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Tech Showcase: Portable PAs

The specific demands on a given portable PA system vary widely, and as a result, the available products are just as varied, from size and weight to feature set. The one thing they all have in common, though? Dependable portability, which is something every user requires.

The Alto MixPack 10 is a high-performance sound system designed to handle virtually any situation. Featuring 400 high-output watts driving full-sized speakers with 10-inch woofers and 1-inch high-frequency compression drivers, these offer some significant power. Plus, an 8-channel mixer with EQ and multiple inputs allows users to take command of a good-sized group and make it sound exactly the way they want. All cables and accessories are included, and everything stows conveniently for travel as as you can imagine. It includes four XLR and 1/4-inch mic/line inputs, and two stereo line input channels (1/4-inch and RCA), with 2-band EQ per channel. Switchable digital reverb and phantom power is available on channels 1-4, and there are separate EQ contour modes for speech and music playback applications. It includes 1/4-inch speaker outputs (with cables included), plus 1/4-inch line level monitor outputs for adding additional powered speakers.

Anchor Audio has launched a new generation of portable PA systems, with a focus on delivering clear, dependable audio with improved simplicity and reliability for customers. The most significant change includes the implementation of a new wireless platform, AnchorLink. Operating in the 1.9 GHz frequency range, AnchorLink will be available in the Bigfoot, Beacon, Liberty, Go Getter, MegaVox, MiniVox, Acclaim, AN-1000X+, AN-130+, and CouncilMAN.

Additionally, new Lithium Ion batteries are now used, for longer battery life and reduced product weight. Rechargeable lithium ion batteries will be available in the Bigfoot, Beacon, Liberty, Go Getter, MegaVox, and Acclaim.

The Europort EPS500MP3 sets up quickly– 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-Over-Priority function automatically lowers the stereo channels when a user is on the mic.

Bose Professional’s S1 Pro multi-position PA system is an all-in-one PA, floor monitor, practice amplifier, and primary music system. At only 15 lbs. (6.8 kg) and with dimensions of 13in. x 9.5in. x 11.2in., the S1 Pro is lightweight and designed for ease of transport using the convenient carry handle. The S1 Pro is engineered to be used in four different positions to accommodate a wide range of applications: tiltback, elevated, mounted on a speaker stand, or placed on its side (as a floor monitor). Built-in sensors detect positional changes and trigger Auto EQ, which automatically recalibrates the system’s internal settings for each different placement/application. Additionally, the S1 Pro comes with a three-channel mixer, including a wireless channel through which music can be played from a mobile device using Bluetooth streaming. The S1 Pro also has an optional rechargeable lithium-ion battery.

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 a complete 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 ELX200 models include an integrated QuickSmartDSP engine, which offers precision system control, including quick and easy Bluetooth wireless configuration and monitoring via the QuickSmartMobile application. The ELX200 lineup includes 10-inch, 12-inch, and 15-inch two-way models, as well as 12-inch and 18-inch subwoofers. Powered and passive versions are available. Integrated efficient Class-D power amplifiers provide distortion-free maximum sound pressure levels utilizing high-sensitivity transducers. Full-range ELX200 models feature low-profile form factors designed with durable composite enclosures to balance lightweight, structural integrity and ease of use. EV’s three-handle design allows for easy lifting and pole-mounting for mobile applications.

Constructed out of plywood enclosures finished with extra-texture paint, the X-PRO series from FBT is cut to withstand tour-tough conditions with elegance and style. Professional features include ergonomic handles, M10 flying points, a monitor taper design, and a full protective grille. Meanwhile, the onboard Class D amplifier module delivers 1000 watts of power with a flexible DSP to allow personal EQ adjustments, while the low frequency response can be extended courtesy of the dedicated X-SUB 18in. powered subwoofer. The DSP features four EQ presets designed to tailor the sound of the speaker to various applications and installation environments. Plus, advanced algorithms for filtering and equalization alter the dynamics of the low frequency energy according to the selected preset, allowing distortion-free high SPL performance.

With versatile controls and connectivity, the Fender Passport Event portable audio system is ideal for amplifying voice, instruments, and background music anytime and anywhere. Its full-range speakers, versatile features, friendly front-panel controls and 375 watts of sonic power provide powerful, clear and reliable Fender 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 all-in-one PA system has a seven-channel powered mixer and full-range speakers, with eight inputs (four XLR mic/line, 1/4- inch instrument/line, 1/4-inch stereo, 1/8-inch stereo, stereo Bluetooth), plus separate volume, treble, bass and reverb controls on each channel.

