If the availability of electric power is not an issue, then it is wise to get a system with more power and range than a battery powered unit can provide. With prices ranging from $399 to about $999, many of these systems can be packed into a single compact carrying case (or can form a carrying case out of their components) and offer more channels and features than the battery powered units. The number of channels determines the number of devices, such as microphones and keyboards you can plug and control with your PA system and features such as digital effects and feedback limiters can enhance your sound and give you a more trouble free set up.

Our choices for mid-size venues

Sam Ash Direct carries many brands and models of small portable PA audio systems perfect for small clubs, coffee houses, exercise or dance studios, or meeting halls. Among the most popular are the Yamaha StagePas series, the Fender Passport Pro series, and the Samson Expedition series of portable PA systems. All Fender Passport Pro PA systems and Samson Expedition PA systems in this category can be packed up into a single easy to transport unit that includes the two speakers, mixer/amp, and room to store cables and microphones. All PA system from these brands can be mounted on speaker stands for wide dispersion of sound and can provide phantom power for microphones that require it.

The Samson Expedition XP308i includes an 8 channel mixer with iPod dock, a 300 watt (2x150w) stereo amplifier, and two full range two way speakers each with an 8 inch woofer and 1 inch titanium tweeter. There is phantom power for condenser microphones and RCA outputs so you can attach a recording device directly to the system. There are also line level inputs for connecting keyboards, drum machines, etc. The monitor outputs let you connect to external powered monitor speakers or wireless monitors so your performers can hear themselves better. There’s also a built-in digital effects processor to add reverb to enhance your sound. Presenters will appreciate the “speech/music’ switch to optimize the sound for speech. The entire package weighs under 40 lbs.

The Fender Passport series has long been a leader in portable PA systems. The latest versions, the Fender Passport 150 Pro and Passport 300 Pro provide, respectively, 150 and 300 watts and 4 or 6 channels. There is phantom power for condenser mics on four channels and reverb to enhance your sound. Each speaker sports either a 5.7 inch woofer and 2.7 inch tweeter (Passport 150 Pro) or 8 inch woofer and 1.2 inch tweeter (Passport 300 Pro). DJs will appreciate the Passport 300 Pro’s subwoofer output allowing connection to an external subwoofer. Packing up in an extremely portable single unit the Passport systems weigh in at only about 30 lbs for the 150 Pro and about 45 lbs. for the 300 Pro.

The JBL EON 210P Portable PA System is a nice, high-end, choice for mid-sized venues. Weighing in at only 33 lbs., the EON 210P features an 8 channel Soundcraft Mixer, a 300 Watt Crown Class-D Power Amp, and a pair of JBL 2 way PA speakers featuring powerful neodymium magnets in all drivers. It includes digital effects and the whole thing packs up into a single convenient unit.

The Yamaha Stagepas 300 offers a 6 channel mixer, 300 watt (2x150w) stereo power amp and a pair of 8 inch two way speakers. As with the two previous systems the Stagepas offers phantom power, reverb, compact size and everything you need to get great sound on the move. The Stagepas 300 weighs about 40 lbs.