The Best Portable / Compact PA Systems + Battery Powered PAs

The Highest Rated Portable PA Systems

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Portable PA systems are self-contained sound systems that enable setup anywhere there's space to put them. They're a combination of a mixer, power amplifier and speaker.

Most of them are powered via wall outlet but there are units powered with batteries for the best in portability. This makes them perfect for pop-up events and busking.

We categorized our recommendations into two main sections that separate Portable PA systems that require a wall socket and systems that 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.

The Best Portable / Compact PA Systems + Battery Powered PA - 2022.11

Author & Contributors

Raphael PulgarRaphael Pulgar

I've been an audio engineer for 20 years specializing in rock and metal recordings, and also I play guitar and produce original music for my band and other content creators.

Budget Option

Here is a budget friendly option for those who are working with limited funds.

Behringer Europort PPA500BT

91
GEARANK

91 out of 100. Incorporating 300+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$449
Behringer Europort PPA500BT
At publication time this was the Highest Rated Portable PA System Under $500.

Cons

  • Not loud enough for larger venues

Pros

  • Great Portability
  • Good onboard effects
  • Packaged with a mic
  • Easy integration with Behringer wireless mics

The Behringer Europort PPA500BT is a complete sound system that packs up to a portable form factor. When opened up, the unit separates into three sections: Two speakers and a central mixer module.

The system features a 5-band EQ, Feedback detection, and Bluetooth connectivity. It has 100 built-in effects including delay, reverb, chorus and pitch effects; all designed by Klark Teknik.

It's easy to set up and includes speaker cables and a handheld dynamic microphone. Volume wise, it's loud enough for small venues, band practice, and small outdoor events. Its portability makes it a great choice for pop up acoustic gigs as well.

Because of its size, it might not be the loudest sound system so for larger venues and outdoor events, you might need to up your budget.

If you're looking for an easy to set up PA that doesn't require a lot of technical experience to operate or if you're on an extremely tight budget and need something for small events or rehearsals, the PPA500BT is a great choice.

Features

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

Rating Source Highlight

Website Source *Rating Value
Youtube Electricity Keeping You Alive John Riddle 90/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

The Best Portable PA Systems Under $1000

Fender Passport Event S2

94
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$840
Fender Passport Event S2 Portable PA System

Cons

  • Volume is adequate for medium venues but not enough for larger open-air venues
  • No Phantom Power

Pros

  • Very portable
  • Each channel has EQ and Reverb
  • Sub and mono outputs offer some expandability

When packed up, the Passport Event S2 looks like luggage. But underneath the sleek exterior is a 7-channel mixer paired with a 375W Class D amplifier that sends the signal two 8" woofers, and two 1/2" horn-loaded tweeters.

Aside from a volume control, all 7 channels have a 2 band EQ and Reverb. The first 4 channels have an XLR combo input for mics and instruments while Channel 5 has a 1/4" in for instruments. Channels 6 and 7 are paired into one stereo channel with auxiliary inputs and Bluetooth pairing.

The sub out and mono outputs add to the expandability of the system, making it great as a static setup for small venues that need a subwoofer and floor monitors.

As with all PA's this size, bass and volume aren't as strong as larger, less portable PA's. Luckily the sub out and mono out can help in that regard. Do note that the unit does not have phantom power, so condenser mics are out of the equation.

Overall, the Fender Passport Event S2 is a great value for both travelling and setting up in small venues. Being able to pair with a subwoofer adds to its versatility for static setups.

Features

  • 375W Class D Amplifier With Bluetooth Connectivity
  • Sub output with built-in filter
  • Channels: 7
  • Mic Preamps: 4
  • Speakers: 2 (1 x 8" LF, 1 x 1.2" HF)
  • EQ: 2-band EQ and Reverb for each channel
  • Input: 4 x XLR-1/4" combo, 1 x 1/4", 2 x 1/4" (L/Mono, Right), 1 x 1/8" (aux)
  • Output: 2 x 1/4" (speaker out), 2 x 1/4" (mono, sub), 1 x 1/8" (headphones)
  • Dimensions (HxWxD): 23"x 29"x 11"
  • Weight: 44 lbs.