Ruggedly built and with plenty of power, the Fishman SA330x is ideal for small and medium-sized venues. Whether used for speech, performance, or playback, a full complement of inputs and outputs makes setting up the SA330x easy. The SA330x features a uniquely configured 2-way speaker system that can be heard clearly in the back row without blowing away the audience in the front. The 330-watt system features channel expandability via an accessory port. It is strong, lightweight, attractive, and easy to set up, and a padded carry sleeve is included.

Compact and under 10 pounds, Galaxy Audio’s TQ6 features a high-performance 30-watt amplifier, a powerful 6-inch woofer, and wide-dispersion 1-inch HF horn, the TQ6 offers clear voice reproduction and musical clarity. A wired mic input complements a versatile media player with an SD card slot, USB connector, left/ right RCA audio connections, and built-in Bluetooth compatibility for use with a phone or MP3 player. Individual and master volume controls, a tone control, and an echo feature make it easy to mix and control all of these sources while adjusting voice clarity and music quality. The TQ6 may be AC powered or operated from its internal battery for up to 15 hours. It includes a carrying handle and standard pole socket for stand mounting.

For those looking to amplify line-level signals—from MP3 players and notebooks, to mixing consoles, keyboards and more—the small, flexible, and lightweight HK Audio Lucas Nano 302 can be carried in just one hand and is built up and ready to go quickly. It consists of an active system subwoofer and two satellites, which are stored in the subwoofer’s transport bay. This active compact PA includes a stereo line input for simple connection to external stereo sources and is optimized for use as a 2.1 stereo system. It can be extended into a more powerful Twin Stereo System setup when used in conjunction with any others of the 300 series. With an active 8in. high-performance subwoofer and two satellites with 3.5in. broadband woofers, the Lucas Nano 302 offers excellent speech intelligibility.

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 pristine audio quality 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 just 37.5 lbs. (17 kg), so no shoulder bags or multiple trips required. It has four combo 1/4-inch/ XLR inputs, a 3.5mm jack, and a stereo RCA input, plus bass, treble, and reverb controls allow for fine tuning.

The LD Systems MAUI 5 GO is the battery-powered version of the MAUI 5 PA system. This all-in-one system features Quick-Swap technology for instant battery pack replacement, and is powered by a high-capacity lithium-ion pack that provides up to 30 hours of continuous use. The subwoofer integrates a smart charger, and an external charging dock is available as an accessory. With a total of 800 watts peak output, it features Bluetooth stereo audio streaming and microphone, hi-Z instrument and line inputs. Weighing in under 29 lbs. (13 kg), the four-piece MAUI 5 GO is ultra-portable and assembles in seconds with custom multi-pin connectors. The line array driver configuration results in extended coverage, and the system’s wide dispersion and excellent feedback resistance eliminate the need for monitor wedges.

With 150 watts of total power, clear sound, up to 15 hours of battery life, and much more, the Mackie FreePlay LIVE is perfect for performers, buskers, presenters, and more. FreePlay LIVE is the perfect personal PA for anyone who needs a lightweight and great-sounding 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 1/4-inch/XLR combo inputs for connecting guitars, microphones, keyboards, and more, plus a 1/4-inch balanced monitor out for sending your mix to another powered speaker or mixer. FreePlay LIVE features a durable molded enclosure, coated metal grille, and robust internal construction, and weighs just 8.8 lbs. (4.0 kg).

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 300-watt Escort 3000 portable sound reinforcement system from Peavey features digital multi-effects, USB MP3 player, Peavey’s Mid-Morph technology, and the FLS (Feedback Locating System). The Escort 3000 transports with ease with the Escort’s builtin carrying case which includes luggage-style wheels. Providing storage for everything needed, it includes folding speaker stands and plenty of room for optional accessories such as microphones and cables. The two-way speaker system features a 10in. woofer, seven channels, six combination 1/4-inch/XLR inputs, and RCA/3.5 TRS media inputs.

The PreSonus StudioLive 315AI features PreSonus Active Integration technology, which enables wireless and wired networking control for setup, tuning, and monitoring functions, using an iPad, a Mac or Windows laptop, or both. A compact, full-range system that provides plenty of low end, the StudioLive 315AI delivers 3-way coverage, with a 15-inch low-frequency driver and an 8in., CoActual coaxial speaker for mid- and high-frequency reproduction. These transducers are driven by a 2,000W RMS of triamplified, Class D power, all housed in a compact enclosure. The 315AI is time- and phase-aligned to form a true 4-way system when paired with the StudioLive 18sAI subwoofer, with or without the highpass filter engaged, to provide an optional overlap at 100 Hz. The StudioLive 315AI comes equipped for wireless and wired communications over an Ethernet or Wi-Fi local area network for monitoring and control over custom tuning settings.

