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Buyer's Guides

Best Portable PA Systems in 2024 - Amazing Sound on the Move

If you’ve ever played at, helped organise, or engineered a live gig, you’ll probably be all too familiar with the letters ‘PA’ placed together. Perhaps you got to use a stunning, top-end PA system, or maybe you were texting your mate Jeff in a panic on the day to ask if you could borrow his old beaten-up one.

Whatever your experience, it’s unavoidable that the best (and sometimes the worst) PA systems are an ever-present and necessary part of live music. And if you’re a gigging musician or a live sound engineer, it’s no bad thing to have one of your own. With big advancements in technology in recent years, in 2024 you can buy a portable system that doesn’t require a Chuckle Brothers-style operation to get them in and out of the venue. Gone are the days when all PAs were so enormous, just looking at one would cause a case of the sweats.

So whether you’re a singer-songwriter, or in a duo/trio or band, this Headliner guide to the best portable PA systems is here to cover all your needs and find the best possible PA system for you and your budget.


Behringer Europort MPA 40BT Pro

  • As convenient to travel with as carry-on luggage

  • No arguing with the price

We just love how much this PA resembles a little suitcase on wheels — you can imagine to yourself you’re going overseas to busk with it when you’re actually on the way to your town centre. Possibly the most lovable item on our best portable PA systems list, thanks to its handle and wheels. And at just over £/$200, it’s also very much the most affordable.

You can’t argue with the price, therefore, you can’t argue with the fact there are few effects included either. But it does come with a basic 2-band EQ. Remember, this thing was made for singer-songwriters who need a PA they can get about with, not for a multi-sonics band like Tame Impala. You can also stream music via Bluetooth. But ultimately, the idea is to have your guitar on your back, while pulling this ‘lil guy behind in tow.

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Mackie Thump GO

  • Battery-powered and wireless control

  • Lightweight and a great price

Entering second on our list of the best portable PA systems in the year 2024 is also quite likely the best budget PA system you can get your hands on. And it comes from Mackie, who have long since established themselves as among the most trusted names in the audio biz.

In fact, it even rivals the bestselling Bose S1 in terms of quality, but at one of the best prices you’ll find for a PA system. It features two independent channels, which can be run using batteries or mains power, and you can stream music via Bluetooth. And if you’ve ever found PAs daunting, the Thump Go is so easy to set up and get going.

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Bose S1 Pro System

  • Great build on a versatile product

  • ToneMatch is a great feature

You already know the name, thanks to their high-end marketing that leaves many of us thinking “I’ll have made it in life when I buy some Bose speakers”. But, the Bose S1 Pro System are our third-lowest priced system on this list of the best portable PA systems, making them much more affordable than some of the most expensive ones on the market.

Bose have made their name through unbeaten sound, excellent build quality, and clever ToneMatch technology. The S1 Pro System in particular was made with singer-songwriters, duos or event speakers in mind. It’s portable thanks to being nice and small, and it's the genius of Bose that allows them to get so much sound out of its diminutive frame. For example, it can be tilted to face upwards if on the floor to project sound. It has its own EQ and reverb controls, Bluetooth streaming, and is wonderfully easy to get set up. 

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JBL Pro EON ONE Compact

  • Great effects range

  • Very easy to bring around with you

When you hear the words ‘JBL’ and ‘portable speaker’, you might think of the cute little Bluetooth speakers that everyone and their dog has these days. But the audio behemoths firmly belong in the best portable PA systems conversation, particularly thanks to the JBL Pro EON ONE Compact. Super easy to carry, and with a battery that offers 12 hours of life before needing a recharge, it’s a very strong option to consider.

Probably best suited to singer-songwriters wandering from one venue to the next with their guitar, this PA system’s four channels do allow a fair amount of flexibility. Another lovely thing about the EON ONE is the ability to control its effects from a mobile app. But wait, your phone is running out of battery?! Don’t fret, the speaker has a pair of USB sockets so you can charge up.