Rating Source Highlight

Website Source *Rating Value
Youtube Fairly Odd Dogs 90/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

Yamaha StagePas 400BT

95
GEARANK

95 out of 100. Incorporating 225+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$900
Yamaha STAGEPAS 400BT Portable PA System with Bluetooth
At publication time this was the Highest Rated Portable PA System Under $1000.

Cons

  • Limited EQ options

Pros

  • Good wattage for the price
  • One-button feedback suppression
  • 4 Mic preamps great for small events

The Yamaha StagePas 400BT is a 400-watt powered mixer and 2 passive speaker set that has many features that make live performance convenient.

Where most other brands top at just reinforcing sound, the 400BT adds peace of mind with a One-Button intelligent feedback suppression, keeping unwanted sounds at a minimum.

8 Channels and 4 Mic Preamps round out the capabilities of this all-in-one system, making it capable of using condenser mics.

For the price, the StagePas 400BT is feature packed, making it great value for people just starting out with sound reinforcement or those that want a mobile setup without the need for other outboard gear. The feedback suppression is great for those not trained in sound system calibration.

Despite all the features, the equalization options are limited.

If you want a competitively priced sound system with a great set of speakers and enough inputs for multiple performers, the Yamaha StagePas 400BT is a good pick.

Features

  • 400 watt Powered mixer with 2 passive speakers
  • 1-Knob Master EQ; 2-band EQ on each channel
  • One Button Intelligent Feedback Suppression
  • Bluetooth Connectivity
  • Channels: 8
  • Mic Preamps: 4 - 2 with +48v Phantom Power
  • Speakers: 2 (1 x 8" LF, 1 x 1" HF)
  • EQ: 2-band Channel EQ, 1-Knob Master EQ
  • Input: 2 x XLR, 1 x XLR-1/4" combo (mic/line), 1 x XLR-1/4" combo (mic/line/Hi-Z), 4 x 1/4" TS (dual stereo), 1 x Dual RCA Stereo
  • Output: 2 x 1/4" (speaker), 2 x 1/4" (monitor), 1 x 1/4" (subwoofer)
  • Frequency Response: 40Hz-20khz (-3 dB)
  • Speaker Dimensions (HxWxD): 18.58" x 11.37" x 10.82"
  • Mixer Dimensions (HxWxD): 7.08" x 12.12" x 4.56"
  • Weight: 40.34 lbs. (total), 16.97 lbs. (2 x speaker), 6.36 lbs. (mixer)

Rating Source Highlight

Website Source *Rating Value
American Songwriter Andy McDonough 94/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

The Best Portable PA Systems Over $1000

Electro-Voice Evolve 30M

97
GEARANK

97 out of 100. Incorporating 225+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$1499
Electro-Voice Evolve 30M Portable PA System

Cons

  • Needs proper positioning to maximize dispersion
  • Mobile app required for all features

Pros

  • Collapsible and compact form factor
  • Line array style disperses sound efficiently
  • Surprisingly loud for the size

The Electro-Voice Evolve 30M is a portable line-array style speaker setup with 6 2.8" HF drivers in tendem with a 10" woofer.

This speaker setup allows the Evolve 30m 120º of horizontal coverage and 40º of vertical coverage. Perfect for small to medium venues.

Collapsible design makes the speaker easy to set up and tear down for pop-up events and impromptu gatherings.

The volume and coverage the Evolve 30m provides is surprising given its form factor. It has the volume you'd expect from larger speakers. Having the same volume and coverage as larger speakers, in a more portable format is one of the Evolve 30M's best points.

Because of the form factor though, proper positioning is needed to maximize the throw of the audio. It's easily misplaced in areas that may hamper the dispersion of the speakers. Another caveat is that it needs the app to have access to all its features.

The Electro-Voice Evolve 30M checks the right boxes for volume, coverage and portability. Get it if you want great sound dispersion and clarity in a compact line-array package.

