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Tech Showcase: Portable PAs

One of the most important things needed in a portable PA system is pretty obvious: Portability. Beyond that, systems might provide a range of features that, depending on your needs, could be incredibly useful or just unnecessary bells and whistles. As a result, there are a variety of systems with a wide range of features, and your choice is likely to come down to your specific projects. Thankfully, there is definitely something for every project out there.

The Alto Professional TX series incorporates technologies from the company’s Truesonic line, and each TX model features a bi-amplified design, Class-D power, high-efficiency drivers, resonance-reducing durable trapezoidal multipurpose enclosures, and steel grilles to provide accurate, transparent sound in a lightweight design. The TX series models include the TX8, TX10, TX12, and TX15. All are designed and tuned in the U.S.

At 130 dB and designed to reach crowds of more than 5,000, Anchor Audio’s Bigfoot 2 is a portable sound system suitable for big projects. Operating in the 1.9 GHz frequency range, and with its wireless microphone platform, AnchorLink, Bigfoot 2 can connect up to four wireless microphones, providing a line of sight wireless range of more than 300 feet. Its rechargeable lithium ion batteries are rated to last 2,000 cycles, and the reduced weight of the batteries results in a lighter speaker. Additionally, Anchor AIR allows it to wirelessly connect multiple companion speakers.

The Behringer Europort EPS500MP3 sets up in less than five minutes, according to Behringer, and delivers articulate, high fidelity performance while weighing 41.3 lbs./18.8 kg. The EPS500MP3 features 2-way loudspeakers and a detachable 8-channel, 500-Watt powered mixer with onboard mp3 player, reverb, and wireless microphone connectivity. The two satellite loudspeakers each have a custom-designed 8in. woofer and 1in. compression driver. Channels 1-4 of the detachable powered mixer feature Behringer’s XENYX Mic Preamps, which provide a clean input signal without any unwanted coloration or distortion. Plus, +48 Phantom Power is provided, so you can even use studio-grade condenser mics, and each input channel features 2-band EQ (bass and treble). System optimization can be attained with a flip of the Music/Speech switch to select the proper equalization for your purpose, while a user-defeatable Voice-OverPriority function automatically lowers the stereo channels when a user is on the mic.

Bose is now shipping each S1 Pro multi-position PA system with a pre-installed rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack and compatibility with the Bose Connect App for streaming Bluetooth audio to as many as two S1 units. New accessories include the S1 Pro Backpack and S1 Slip Cover. The rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack comes pre-installed and allows users to play the S1 Pro without AC power for up to 11 hours on a single charge. The Quick Charge feature allows users to recharge their S1 Battery Pack in a hurry (when in use in standard mode and plugged into AC power, the S1 Pro is trickle-charged). Additional S1 Battery Packs are available to purchase separately for users looking for a backup or extended play option. The S1 Pro Backpack is designed for hands-free transport of the system, while the S1 Slip Cover provides scratch protection while carrying, traveling in a car, placing in an airplane overhead compartment, or when just storing.

The Cerwin-Vega CVi-218S (Contra-Sub) is a portable, dual 18in. dedicated subwoofer system designed to extend and supplement the low frequency extension of CVi full range systems in live music and playback applications. The CVi-218S features two high power, cast frame 18in. transducers with 3in. voice coils for extended use during high SPL applications. Steel handles and a pole mount cup are also featured for use as a base for pole-mounted full range systems. This configuration allows the two drivers to work together in the same acoustic space to reduce distortion components caused by driver mechanical non-linearity when the system is driven at high levels. The result is cleaner, smoother low frequency reinforcement at higher SPL levels.

The EAW Redline RL12 and RL15 include an on-board 1,250-watt bi-amplified electronics package mated to customized precision transducers. Redline features EAW Focusing processing to deliver the impulse response of a studio monitor, while DynO algorithms optimize the power transfer from amplifiers to transducers to audience, to optimize headroom and integrity of sound at maximum output. Both models offer consistent directivity via Beamwidth-Matched Crossovers on 90°x60° user-rotatable horns, and 4-aperture elliptical ports provide bass support with no turbulence while maximizing transducer-cooling air flow. The simple pre-defined voicing help the user to set up quickly, and a rear-panel LED mute keeps Redline invisible in aesthetically-sensitive situations.

The Electro-Voice ZLX-12BT is a 12in. powered loudspeaker equipped with Bluetooth audio streaming for background music or musical accompaniment. QuickSmartDSP allows for easy setup via four presets, sub/top system-match, two-band EQ, five user-programmable presets, visual monitoring of limiter status, input level control and meters, and master volume control to optimize gain structure, all via LCD. The high-efficiency 1,000W Class-D power amplifier delivers up to 126 dB peak SPL utilizing transducers designed and engineered by EV. Three handles and a rugged composite structure help provide confidence in its portability.

