Best Battery Powered PA Speaker : Portable PA Systems for Outdoor Events

Best Battery Powered PA Speaker

The Best Battery Powered PA Speaker

During the recent pandemic, many musicians began depending on battery powered PA speakers and PA systems playing at outdoor events instead of playing indoors. I recently played a small gig at a cookout and used a pair of battery powered PA speakers that worked beautifully. It was a solo gig with a single vocal to backing tracks and while it wouldn’t be perfect for a dance party, it certainly worked fine for this type of event. I used a pair of Bose S1 Pros, which provided decent bass for the backing tracks and plenty of power for the vocals to cut through. I played my tracks with an iPad in stereo via the Bose connect app and used two Xvive U3 receivers with a single Xvive u3 transmitter on a Shure Beta 58 microphone. The tracks played in stereo and I was able to sing through both S1 Pros using the two receivers. I simply reduced a bit of bass, bumped up the treble and added some reverb on my vocal channel on each Bose S1 Pro! After that performance, I became intrigued with battery powered PA speakers and portable PA systems. What if I needed a larger setup for a bigger event? How would I accommodate it? The Bose S1 Pro only has two channels plus Bluetooth (or a stereo 1/8″ input). Could I find a larger battery powered PA setup for a trio or for a band? How about an outdoor dance party or karaoke show? I began to test different battery powered PA speakers and with each speaker I found new possibilities that would enhance expandability and power for larger shows! Read on to find out what I discovered about four outdoor portable PA possibilities: the Bose S1 Pro, JBL Eon ONE Compact, LD Systems Maui 5 Go, and the JBL IRX108BT.

Bose S1 Pro

The Bose S1 Pro is an awesome little battery powered pa speaker. It provides up to 11 hours of portable battery powered performance from it’s replaceable lithium ion battery. It can easily be used for busking (see my first post referencing the Bose S1 Pro), but can also be used for karaoke, guitar, vocals, DJ events, background music or for ceremonies. Two of these speakers can be paired with the Bose connect app to play tracks in stereo using any IOS or Android device via Bluetooth. You can also daisy chain the two speakers together and use the built-in mixer of the first speaker in the chain. The speaker has two channels with combo XLR jacks that can be used for a microphone or a guitar. There are two additional channels that are either used by the built-in Bluetooth or the 1/8″ stereo input. The S1 Pro has treble, bass and a reverb available for each of the XLR combo input channels. There is also a three-way Bose ToneMatch switch for each of the two channels to select built-in EQ settings for either a vocal mic or a guitar (or neither). Another handy feature of the Bose S1 Pro is it’s auto EQ settings that are changed depending on the position of the speaker. Whether mounted on a stand, sitting on a table, angled back on the ground, or in the floor monitor position, the S1 Pro sets it’s EQ automatically to compensate. This feature works seamlessly and truly gets the most out of the battery powered speaker depending on your needs. As I mentioned previously, I recently used a pair of these with a pair of Xvive U3 receivers and a single transmitter for a gig singing to stereo backing tracks. This worked wonderfully, but for larger shows, I definitely need more low end to pull it off. I’ve invested in Bose’s new SUB1 along with a battery pack for outdoor use. The SUB1 has a built-in crossover with settings made for the Bose S1 Pro, but needs a mixer to fully take advantage of it’s capabilities. I have used a Zoom L-8 mixer (which is also battery powered) and a Midas MR12 with a small battery pack and both mixers work very nicely. The Bose SUB 1 weighs just 35 lbs and it’s shape lends itself to portability (like a large suitcase). I can easily carry two Bose SUB 1’s without a problem! The entire system is completely flexible and will power small venues with one or two S1 Pros or 100 – 200 person DJ events with bass to spare!
Comparison Chart | Read Reviews on Amazon

