The Best Portable / Compact PA Systems + Battery Powered PAs

The Highest Rated Portable PA Systems

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

Here we take a look at top rated portable PA systems, based on actual user reviews and expert recommendations, so you can get what the market deems as most worthy.

This 2019 updated version sees a couple of new entries in our recommended list including the Bose S1 Pro that is rated the highest among our recommendations for battery-powered systems. The Yamaha StagePas 600BT is another new comer, superseding its predecessor with its convenient Bluetooth streaming feature.

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.

The Best Portable / Compact PA Systems + Battery Powered PAs

The Best Portable PA Systems

Here 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.

Fender Passport Event

92
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$700
Fender Passport Event Portable PA System

At the time of publication this was the Highest Rated Non-Battery Powered 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.

Its 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 a 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.

Pros

Many owners say it gave them excellent value for their 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.

Cons

There are a few that deducted one star for lack of specific features, which includes a lack of 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.

Overall

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.

Yamaha StagePas 600BT

91
GEARANK

91 out of 100. Incorporating 40+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$900
Yamaha StagePas 600BT Portable PA System with Bluetooth

The Yamaha StagePas 600BT is a portable PA system meant for small-to-midsized venues, it follows after its popular predecessor, with wireless Bluetooth connectivity as an added feature.

It has four mic/line inputs with XLR jacks, with 3-band EQ control for each channel. Channels 1 and 2 come with phantom power, while channel 4 is switchable to hi-Z for use with passive-pickup equipped instruments.

Other features include extra inputs like a 1/8" stereo mini and RCA, and outputs for a monitor and subwoofer.

Features:

  • 680W Amplifier with Detachable 10-Channel Mixer
  • Built-in Feedback Suppression and SPX Digital Reverb
  • Bluetooth Connectivity
  • 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: 40Hz-20khz (-3 dB)
  • Speaker Dimensions (HxWxD): 21.45"x13.18"x12.55"
  • Mixer Dimensions (HxWxD): 7.75"x13.70"x5.31"
  • Weight: 56.43 lbs.

Pros
Small groups like singer songwriter and acoustic duos love the sound of the Yamaha StagePass 600BT, describing it as very clear sounding with many satisfied reports of vocals and acoustic guitars sounding nice with this system. Volume is also well appreciated, one user pointed out that he doesn't need to go over half the volume when used in small venues. It also gets a number of thumbs up for reliability and portability.

Cons
Some users feel that the power cable is shorter than they expected, but it's an easy fix with an extension power cable. There are also a few who report that while the speakers are easy to setup, the mixer can be tricky to mount.

Overall
With its reputation for sound quality and portability, the addition of Bluetooth streaming further establishes the Yamaha StagePass 600's prominent position in the market.

Bose L1 Compact

91
GEARANK

91 out of 100. Incorporating 700+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$999
Bose L1 Compact Portable PA System

The Bose L1 Compact easily stands out with its modern Spatial Dispersion design, which utilizes a line array of six 2" HF drivers that work together to provide 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 that 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.

Pros
For a compact PA system, the Bose L1 Compact's sound projection continues to exceed common expectations, especially when considering its light 29 lb. weight. Reviewers mention that it is loud enough for most small bars and clubs. It also gets a lot of kudos for its sound quality from users and experts alike. Touted by retailers as the singer songwriter's choice, reviews continue to be consistently positive, with many satisfied solo performers, including guitarists, electronic musicians and DJs. There are also plenty of upvotes for its portability, with some even stating that it can be set it up in under a minute.

Cons
There are some reports of feedback issues while performing, specifically when driving the system above the halfway mark. There are also some who wish for more inputs and essential tone shaping like EQ and reverb.

Overall
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.

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.

Pros
"Big in power yet small in size", is how many users describe the Fender Passport Venue. Some even report that it gets the job done for medium sized venues with crowds up to 500. In addition to being loud, more and more users are also praising it for its overall sound quality. Ease of use and portability gets a lot of appreciation, with some specifically commending its storage space.

Cons
There are some who are not too happy with its low-end response, but this is a natural limitation of small woofers. One user complained about the lack of Bluetooth connectivity, especially when it's available with the smaller Passport Event model. There are a few who are not too impressed with the quality of the speaker clasp.

Overall
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

These are the highest rated battery-powered PA systems on the market, along with summaries of how hands-on users feel about their quality and portability.

Behringer Europort MPA40BT-Pro

89
GEARANK

89 out of 100. Incorporating 325+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$229
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.