Constructed out of polypropylene enclosures, the FBT X-LITE 15A includes three carrying handles, four M10 flying points, and a full-front grille for protection and sturdiness. Features include built-in Class D amplifier modules providing 1,000W of power, and a user-friendly DSP allows four EQ preset selection to tailor the performance of the X-LITE to various sound requirements. In addition, the X-LITE series offers a professional control panel that allows users to set up configurations with or without subs. Additionally, the X-LITE low frequency response can be extended with the dedicated X-SUB 18in. powered subwoofer.

With versatile controls and connectivity, the Fender Passport Event portable audio system is useful for amplifying voice, instruments, and background music in a wide range of locations. Its full-range speakers, features, friendly front-panel controls, and 375W of power provide clear and reliable sound. Conveniently self-contained with suitcase-style portability and easy setup, Passport Event also features Bluetooth connectivity for streaming wireless audio from mobile devices. The PA system has a seven-channel powered mixer and full-range speakers, with eight inputs (four XLR mic/line, 1/4in. instrument/line, 1/4in. stereo, 1/8in. stereo, stereo Bluetooth), plus separate volume, treble, bass, and reverb controls on each channel.

The Fishman SA+6 Bundle, which includes the SA330x, SA Expand, and SA Deluxe Carry Bag, provides a portable 6-channel solution best suited for small to medium sized rooms, clubs or similar sized venues. The SA+6 features 330 W of power plus six channels, each with three bands of EQ, Reverb, Gain, Phase, and 10dB Pad controls. As a wide-dispersion modified line array, it allows everyone in the audience to hear without blowing away the front row. Additionally, it features full-range audio source handling via three TRS Aux inputs, one 1/4in. Input, and two 3.5mm inputs. The included Deluxe Carry Bag is designed to be extra-tough and versatile, with ample room for extra equipment and wheels for easy transport.

The Galaxy Audio Traveler (TV10) is an AC/battery operated portable PA system that allows for a quick and uncomplicated setup. The system features a 10in. woofer, 1in. horn, 150 W max amplifier, and can be configured in a variety of ways to meet specific space needs. The system includes four inputs (X:R, 1/4in., RCA, and 1/8in., each with its own volume control), a 2-band EQ, and a master volume. Audio outputs include a dual RCA line out and a 1/8in. line out. The durable ABS enclosure features a convenient carry handle and a provision for standard pole mounting. The TV10 has a retractable handle and durable wheels for easy mobility. The Traveler also has a “plug in” modular design, which allows optional function modules to be added or removed.

Featuring a 5-channel mixer, Bluetooth audio streaming, and integrated reverb effects, the HK Audio Lucas Nano 305 FX is a compact 10.3kg system. It consists of an active system subwoofer and two satellites that can be stowed away in the subwoofer transport bay. The active, multifunctional PA system features an integrated seven on-board reverb effects, 2-band EQ for channels 1-3, and phantom power for channels 1-2. Optimized for use as a 2.1 stereo system, it can be extended into a twin stereo system setup when used in conjunction with any other 300 series Lucas Nanos. With 750 W peak power, 120 dB max, and SPL low-ranging bass down to 44 Hz, the Lucas Nano 305 FX is best suited for background music and announcements at small events.

With a light, compact design, Bluetooth connectivity, and up to six hours of play time provided by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, the JBL EON ONE PRO provides audio through its seven-channel analog mixer with integrated effects. Similar to the technology used in large venue speaker arrays, the JBL EON ONE PRO optimizes the spacing of each driver to ensure great sound quality and consistent directionality. It houses an 8in. subwoofer with bassflex technology providing well-defined low frequency response. The linear-array speaker system fully collapses into the base, and it features an ergonomic handle design and weighs 37.5 lbs. (17 kg), so no shoulder bags or multiple trips required. It has four combo 1/4in./ XLR inputs, a 3.5mm jack, and a stereo RCA input, plus bass, treble, and reverb controls allow for fine tuning.