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QSC K2 series K8.2

  • Formidable power

  • Very flexible in its use

Aimed at a variety of people, including solo musicians and bands, DJs, and houses of worship, QSC’s K8.2 PA system from their portable K2 series is a portable powerhouse. It comes equipped with a 2000-watt power module, matching its commanding woofers and compression drivers. Each of these is complemented very nicely by the Directivity Matched Transition (DMT — not to be confused with something else), which covers the listening area in the smoothest coverage.

As any good portable PA system claiming to be the best should, the K8.2 can work either as a main PA or, alternatively, as a floor monitor. The K8.2 can also be flown, wall or truss-mounted or used on a speaker pole. In other words, a nifty, flexible piece of kit that sounds superb.

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LD Systems Maui 5 Go

  • Can be used almost anywhere

  • Ease of use and setting up

The ‘LD’ doesn’t stand for luxurious designs, but it certainly could in the case of the LD Systems Maui 5 Go. It’s among the most pleasingly modern portable PA systems in this best-of list. Portability was firmly in mind during its creation, boasting a lithium-ion battery that will keep you going for 12 continuous hours.

And it really is a portable little so-and-so, as you can take the Maui 5 Go to set up and play virtually anywhere. The neodymium speakers have a stunning, clear sound, while its subwoofer delivers fantastic low-end. If you’re looking for the right companion for busking or small pub gigs, you should definitely look into this PA system.

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Yamaha Stagepas 1K

  • A very durable piece of kit

  • Beginner-friendly

When it comes to ridiculously easy-to-use PA systems, the Stagepas 1K is a brilliant product from the legendary Yamaha. This little gem has such an easy setup: just slot in the speaker columns and you're good to go. The One-Knob EQ feature helps you get incredible sound out of this thing with no expertise needed whatsoever.

There’s good reason the Stagepas 1K is a go-to choice for many when it comes to small to medium-sized venues. Its 1000W power is pretty mighty. Vocals and acoustic guitars will shine. And the EQ is akin to having a sound engineer in your pocket. Top-notch build quality, a control layout that’s incredibly simple, and excellent sound. A real winner.

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RCF EVOX KMIX8

  • Fantastic intergration with a dedicated app

  • Enormous sound

We round off our best portable PA systems list with the good folks at RCF, an excellent PA to consider if you have a good bit of budget to play with. RCF has upped the ante by throwing in an 8-input Digital Mixer into the mix. The processing power of the Z.CORE DSP is quite mind-boggling — which not only gives you full mix capabilities but also serves up some seriously impressive instrument FX and AMP simulations.

You can manage the JMIX8 using the nifty EVOX app that works seamlessly with iOS and Android. And with Bluetooth audio and a Hi-Z instrument input, the EVOX JMIX8 combines RCF's renowned transducers and amplification with a supremely powerful 8-channel digital mixer that you can control from afar. It's like having a personal sound magician at your disposal.

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How to pick the best portable PA system for your requirements:


How many people will you be playing to?

This is a biggy as it determines how much power your PA will need. A good rule to go by is aiming for ½ a watt per person in the audience for spoken sound, going up to a full watt per person for music. If a larger audience gig opportunity comes up for you and your portable PA, you may need to add extension speakers to the PA. In general, it’s always best to overestimate the power you will need, rather than underestimating and potentially having your system at capacity and sounding bad.

Types of venue

The space also informs your requirements. Things like high ceilings, noisy environments, large stages etc. Indoors and outdoors is another important consideration. All these things influence how much power you will need and whether you need to bring in additional speakers.

Plugging in

Another key question is what you’ll be plugging your portable PA system into. It’s vital to discuss with everyone which inputs you’ll be using on the day. Having a versatile PA in this sense is a great thing.

You’ve done the reading, it’s time to mobilise and get portable. Whether you’ll be busking, speaking, engineering gigs or playing to a sweaty crowd, we wish you wonderful journeys in finding the perfect portable PA system for you.

Further reading: Recording a live band