Being able to take your music or performance anywhere can be a very desirable thing for many musicians and performers alike. If you’re a street performer having something portable and preferably battery powered is desirable. If you want to take your act to another space, say a café or intimate stage, having the right sound solution is pretty essential to give you the best chance to keeping your audience engaged and inspiring you to perform at your best.
There is a wide variety of all-in-one PA systems out there built specifically for purposes such as these. We’re going to take a few different scenarios and look at some well-suited options.
Taking it to the Streets
Whether you’re a busking musician, street performer or even a seasoned spruiker, everyone needs something to amplify them to engage with their audience and passers-by. Some will need a simple, lower powered system, while others might look to have something more powerful, professional with good spread to get their performance heard far and wide. Lucky there are several great options.
Freshly announced at NAMM this January, Blackstar Amplification added an exciting new amp their already very popular range of FLY amps. The SUPERFLY is the biggest amp in the FLY family and can comfortably handle guitars, microphones and line level sources. What’s more, the SUPERFLY is optimal for both acoustic and electric guitars, can playback via Bluetooth and can be expanded with the optional extension speaker taking this 12-watt powerhouse amp up to 24-watts of power. For an incredibly small format battery powered amp, the SUPERFLY will tick many boxes for lots of street-based performers giving enough power and versatility at the right price point.
Those in need of a powerful, compact battery powered system with great design features for guitar and vocals the Roland Cube Street EX is worth a look. These amps have been around for a while and continue to be popular with the busking musician, as well as being suited for other performance environments. The built-in effects are also great for adding some extra vibe to your gigs with adjustable reverb, delay and chorus. For the guitarists needing tone-sculpting options, the COSM amplifier boasts some great choices from an acoustic simulator, to clean and lead tones. You can link two units together for even more coverage and can record your performances via the i-CUBE LINK and free CUBE JAM app.
For those musicians and performers who are looking for a true professional solution, with maximum coverage, high fidelity, versatility and can be taken anywhere the JBL EONONEPRO is something to get excited about. Part of the same family as the aforementioned EONONE, the newer EONONEPRO boasts the same HF drivers, SPL performance and Bluetooth streaming as the EONONE but also packs in a few extra sweeteners. Through the magic of its built-in Lithium-Ion battery, this all-in-one line array designed system can be taken anywhere, for up to 6 hours at full power. Other features include two channels of phantom power allowing condenser microphones and active DI boxes to be used directly with the built-in 7 channel mixer, as well as two channels having Hi-Z for guitars.
If battery power isn’t the be all and end all, there’s another fresh piece of gear that’s worth a look too. Introduced at the start of 2018, the Korg KONNECT system was a slight change of the direction for the digital piano and synth wizards but like everything Korg, a well-designed product they delivered indeed. This compact 4 channel PA system presents flexible connectivity and some unique features that many performers will find very handy. There’s some nice built-in reverb and voicing options for vocals and guitars, a dedicated “KONNECT app” to control the system remotely and of course Bluetooth streaming. There are built-in protection features too which include a limiter and feedback suppressor.
Cosy Performance Spaces
Most of us have likely experienced seeing a musician or perhaps a duo performing in a café or similar cosy space usually cramped in the corner busting out some soulful tunes. Quite often these intimate spaces won’t have an in-house PA nor a front of house engineer, so it’s up to the musicians to take care of their own sound. Having a system that has enough oomph to get over the top of the hustle and bustle of a busy space like this is pretty crucial, but you also don’t want to overpower the room and have staff or patrons asking you to it turn down either. Depending on your setup you’re most likely going to need something with a variety of connectivity. Some XLR/line combo connectors are desirable for using a mic and line-level sources. You might have some backing tracks to accompany your performance so some RCA or AUX inputs come in handy. You might even like to have the option to playback via Bluetooth, to cue music between sets for example.
The JBL EONONE line array designed system ticks a lot of boxes for a scenario such as this. Its sleek all-in-one “one hand carry” design makes it ideal for performers wanting to keep loading in and out of venues as painless as possible. It’s built-in 6 channel mixer offers plenty of connectivity, with two XLR/1/4” combo connectors, stereo 1/4″ line level/RCA, 1/8” AUX input and Bluetooth streaming capability. You can also set up an extra monitor if desired or use these RCA outputs to record your performance. The system provides solid coverage and frequency response with its super compact line-array design, with 6 HF drivers and one 10” woofer handling the low end. Built-in EQ and reverb are a nice touch to help you dial in your sound quickly and induce awe-inspiring performances.
For those who are used to the classic two speakers and mixer type of setup but still want something that’s compact, portable with enough connectivity, there are some great suitcase-style systems out there, let us take a look at a couple.
Most commonly known as a guitar manufacturer, Fender has a neat little system in this style. The Fender Passport Event. This all-in-one 7 channel system with Bluetooth connectivity is a nice compact option offering flexible connectivity and a solid 375 watts of power. A very simple layout allows for even the most inexperienced of performers to dial in sounds quickly, which is made easy with the built-in two-band EQ and adjustable reverb for taste.
JBL’s EON208P fits the bill for portability, connectivity (including Bluetooth), power and gives you space to stash away your mics, cables and accessories in a dedicated compartment. The 8-channel mixer offers four XLR/1/4” combo connectors are on the front along with two stereo 1/4″ line level inputs and stereo monitor and headphone outputs each with independent volume control. If you require further reinforcement on the low-end side of things, a powered sub can be added via the dedicated sub output.
Seminars, Gym’s, House Party DJ, Karaoke
Having the right sound solution for seminars, dance/gym classes, a good old-fashioned house party DJ or the increasingly popular karaoke setup is pretty integral for everything to run smoothly so that everyone enjoys themselves. Thankfully, most of the systems we’ve already covered in this article can be used for these applications, so no headache inducing extras to think about there. It really just comes down to features required for the job.
If super compact portability and lightning fast setup are required, the Korg Konnect will be well suited for all of these applications. Having features like its dedicated “KONNECT app” for remote control, the centre cancel function and feedback suppressor can be especially useful with karaoke and dance or gym classes, for trouble-free operation.
If a more powerful system is required with a small footprint and flexible setup options the JBL EONONE or EONONEPRO might fit the bill with their solid sound dispersion, even coverage and ability to adjust the height of their HF driver section depending on given application and space.
Solid all-round-systems like the Fender Passport Event and JBL EON208P are great for those not needing bucket loads of power but require flexible connectivity, two speakers (with the ability to expand) and features like Bluetooth streaming
There are a bunch more options out there when it comes to all-in-one PA systems and far too many to cover in just one article. Hopefully you’ve gained a little insight into what systems are best suited for particular applications and which ones are particularly versatile. When you’re looking to pull the trigger on your next PA purchase, an all-in-one system might well be your saving grace, from street to stage to most other applications in between.
Let us know what you think…