The compact LD Systems CURV 500 PS is an easily configurable array system with eight interlocking satellites that are operated via a SmartLink adapter. The elements (12x12cm. in size) are equipped with LD System’s WaveAhead technology, and one 4in. and three 1in. drivers provide detailed playback. The 10in. bass-reflex subwoofer houses the Class D power amplifier and includes a limiter, protection against short circuit, overheating, over-voltage, as well as a 4-channel mixer with 16 digital effect presets and Bluetooth. Combo and Speakon-compatible sockets offer extensive connectivity options, and the subwoofer features four digital system presets, an M20 threaded flange, and three carrying handles. The second subwoofer with its own power amplifier offers identical technical specifications, but does not require any mixer. The CURV 500 Power Set includes two subwoofers, one with a mixer unit, eight satellites, two SmartLink adapters, two extension tubes and matching speaker cables. If more power is required, the CURV 500 Power Set can provide a power of 920 watts RMS and a maximum sound pressure of 134 dB.

With 150 watts of total power, clear sound, and up to 15 hours of battery life, the Mackie FreePlay LIVE is best suited for performers, buskers, presenters, and more. FreePlay LIVE is a personal PA for anyone who needs a lightweight solution for music performance and speech presentations with plenty of power on tap, built-in battery, and wireless control from iOS and Android devices. It features a high-output 6in. woofer and dual tweeters, dual 1/4in./XLR combo inputs for connecting guitars, microphones, keyboards, and more, plus a 1/4in. balanced monitor out for sending the mix to another powered speaker or mixer. FreePlay LIVE features a durable molded enclosure, coated metal grille, and robust internal construction, and weighs 8.8 lbs. (4.0 kg).

BlacklineX Powered brings new active options to the Martin Audio BlacklineX family. Comprising the 12-inch XP12 and 15-inch XP15 full range enclosures plus the 18-inch XP118 subwoofer, BlacklineX Powered integrates acoustic, DSP and amplifier technologies. BlacklineX Powered offers optional Bluetooth control, streaming, and a built-in 3-channel mixer, providing increased flexibility and features for a variety of uses, including live venues, DJs, corporate events, and houses of worship. The series features 1300W and 2000W Class D amplifiers, onboard DSP, and user-rotatable horns for horizontal or vertical enclosure orientation. Mounting options include wall bracket, eyebolt suspension, and pole-mounting.

MA-808 is MIPRO’s flagship portable wireless PA system. The rugged one-piece speaker cabinet houses an efficient class-D/AB amplifier with a 10in. woofer and a 1.5in. tweeter that drive high sensitivity two-way loudspeakers, with limiter circuitry that reduces distortion and increases intelligibility for powerful, clear sound. It offers an ideal public address solution for large crowds. It features up to 4 UHF or 2.4 GHz diversity receiver modules with 16 auto-scannable frequencies, and a built-in active antenna prevents accidental antenna breakage. The Voice Priority option mutes music when a wireless mic is used. Additionally, it includes a Bluetooth receiver for music streaming. A retractable handle and wheels make it easy to transport.

The Peavey LN1263 is a low-profile portable column-array that utilizes 1,200 W of potential maximum power. The unit contains 12 2.75in. custom drivers for the mid-high column and a custom 12in. driver for the subwoofer. Completely self contained, the unit has no visible cables in mono operation, making it well suited for applications where speakers need to be heard but not seen. The satellite speakers feature rugged aluminum housing and quick attachment design, and the subwoofer is built from multi-ply birch, making it durable and lightweight. Each satellite features a speaker stand and a twist lock speaker cable connection, allowing the satellite to be positioned remotely for applications where stereo configuration or additional coverage is desired. Featuring both an onboard LCD screen and remote control via Bluetooth using a custom iOS application for control, the LN1263 offers EQ and Effects, plus Simple and Professional mode, allowing options for both advanced and novice users. The onboard mixer features 4 combo inputs, each with the option of selecting a guitar input.

The PreSonus CDL series includes the CDL12 constant directivity loudspeaker and the companion subwoofer, the CDL18s. Both Dante-enabled, the powered enclosures can be flown as a vertical array, or combined for ground-stacked applications. Each CDL12 consists of eight 2-inch drivers aligned in a segmented circular-arc high-frequency array centered in front of a 12-inch woofer. The output of the low-frequency driver travels from the same acoustic axis as the high-frequency array so that the pattern always radiates from the center of the CDL12, whether used individually, or as part of an acoustically coupled vertical array with up to six enclosures. The CDL18s features a custom 18in. low-frequency transducer with 4in. voice coil that  can travel 7mm before over-excursion, and handles 800 W.

