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Audio & Recording

Best PA System

Musicians and audio-heads shopping on a budget already have plenty of pieces of gear and equipment to concern themselves with before getting to the all-important PA system. Broadly speaking, the system that is going to be responsible for amplifying your sound so that it’s properly audible to the rest of the room (whatever size that may be) is not something that you want a second-rate version of, and therein lies the dilemma for those looking for the best deals on said product. But fret not, budget-conscientious buyers out there, there are actually some great quality, low-priced PA systems available today. These are the best budget PA systems, with our picks being relatively lightweight, each weighing than 30 pounds. These picks also accept multiple input types so you can plug a microphone, instrument cable, and more into them for easy use. lastly, these PA systems each deliver a minimum of 20 watts, giving each the ability to easily provide full sound for smaller rooms and venues.

Samson Expedition Express Rechargeable Battery Powered PA with Bluetooth

Samson’s Expedition Express PA system features a two way speaker enclosure that houses a six inch woofer and a one inch high-frequency driver, which work together to provide a full-range sound that is clear and precise. The system’s 3-channel mixer allows inputs for microphones, instruments, and an 1/8 of an inch stereo jack to receive audio from other sources. Of course, you can also use the Bluetooth connectivity in the system to get your signal wirelessly from mobile phones and tablets. An internal rechargeable battery will give you eight hours of continuous use while a two band equalizer gives you the ability to tweak your sound to fit the room you’re standing in. There's also an ergonomic top carry handle which makes this ten poound system easy to move around.

Behringer B108D Eurolive Monitor Speaker and Subwoofer

The Behringer Eurolive B108D PA speaker is powered by an eight inch long-excursion driver responsible for the unit’s deep bass and strong signal. A two band EQ works in conjunction with an integrated sound processor to give you greater control over your sound and to also protect the speaker itself from damaging frequencies. The speaker’s trapezoid-shaped enclosure design allows you to have a few options to play with when setting it up which is great for confined spaces. An additional line output allows you the ability to connect this speaker to multiple speakers while ergonomic handles make transporting this PA speaker a breeze.

Alesis TransActive Wireless Portable Powered Bluetooth Speaker System

Alesis’ TransActive Wireless PA system provides you with plenty of options to work with, starting with its inputs. You’ve got an XLR 1/4 inch combo input, a 1/4 inch line/guitar input, and an 1/8 inch aux input to send sound into the speaker. But you can also use the Bluetooth connectivity to wirelessly receive signals from mobile devices and computers (to name a few devices) so you really can get audio from nearly anywhere you need. A rechargeable battery provides up to 50 hours of use while a built-in USB charging port allows you to charge devices like phone, tablet, laptop, and more. This system is also very portable at just over 25 pounds and also includes a standard 35 milimeter socket to attach this unit to a speaker stand.

TC-Helicon VoiceSolo FX150

The TC-Helicon VoiceSolo FX150 is the veritable Swiss Army knife of PA systems. This unit can operate as a vocal monitor, guitar/bass amplifier, or portable PA speaker. For vocals, you can tighten up your sound with a built-in Intelligent EQ, compression, and reverb. There are also nine reverb styles provided by its VoiceLive three vocal processor, which should be no surprise considering TC-Helicon are the ones responsible for so many amazing digital effects. The system’s Tannoy 6.5 inch two-way speaker provides 150 watts of power, making it a great component for rehearsals or gigs in small areas such as coffee shops. The FX150 also works well for public address environments as a solo PA speaker. There are many configurations that this unit can be used for so it's really up to you as to how it's set up.

Roland BA-55 Powered Speaker Cabinet

The Roland BA-55 portable amplifier comes with a matching wireless microphone that instantly makes this a great contender for those who need to sing, speak, or narrate in a public setting. Two 6.5 inch high-performance speakers work together to provide optimal sound. A three-channel, built-in mixer provides a two band EQ that makes it easy to control the timbre of your audio, while an echo/reverb effect gives it extra character. An integrated storage compartment seamlessly stores the wireless microphone that the unit comes with, as well as accessories. Most impressively, this unit can operate on eight AA batteries although it can also work with AC power using the included adaptor.

Yamaha STAGEPAS 600I Portable PA System

The Yamaha StagePas 600i Portable PA System cranks out 680 watts of power through a fully-featured 10-channel mixer. Each channel has its own 2-band EQ that allows you to dial in the best sound for its respective instrument or voice. An additional Master 1-knob EQ helps to sweeten the overall output sound once you’ve calibrated the individual signals. You can also add a high-end SPX digital reverb to the first four channels of the system, making it ideal for creating an even bigger sound than what you’ve already started with. An iPod/iPhone dock makes it easy to play music directly from your own library while also charging the device.

Bose L1 Compact Portable Line Array System

The Bose L1 Compact System keeps both the audience and performer in mind with its multiple features designed to provide excellent audio from all directions. The unit’s Spatial Dispersion loudspeaker technology provides an even sound across the stage and deep into the audience, even for listeners who are positioned at extreme sides. The L1’s dual ToneMatch channels have fixed presets for handheld microphones and acoustic guitar, making this a great option for the gigging singer/songwriter. An integrated 2-channel mic/intstrument mixer on the unit’s rear ensures that you’ll be able to keep your setup more contained than most other options. And best of all,the entire PA system weighs only 29 pounds so it's easy to move from one location to another.