Features

  • 500W LF + 500W HF Power (1000W total bi-amplified)
  • Channels: 8
  • Preamps: 2
  • Speakers: 6 x 2.8" HF Drivers, 1 x 10" woofer
  • EQ: 3-band EQ
  • Input: 4 x XLR-1/4" combo, 2 x XLR-1/4" combo (stereo), 1 x 1/4" TRS (Hi-Z), Dual RCA Stereo, 1 x 1/8" (aux)
  • Output: 2 x XLR (mix/aux)
  • Frequency Response: 45Hz to 20KHz (-10 dB)
  • 15mm Plywood, Composite column, Aluminum pole
  • Pole Dimensions (HxWxD): 24.4" x 3.7" x 6.2"
  • Sub Dimensions (HxWxD): 17.6" x 13" x 17"
  • Weight: 44 lbs.

Rating Source Highlight

Website Source *Rating Value
DJ Times DJ Deets 96/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

Electro-Voice Evolve 50

99
GEARANK

99 out of 100. Incorporating 375+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$1899
Electro-Voice Evolve 50 Portable PA System
At publication time this was the Highest Rated Portable PA System for the 3rd Edition in a row!

Cons

  • Dispersion is wide but can still be affected by positioning

Pros

  • Line array system tech for small to medium venues
  • 1000 Watts of power ensure high headroom
  • Programmable presets and EQ

With its almost perfect rating, the Electro-Voice Evolve 50 is currently the portable PA system to beat.

It is a 2-component system consisting of a column array and a subwoofer, with a combined power rating of 1000 watts.

The column array speaker houses eight 3.5" neodymium drivers with 8 composite wave guides that allow for a wide 120° of horizontal coverage and 40° of asymmetrical vertical coverage, while the subwoofer houses a 12" low frequency driver which together with the column array produces up to 127dB SPL.

It has 2 combo XLR line/mic inputs and an aux input, all three having dedicated volume knobs. It also has built-in DSP (digital sound processing) capabilities, which include 4 factory presets (Music, Live, Speech, and Club), 5 user programmable presets, a 3-band EQ, and Bluetooth compatibility.

It can be astounding how a column array speaker can sound great and be loud. The Evolve 50 embodies characteristics of large festival speakers like line arrays in a size that fits nearly any room. It is put to good use in various situations, from band rehearsal to DJ events, to conferences, to coaching and training and more. This flexibility coupled with ease of use make this a great all-around portable PA system.

Like full line array systems, the speakers can be very directional so optimum placement for dispersion is always recommended.

There's a reason why the Electro-Voice Evolve 50 is the top-rated portable PA system: it scales down festival-level line array systems and tech and makes it work for small to medium venues. Be sure to check it out.

Features

  • 1000W Class D Amplifier
  • Channels: 3
  • Preamps: 2
  • Speakers: 8 x 3.5" HF Drivers, 12" x LF Driver
  • EQ: 3-Band EQ
  • Input: 2 x XLR-1/4" Combo (Mic/Line), 1 x 1/8" (Aux in), 1 x Dual RCA Stereo (Aux in)
  • Output: 1 x XLR (Mix out), 1 x XLR (Thru)
  • Frequency Response: 43Hz-20kHz
  • 15mm plywood, Composiite, Aluminum Enclosure
  • Dimensions (HxWxD): 20.9"x13.6"x18.5"
  • Weight: 57.75 lbs.

Rating Source Highlight

Website Source *Rating Value
Sound On Sound Paul White 96/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

The Best Battery Powered PA System

Bose S1 Pro

94
GEARANK

94 out of 100. Incorporating 5800+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$699
Bose S1 Pro Battery Powered Portable PA System
At publication time this was the Highest Rated Battery Powered Portable PA System for the 4th Edition in a row!

Cons

  • Limited power

Pros

  • Great sound quality with a well-balanced frequency response
  • Auto EQ a blessing for the less tech-savvy
  • Independent EQ and reverb for two channels
  • Versatile mounting options

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

It has a 150W amplifier with 2 preamps that drive 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.

