Portable PA SystemsIf you're looking at Portable PA Systems you probably need something lightweight, easy to store and transport, and with lots of features in one system.
Think about the factors which are most important to you and weigh up the pros and cons below before choosing your system.
BATTERY OR MAINS POWERED
- If you want to use the system outside or indoors without cables then a portable PA system which contains its own rechargeable battery will be ideal.
- You'll probably find that the power is restricted to about 100 watts RMS - loud enough for 100 people for speech-reinforcement and about 75 people for background music.
- You need to charge it regularly, especially if you don't use it very often. If the battery discharges fully you might find you can't charge it any more and will need a replacement battery.
- If you have a larger audience you really need mains power (or a generator).
- Some portable PA systems come with one or two wireless microphone receivers built in, plus handheld or headset mics.
- Integrated microphones in the cheaper portable systems are usually (but not always) VHF which are more prone to interference and dropout.
- You can usually plug in extra wired mics or a wireless microphone system of your own. For example, a portable PA with 2 x wireless microphones built in will sometimes have one or two MIC inputs. You could connect wired microphones into that, or even 2, 4 or 8-way wireless microphone systems (with a licence) so you can have many mics running from a portable PA if you need to.
- Portable PA systems are often one Active speaker with an inbuilt mixer, and these can be mains or battery powered. They're better suited to the smaller audience of under 100 people.
- If you have a larger audience it may be worth getting a portable PA which has two Passive speakers and a small mixer/amp, as you'll get a better spread of sound. These will always be mains powered.
- Sometimes the mixer/amp fits in the back of one of the speakers for storage, or sometimes the speakers and mixer fit together in a pod shape - these are usually quite heavy.
- A portable PA system will usually have inputs for one or two microphones plus a LINE IN (RCA phono) for connecting a music device, laptop or keyboard.
- Some will have an MP3 section allowing you to play music from a memory stick or card.
- Some will have Bluetooth connectivity, so you can connect your Bluetooth device directly to it.
- Adding one or more speakers to a portable PA system is a great way to get a simple, all-in-one system and while ensuring it's loud enough for your venue and audience.
- If you have two identical portable PA systems with inbuilt wireless microphones you'll find that if you have two units and speak through the microphone of one, it will come out of both systems. Great for spreading the sound around an area with no cables!
- Most portable PA systems will have an OUTPUT enabling you to connect one or more Active speakers to give you more power. The Active speakers will need mains power even if the portable PA system is battery-powered.