The Best Portable PA System

Hisonic HS700 True RMS 75 Watts Rechargeable & Portable PA System

Our Top Pick for 2016: Hisonic HS700 True RMS 75 Watts Rechargeable & Portable PA System
Read our full review.

See it on Amazon for $269.95*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.
Too expensive? See our budget pick.

Portable Public Address Systems, also known simply as PA systems, are practical tools used by a wide range of professions, including public speakers, teachers, and musicians. While traditional PA systems are very large and cumbersome, there are a number of fine products on the market that offer consumers a more portable option for their audio needs. This guide will compare the top products in their category, weighing the sound quality, loudness, portability and durability of each product. Below you’ll find the top three ranking portable PA systems, as well as a cheaper budget option, and four essential features of a portable PA system to keep in mind while shopping for the perfect product to suit your needs.

Table of contents

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Two 12” Loudspeakers
Lightweight Compact Size
2-Way Speaker Enclosure
Built-in Digital Delay
Wireless Microphone System
6 Inch Woofer
4 Input Channels
Bluetooth/AUX Input Streaming
20 Hours Continuous Use
Aux-in For Mp3 Players
Strong Clear Sound
Wireless Bluetooth Capability
Includes 1-3/8″ Pole Mounts
Luggage Handle Up To 30″
Handheld Dynamic Microphone

*Price at time of publishing and may not reflect current pricing.

#1 Gold pick (Winner): Hisonic HS700 True RMS 75 Watts Rechargeable & Portable PA System

Hisonic HS700 True RMS 75 Watts Rechargeable & Portable PA System Gold Pick

View it on Amazon for $269.95*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-gold-winnerThe Hisonic HS700 is the gold pick in its category, outranking the competition as the one stop shop for all your portable public address needs. The HS700 really delivers on portability, residing in a compact single speaker equipped with wheels and a carrying handle that make this unit truly mobile. Included in the set are three microphones for maximum versatility, including handheld, headset, and lapel style mic options (1). This PA strikes a balance between sound quality and ease of transport, especially when matched against its affordable price of around $269.99.

To further enhance the portability of this unit, Hisonic has designed the HS700 with the option of running on rechargeable batteries or the included 120V DC power cord, offering the user added flexibility that won’t leave you tied to a wall outlet (2). This device can run between eight and ten hours on battery power alone, which provides a lot of usage for consumers who intend to use their PA system in more remote locations where electricity won’t be available. Lightweight yet durable construction means this system is a breeze to move around, with the speakerbox itself only weighing about nine pounds.

The HS700 broadcasts with a whopping 75 watt speaker, providing ample loudness for both indoor and outdoor venues. Whether you’re trying to make sure the backrow of your class is tuned in to your lecture or need a speaker that can drown out the noise of a crowded bar so your acoustic jam band can shine on open mic night, the HS700 has you covered in the volume department, offering up the most bang for your buck among other portable PA systems. The sound quality on this device is superb as well, producing a crystal clear, undistorted tone capable of filling most spaces.

Other features offered by the HS700 include bluetooth capabilities that allow the user to connect other devices such as mp3 players and smartphones to the speaker, making it easy to pump out your summertime jams for the whole family on your next beach trip. In addition to bluetooth, auxiliary inputs are available for external sound devices as well as any additional microphone you may want to connect to your PA.

The left hand side of the speaker unit features a plethora of tone controls and playback buttons to allow the user to fine tune the sound of their PA system. The mixing portion of the control interface features a master volume knob in addition to individual volume control of each microphone input. An echo effect is also available for use, and has its own dedicated knob. A large digital display gives the user a clear reading of what radio frequency the system is tuned to, and a separate display indicates the current battery life available for usage. A number of transport controls are available on the mixing deck for playback and recording functions, as well as a USB port, SD card slot, and auxiliary inputs.

