The Best Portable / Compact PA Systems + Battery Powered PAs

Portable PA Systems

Originally published on December 24, 2016 and updated on November 29, 2017.

Portable PA Systems are designed to provide convenient sound reinforcement that can be easily setup, packed away and carried for transportation.

Here we take an updated look at top rated portable PA systems, including compact ones that can run on batteries. If you're unsure about exactly what a 'portable' PA System is that's probably because there is no standard definition, so we have defined them in the Methodology section of this guide.

Contents

The Best Portable / Compact PA Systems + Battery Powered PAs

Click on a model name for further details or scroll down:

The Best Portable PA Systems

Below are the top rated portable PA systems currently available, with their features described along with a summary of the pros and cons as reported by experts, customers and users.

Behringer Europort PPA500BT

93
GEARANK

93 out of 100. Incorporating 90+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$500
Behringer Europort PPA500BT

The Behringer Europort PPA500BT is a full–fledged PA System that can be compacted into a portable self-contained unit that looks like a bag. When unpacked, this compact unit separates into three sections, which include two speakers and a central mixing console. And as usual, Behringer packed this PA system with features that include Bluetooth connectivity, 5-Band EQ, feedback detection, and it even comes bundled with speaker cables and a handheld dynamic microphone. The built-in Klark Teknik effects can expand your tone options with its 100 effects that include delay, reverb, chorus, pitch shifting and more.

Features:

  • 500W (Peak) Amplifier With Bluetooth Connectivity
  • Channels: 6
  • Mic Preamps: 2 with 48 V Phantom Power
  • Speakers: 2 (2 x 8" LF Driver, 1 x 1" HF Driver)
  • EQ: 5-Band EQ with FBQ Feedback Detection
  • Klark Teknik Effects with 100 Presets
  • Input: 2 x XLR, 8 x 1/4", 2 x Stereo (RCA), 1 x 1/8"
  • Frequency Response: 50-22kHz
  • Bundled with 2 x 20' speaker cables, handheld microphone, mic cable and clip.
  • Dimensions (HxWxD): 25.9"x13.9"x34.8"
  • Weight: 44.7 lbs.

The Behringer PPA500BT continues to gather positive reviews, thanks to its incredible value for money. Many are impressed by its its sound quality and ease of setup. Good reports come from users of different backgrounds, from small venues to outdoor parties, from small rooms to churches, from DJs to band practice - and they were surprised by its great overall performance. Another notable feature that was remarked on by some users is its compatibility with Behringer's wireless mics, which makes setup even more convenient.

There were a few who complained about the quality of the reverb. Others were expecting a bit more low end, but since the specs did say that it has 8" woofers, this is to be expected.

This is a great value portable PA system that anyone can benefit from, especially those who consider themselves to be non-technical and just want something that's easy to setup and move around.

Yamaha StagePas 400i

94
GEARANK

94 out of 100. Incorporating 200+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$500

Yamaha is a brand that needs no introduction, known for manufacturing quality musical instruments and audio equipment. As a testament to this, their StagePas series of portable speakers ranked the highest in this list, thanks to its solid build and sound quality. On the outside, the StagePas 400i looks like two average 8" speakers, but the backside will reveal its 400W amplifier with detachable 10 channel mixer. Practical features include reverb and feedback suppression, along with a one-knob master EQ that optimizes the sound for different situations as you turn the knob.

Features:

  • 400W Amplifier with Detachable 10-Channel Mixer
  • Built-in Feedback Suppression and SPX Digital Reverb
  • iPod/iPhone USB Port included
  • Channels: 8
  • Mic Preamps: 4 - 2 w/ +30 V Phantom Power
  • Speakers: 2 (2 x 8" LF Drivers, 1 x 1" HF Drivers)
  • EQ: 2-Band EQ per Channel, Master 1-knob EQ
  • Input: 2 x XLR/TRS Combo, 2 x XLR (Mix), 6 x TRS, 1 x Stereo
  • Output: 2 x 1/4" (Speakers), 2 x 1/4" (Monitors), 1 x TS (Subwoofer)
  • Frequency Response: 55Hz-20kHz
  • Speaker Dimensions (HxWxD): 18.58"x21.46"x10.83"
  • Mixer Dimensions (HxWxD): 7.09"x12.13"x4.57"
  • Weight: 56 lbs.

