Nothing beats holding the power of a solid PA system in your hands (well, perhaps not literally). For those who like to MC, DJ, perform at church, schools or auditoriums, or merely want to play sounds to a large amount of people at a decently sized volume, you’ve come to the right place. Although many build their own, others are looking for the best PA system that comes with all of the necessary pieces of gear. Today we review the top 10 best PA systems for the money.
What exactly is a PA system?
A PA system or “public address system” is an electronic sound amplification tool with a distribution system that has loudspeakers, an amplifier and microphones. It is used when a person wants to address the public or a decent amount of people. This can be during the announcement of a movement at a rally, in air terminals or a sports stadium — you name it. This term may also be used when a system has a mixing console with amplifiers together with loudspeakers for music or for speech. It is used to reinforce the sound source like from recorded music or when a person gives a speech or when a sound needs to be distributed in an entire building or venue (here’s looking at you, singers and rappers).
A simple PA system can be used in a small venue like a small bar, church or school auditorium. A PA system with many speakers is used in commercial buildings, large locations, or institutions. It can be installed in a building and it may have many microphones in different rooms and the occupants may respond to the announcement. With these, there are numerous possibilities and it all depends on what you plan on doing with yours.
Don’t forget there is always the route of building your own PA system (linked to a great article by Sweetwater) or PA systems in-depth (by Musician’s Friend). In here however, we review the 10 best PA systems that come ready-to-use out of the box, so just keep that in mind.
How to choose your PA system
- Your budget – We’ll be honest — we’re dealing with a pretty big range when it comes to PA systems. Some go for a few hundred bucks, while grabbing a top-of-the-line system could go up to a thousand dollars. If you have the cash, we say go high since this is a pretty big investment; however, if you’re on a decent budget, there are some options for you as well.
- How loud? This is all really dependent on your uses (which is down the list a bit) because it will determine how loud you’ll actually have to go. For those looking to power up a house-sized party, medium-sized church or other venues\environments that don’t need to reach thousands of people, most solutions in here will help you.
- Portability – There are some great PA systems out there that are strictly portable, while others come with both battery-powered and outlet capabilities. Technically, all PA systems are portable, but whether you need to fit it in a smaller car and don’t have a truck, need batteries-only and more will depend on your use as well.
- How many microphones – We like to have more than one, however this is all dependent on if you plan on sharing the mic (or even using one). If you do want some separate models to check out to add to your PA system, we recommend our best microphones article to help.
- Additional gear needed – Some need additional cables, an entire mixer (check out our best audio mixer guide), speaker stands, (as listed previously) microphones and more, many of these give quite the package if that’s what you’re looking for.
- The use of your system? We’ve stated this a few times, and although you may not know the exact use of your PA system yet (or what you plan on using it for in the future down the road), it’s important to see what you need to spend extra money on — portability, power, or all the gear possible?
The top 10 best PA systems for the money
To get started, this is one of the best because it’s a complete package for any person who wants to have an all-in-one 12 inch PA system. It comes with anything you may have in mind when it comes to additional features. The pro audio speakers are 12″ long with 1000 watts of total power. It isn’t going to break windows or anything but will get the job done for smaller crowds and other uses within that arena. The system has the master active speakers which feature a built-in amplifier with a second passive speaker that is also 12″. It also comes with stands which may be used to mount the speakers as well as connection cables and microphones. With only minimal set up, you will be able to get your party running in a few minutes. This PA system is recommended for live music gigs, house-sized parties, karaoke and DJ applications. The system can be connected through USB or Bluetooth integration which is never a bad thing, either.
Fender Passport Event
This PA system has been in production for some time now and has gone through several different improvements. We all know Fender holding the higher-priced but top-of-the-line gear reputation in the market. This version has the best features compared to the older models and it reflects the best value for a PA system if you aren’t on a tight budget. The system is middle-sized and it offers a passport line while featuring Bluetooth connectivity. The Bluetooth connectivity is a self-contained portable audio system and it includes everything the user needs to enjoy a great sound wherever you go. The system is perfect for portability and can be carried like a suitcase as well as be flipped open to install it. This one also comes with a microphone, a powered mixer and of course the speaker cabinets. It can be used in meetings, worship or sporting events.
This PA system is wireless and portable and is the perfect option for a smaller crowd or social gathering. It helps the user get access to a powerful audio output with wireless freedom and mobility around the area. The built-in pin dock or iPod lets the user connect to an iPhone and iPod in order to play their favorite music and it also keeps the device charged. The system is capable of powering a 500 watt system with 8 woofers and 3 compression speakers. The system has one VHF wireless microphone and it is used to operate at a certain distances — so keep that in mind if you intend to walk far away from the unit. The system also has a telescoping handle with castor wheels to offer portability as well as uses a rechargeable battery. Not too bad for those looking to travel with their PA system.