Despite all these great features, consumers should be aware that there have been numerous complaints regarding the documentation included with the device. Many customers have reported that they found the included documentation to be confusing, unclear, and generally not useful in setting up and learning to use this PA system. While more tech savvy users shouldn’t have much trouble getting the device set up and in working order without the help of the manufacturer’s handbook, customers who consider themselves technology challenged or who have never used a PA system before may have trouble getting the HS700 to fit their needs.

Documentation issues aside, Hisonic’s HS700 offers the best value of any other portable PA system, offering consumers a good deal of wattage to provide ample loudness, while featuring a highly portable and convenient single-speaker design that won’t weigh you down. The three piece microphone set provides extra value and versatility to this system, giving speakers a full range of choices to provide the most comfort for individual needs, while an effective mixing system gives the user fine control of the overall output. The HS700 features a balanced approach to portable PA systems that offers audio solutions to the widest range of consumers, and is a safe purchase for most purchasers looking for a solid audio setup they can take on the go.

#2 Silver pick (Runner-up): Harbinger M120 120-Watt 4-Channel Compact Portable PA

Harbinger M120 120-Watt 4-Channel Compact Portable PA

View it on Amazon for $299.99*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-silver-winnerThe Harbinger M120 clocks in as the loudest PA system on this guide, capable of producing sound at a massive 120 watts. It is also the least portable system on the list as it is comprised of three separate units that will likely mean multiple trips in order to transport it. Comprised of two twelve inch speakers and a four channel mixing unit, the M120 appeals to speakers and musicians looking to make the most of their small space performances. Because of it’s rugged and heavy duty design, this PA system will likely appeal less to home consumers and customers looking for the ideal on-the-go music entertainment system.

The dual speaker system and increased size of this model means it can really deliver on the loudness front, and the 120 watt speak power means this system can be used in a variety of settings, from band practice to small group presentations. Optional speaker stands at the standard size of 1 ⅜” can be purchased separately to provide additional speaker placement alternatives to allow for greater sound dispersion. If loudness is your primary concern in shopping for a portable PA system, you can’t go wrong with the M120.

Unlike the other PA systems outlined in this guide, the M120 does not come out of the box with its own microphone included, meaning speakers will have to bring or purchase their own with this product. Microphones can be connected to the included mixing console, which features four inputs in total. Each input offers two band EQing to adjust the treble and bass frequencies, while the mixer as a whole allows you to manually set a three band EQ with high, mid and bass frequency tuning available. An FX delay send is also available, which is ideal for vocalists looking to widen their sound or hypnotists who want to truly dazzle the audience (3).

As mentioned above, this system isn’t meant to be highly portable. The dual speaker setup means you’ll be carrying two units weighing about twenty pounds each, in addition to the mixing console every time you transport the M120. This product is ideal for consumers who will be setting up the PA for the night and leaving it in one place. The lack of a rechargeable battery means this product will be useful for speakers who will always be within range of an electrical outlet. It’s not the ideal system to provide background music on your next camping trip.

While home users looking for greater portability may not find what they’re looking for in this system, prosumers will appreciate the increased professional functionality of the M120, with its fine tuned sound control options and it’s very loud 120 watt speaker power. With an affordable market price of $299.99, the M120 provides the best value for customers who need big sound in a reasonably portable package, while its rugged design will keep this system working for years to come.

#3 Bronze pick (3rd place): Samson Expedition XP106w Rechargeable Battery Powered Wireless PA

Samson Expedition XP106w Rechargeable Battery Powered Wireless PA

View it on Amazon for $299.99*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-bronze-awardThe Harbinger M120 clocks in as the loudest PA system on this guide, capable of producing sound at a massive 120 watts. It is also the least portable system on the list as it is comprised of three separate units that will likely mean multiple trips in order to transport it. Comprised of two twelve inch speakers and a four channel mixing unit, the M120 appeals to speakers and musicians looking to make the most of their small space performances. Because of it’s rugged and heavy duty design, this PA system will likely appeal less to home consumers and customers looking for the ideal on-the-go music entertainment system.