MiPRO MA-708 PA System

MIPRO’s MA-708 PA system is made for easy travel and use, as it weighs only 35 pounds fully loaded. The system can run off a rechargeable battery for up to seven hours, though it also has options for AC power and direct DC, too. The sound itself is driven via 190 watts of power through its 8 inch woofer and 1 inch tweeter. A built-in Bluetooth receiver allows users to stream music from anywhere within reach. A Voice Priority component makes it easy to instantly mute music when a wireless mic is used, so you won’t have to deal with clashing audio from the two sources.

Fishman SA220 Solo Performance System

If you’re a singer/songwriter looking for a one-stop shop for all of your sound needs for your next gig, look no further than Fishman’s SA220 Songwriter Package. This PA system is centered around a compact, all-in-one acoustic amplifier that drives 200 watts through 6x4 inch cone midrange drivers. Also included is a Sennheiser e835 dynamic cardioid vocal mic, which solves the problem of needing an additional component to start singing through your new system. Also included are a 20 foot mic cable and mic stand so you have all you need to start gigging. And you really can grab this package and get moving, thanks to the inclusion of a gig bag and the fact that the entire system only weighs 25 pounds.

Peavey Escort 6000 Channel PA System

The Peavey Escort 6000 PA system is extremely portable, weighing in at just under 50 pounds. It’s also easy to move around thanks to its luggage-style wheels. Although its relatively compact, this system still packs quite a punch, thanks to its pair of 300W two way speakers. The Escort 6000 also has a nine channel powered mixer which features seven XLR mic inputs as well as a seven band graphic EQ and onboard digital effects. You can even play MP3s off a thumb drive through the system thanks to an integrated USB port.

Peavey Escort 6000 Channel PA System

The Peavey Escort 6000 PA system is extremely portable, weighing in at just under 50 pounds. It’s also easy to move around thanks to its luggage-style wheels. Although its relatively compact, this system still packs quite a punch, thanks to its pair of 300W two way speakers. The Escort 6000 also has a nine channel powered mixer which features seven XLR mic inputs as well as a seven band graphic EQ and onboard digital effects. You can even play MP3s off a thumb drive through the system thanks to an integrated USB port.

Bose L1 Model II System Single B2 Bass Module Package

The Bose L1 Model II Single B2 Bass Module Package PA system is comprised of a loudspeaker line array, a power stand, and a bass module. Like many of the products in the Bose line, this PA system is extremely lightweight at only 24 pounds which makes it very simple to set up. Bose recommends this system for crowds of 300 or less, making it an ideal pick for medium-sized gigs, business events, educational seminars, and more. When you place this system behind you onstage, it also enables you to hear exactly what your audience will hear so it effectively doubles as a monitor. This system also comes with carrying bags to make setting up and breaking down even easier.

B-52 MATRIX-2500 3-Piece Active Speaker System

B-52’s Matrix 2500 Active PA System is a 1,600-watt active speaker system that is ideal for live sound with 12 inch Satellite speakers, an 18 inch subwoofer, and a BBE sonic maximizer. The company has been creating their products over the last 30+ years, and the level of quality that they put into their craft simply speaks for itself. The system’s built-in BBE Sonic Maximizer adds high-end frequency sparkle and low-end depth to your output, giving it extra sweetness. There's also a compressor/limiter and subsonic filter which further ensures a clear and impeccable sound. Heavy-duty three inch casters allow you to easily roll the system into place.

MiPRO MA-708 PA System

MIPRO’s MA-708 PA system is made for easy travel and use, as it weighs only 35 pounds fully loaded. The system can run off a rechargeable battery for up to seven hours, though it also has options for AC power and direct DC, too. The sound itself is driven via 190 watts of power through its 8 inch woofer and 1 inch tweeter. A built-in Bluetooth receiver allows users to stream music from anywhere within reach. A Voice Priority component makes it easy to instantly mute music when a wireless mic is used, so you won’t have to deal with clashing audio from the two sources.

Fender Passport Venue PA System

Fender’s Audio Passport Venue PA system brings a big sound with it, despite its tiny footprint. This 600W Class D-powered system is capable of bringing both pristinely clear highs and bass-driven lows to the table. Each of the channels in this PA has its own High EQ, Low EQ, Volume, and Reverb. Each speaker also incorporates a 1x10 inch woofer and a 1x1.2 inch horn-loaded tweeter to achieve the sounds it is capable of producing. In a great modern twist, this system can also record its audio (in WAV format) directly to a USB key, using the built-in USB Record/Playback jack. The Passport Venue also comes with all of the audio cables needed to get started, allowing you to dive right in.

Sean Kramer
I'm a guitarist/music producer with 18 years of experience playing on-stage, in the studio, and everywhere in between. I have toured and recorded on projects both independent and major, in styles such as rock, pop, funk, hip hop, electronic, and more. My axe of choice is probably always going to be the Fender Stratocaster, but I've been known to pick up other guitars when the music calls for it. I'm a big fan of using a multitude of effects (both hardware and software-driven) to manipulate the sound and atmosphere of an instrument. In addition to playing on records, I have also contributed to the score/soundtrack for shows and spots on MTV and ESPN, as well as for a variety of independent films, web series, and television shows.
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