It sounds great and it works, are two statements that reflect market sentiment up to this day. From keyboard players, to electronic drum kit players, to acoustic guitar singer-songwriters, to guitar players who utilize amp modeling units, the StagePas 400i has been put to good use by different types of musicians and at different events. Many commended the system for its clean sound, while others were more than happy to recommend it for its solid build.

Not much complaint other than one who had issues with Apple devices when connecting to the USB port. There was also one who complained that the mixing board on his StagePas 400i gave out after 2 years of use.

If good is not good enough, and you want to the top rated portable PA system for small venues - then get the Yamaha StagePas 400i.

Fender Passport Event

91
GEARANK

91 out of 100. Incorporating 100+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$700
Fender Passport Event Portable PA System

Fender's Passport series was one of the pioneers of the portable "suitcase" style PA system, and to this day, the Fender Passport Event continues the brand's foothold in this market with its combination of convenient mobility, impressive feature set and good sound quality. The suitcase form factor opens up to reveal two 8" LF speakers and a mixing console with 7 channels. The mixer follows the format of traditional board mixers where controls for each channel are on a straight row. Other features include built-in reverb and guitar specific input.

Features:

  • 375W Class-D Amplifier with Bluetooth Connectivity
  • Channels: 7
  • Mic Preamps: 4 - No Phantom Power
  • Speakers 2 (2 x 8" LF Drivers, 1 x 1.2" HF Drivers)
  • EQ: 2-Band EQ (Channel 1)
  • Reverb
  • Input: 4 x XLR, 1 x TRS, 1 x 1/4" (Stereo), 1 x 1/8" (Stereo)
  • Output: 2 x 1/4" (Speaker), 1 x 1/4" (Mono), 1 x 1/4" (Sub Out), 1 x 1/8" (Stereo), 1 x 1/8" (Headphones)
  • Dimensions (HxWxD): 23"x29"x11"
  • Weight: 43 lbs.

Although the Fender Passport Event is not the most affordable of the bunch, many reviewers feel that it gave them excellent returns for the money. There are reports that it it can easily handle small venues, and some even said that it is powerful enough to fill a mid-sized room with 50 to 100 people. Its built-in reverb was also praised, along with the convenience of Bluetooth streaming. The general consensus continues to be positive, with special mention of how easy it is to pack and unpack.

There are a few that deducted one star for lack of specific features, which include USB input and the ability to directly record on the system. Others were looking for extras that other portable PA systems provide, like a free handheld mic.

If you're looking for a reliable and great sounding PA system that you can pack suitcase style, then you should check out the Fender Passport Event.

Turbosound iNSPIRE iP1000

90
GEARANK

90 out of 100. Incorporating 50+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$800
Turbosound iNSPIRE iP1000

The Turbosound iNSPIRE iP1000 strays from traditional form-factor with its column design, featuring 8 x 2.75" neodymium drivers, along with 2 x 8" LF drivers and a 1" HF driver. This design, together with its powerful 1000W amplifier allows for improved clarity and dispersion. It comes equipped with Klark Teknik DSP with Spatial Sound technology that tweaks the sound subtly to match venues or your preferences. In addition to all that, it comes with convenient Bluetooth connectivity, which allows you to stream audio from your computer and mobile devices. Finally, since Turbosound is under the same parent company of Behringer, the iNSPIRE iP1000 is accessible priced considering its features.

Features:

  • 1000W* Class D Bi-Amplifier with Bluetooth Connectivity
  • Channels: 2
  • Speakers: 2 (2 x 8" LF Driver, 8 x 2.75" MF Driver, 1" x HF Driver)
  • Digital EQ
  • Klark Teknik DSP
  • Input: 2 x XLR-1/4" combo
  • Output: 2 x XLR
  • Built-in Limiter (122 dB SPL)
  • Enclosure: Birch plywood base with Aluminum alloy tower
  • Frequency Response: 50Hz to 20kHz (±3dB)
  • Dimensions (HxWxD): 77"x10.3"x14.6"
  • Weight: 54.7 lbs.