The dual speaker system and increased size of this model means it can really deliver on the loudness front, and the 120 watt speak power means this system can be used in a variety of settings, from band practice to small group presentations. Optional speaker stands at the standard size of 1 ⅜” can be purchased separately to provide additional speaker placement alternatives to allow for greater sound dispersion. If loudness is your primary concern in shopping for a portable PA system, you can’t go wrong with the M120.

Unlike the other PA systems outlined in this guide, the M120 does not come out of the box with its own microphone included, meaning speakers will have to bring or purchase their own with this product. Microphones can be connected to the included mixing console, which features four inputs in total. Each input offers two band EQing to adjust the treble and bass frequencies, while the mixer as a whole allows you to manually set a three band EQ with high, mid and bass frequency tuning available. An FX delay send is also available, which is ideal for vocalists looking to widen their sound or hypnotists who want to truly dazzle the audience (3).

As mentioned above, this system isn’t meant to be highly portable. The dual speaker setup means you’ll be carrying two units weighing about twenty pounds each, in addition to the mixing console every time you transport the M120. This product is ideal for consumers who will be setting up the PA for the night and leaving it in one place. The lack of a rechargeable battery means this product will be useful for speakers who will always be within range of an electrical outlet. It’s not the ideal system to provide background music on your next camping trip.

While home users looking for greater portability may not find what they’re looking for in this system, prosumers will appreciate the increased professional functionality of the M120, with its fine tuned sound control options and it’s very loud 120 watt speaker power. With an affordable market price of $299.99, the M120 provides the best value for customers who need big sound in a reasonably portable package, while its rugged design will keep this system working for years to come.

#4 Budget pick (Best cheap): Ion Audio iPA77 Tailgater Portable Bluetooth Speaker PA System

Ion Audio iPA77 Tailgater Portable Bluetooth Speaker PA System

View it on Amazon for $77.70*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-cheap-budget-pickFor customers who are looking to pick up a PA system on a smaller budget, the Ion Audio iPA77 Tailgater offers the most value for the price, and can usually purchased for under $100. This compact PA system is housed in a black, compact square speaker box comparable to a personal guitar amp. Despite its portable size, consumers don’t lose out much on loudness as the Tailgater still packs a punch with its 50 watt speaker. The iPA77 appeals to a wide range of PA system needs, complete with bluetooth compatibility and AM/FM Radio options for music playback, while appealing to consumers with public speaking in mind by including its own handheld microphone.

The iAP77 is designed to suit your outdoor music playbook needs, coming equipped with a 6.5” woofer, wireless music streaming capabilities, and a rechargeable battery that will allow you to pump out your favorite tunes for an astonishing 50 hours straight (5). This speaker has also been designed to easily sync to Android and Windows smartphones. For users who prefer to sit back and listen to the radio, this model comes equipped with AM/FM radio capabilities and a built-in antenna.

The Tailgater has been designed with simplicity in mind, and the control interface featured on the front of the device allows for easy, intuitive use. Featuring two volume knobs to control the overall volume and microphone volume independently, basic control functions for bluetooth setup and playback, a microphone jack, an auxiliary jack, and a USB charging port that allows for recharging devices such as your phone, the Tailgater appeals to even the most technically challenged users.

The iPA77 exhibits sturdy construction, utilizing the basic design of a small guitar amp, with reinforced corners that offer an extra degree of ruggedness to the speaker body (6). However, the iPA77’s durable construction comes at the cost of a somewhat heavy weight at just under seventeen pounds, and some customers have complained that the carrying handle featured on this device is not as heavy duty as its weight class would call for.

While the sound quality of this device may not be enough to please audiophiles, the iPA77 will satisfy users who want an easy to use portable speaker system that will allow them to play music at the next tailgating party, or public speakers looking for a simple option to amplify their voice for a small group. The iPA77 is capable of producing crystal clear sound at loud volumes without noticeable distortion, providing ample coverage for outdoor events.

