This category overlaps in many ways with the recommended acoustic amps, as some acoustic guitar amps are also tuned for vocals, and provide a vocal XLR input. Here is our list of the best portable battery-powered PA systems in 2021.
Best Portable Battery-Powered PA Systems Buying Guide
Whether you’re on the road or in the garage, family picnic, or a tailgate party, sometimes the only sound you hear is the trumpets blaring and the drums beating. If you have a portable PA system, you can turn the sound down to just a few decibels to keep the crowd in the moment. Portable battery-powered PAs are a big time-saver for events like these, as they don't require electricity or power cords. You don't have to worry about running out of batteries or having someone find another outlet when the music is low. A portable battery doesn't lose power the way a wall outlet or AC adapter might, either. Let's take a look at some of the features you need to consider when shopping for a Portable Battery-Powered PA System.
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PA System Buying Tips
Be aware of common issues. When choosing a portable PA system, consider these common problems that might crop up:
Many battery-powered systems are not designed to handle extreme cold. If you plan to use your portable system in the snow, you will need to be sure that it is rated for that temperature.
Some batteries might also not work with certain types of batteries. Check with the manufacturer if you are unsure of the system’s specifications.
High battery levels can cause temporary or permanent damage to the portables. Make sure your battery's voltage is within safe limits. You should only run your PA speaker if the vehicle battery is fully charged. Otherwise, make sure the battery terminals are secured to prevent shorts.
The battery life of portable public addresses varies widely. The most important factor is to never run the system for a long time without charging it. A battery that lasts only a few hours is okay, but be sure the speakers can handle it before you start counting hours. Even then, it might only be three to five hours at the most. If you want to listen to the radio during a big meeting, you'll need a battery system that can go 12 to 18 hours without needing to be recharged. Some portable systems can run for as long as 24 hours on a single battery charge.
Portable PA systems are typically not very loud. That doesn't mean they aren't useful, though. Most are designed to minimize background noise to deliver clear, clear sound. There are, however, some systems that are so quiet that they can't even be used in some areas. Check the manufacturer's specifications to verify that the portable system you’re considering is quiet enough to use in a public space.
Because they're powered by batteries, portable battery-powered public speakers require regular maintenance. You must make sure they all work properly before they last more than a short time. This means removing and replacing the batteries and keeping the AC outlets clean. While the majority of systems have the ability to play music and the like, not all are equipped with a CD player. In other cases, the speaker may need to connect to a portable music player via HDMI.
Portable PA System Price Ranges
While you can find a basic portable public addressing system for under $100, expect to find only two outputs – a news broadcast and a commercial – along with a CR2032 battery. While these systems may be adequate for short-term use, they’re unlikely to be very durable and will require frequent replacement batteries.
A mid-level portable system is usually found between $150 and $500. You'll find two or three outputs, dual-tone output, and both a battery and AC power source. Most will include some basic features like a three-way communication channel and weather reports.
Expensive and Above
The most expensive portable media systems cost from $1,000 to well over $5,000. For this price, you'll get dual tone, three channels, full USB connectivity, touchscreen support, multiple output options, real-time weather forecasts, automatic volume control, built-in speaker, NOAA weather radio, large capacity batteries, hardwired speakers, remote control. These are powerful systems that should last for years!
Features To Look For In Portable Battery-Powered PAs
There are a number of features you should take into account when looking to purchase a portable PA system. These features are essential to making sure that your portable system works well and comes with the best possible quality.
The sound quality is probably the most important feature to look for in a PA system because without a good sound, it won't be very useful. The quality of the sound is dependent on the type of battery used and its power output. Some models use AA batteries while others use AAA batteries. PA system's sound will be muffled if the batteries aren‘t powerful enough. If you are looking for an automatic PA system, the quality will not be as important.
Most portable battery-powered PAs come with some basic functions that can be used for any event. This makes the devices extremely versatile. Depending on your needs, you may want to buy a model that has the ability to play AM and FM radio stations, allows you to record speeches and messages, and allows for you call for the attention of people on a small screen.
Your portable personal communications (PPC) device will come pre-loaded with a variety of different operating systems. In some cases, these operating system are completely free of charge. Other models will require you purchase the OS to use. When shopping for a system with this type, be sure to check the price to see what you re really paying. Additionally, consider the operating-systems that come bundled with your device.
For a sound system to be able to transmit at high frequencies, a transmitter must be powerful and have a high-quality antenna. Although portable devices don't transmit the same frequencies as personal communication devices, there are still areas where you can use a personal communicator. For example, if you want a signal that will reach faraway areas, look into a frequency-capable portable device with an AM or FM transmitter.
The best way to decide which portable power stations to go with is to consider your location. Do you mainly want the portable system in your home or do you also want it for use in the office? The more portable your system is, typically, both in terms of location and function, is the better. Consider how many devices you would like to have connected to your personal PA system at any given time. How portable or portable-only do your devices need to actually be to function properly?
Ease of Use
Many portable PA devices are pretty easy to set up and use – especially if your will only be using it once. However, some devices require a little more work. Look for portable options that allow you some choice in how the device is set-up.
Depending upon where the wireless range is needed, will determine how useful the public message system will actually turn out to operate. A wireless signal will definitely travel faster than a wired connection, but it also means that the signal may not reach the exact location where it was intended.
What are portable PAs?
Portable PA systems are essentially giant speakers. You can mount one on your roof or on a pole in your yard, or mount it to the top of a motorhome or truck. They’re basically portable speakers, but with big bells and whistles. Portable PA systems run off batteries or AC adapters, and are typically used for concerts, parades, sporting events, festivals, political conventions, charity events and more. Some models are even capable of broadcasting HD audio to multiple people at the same time.
How to choose the right portable PA system for your situation?
Depending on the application, you‘ll want to consider a few things when purchasing a portable PA.
First off, it's important to note that portable systems aren “hardwired"and don't require an external power source. However, the distance you need to cover will dictate how far you can wire them up and which type of cord you should use. If you want something that s going to give you some range, make sure you choose a cord that allows at least 50 feet of wire to be connected.
Additionally, be sure that the portable PA system you buy has a balanced line out so you don't have to worry about the power going out due to overload.
Finally, if you plan on broadcasting to more than one location, a PA that is also a soundboard is a necessity. Considering that a speaker can cost upwards of $1,000, we highly recommend finding one that supports this function.
Portable Battery-Powered PA System FAQ
Q: What is a portable PA system?
A: A portable PA system is basically a speaker system that attaches to your vehicle or boat to give you a way to entertain your friends and family. Many people use these to play music in cars or as a form of entertainment in the beach or lake, or even on the golf course. They are relatively inexpensive, lightweight, and compact, so they are an ideal option for anyone who doesn’t have an outlet in their vehicle.
Q: How small can a PA speaker be?
A: Portable PA systems can be as small as an 18” square speaker or larger. Some models are so small they cannot even be placed on a dashboard. Others can have speakers that are up to 70 inches wide.
By Jack Stoneybrook
Jack has been a touring guitarist for almost 20 years, playing in a number of country music and rock bands. Jack loves the road and defines himself as a never-ending student of the guitar and other important instruments or tools that make a musician.