Peavey Audio Performer Package
This is an all-in-one audio performer pack, and it is pretty complete and portable at that. It has a new Pvi 4B powered mixer and a PV series microphone with accessories and loudspeakers. The audio performer pack is easy to use and it has a powerful sound for small performances with multipurpose use in churches or schools and other intimate settings. It features rugged and powerful rotary controls that can be used in adjusting the level, tone and reverb. It has a set that includes four balanced microphones with 1/4 TRS inputs with the tape and CD input together with the level control, the line out of the connection and external amplifiers in order to record the output. Peavey Audio is well-known for their popular audio products so give this one a look.
Behringer Europort EPS500MP3
This is a PA system that can be used to turn any room into an almost-auditorium. Behringer has made quite a few appearances in our shopping guides and reviews, especially as the budget-friendly recommendations. All the basic needs for sound-reinforcement are available in just a single and ready to go kit. At the center, there is a solid 6 channel powered mixer with the four “Xenyx preamps” with some comprehensive setup options. The dual 250-watt amplifiers offer decent power for the 8 inch loudspeakers of the system. The amplifier has been designed in such a way that it will house the mixer together with the microphones and the cables. Wherever you wish to use it, this PA will cover all your needs (unless you’re trying to power up an entire festival or something). The system can be bundled up in a compact package and you can also use MP3 with it.
Ion Audio iPA77 Tailgater
This PA system has been designed to be used in a party or a backyard BBQ — it’s merely an advanced portable speaker. The PA system supports wireless Bluetooth and it is a rechargeable system. It uses 50 watts of power for its robust woofer with a wide dispersion tweeter that can deliver a pretty big range of audio capacity. The system runs on an internal rechargeable battery and it can run for up to 50 hours (don’t quote them on that completely). It can be paired up with a tablet or a smartphone with a single tap using field communications or NFC. A non NFC device may also be paired up through using Bluetooth or a wired connection. The system has an integrated AM/FM radio with a legible display and it allows the user to tune into the station he likes if you’re still into that kind of thing.
This model uses a powerful 40 watt speaker combined with a VHF wireless microphone to make up one of the best portable PA systems. The speaker is built-in using the long-life and rechargeable battery. This is ideal for outdoor activities when there is no access to a wall outlet. If the battery gets low, you have the option to plug in the wall outlet and it includes the power cord in order to charge it again. The speaker may also be powered using the power cord of a 12VDC adapter that it is included within the package. The system has a handheld transmitter and a microphone with a one-body pack transmitter which may be used with another lapel microphone or a headset microphone. You have the option to choose any microphone you need.
PowerWerks PW50 RMS
This is a decent quality PA system from PowerWerks and it has been designed to be used with different PA applications like audio devices, drum machines, keyboards, instruments and vocals. It has a 4.5-inch speaker as well as a high frequency driver to get balanced mid-and high range sounds while it helps the vocals cut within the mix. It has a heavy-duty steel grill for durability and it features a 1/4 subwoofer output when there is a need to connect an optional subwoofer. The program has a master level control and twin 4.5 drivers with a high frequency horn. The system has a 3 channel mixer with instrument inputs, and the two can be used together. Powerlink circuits let the user link two or even more units in one system but you’ll have to buy those separately or use the ones you already have.
Yamaha STAGEPAS 400I
This is a powered mixer with a set of PA speakers which come in a single lightweight package with the ideal solution for practicing with bands, public speakers and solo entertainers. It has two lightweight and sleek speakers with a detachable powered mixer, a pair of speaker cables and a power cord. The system supports an iPod connection and the user can enjoy high quality playback. It can also charge the iPhone and iPod. The SPX reverb means that one knob will give access to four high quality reverb settings which are perfect for acoustic and vocal instruments. The only thing you have to do is turn the knob in order to change the reverb type or time. The feedback suppressor also avoids any feedback that may be uncomfortable. Yamaha is a pretty well-known brand if you’re into the audio gear culture.
Fender Passport Venue PA
This thing is just a monster — you can achieve the sound you want with this PA system. Fender’s second model in here has a compact size but you should not let it fool you. The system supports 600 watts of power and it is an all-in-one unit. It has an integrated 10-channel mixer, which is enough input for an entire band. Every channel has a 2-band EQ, reverb and volume so that you may choose the volume you want. There are two speakers that give the user the coverage he wants with the best audio clarity. The USB ports can be used to play back the music and to record the music directly into a USB flash drive. The Portable PA has the functionality and the output that the user needs for the gig. If you want some powerful speakers and a mixer, give this one a good look.