For customers looking to spend a little less on their portable PA system without making major sacrifices in sound quality, the Tailgater iAP77 is the ideal product. Featuring one of the longest lasting rechargeable batteries of any other device in its category while still delivering on serviceable sound quality and loudness, this product is sure to satisfy your portable audio needs. For the price, you will not find a better product in this category.


Pre-purchase considerations

sound quality

Above all else, by far the most important quality in any audio device is sound quality. It doesn’t matter how loud or how compact the device is, if it doesn’t have suitable sound quality for your situation, it’s not going to meet your demands. When shopping for the ideal portable PA system for your needs, sound quality should be your top priority in settling on the perfect product. You want your audience to be able to hear the message you’re conveying, and top notch sound quality is the fastest way to achieve this.

While there are many components you will have to take into consideration while shopping for the ideal PA, sound quality is the factor that makes or breaks the overall value of the product.

loudness

Loudness is a critical factor among any audio device, and you’ll want to take into consideration the size of your venue and the range at which your need to project to reach the full audience. If you’re speaking to a small group in a room, your volume needs are substantially less than if you’re trying to get a large crowd to hear you at an outdoor venue. When comparing products on loudness, look for the wattage of the device; a higher wattage indicates greater volume capabilities.

Keep in mind that loudness affects portability, as louder devices tend to be larger in size and thus less portable than smaller speakers. Knowing your loudness needs will help determine the right PA for you.

portability

Naturally, one of the most important elements for a portable PA system is its ability to be moved around easily. Unlike traditional PA systems, which are bulkier in size and not designed to be taken on the go with ease, a portable PA should meet your mobility needs. If you know you’ll only need to walk a short distance with your PA for each use, your portability needs will be less than those of someone who is hosting an outdoor conference a mile away from the venue’s parking lot. Consider where you’ll be using your portable PA system and how venue will affect your portability needs before purchasing.

durability

Durability is another feature you’ll want to keep in mind while shopping for the perfect PA system. Because portable systems are designed to be moved around during their lifetime, you’ll want to take into consideration the wear and tear that portability may cause on your device. Sturdy construction is a desired feature in any product, but pay close attention to how well the different products in this category are put together. Is the handle going to break on you while you’re moving your PA? Does it need to be weather proofed for an outdoor event? Are the materials used rugged enough to hold together for years to come? These are important questions to ask when shopping for the right portable PA system.

Conclusion (Wrapping it up)

There are a lot of factors to consider when purchasing a portable PA system, and customers should be informed and well researched when deciding on the ideal product. You should consider how your system will ultimately be used when shopping for the right system, and take into account your need for loudness versus portability, while keeping in mind that good sound quality is ultimately the driving factor behind your purchase. While price is an inherent element of the decision making process, choosing the system with the right features for your needs is how you will best reach your intended audience.

Discussion and comments

We want to know what you think. Do you own any of the products we discussed? Which did you buy and how did it work out for you?

Do you know of an even better product?

Comment below and help your fellow consumers make the right choice. Over to you!

Resources

  1. Steve Guttenberg, Hisonic HS700 True RMS 75 Watts Rechargeable & Portable PA System with Built-in VHF Wireless Microphones, Bluetooth Connected with Cellphone,Pad,Music Player/Recorder & FM Radio, Remote Control Included, Color Black, Desert Cart
  2. Hisonic HS700 True RMS 35 Watts Rechargeable & Portable PA System with Built-in VHF Wireless Microphones, Bluetooth Connected with Cellphone,Pad,Music Player/Recorder & FM Radio, Remote Control Included, Color BlackTyll Hertsens, How Planar Magnetic Headphones Work, Musical Gear Store, June 20, 2015
  3. Harbinger M120 120-Watt 4-Channel Compact Portable PA with 12″ Speakers, Musicians Friend
  4. Barry Rudolph, New Gear Review: Samson Expedition XP106W Portable PA, Music Connection, September 17, 2014
  5. Ion Audio iPA77 Tailgater Portable Bluetooth Speaker Product Review,
    Portable Speakers Reviews
  6. iON Audio Tailgater Bluetooth Speaker, Wal Mart

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