What’s your go-to PA? Sure, you head out with the big systems on the big tours, but for weddings, meetings, house concerts, and nontraditional venues, a portable PA will likely do the trick. These systems just keep getting better: We’re continually seeing lighter, more powerful systems, and features like built-in effects, Bluetooth streaming, and app control are becoming standard. Looking for new options? Check out a few notable debuts that have crossed our desks the past few months.
Mackie’s new SRM-Flex column portable PA system (above) combines a 6-driver tower, 6-channel mixer, and 1,300-watt sub in a system clocking in at less than 30 pounds. Its molded cabinet base houses a 10-inch woofer and digital mixer with EQ and reverb, mic/line inputs, a dedicated stereo channel with dual ¼-inch line inputs, and an 1/8-inch aux in/Bluetooth streaming channel. Dedicated physical controls make quick work of critical adjustments; Mackie’s SRM-Flex Connect app allows wireless control from an iOS or Android device.
JBL EON ONE Compact
The JBL EON ONE Compact incorporates a 4-channel mixer and Bluetooth streaming in a battery-powered PA weighing just 17.6 pounds. Features include ducking, a swappable 12-hour battery, USB charging ports, and a full suite of effects including EQ, reverb, chorus, and delay. I/Os include two XLR/TRS combo jacks, one 1/4-inch hi-Z input, a ¼-inch passthrough, and an 1/8-inch aux in; phantom power and pro-grade preamps are built in. Manage effects and presets on the unit or from your phone or tablet using the JBL EON ONE Compact Control app. JBL says this diminutive box cranks out 112 dB and its 8-inch woofer delivers low end down to 38 Hz.
Harbinger M100-BT and M200-BT
Harbinger’s newest entries to the portable market, the M100-BT and M200-BT, both include a mixer with integrated 800-watt stereo amplifier, Bluetooth streaming, built-in effects, and a host of I/Os. The 33-pound M100-BT PA system includes a pair of two-way speaker cabinets, each with an 8-inch woofer and a compression HF driver; Harbinger says the system can deliver 124 dB SPL. The 43-pound M200-BT (shown) houses a 10-inch woofer and a compression HF driver and puts out 126 dB SPL. The M100-BT includes a 4-channel mixer, while the M200-BT features a 6-channel mixer with graphic EQ. In both systems, speakers can be configured as a stereo main pair or as a mono main speaker plus a mono stage monitor; built-in selectable speaker modes tune the system for either application.
Yamaha StagePAS 1000
Yamaha’s new StagePAS 1000 combines a 10-driver “J-curve” slim line array, 1,000-watt class D amp, 12-inch subwoofer, and mixer with a variety of I/Os and effects. StagePASS 1000’s 5-channel digital mixer offers three channels of mono mic/line inputs (including Hi-Z) and stereo inputs; built-in effects include a 1-knob EQ for optimized multiband EQ setting, SPX reverb, and a Mode control that optimizes compression settings for specific applications such as “Speech” or “Music.” The STAGEPAS Editor app lets users recall setting and adjust volume and EQ via Bluetooth. Yamaha says the system puts out 119 dB SPL.
Sarah Jones is a writer, editor, and content producer with more than 20 years' experience in pro audio, including as editor-in-chief of three leading audio magazines: Mix, EQ, and Electronic Musician. She is a lifelong musician and committed to arts advocacy and learning, including acting as education chair of the San Francisco chapter of the Recording Academy, where she helps develop event programming that cultivates the careers of Bay Area music makers.