery. However, the Audio Commander is designed for slightly larger audiences; it’s loaded with a 200W RMS Class-D amplifier pushing one 12" woofer and a 1" high-frequency compression driver. Transport options—telescoping luggage handle, top-mounted carry handle, and rolling wheels—are akin to the TV8’s. Music playback devices can be connected via Bluetooth, RCA, or 3.5mm, or load up some WAV/MP3/WMA files on a USB flash drive or SD card and plug in! Two XLR-1/4" combo jacks allow you to hook up wired microphones or line-level signals. If you can’t be caged in and need to be cord-free, use the included handheld and headset wireless mics, which transmit to two built-in wireless UHF receivers in the Audio Commander. Balance your various sources via the built-in mixer with level controls, 3-band EQ, and reverb. All in all, the Audio Commander is solid combination of portability and power.
The LSP 500 PRO is geared toward a slightly different crowd, the “wires are so last century” type. It can house up to three Sennheiser ew G3/G4 receivers for use of wireless mics and offers built-in Bluetooth with aptX for wireless music streaming. A rear-panel USB port allows recording or playback via flash drive. Signal can be sent wirelessly from one LSP 500 PRO to others if an ew G3/G4 transmitter is installed. Complete cord-free control of up to 20 LSP 500 PRO’s is possible via iPad app or Windows Remote Control Software. Top that off with power via an internal rechargeable battery and you’ve got a new member of the “No Wires Allowed” club. If you need wired connectivity, the LSP 500 PRO offers RCA inputs and an XLR-1/4" combo jack with selectable phantom power. Its Class-D amplification provides 120W (peak) of output power through an 8" woofer and 3/4" compression driver. For overall wireless convenience and system expandability, the LSP 500 PRO is the way to go.
Unlike the previous models, the EUROPORT PPA2000BT is a three-piece system that easily assembles to a single, transportable unit with a carry handle and wheels. It consists of an 8-channel 2000W powered mixer and two speaker cabinets. Each cabinet is stand mountable and contains a 10" woofer and 1.35" compression driver. On the wireless front, the mixer is Bluetooth enabled and supports Behringer ULM digital wireless mics (available separately). It has plenty to offer in the I/O department. There are four channels with XLR inputs, 1/4" jacks, and selectable phantom power. Each of the two stereo channels presents 1/4" and RCA inputs, and a separate aux input section provides 3.5mm connectivity. Controls include per-channel level, pan, FX send, and 2-band EQ, with levels and 7-band graphic EQ with feedback detection for the main stereo output. Bonus: 100 presets of KLARK TEKNIK FX for reverb, delay, chorus, and more. The PA ships with a wired dynamic microphone, 20' mic cable, mic clip, and two speaker cables—everything you need to get the PA cranking!
The AC-powered L1 Compact Wireless boasts a horizontal coverage area of almost 180°, thanks to a subwoofer and a six-speaker array, which can be mounted in the sub or extended up to 78.5” high. Its XLR, RCA, 3.5mm, and 1/4" inputs provide connectivity for a variety of devices such as microphones, DJ mixers, laptops, and instruments. The included SoundTouch Wireless Link adapter offers Bluetooth compatibility and the ability to access Wi-Fi, opening the door to wireless music streaming and content on the Internet. Rather than being bogged down with a complex set of controls and options, the L1 Compact Wireless keeps it simple and effective!
Like the L1 Compact Wireless, the EON ONE PRO has a subwoofer and a height-adjustable, six-speaker array. It provides up to 100 x 50° of coverage and automatically adjusts sound dispersion based upon the height of the array. Four XLR-1/4" combo jack inputs, RCA and 3.5mm inputs, and Bluetooth support ensure you can get signal from most common sources. The built-in mixer offers controls for level, 2-band EQ, and reverb. It can be operated via AC power or its integrated Li-ion battery. With the addition of phantom power and a USB charging port, the EON ONE PRO handles everything from condenser mics to smartphones!
Find the right system and you can be set for parties, presentations, classes, open-mic nights, and more. Assess your needs, compare options, and choose confidently. Keep an eye out for new releases and feel welcome to share solutions you’ve found through your experiences!