Pros
Reviewers continue to give generous ratings for the Behringer MPA40BT-Pro, citing its portability and battery life as its edge. Most of the reviews are from buskers who feel that it easily surpasses their expectations - from its balanced sound to how efficient it is at using battery power. There are also some who recommend the MPA40BT-Pro for venues with little to no-power access, be it for important outdoor wedding events, or for simple personal outdoor use.

Cons
There are a few who are not too impressed with the quality of the included microphone, some of them recommend 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, and was probably driving the unit a bit more than normal operation.

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

Bose S1 Pro Battery Powered Portable PA System

94
GEARANK

94 out of 100. Incorporating 700+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$599
Bose S1 Pro Battery Powered Portable PA System

At the time of publication this was the Highest Rated Battery Powered Portable PA System.

The S1 Pro gives you Bose quality sounds in a compact 15-pound form factor with built-in rechargeable Li-ion battery.

It has a 30W amplifier with 2 preamps that drives multiple speakers within the cabinet which include three 2.25" HF drivers and one 6" LF driver, all working together to give the sound quality that you expect from Bose, albeit with less volume than their larger systems.

It comes with Auto EQ and ToneMatch that helps improve the overall sound be it for vocals or instruments. Other features include independent EQ and reverb for the two channels and a third channel dedicated for Aux input with Bluetooth streaming.

Finally, its distinct speaker cabinet is designed to work in any position, be it mounted, tilted or seated.

Features:

  • 150W Amplifier with Rechargeable Li-ion Battery (up to 11 hours of use)
  • Channels: 3
  • Preamps: 2 - No Phantom Power
  • Speakers: 1 x 6" LF Woofer, 3 x 2.25" HF Drivers
  • EQ: 2-Band per Channel
  • Frequency Response: 70Hz-16khz (±3 db)
  • Input: 2 x XLR-1/4" Combo, 1 x 1/8" (aux)
  • Output: 1 x 1/4" TRS (Line Out)
  • Dimensions (HxWxD): 13.1"x9.4"x11.1"
  • Weight: 15.7 lbs.

Pros
Coming from Bose, sound quality is a given, and this is attested to in many user reports. While its primary design is for outdoor use, there are reports of it working well in other situations including being a stage monitor, a supporting speaker for a medium size venue event and even a main speaker for small room settings like good old karaoke. Some even use it as a wireless multimedia speaker and are very happy with its sound. Many also say that the Bose S1 Pro is solid and reliable enough for professional gigging use.

Cons
There are a few who feel that the low end response isn't strong enough, while others complain about the highs when listening from a distance. Both these concerns are expected though, given the small profile of the speaker. It is simply not meant to be loud and to sound full at far distances.

Overall
If you're looking for an all-around bluetooth capable PA system that works well at home, outdoors and even on stage, then check out the Bose S1 Pro.

Roland BA-330

90
GEARANK

90 out of 100. Incorporating 175+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$630
Roland BA-330

The BA-330 carries over Roland's brand of reliability and quality, and packs it all together inside a compact mobile PA system that can be run using regular AA batteries. And since Roland is well regarded 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.

Pros
Users who rely on this unit for delicate outdoor events like weddings and birthdays have many good things to say about the BA-330. There's even one user who reports using the Roland BA-330 for over a decade, and is still very happy with how it sounds. The ability to use regular AA batteries makes battery drain almost a non-issue (with enough backups), and for this many users are very appreciative, thanking Roland for saving them from having to lug around hundreds of feet worth of cables.

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

Overall
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 in 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.

  • Which is the Best PA System For a Band?

    While portable PA systems can't handle a fully miked band, some have enough inputs to handle the needs of vocals and some instruments. Still, miking drums is out of the question, unless there is a separate mixer to provide the inputs and controls for multiple drum mics. Because they don't need mics, electronic drum kits are ideal when your band is using portable PA systems. The Yamaha StagePas 600BT, with its 680W of power and 4 inputs, is a good choice for bands that are looking for a lightweight and portable PA system. The Fender Passport Venue is another viable PA system for bands, offering more input options and rated at 600W.

  • Which is the Best Rechargeable PA System?

    It has to be the Bose S1 Pro, with its very high Gearank rating - which translates to the market actually appreciating its overall performance. For those with budget constraints, the Behringer Europort MPA40BT-Pro is highly recommended, with its high enough ratings but at a very reasonable price point.

  • 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

This guide was first published on December 24, 2016, and the latest major update was published on October 1, 2019.

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 for this updated included the most recent ones up to September of 2019. All in all, we gathered over 3800, all of which were processed 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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