* This seems to be a Peak power rating rather than Continuous power - we are waiting on clarification from the manufacturer.

Awesome and amazing are just two of the many positive adjectives that many use to describe their experience with the Turbosound iNSPIRE iP1000. One user even described it as a quantum leap compared to traditional portable PA systems in the same price range. Most are impressed with how loud and clear the sound can be, and more importantly, how balanced the projection is - to the point that some have stopped using monitors because it feels up the stage and venue really well. The convenience of modern wireless connectivity also garnered a lot of thumbs up.

There are a few users who had issues with Bluetooth connectivity, but the issue maybe due to third party devices and compatibility - not the PA system itself.

If you're looking for a compact 2-channel PA system with good projection and modern Bluetooth connectivity then check out the Turbosound iNSPIRE iP1000.

Bose L1 Compact

90
GEARANK

90 out of 100. Incorporating 550+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$999
Bose L1 Compact Portable PA System

It's not much of a surprise to see the Bose L1 Compact included in this list, which easily stands out thanks to its unique speaker design via Spatial Dispersion loudspeaker technology. This design utilizes a line array of six 2" HF drivers, all of which work together to provide most of the resulting sound. They are supported by a single 8" LF driver that handles the lows and some of the mids. The amplifier section is rated at 130W, with two ToneMatch capable channels, which tailors the sound to work well with microphones or acoustic guitars.

Features:

  • 130W Amplifier with Bose Spatial Dispersion Loudspeaker Technology
  • Channels: 2 ToneMatch Channels with Presets for Microphone and Acoustic Guitar
  • Preamps: 1
  • Speakers: 7 (6 x 2" HF Drivers, 1 x 8" LF Driver)
  • EQ: 2-Band EQ (Channel 1)
  • Input: 1 x XLR, 1 x 1/4", 2 x Stereo, 1 x 1/8"
  • Output: 1 x 1/4", 2 x RCA
  • Frequency Response: 65Hz - 14kHz (+/- 3dB)
  • Polypropylene Enclosure
  • Setup Positions: Collapsed and Extended
  • Dimensions (HxWxD): 78"x13.25"x16.75"
  • Weight: 29 lbs.

The Bose L1 Compact's sound quality continues to impress users and experts alike, especially when considering its light 29 lb. weight. Reviewers mention that it is loud enough for most small bars and clubs. Touted by retailers as the singer songwriter's choice, reviews continue to be consistent, with many satisfied solo performers, including guitarists, electronic musicians and DJs. It's portability also received a good number of up-votes, with some even stating that it can be set it up in under a minute.

There were some users who experienced feedback issues while performing, specifically when driving the system above the halfway mark. Some users also complained about the lack of inputs, EQ and reverb, which forced some of them to purchase a separate mixer to get the most of the unit.

If you're mostly doing solo or maybe even duo performances, and you prefer something compact and distinct, then check out the Bose L1 Compact.

Yamaha StagePas 600i

92
GEARANK

92 out of 100. Incorporating 200+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$700
Yamaha StagePas 600i

Like its smaller sibling, the Yamaha StagePas 600i Portable PA System combines portability with sound quality and functionality, only this one is louder and has more input options. It has a 680 Watt amplifier with a 10-channel detachable mixer all packed inside two speakers with 10" LF drivers. This configuration makes it viable for medium size venues and applicable for bands and other performances that require more inputs. Other nifty features include 3-band EQ per channel, Master tone knob and built-in effects that include reverb. There's also a USB port for connecting smart devices and streaming audio.

Features:

  • 680W Amplifier with Detachable 10-Channel Mixer
  • Built-in Feedback Suppression and SPX Digital Reverb
  • iPod/iPhone USB Port included
  • Channels: 10
  • Mic Preamps: 4 - 2 with +30 V Phantom Power
  • Speakers: 2 (2 x 10" LF Drivers, 1 x 1.4" HF Drivers)
  • EQ: 3-Band EQ per Channel, Master 1-knob EQ
  • Input: 2 x XLR/TRS Combo, 2 x XLR (Mix), 6 x TRS, 1 x Stereo
  • Output: 2 x 1/4" (Speakers), 2 x 1/4" (Monitors), 1 x TS (Subwoofer)
  • Frequency Response: 55Hz-20kHz
  • Speaker Dimensions (HxWxD): 21.46"x13.19"x12.56"
  • Mixer Dimensions (HxWxD): 7.75"x13.70"x5.31"
  • Weight: 56 lbs.