JBL Eon Compact

The JBL Eon One Compact is another battery powered speaker option available for a compact PA system or a small outdoor busking setup. I purchased a pair of Eon One Compacts to provide additional low end to my portable PA system. The JBL Eon Compact One is more powerful and has a larger 8″ woofer for more pronounced Bass performance. I was impressed with the performance of a single JBL Eon One using it’s built-in mixer with wireless IOS or Android control, but using a pair of Eon One Compacts in stereo becomes tedious if using the built-in mixer. I found myself switching between the two speakers adjusting EQ, reverb and volume settings and getting frustrated with the process! I believe this would not be an issue if I were simply using a single JBL Eon Compact with a guitar and vocals, but since there is not a way to output the left or right channels independently, it makes it nearly impossible to use the built-in mixer in a stereo setup. I could simply daisy chain a mono signal to a separate JBL Eon One Compact, which would be fine for guitar and vocals, but not what I prefer for backing tracks. I ultimately used a separate battery powered mixer with a pair of Eon One Compacts for a stereo mixed backing track / karaoke setup with vocals. The sound quality is certainly comparable to the Bose S1 Pro, plenty of volume, more bass and 12 hours of battery life, but forget about using the built-in mixer if you want to use these speakers in stereo. Another thing I found lacking is the Bluetooth audio connection. With a single speaker, the Bluetooth works fine, but when setting up Bluetooth for a pair of Eon One Compacts in stereo, the audio suffered drop outs and would not be reliable enough for use on stage. I recently upgraded to the latest firmware thinking it would improve the Bluetooth performance, but it continued to be unreliable when attempting to use a pair of JBL Eon Compacts in stereo. Because of the stereo issues with the built-in mixer, I will sell my pair of Eon One Compacts. I recommend them for musicians who do not require stereo output for their performance. The mixer app is easy to use for a single speaker (mono setup) and provides ample effects for each channel and a customizable EQ for each channel and the main mix. The JBL Eon Compact also provides USB power for a phone or tablet if needed. It is a good lower cost all-in-one solution for a busker or for a small coffee house performance with guitar and vocals.
Comparison Chart | Read Reviews on Amazon

LD Systems Maui 5 Go

The next battery powered speakers I purchased were the Maui 5 Go’s by LD Systems. These battery powered speakers are perfect for portable outdoor use. While not a true all-in-one solution, they do provide huge sound and portability in a lightweight package. Each speaker weighs less than 29 lbs and is extremely easy to carry. They do not come with protective cases, but cases can be purchased for less than $100.00 for each speaker system (bag for column pieces, cover for sub). At 120 peak decibels, they are much louder than either the Bose S1 Pro or the JBL Eon Compact. They also provide impressive low end for their size. In fact, compared to my Bose L1 Compacts, these speakers provide more volume and bass on battery power!! The speakers can be used as a stereo pair with their built-in Bluetooth as well. I am incredibly impressed with the sound for the size, but I will say that I prefer the overall sound quality of the Bose L1 Compacts. At high volumes, the Maui Go’s can distort and effect sound quality. Also, the coverage isn’t as impressive as the Bose L1 Compact (both horizontally and vertically). They are certainly louder than the L1 Compacts, but not as crisp in the higher frequencies. The mix can sound good with intelligible vocals when I listen while standing in front of the speakers, but the highs tend to fall off when I listen while sitting down. This is not as dramatic horizontally, but certainly not the 180 degree horizontal coverage of the L1 Compact. I have used a pair of these with the Bose S1 Pros to “fill-in” the high end for sitting listeners. While this is certainly an expensive combination, it does sound awesome! The Maui 5 Go’s provide the bass lacking by the S1 Pros and the S1 Pros provide the crisp high frequencies. The Maui 5 Go’s do not provide reverb or independent EQ adjustments for the microphone input or the guitar input either. A battery powered mixer is needed for multiple inputs, EQ adjustment and / or effects. I have used these speakers with a Zoom L-8 battery powered mixer and the results were excellent.
Comparison Chart | Read Reviews on Amazon