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

Coming from Bose, sound quality is a given. While its primary design is for outdoor use, it works 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. It can even be used as a wireless multimedia speaker. The Bose S1 Pro is also solid and reliable enough for professional gigging use.

Given the small profile of the speaker, it is simply not meant to be loud and to sound full at far distances.

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

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.

Rating Source Highlight

Website Source *Rating Value
YouTube HappyRider Reviews 96/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

Things To Consider When Buying a Compact PA System

Portability and Weight

For those who are planning on regularly hauling their PA system to different places, weight is an important consideration. You'll want a portable PA system that's as light as possible while also considering your sound quality and coverage requirements. Having sturdy yet comfortable handles are a must. You may also consider those with built-in wheels, or you can use 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 effects 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 and 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.

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

The first edition was published in 2016 and the current edition was published on November 23, 2022.

Since there is no standard definition of portable PA systems, we decided on a set of criteria that addresses requirements for portability. This includes being designed to be carried by a single person and having the following minimum feature set: at least 2 input channels, a mixer, amplifier, and 2 speaker cabinets, with special exception for vertical array systems and battery powered PA systems. Using these criteria, we were able to come up with a short list of 36 portable PA systems that are widely available within the USA. We then gathered the latest reviews and ratings, which for this edition included the most recent feedback up to mid-November 2022. All in all, the data gathered came from over 15,900 sources, all of which were processed via the Gearank Algorithm. The resulting rating scores out of 100 were used to select the best portable PA systems to recommend above. For more information about our methods see How Gearank Works.

About the Author and Contributors

Here are the key people and sources involved in this guide's production - click on linked names for information about their music industry backgrounds.

Lead Author & Researcher

Raphael PulgarRaphael Pulgar

I've been an audio engineer for 20 years specializing in rock and metal recordings, and also I play guitar and produce original music for my band and other content creators.

I've worked events for most of my career ranging from pop-up acoustic shows to DIY punk shows to large concerts. For small venues, pop-ups, busking and other events up to 50 people, these portable PA's can provide sound reinforcement easily. Because of the nature of some of these products, I usually have to weigh in whether I'd need power or portability as a priority. Features like effects or feedback suppression come secondary and are usually added bonuses on top of your main priority.

Contributors

Alexander Briones: Product research.
Jason Horton: Editing and Illustrating.

Media

Main/Top Image: By Gearank.com using photographs of the Electro-Voice Evolve 30M, Yamaha StagePas 400BT and Electro-Voice Evolve 50.

The individual product images were sourced from websites, promotional materials or supporting documentation provided by their respective manufacturers.

Comments

Hi, how would you rate Sony

Hi, how would you rate Sony SRS-XP700 for battery-powered karaoke/PA/party speaker?

We are looking at something

We are looking at something to use outside for Graduations, that includes microphone and are all battery operated?

looking for a system with 4

Looking for a system with 4 wireless microphones. how does it make sound, does a speaker need to be purchased separately?

You'll need to buy a PA

You'll need to buy a PA system like the ones above, that's the part that has amplified speakers and makes sound, and a separate wireless microphone system.

A wireless mic system is comprised of wireless mics that pic up the sound and transmit it to a wireless receiver which is then plugged into a PA system.

You can see our recommendations for 4 microphone options in our Wireless Microphone System Guide.

I recently purchased a Bose

I recently purchased a Bose S1 with stand after spending time viewing many alternatives. Had I known of your Website here, my decision would have been much easier and faster. Thank you for providing this information. I am happy with my choice as it will meet my needs beautifully. I will use gearank.com from now on.

Looking for a portable PA

Looking for a portable PA system for outdoor and indoor events. This would be for a local government entity. Must be easy to use. Any suggestions?

Hi, could you tell me which

Hi, could you tell me which one to go between a yamaha stagepas 400i and a samson xp800? I'm sax payer.. Thank you!

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.

looking for a portable Pa

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