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 2000-watt 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 trussmounted, or placed on a speaker pole, either straight-firing or with 7.5-degree down-tilt utilizing the dual pole cup.

Maintaining a similar footprint to the original EVOX 8 system, the RCF EVOX J models are a composite enclosure, taking weight out of the system, yet maintaining the same performance specifications. The EVOX J Series comes in two models–EVOX J8 and EVOX JMIX8–with both available in black or white. The EVOX J8 is similar to the original EVOX 8 model, featuring a line source satellite module with eight 2in. full-range drivers paired with a high-powered 12in. woofer in a bass reflex enclosure. It is powered by onboard 1400-watt Class D amplification. The EVOX JMIX8 adds an eight-input digital mixer with dedicated app for iOS and Android management from any smartphone. Its Z.CORE DSP processing provides professional mix functions along with a complete library of studio effects and with guitar modulation effects and amp simulations. Additionally, the FiRPHASE algorithm optimizes dynamics, amplitude, and phase, providing more transparency of the original input signal with clarity.

Whether battery powered or plugged in, the Roland BA-330’s digital stereo amplifier drives four 6.5in. stereo speakers and two tweeters, positioned for wide stereo projection. The BA-330 is equipped with Roland’s Anti-Feedback technology, so with a simple switch, it automatically detects the howling point and eliminates feedback. Three effects are built into the BA-330 (Reverb, Delay, and Wide), which can be turned on/off independently for each channel. In addition, a master 2-band EQ is provided as well as EQ control for each channel. A wide range of instruments, microphones, and devices can be plugged into the BA-330 simultaneously. Two mono channels are provided for microphones or line-level instruments (XLR and 1/4-inch jacks), two stereo channels are provided for stereo instruments (1/4-inch L/R jacks), and a stereo Aux input channel is provided for CD players and other devices (RCA and TRS jacks).

Samson’s Expedition XP300 portable PA is an all-in-one sound system intended to cover audiences of up to 100 people. The XP300 sports a 6-channel powered mixer that delivers 300 watts of power to two 6-inch speakers. The mixer and speakers lock together, allowing the system to be transported in a single unit weighing just under 24 pounds. The mixer offers Bluetooth connectivity for use with laptops, smartphones, and tablets, and also features 16 presets of 24-bit digital effects with Send level control; a Sub output for integrating active subwoofers, 2-band (bass and treble) EQ on all input channels, and phantom power for condenser microphones.

Thanks to an on-board 3-channel digital mixer and multichannel 1,000-watt amplifier driving a custom 12in. subwoofer, 16in. x 2.75in. neodymium drivers, and a horn loaded super tweeter, the Turbosound iNSPIRE iP2000 is suited for small to medium-sized performance venues, houses of worship, boardroom presentations, nightclubs, and more. The iP2000 is lightweight, at 67.7 lbs. (30.7 kg) and features Klark Teknik DSP, Class-D amplifier and Spatial Sound technologies, plus Bluetooth stereo audio streaming and iPhone/iPad remote control. The iP2000’s two columns fit into the shoulder bag (available separately), and setup is fast and easy—just attach the column(s) to the base and connect a mic, or mixer feed, and power.

The two latest models from Yamaha’s lineup of STAGEPAS portable PA systems are the 400BT and 600BT, successors of the 400i and 600i. Both the 400BT and 600BT feature two lightweight speakers and a detachable powered mixer, along with one pair of speaker cables and a power cord, providing a solution that can be set up quickly and easily. A new Bluetooth feature allows users to remotely stream audio from up to 10m away from the amp/mixer unit. Producing 400 watts and 680 watts respectively, the 400BT and 600BT also feature Yamaha’s DSP technologies. The new models feature 4 mic/line inputs and 6 line inputs (STAGEPAS 400BT features 4 line inputs). Inputs 3 and 4 feature a combo jack that can accommodate either XLR or 1/4-inch cables. In addition, both models feature a stereo RCA pin jack, stereo mini jack, and a Bluetooth input allowing for wireless audio playback from smartphones, tablets, and computers.

The Yorkville Sound Excursion EXM400 compact PA is a 400-watt, four-channel Bluetooth-enabled active stereo system built with mobile live sound in mind. Lightweight, compact extension speakers, innovative pole-through connectivity and versatile input/ mixer functions ensure the EXM400 can easily be used in small solo or duo performances, DJ applications, conferencing, and public address functions. The center of the EXM400 is a compact powered subwoofer module with integrated mixer. Two high efficiency satellite speakers and two speaker poles complete the core package. Connectivity between subwoofer/mixer and satellite speakers is handled with innovative pole through conductors, meaning no extra cabling is required. 

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