JBL IRX108BT

The next portable PA speaker that I tested is not technically a “battery powered” PA speaker. I teamed the JBL IRX108BT up with a lithium ion battery pack (power station) and have been very impressed with the combination. The IRX108BT is similar in size and weight to the Bose S1 Pro and the JBL Eon One Compact, but provides more low end and power than either speaker. At $330 plus roughly $80 for a battery power source, the combination is over $100 cheaper than the JBL Eon One Compact and $150 cheaper than the Bose S1 Pro. The overall sound of the IRX108BT is somewhere in between the two previously mentioned speakers. In fact, I prefer the sound quality of the IRX108BT over both the S1 Pro and the Eon One Compact! The audio is crisp without loosing the midrange frequencies. At 17.4 lbs each, these PA speakers are easy to carry and stand mount. They provide 124 peak decibels and a frequency response of 54 Hz to 20 kHz. The speaker has a built-in DSP with your typical EQ Presets, but also provides Music ducking and DBX feedback suppression! I have not testing the ducking feature because I have no use for it, but I have tested the feedback suppression and it works nicely. The IRX108BT also provides Bluetooth 5.0 streaming in stereo and it worked without a problem. One downside of this speaker is that it lacks a true built-in mixer with EQ adjustments and effects like the EON One Compact or the Bose S1 Pro, but I would need to use a battery powered mixer for three of the four PA speakers I tested regardless. Another downside to this speaker is it’s on / off button. This hasn’t bothered me, but it doesn’t have a physical rocker switch that would allow you to turn the speaker(s) on with a power strip. You must turn the speaker on with a push button each time. This is a change from most old school powered PA speakers, but JBL also has a push button switch for the EON One Compact. The pros of this speaker outweigh the cons as far as I’m concerned. I think it is an excellent low-cost PA speaker and would be perfect or beginners or older people wanting power without the weight typically associated with a powered PA speaker. For a smaller setting, these speakers provide more power and low end response, without the need for a subwoofer! My budget pick for the best battery powered PA speaker is the JBL IRX108BT. It sounds awesome, but it’s a little bit bulkier and requires a battery pack and battery powered mixer (which could simply be a low cost mini mixer with effects also powered by the same battery pack). This PA speaker / mixer combination is completely portable and lightweight – but it does require a few more cables and time for initial setup. If you’re tight on funds and need a portable PA system, this may be the best “battery powered” PA speaker for you!
Comparison Chart | Read Reviews on Amazon

The Best Battery Powered PA Speaker / Portable PA System Is:

After using each of the battery powered PA speakers, I believe the Bose S1 Pro is the best battery powered PA speaker for my needs. It provides the ultimate in portable flexibility: on-board mixer with EQ control, ToneMatch, a great sounding Reverb, excellent battery life and expandability. With the addition of another S1 Pro and one or two Bose SUB1’s, I have a killer compact PA system that can operate outdoors or indoors. With a battery power station ample enough for a SUB1, I can use the entire system with or without power if needed. The sound quality of the complete system is excellent as well. The Bose S1 Pro’s also allow me to go with or without a battery powered mixer for small impromptu performances! There is even a setup for use with the Bose SUB1(s) with or without a mixer. For those on a budget, I recommend the JBL IRX108BT with a battery power pack! Awesome little speakers for outdoor parties or performance when used with a small mixer! You may even consider a pair of Maui 5’s with battery packs and save $400 over a set of Maui 5 Go’s. best in pro audio!

Battery Power PA Speaker Feature Comparison

Bose S1 ProJBL Eon ONE CompactLD Systems Maui 5 GoJBL IRX108BT
Power (RMS)Not Published150 Watts Peak200 Watts Cont.
800 Watts Peak
200 Watts Cont.
1,000 Watts Peak
SPL103 dB (Cont.)
109 dB (Peak)
112 dB (Peak)120 dB (Peak)124 dB (Peak)
Speakers(1) 6″ and (3) 2″(1) 8″
(1) 1″ Tweeter
(4) 3″ and (1) 8″(1) 8″
(1) Horn
Weight15.7 lbs17.6 lbs28.5 lbs Total
19.6 lbs Sub
8.9 lbs Hi/Mid
17.4 lbs

Number of Channels3 Total
2 Mic / Instr Combo
1 Stereo BT / 1/8″
4 Total
2 Mic / Line
1 Hz Instr
1 Stereo BT / 1/8″
4 Total
1 Mic
1 Hz Instr
1 Stereo XLR
1 Stereo BT / 1/8″
2 Total
2 Mic / Line
Phantom PowerNoYes (Channel 1)NoNo
Effects / ReverbYes (Reverb Only)Yes (Reverb, Delay
Chorus)
DSP EQ SettingsDSP EQ Settings
w/ Feedback
Suppression
BluetoothYesYesYesYes
Auxiliary PowerNoYes (USB)
1 5v 2A
1 5v 1A
NoVaries by
Battery Pack
(Power Station)
Battery Life5 HoursUp to 12 Hours
6 Hours Max Volume
Up to 20 Hours
6 Hours Max Volume
Approx. 8 Hours
w/ 146 WH Battery
Pack (Power Station)
Battery TypeInternal Lithium IonInternal Lithium IonInternal Lithium IonLithium Ion
Battery Pack
Power Station

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