Many people these days are in need of a good quality PA system but can’t fork out the big bucks. Hire is always an option, but many prefer the convenience of having something at home they can quickly throw in the car and take to a gig, setup for a party or a local event. We’re going to look at a few affordable PA options that are suited for a wide variety of applications and users, from small ensembles and DJs to schools, all without sacrificing quality.
When you’re on the hunt for a PA system, you’ll most likely be considering a few different things, but portability should definitely be one of them. Back in the days of yesteryear, PAs took up, quite literally, half the venues floor space and weighed an absolute ton, so bands and promoters needed to hire a couple of roadies just to lug these systems in and out of venues. The idea of needing just a couple of compact, lightweight speakers for a gig was as realistic a thought as interstellar space travel. Luckily for us nowadays, that’s very much a reality (sorry still no interstellar space travel just yet). A great example of this would be the JBL EON 600 series of speakers. The EON615 (the biggest top box in the range) comes in at a slender 17.69kg. Four conveniently located handles allow them to be easily moved without breaking ones back and they can be mounted on speaker poles for front of house or optimally placed for monitoring purposes.
More Power and Performance
Portability’s great but not if it sacrifices the sound. You’ll want something with enough power and SPL performance to fill the space whilst keeping the number of speakers needed to a minimum. The Alto TrueSonic 3 series have phenomenal SPL ratings. The TS315 boasts a whopping maximum SPL of 134dB, with a continuous rating of 131dB SPL, seriously impressive ratings given their price point. This sort of performance will help your act be able to hear themselves comfortably when using the speakers for monitors and the audiences will get a good experience with more throw throughout the venue from the front of house speakers.
While it’s pretty much standard these days to have a simple mixer on the back panel of portable powered PA speakers, having a few connectivity options available can keep a lot of people out of trouble when needing to connect different devices to a speaker. The Yamaha DBR series have the standard two channel mixer on board, but with a little added flexibility. Both channels have (the now standard) combi connectors so you’re able to plug in an XLR or 1/4” cable for direct microphone or line level sources, but channel two also includes an RCA input for music playback devices. A very convenient connection to have for people running a setup that requires this.
Sound Quality and a Bit Extra
Now that we’ve covered a few key points, let talk sound quality and some extras. Obviously, the way in which we all hear sound is very subjective and one person might absolutely love the sound of one speaker, while another person might think differently. However, we tend to think we can all agree a speaker should be well balanced across the frequency spectrum and offer steady, reliable performance. All of the aforementioned speakers have their own sonic flavours. They all offer the flexibility of main or monitor position DSP (digital signal processing) presets which is great flexibility to have. For those seeking some extra control over their system with the ability to tune their speakers to taste, the JBL EON 600 series offer up some pretty powerful DSP control via Bluetooth. You’re able to individually control and tune these speakers via the free Connect app, giving you remote access and control of up to four speakers at a time. You’re given a three-band parametric EQ plus high and low shelfs to play with. You can save your EQ curves onto your speakers so they recall the last setting that was on them. Pretty powerful stuff for speakers at this price point.
At the end of the day it’s going to be up to the individual to make the choice of what sounds right to them. The Alto TrueSonic 3 series offers a huge amount of power and SPL for their price, the Yamaha DBR’s have flexible connectively and are a superb all-rounder, and the JBL EON 600 series come in lightest on the scales while offering some nifty remote-controlled EQ options. Fair to say there’s something here for everyone and at very affordable prices. No roadies or big floor spaces required here.