The response from reviews are still overwhelmingly positive, with most concluding that the Yamaha StagePas 600i is well worth the investment. Many were pleased with its clarity and sound quality, and the volume to be adequate for most small to medium sized venues. Even experts who are used to bigger PA systems were surprised at the quality and coverage that it can provide, considering its price and size.

In his review for Sound On Sound Paul White said, "Overall, then, and considering the modest cost of the Stagepas 600i system, there's ample power available for most small gigs, the effects are good, and you'd be hard pushed to find anything more portable or easier to set up."

There were a few users who were concerned about the plastic enclosure, that it scratches easily and does not feel as solid as they would hope. Others wished that it was bundled with speaker stands so it can really be a complete PA system as is.

If you don't want to settle for anything than the best for small to medium size venues, then go for the Yamaha StagePas 600i

Fender Passport Venue

90
GEARANK

90 out of 100. Incorporating 100+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$1000
Fender Passport Venue Portable PA System

If you think that portable PA systems are only for small venues, the Fender Passport Venue will change your mind. This PA System features 600 watts of power and is touted by Fender as capable of handling medium to large audiences. And it's not just coverage that's increased because this one comes with a 10-channel mixer with enough inputs to meet the needs of bands. Sound shaping features include volume, reverb and 2-band EQ per channel, all of which are setup for intuitive control. In addition to all these features, Fender added a USB port that allows for playback and direct recording. This allows you to capture your performances on the road, without the need for a separate recording console.

Features:

  • 600W Class D with Built-in Reverb
  • USB Recording and Playback
  • Channels: 10
  • Preamps: 4 with 48 V Phantom Power
  • Speakers: 2 (2 x 10" LF, 1 x 1.2" HF)
  • EQ: 2-Band EQ
  • Input: 4 x XLR, 2 x TS, 2 x 1/4" (Stereo), 2 x 1/8" (Stereo)
  • Output: 2 x 1/4" (Speaker), 1 x 1/4" (Mono), 1 x 1/4" (Sub Out), 1 x 1/8" (Stereo), 1 x 1/8" (Headphones)
  • Bundled with Setup Cables
  • Dimensions (HxWxD): 23"x29"x11"
  • Weight: 46 lbs.

"Big in power yet small in size", is how many users describe the Fender Passport Venue. Case in point, one user successfully used it in a venue with 500 people. And it's not just about being loud because many are impressed with its overall sound quality. Ease of use and portability are also well appreciated, with extra commendations that point to its storage space.

There were some who are not too happy with its low-end, but this is to be expected when you're using portable PA systems with smaller speakers. One user complained about the lack of Bluetooth connectivity, especially when it's available with the smaller Passport Event model. There are also some complaints about the clasp quality.

There's a reason why Fender remains a big force in the audio equipment market, so if you want a loud portable PA system with big band backing then the Passport Venue is highly recommended.

The Best Battery Powered PA Systems

Below are the two best rated battery-powered PA systems that have impressed the market, along with summaries of how hands-on users feel about their quality and portability.

Behringer Europort MPA40BT-Pro

90
GEARANK

90 out of 100. Incorporating 200+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$200
Behringer Europort MPA40BT-Pro Portable PA System

The Behringer MPA40BT-Pro is a truly mobile PA system complete with rechargeable internal battery that can allow the unit to run for up to 12 hours. This means that you can use this PA system virtually anywhere, and makes it ideal for busking, or for small outdoor shows. This PA system follows the luggage form factor, complete with a carry handle. It houses a 40W amplifier that drives an 8" woofer and 1" tweeter, and for its small size, this unit allows for multiple input sources with its 4 channels, two mic preamps and Bluetooth connectivity.