The QSC K.2 Series is comprised of the 8in. K8.2, 10in. K10.2, and 12in. K12.2 full-range loudspeakers. Each loudspeaker model in the K.2 Series is equipped with a 2,000W power module matched to high-performance woofers and compression drivers. DMT (DirectivityMatched Transition) ensures smooth coverage across the entire listening area. Onboard DSP provides Intrinsic Correction voicing and advanced system management to further optimize performance. K.2 Series models additionally provide operators with a library of preset contours for common applications, while offering storable scenes to recall user-configurable settings such as input type, delay, EQ, cross-over, and selected contour via the loudspeakers’ LCD screen and control panel. All three models can be operated as either main PA or as a floor monitor. Each model can also be flown, wall- or truss-mounted, or placed on a speaker pole, either straight-firing or with 7.5-degree down-tilt utilizing the dual pole cup.

Expanding the EVOX J Series, RCF has added an 8-input digital mixer to the system. The EVOX JMIX8 features onboard processing from the Z.CORE DSP, which provides full mix functions and includes instrument FX and AMP simulations. It also includes an EVOX iOS/Android-compatible app for users to manage the JMIX8, and Bluetooth audio and a Hi-Z instrument input. All the available functions on the EVOX JMIX8 system integrated mixer can be managed from the operating panel, with select buttons that include Input, Output, Home, System, MFX, and FX, which give access to all the parameter pages on the LCD display. The system includes RCF’s Class-D power amplifier technology. The D-Line amplifiers feature a mechanical aluminium structure, stabilizing the amplifier during transportation and helping the fanless heat dissipation.

The compact Roland CUBE Street EX features 50 W of power and a stereo speaker system with dual woofers and tweeters, and four independent channels offer connections for a variety of mics and instruments. Detailed sound adjustment is available with separate EQ and reverb controls, and the system also includes onboard COSM amps. Selectable power modes provide up to 20 hours of operation with eight AA batteries, and two CUBE Street EX units can be linked together for more sound coverage if needed. The output power is adjustable in three levels — Max (50 W), Normal (25 W), and Eco (10 W) — allowing users to conserve battery life in situations where maximum power isn’t needed. The i-CUBE LINK allows users to plug in an iPhone or iPad to play backing music and record performances.

Samson’s Expedition XP1000 portable PA system is Bluetooth-enabled, allowing users to wirelessly stream music from a smartphone, tablet, or laptop. A removable 10-channel mixer with 1,000 W (2 x 500), lightweight Class D amplifier powers the XP1000. The mixer features four Mic/Line input channels, each with XLR and 1/4in. inputs for connecting microphones or active line level instruments. It also includes three stereo input channels for connecting external devices. Each channel features Bass and Treble controls, and the first two Mic/Line channels have a selectable compressor to even out levels while preventing overload and distortion. The XP1000 also has a USB wireless port for use with optional Samson XPD Series USB Digital Wireless Systems. The XP1000 provides 16 presets of DSP effects, and provides stereo monitor outputs with level control to use the system with additional powered speakers.

The 2,400-Watt TVX118B is a front-loaded 18in. subwoofer system that is engineered to work in conjunction with Turbosound loudspeaker management systems. The bass reflex port design enclosure has a high powered carbon fiber 18in. low frequency driver and provides fast and accurate transient response for virtually distortion-free operation. Finished in a durable semi-matte black paint, the cabinet is constructed from 18mm birch plywood and includes a powder coated perforated steel mesh grille backed with reticulated foam, an integral 35mm pole mount for satellite speaker applications, and carry handles that are strategically placed for easy transport. The rear panel connector plate carries Neutrik speakON NL4 connectors, with switchable input and link connections to accommodate standalone subwoofer applications, or subwoofer and satellite speaker connectivity via 4 core speaker cabling.

As we go to press, Yamaha launched the STAGEPAS 1K portable PA system, improving upon previous models with more power and the free STAGEPAS Editor iOS/Android app. The STAGEPAS 1K is driven by a high-frequency array speaker with 10 small-diameter 1.5” drivers and a 1000W Class-D amplifier, a significant upgrade in power from its predecessors. A 12” subwoofer utilizes Yamaha’s Twisted Flare Port technology to effectively reduce wind noise in the bass reflex port. The array speaker is simply affixed to the subwoofer cabinet, requiring no cables or speaker stands, for a fast and easy setup. A 5-channel mixer, ingenious IO, and optimized compression settings are among the additional features. Due to ship in early fall of 2019.

With 5.5 hours of runtime at full output power and a standby battery life of more than 48 hours, the Yorkville Sound EXM-Mobile is capable of getting users through a variety of gigs where AC power is not an option. The 60 W system weighs just under 20 pounds and uses two 6.5-inch woofers and a studio monitor quality soft dome tweeter. It features three discrete input channels with individual volume and tone controls, is Bluetooth enabled, and includes an integrated digital effect processor.

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