The 8 Best PA Systems

Updated November 15, 2017 by Sam Kraft

8 Best PA Systems
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
We spent 35 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top picks for this wiki. If you’re in need of a PA system to deliver quality sound and amplified volume for your next school assembly, outdoor event or concert, you can be confident in the performance of the options we’ve listed here. Before deciding, make sure to consider your budget, the type of live performances you need it for, and the size of the venues in which you’ll be using it. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best pa system on Amazon.

8. Hisonic HS120B

Small but versatile, the Hisonic HS120B will work well for casual events at your home or transporting to an auditorium or modest outdoor venue. It’s not heavy or difficult to use, which makes it a solid option if kids will be using it.
  • battery is easily replaceable
  • 1-year warranty
  • small size means limited power
Brand Hisonic
Model HS120B
Weight 7.3 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

7. Peavey Performer

The Peavey Performer is a favorite of audio geeks and music fans, as it’s an all-in-one solution that includes the hardware and accessories you need to stage multipurpose events and live music. Assembly is quick and painless.
  • mixer with rotary controls
  • built-in power amp
  • questionable customer service
Brand Peavey
Model APP
Weight 76.8 pounds
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

6. Samson Expedition

The Samson Expedition is an affordable alternative to some of the pricier portable PA systems, generating plenty of power between its two speakers, each of which comes equipped with potent 6-inch sub woofers for a rich bass sound.
  • can carry speakers with one hand
  • mixer with 5 channels
  • high-frequency drivers
Brand Samson Technologies
Model XP150
Weight 26.9 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

5. Harbinger M60 Portable

Well-suited for a hip church or a school on a budget, the Harbinger M60 Portable offers high quality and a reasonable price tag. It’s mobile enough to move from venue to venue, but powerful enough to create an atmosphere that truly rocks.
  • auxiliary input for music players
  • capable of backing track playback
  • speakers can be placed on stands
Brand Harbinger
Model M60
Weight 51.2 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

4. Peavey Escort 3000

The Peavey Escort 3000 is formidable as a standalone system, but can also be integrated with other speakers, inputs, and hardware. Depending on what you’ll be using it for, it allows you to choose between two different designs.
  • stands included in package
  • mixer has multiple control features
  • built-in digital effects
Brand Peavey
Model 3608880 SCORT 3000
Weight 59.1 pounds
Rating 5.0 / 5.0

3. Behringer Europort

A compact eight-channel system that produces studio-grade stereo reverb, the Behringer Europort delivers a clean sound with authority. The speakers are light and easy to carry, with built-in handles that make moving from place to place simple.
  • mp3 player capabilities
  • ability to add monitor
  • handles full range of music well
Brand Behringer
Model EPS500MP3
Weight 48.2 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

2. Yamaha StagePAS

A professional-grade system for serious musicians and performers, the Yamaha StagePAS 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
  • usb connector for mobile devices
  • 4 package options
Brand Yamaha
Weight 67.3 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

1. Fender Passport

If you appreciate sound fidelity, the Fender Passport will be music to your ears – both literally and figuratively. You'll be hard-pressed to find a better system than this, which produces 375 watts of crystal clear sound for a variety of applications.
  • equipped with bluetooth
  • microphone kit included
  • automatic high-pass filter
Brand Fender
Model 6946000 000
Weight 58.1 pounds
Rating 4.5 / 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 November 15, 2017 by Sam Kraft

Sam is a marketing/communications professional and freelance writer who resides in Chicago, IL and is perpetually celebrating the Cubs’ 2016 World Series victory.

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