Features:

  • 40W Class D Amplifier
  • Channels: 4
  • Preamps: 2 - No Phantom Power
  • Speakers: 1 x 8" LF Driver, 1 x 1" HF Driver)
  • Runs On Rechargeable Battery or AC Power
  • Bluetooth Streaming
  • EQ: 2-Band EQ (Treble and Bass)
  • Input: 2 x XLR Combo, 1 x Stereo (RCA)
  • Enclosure: Polypropylene
  • Dimensions (HxWxD): 16.6"x12.2"x9.6"
  • Weight: 18.1 lbs.

Many reviewers are generous in giving the Behringer MPA40BT-Pro perfect scores, citing its portability and battery life as its strong points. One user noted how useful it is for venues with no power, EG outdoor weddings, but most of the reviewers use this unit for busking purposes - and for that the general sentiment is that it easily exceeds expectations. Versatility and Bluetooth connectivity also resulted in more commendations.

Most of the few complaints that it got pointed to the included microphone and its poor quality, even those that rated the unit highly also recommend getting a better microphone to get the most out of the PA system. One user mentioned feedback issues, but he was using it for a small venue with 70 to 80 persons, which was probably pushing the unit a bit.

While there are definitely other battery powered PA systems in the same price range, this one gets our recommendation for its great balance of price, quality and battery life.

Roland BA-330

90
GEARANK

90 out of 100. Incorporating 150+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$620
Roland BA-330

The Roland BA-330 carries over their brand of reliability and quality, and packs them all together inside a compact mobile PA system that can be run using regular AA batteries. And since they are popular for their portable amplifiers, it is only expected for this one to do well in the market. This system packs a 30W amplifier with 4 channels and 2 mic preamps, that drive a specially designed speaker system with four 6" drivers and two tweeters. Other features include aux input for your media player, and an intuitive easy to use EQ control.

Features:

  • 30W Amplifier that Runs on Battery (8xAA) or 12V external power supply
  • Channels: 4
  • Preamps: 2 - No Phantom Power
  • Speakers: 4 x 6.5" Drivers and 2 x 1" Tweeters
  • EQ: 1-Band EQ
  • Input: 2 x XLR (Mic), 2 x 1/4", 2 x 1/4" (Stereo)
  • Output: 2 x 1/4" (Line)
  • Dimensions (HxWxD): 20"x16.4"x12.75"
  • Weight: 30.5 lbs.

While it may not be the most affordable of its kind the BA-330 is commended by many for its reliability, as attested to by those who rely on this unit for delicate outdoor wedding events. There's even one person who has been using the Roland BA-330 for over a decade and reported that it still works and sounds incredible. The ability to use regular AA batteries is what makes this a safe choice for important outdoor events, with many users thanking Roland for saving them from having to lug around hundreds of feet worth of cables.

Since this unit is dated compared to recently released ones, there are some who notice the lack of features, specifically Bluetooth connectivity which seem to be a must these days. Other than that, most are quite happy with hope it performs.

If reliability is at the top of your list and you want a battery powered mini-PA system that you can depend on at critical moments, then invest on the Roland BA-330.

Things To Consider When Buying a Compact PA System

  • Portability and Weight

    Weight is an obvious consideration, especially when you'll be regularly hauling the PA System to the different places. As such, you want one that's as light as possible without compromising sound quality and the coverage that you need. Having sturdy yet comfortable handles are also a important. You may also consider adding wheels, or using carts to relieve some of the carrying. Compact form factor is also important, you want one that can fit into your mode of transportation, especially when you'll be carrying other gear like instruments, where every inch of space you can save is important. Suitcase style PA systems score high points here, with their space-saving design. Another often ignored but important feature to look out for are storage compartments, so you won't have to carry cables separately.

  • Power and Coverage

    Portable PA systems are meant for small venues (with some exceptions), so don't expect them to be loud enough for big stages or open air concerts. Still, you want one with enough headroom to get your sound to your audience as clearly as possible. The PAs featured here are all capable of handling small venues, some can even cover medium size ones. Note that the higher the output power, the better the coverage, but at the cost of extra bulk and weight - so you'll have to carefully weigh your needs to get the system that is at just the right size and power.

