The 7 Best PA Systems

Updated January 14, 2018 by Daniel Imperiale

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We spent 37 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top picks for this wiki. Whether you're a musician looking to create your own immersive concert experience or a school principal trying to get through to the kids in the back row of the auditorium, one of the PA systems on our list is sure to do the trick. We've included portable options for the performer on the go, as well as larger, more powerful units that will have a dedicated home. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best pa system on Amazon.

7. Samson Expedition XP150

The Samson Expedition XP150 is an affordable alternative to some of the pricier portable options out there, generating a fair amount of power between its two speakers, each of which comes equipped with a potent 6-inch subwoofer for extra bass.
  • can double as a monitor set
  • mixer has 5 channels
  • internal fans are too noisy
Brand Samson Technologies
Model XP150
Weight 26.9 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

6. Peavey Audio Performer

The Peavey Audio Performer is a favorite among all kinds of users, as it’s an all-in-one solution that includes the hardware and accessories you need to stage a variety of events and live concerts. Setup is quick and painless, too.
  • comes with microphones and cables
  • built-in power amp
  • controls are extremely sensitive
Brand Peavey
Model APP
Weight 76.8 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

5. Peavey Escort 3000 300-Watt

The mixer that comes with the Peavey Escort 3000 300-Watt is integrated into the case that holds the speakers when in transit. That container has legs of its own, allowing you to quickly and easily set up a mixing table at any venue.
  • six combination xlr jacks
  • built-in digital effects
  • stands are not that stable
Brand Peavey
Model 3608880 SCORT 3000
Weight 59.1 pounds
Rating 5.0 / 5.0

4. Yamaha StagePas Portable

A professional-grade system for serious musicians and performers, the Yamaha StagePas Portable is worth every penny. It’s ideal for large public rallies, well-attended auctions, concerts, and other events that require volume, clarity, and definition.
  • detachable 10-channel mixer
  • single-knob master equalizer
  • 680 total watts
Brand Yamaha
Weight 67.3 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

3. Fender Passport Event

If you appreciate sound fidelity, the Fender Passport Event will be music to your ears. It's a perfect system for multiple vocalists, as it features dedicated reverb controls on all of its channels, as well as bass and treble adjustments.
  • equipped with bluetooth connectivity
  • quarter-inch input for guitars
  • automatic high-pass filter
Brand Fender
Model 6946000 000
Weight 58.1 pounds
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

2. Behringer Europort EPS500

A compact, eight-channel system that produces studio-grade stereo reverb, the Behringer Europort EPS500 delivers clean sound with authority. The speakers are light and easy to carry, with built-in handles that make moving them from place to place simple.
  • usb input for mp3s
  • ability to add a monitor
  • handles many styles of music well
Brand Behringer
Model EPS500MP3
Weight 48.2 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

1. JBL Eon 208P Portable All-in-One

When it comes time to pack up, the 8-channel mixer central to the JBL Eon 208P Portable All-in-One fits snugly between the package's speaker pair. This is an ideal choice for touring musicians who need a combination of power and convenience.
  • soft-grip handles
  • integrated cable storage
  • 3-band eq on channels 1 through 4
Brand JBL
Model EON208P
Weight 50.1 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

Who Do PA Systems Benefit?

A PA system is usually comprised of everything needed to project live voices or music. The components are: one or two speakers, a mixing board, a microphone, and cables to connect the microphone. PA systems benefit anyone looking to amplify their voice or live sounds. However, different circumstances call for different uses.

As a professor in a lecture hall, a medium sized PA system will allow everyone to hear what is being discussed. An additional benefit in this instance is the ability to create recordings of the lecture notes through the PA’s output. In a public speaking setting, a higher powered PA system may be required to fill a large hall, but may only call for a basic mixer, as only one person is talking at a time. In contrast, a band will need a mixer with multiple channels to fit every member. In a live performance setting, it is important to consider the kinds of venues one will be playing before determining how much power is needed.

Once the audience size has been factored in, it is necessary to estimate how many watts the PA system will need to have. A decent average is between 5-10 watts per person in the audience. This leaves plenty of room to increase volumes if needed due to loud crowds or background noise. At 10 watts per person, a construction team could be working next door and the audience would never hear it.

Before Buying A PA System

A lot of time and money can be saved by adjusting choices based on actual needs rather than perceived needs. It is automatically assumed that more is better, but this isn't always true. If a PA system is simply needed to deliver small speeches to a roomful of people at the town hall, focus can safely be shifted away from power; focusing instead on how easy the PA is to setup and use, and how portable it is.

Also consider if the PA system is battery powered or cable powered. The advantages of a battery powered PA system are clear: voice or music can be projected virtually anywhere, whether you have access to a power outlet or not. Karaoke on the beach and outdoor presentations become simple when a cable is not necessary to power the PA system. There are a few downsides to battery powered PA systems; most obvious being a limited battery life.

Another thing to factor in is how the microphone connects to the PA system. Some PA systems will connect the microphone via a standard ¼ inch cable. This is a mediocre option, whereas balanced XLR cables are considered much better quality in regards to vocal range and interference reduction. Will you be performing far away from the PA on a regular basis? If this is the case, a wireless microphone setup can be the most convenient option. Some PA systems may not support wireless microphones, so be sure to double check the features of the one your are considering. Do you like to move among the audience and interact while giving speeches? In this case, a PA that includes a feedback suppressor should be considered, as too much feedback can damage both the system and the audience's eardrums

If the PA system travels often, portability is important. A PA system which has a mixer, two speakers, a monitor, and various cables can take up a lot of space and more of a hassle then a help. Size can also become a factor if you travel in a small car or need the space to transport all of a band's gear and members. There are all-in-one PA systems available that travel easily and take up minimal space.

Also think about the mixing capabilities of the PA system. Some systems offer only one input channel and have very little control. If it is only necessary to project a single voice or play music from a device that has its own equalizer (EQ) control settings, this will not be an issue. If multiple voices or instruments will be using the PA on a regular basis, the mixer's requirements will increase. Systems which offer multiple channels and full EQ control are a better choice for this scenario.

The Birth Of The PA

The first PA was called the Automatic Enunciator, and was marketed as a valuable tool for hotels in the beginning of the 20th century. It allowed public announcements to be broadcast to multiple rooms at once; and it set the stage for all future systems. In just 20 years, new technologies were created and implemented, which made PA systems closely resemble the simple systems still in use today: a microphone, amplifier, and one or more loudspeakers. This was the birth of modern PA systems.

Further technological advancements have made great improvements in the features and functions of these machines. The large amplifiers in old systems have been replaced with more smaller, effective units. Cables that cancel out interrupting frequencies are industry standard now as well. More complex and effective PA systems exist today, such as the ones used for live audio. These include mixing boards, powered speakers, and enhanced sound quality. These new systems may be complicated, but the basic function of a PA has remained the same for over 100 years now.

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Last updated on January 14, 2018 by Daniel Imperiale

Daniel is a writer, actor, and director living in Los Angeles, CA. He spent a large portion of his 20s roaming the country in search of new experiences, taking on odd jobs in the strangest places, studying at incredible schools, and making art with empathy and curiosity.

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