  • Input Options

    The portable PA systems that made it to our list have two or more channels available, and multiple input options. Some even have Bluetooth connectivity for convenient wireless streaming. Again, you'll have to assess the input ports that you need, and get one that can provide you with enough ports, or maybe go for one with more, for future expansion. On the other hand, you can get a standalone mixer to expand your input options without having to go for bigger PA systems.

  • Built-in EQ and Effects

    Those with built-in EQ and effects allow for more flexibility, which is useful when contouring sound to match different venues. But more is not necessarily better, especially when you are trying to cut down setup time, go for one that is practical and easy to implement. You can opt for a 3rd party effect unit if you want to have more inputs without switching to a bigger system. They are usually of better quality, but add to the setup time and gear that you have to carry around.

  • Alternative Personal or Small PA Systems

    Many Acoustic Amps and Keyboard Amps are also designed specifically to be used as small PA systems with features such as multiple input channels, effects, tone shaping, feedback detection/prevention, mic preamps and phantom power plus much more. Some of these amplifiers also have a built-in DI so you can use them for on stage monitoring while sending a balanced signal to the front of house mixing desk when playing larger venues with bigger PA systems. Some have Line Outs which you can use for the same purpose but you'll also need a DI Box if you want to convert to a balanced signal There are also some people who simply use a Powered PA Speaker - these have limited features and usually only have 1 or 2 input channels and no mic preamps, but for some it's all they need to get the job done.

  • Additional Gear Frequently Used With Portable PA Systems

    Most people want to put vocals through their PA so at a minimum you'll also need a microphone and cable to plug it in. If you don't already have the extra gear you need then don't forget to add them to your budget and buy them when or before you get your new PA. Here are some of the most common types of gear used in conjunction with portable PAs:

    • Microphones - only get Dynamic Mics if your PA system doesn't have Phantom Power; the details are explained in the live mic guide. For Condenser Mics that require external/phantom power make sure the voltage rating of your PA's phantom power is at least as high as what the mic requires.
    • XLR Microphone Cables - these are the types of cables used with handheld mics designed for music. It's good practice to always have some spare mic cables on hand at gigs and rehearsals - good ones rarely develop problems but it's unprofessional to delay playing if you damage your only mic cable during transport or setting up.
    • Wireless Microphones - often used in situations where performers or presenters like to roam out into the audience. Some example situations are theater restaurants, houses of worship, and anywhere you don't want cables cluttering up your performance area.
    • Mic Stands - if you need to play an instrument and sing at the same time then make sure you get a tripod base stand with a boom, otherwise straight mic stands are fine.
    • Vocal Effects Pedals - in addition to the basics like Reverb, Delay Compression and EQ, many of these effects processors also have features specifically designed for solo acts and small groups such as harmonizers, pitch-shifting, looping and some also have guitar inputs and associated effects. You can also get ones with handy features missing on some small PAs such as Phantom Power and Feedback Suppression.
    • Speaker Stands - if you need your speakers elevated and you don't have something to sit them on then get purpose built speaker stands - don't use mic stands because they're not designed for the weight.

Best Portable PA System Selection Methodology

Firstly we defined a portable PA system as being designed to be carried by a single person and having the following minimum feature set: at least 2 input channels, mixer, amplifier, and 2 speaker cabinets excepting vertical array systems that have a single stack. We then looked at all the options that met our definition and which are widely available within the US. We then gathered the latest reviews and ratings, which totaled to over 2700, and processed all of them via the Gearank Algorithm. The resulting ratings were used to select the best portable PA systems to recommend above. For more information about this process see How Gearank Works.

Comments

looking for a portable Pa

Looking for a portable Pa with echo what would your suggestion be solo artist small venues auditorium

After reading these reviews i

After reading these reviews i went ahead and purchased the Europort MPA40BT-Pro, and I'm not seeing the "Built-in Feedback Suppression and SPX Digital Reverb" that is itemized as the 2nd bullet point- was that a mistake? Special emphasis on Reverb- Am I missing something? Thanks in advance.

Hello KM,

Hello KM,

I apologize for the mixup of the Europort MPA40BT-Pro features. It does not have built-in reverb, but it does support bluetooth streaming. We have updated the guide accordingly.

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