Best Compact Line Array Speakers: Line Array Shootout

Bose L1 Compact: The Best Compact Line Array Speakers

My Search for the Best Compact Line Array Speakers

Six years ago I purchased the best compact line array speakers I could find. I sold a bulkier passive Electro-Voice PA setup and bought a pair of Bose L1 Compacts. I used them in stereo with an Alesis Multimix 8 USB 2.0 mini mixer. I went from 300 lbs worth of gear to about 70 lbs. The pair of L1 Compacts has been great for solo and duo acts, DJ performance and karaoke. But when it comes to heavy bass or a full band performance, the system is certainly lacking. The Bose L1 Compact also lacks reverb, effects and the bluetooth streaming that many of it’s newer counterparts offer. At the time they were the best compact line array speakers available for my needs. I recently began looking at options including the Turbosound IP300, the Gemini PA-300BT, and the JBL Eon One. Each of these systems has a more robust built-in mixer with reverb / effects, and bluetooth streaming built-in, but will they provide the added power and flexibility that I need for larger gigs. Let’s look at these all-in-one compact line array speakers in comparison to the Bose L1 Compact and weigh the pros and cons of each. Which ones will be the best compact line array speakers for my needs?

Gemini PA-300BT

The Gemini WRX-843 compact line array is an excellent sounding, lightweight speaker for both home practice and performance. At only 24 pounds, it is lighter than the Bose L1 Compact. The column speaker assembly consists of two extensions and one speaker array containing 4 x 3 1/2″ aluminum high frequency drivers. These three pieces fit neatly in the included travel bag. Unlike the Bose L1 Compact, the subwoofer / amplifier assembly does not include a protective cover. The Gemini WRX-843 includes a built-in 4 channel mixer, bluetooth, and a built-in reverb effect that are housed in the sub-woofer cabinet. It boasts 250 Watts of power (800 Watts Peak) which provides an evenly balanced, full sound with enough power for practice or a small stage. I purchased one of these units to test versus my Bose L1 Compact. This unit isn’t as powerful as the Bose L1 Compact, but it actually sounds really good. The bluetooth was easy to connect to and a Shure SM58 sounded pretty darn good straight through the on board XLR connections. I did have problems when connecting my acoustic guitar; however, I couldn’t get enough gain with the line setting (line / mic switch on each channel), but had way too much gain when I attempted to use the mic setting. My guitar has a built-in pickup without an on board preamp. It may be just fine with a guitar that has it’s own built-in preamp. The vocals were strong, but the reverb was a bit disappointing. Not nearly as good as Bose S1’s built-in reverb. For the price I do recommend this unit, just be prepared to use it in conjuction with a small mini mixer with built-in effects. Read Amazon Reviews | See comparison chart

JBL Eon One

The JBL Eon One is the most powerful compact line array speaker in our lineup. The Eon One comes equipped with 380 Watts of peak power, a 10″ subwoofer and (6) 2″ line array drivers. This enables the Eon One to push 118 SPL (based on JBL’s specs). The line array drivers are arranged tilted up at the top of the array and tilted down at the bottom to maximize vertical distribution (see my post entitled “Compact Line Array VS Regular Speakers” for an illustration). The JBL Eon One also comes with a built-in 6 channel mixer with reverb on each channel and bluetooth streaming. The JBL Eon One is packed with more power and channels than any other compact line array speaker in this review, but that power and expansion comes at a price: heft. At 41 pounds, this speaker is 25% heavier than the rest. While it has the extra features I’m looking for, it will be harder to move and won’t give me flexibility for small duo acts. Sure, it would work, but it would be more troublesome for small gigs and even two of them probably wouldn’t cut it for a full band. Read Amazon Reviews | See comparison chart

Turbosound IP300

The Turbosound IP300 is a unique compact line array powered speaker. It is a much cheaper and lighter option than what I’m used to seeing. The IP300 has 600 watts of peak power, two 6.5″ woofers and (4) 2″ line array drivers housed in a single cabinet. It can be pole mounted or simply placed on a sturdy surface. The IP300 competes with Bose with regard to horizontal coverage as well. Turbosound advertises nearly 180 degrees (same as the L1 Compact). It has a built-in mixer with bluetooth streaming and wireless control via an IOS app. With the ability to push 122 SPL, the Turbosound IP300 is both compact and powerful. It certainly has ample power for most any small to medium sized event. It’s advanced DSP also let’s the user utilize all 6 channels (2 XLR inputs and 1 Bluetooth per speaker) when linked to another IP300. The speakers can be linked via bluetooth. One of the linked IP300’s is the right side of the mix. The other IP300 is the left side. This allows for easy wireless setup and expansion. Once linked the IOS app adjusts for the configuration to show all four (4) inputs with panning capabilities for each! To top it all off, the onboard digital mixer also includes reverb, which I believe is a huge plus! At it’s price point, two can be purchased for roughly what one of the other compact line array speakers in this review costs. I could even add a pair of powered subs for larger gigs if needed. Read Amazon Reviews | See comparison chart

Bose L1 Compact

I’ve been personally using two L1 Compacts for the past seven years.  When I purchased them, they were the only compact line array speakers that were ultra-portable and self-contained. The system is powered by a small line array made up of six 2″ drivers arranged to provide darn near 180 degrees coverage.  This line array neatly fits in one of two plastic tube speaker extensions. These extensions plug into a base unit sitting directly on the ground.  The L1 Compact’s speaker extensions are unique.  They house the wiring that powers the line array and also provide height options for setup.  An 8″ subwoofer pushes the low end from the floor unit.  The floor unit contains four inputs:  a balanced XLR microphone input, an unbalanced 1/4″ guitar input, a 1/8″ stereo input and finally a stereo pair of RCA inputs.  These inputs are grouped into two channels.  One channel for the microphone, the other for the rest of the inputs.  Each L1 Compact delivers 112 peak SPL, which doesn’t sound like much, but it’s certainly ample for most small to mid size applications. The coverage pattern of the L1 Compact helps disperse the sound much more evenly than the other systems listed. 180 degrees horizontal x 40 degrees vertical coverage moves sound out in all directions, perhaps making up for the added SPL of the other speakers. There are a few drawbacks to these systems however. The low end isn’t as present as I’d like especially at high volumes. Also, both of the speakers have developed noise on the mic channel. This isn’t an issue for me because I always use them in stereo with a compact mini mixer for effects processing. Because the speaker is dated, it’s missing a few capabilities that I’d like to have. More power, reverb on the mic and instrument channels, and bluetooth streaming capabilities are the big items on my list. An added bonus would be mixer control via a remote IOS or Android app (actually present in the Turbosound IP300). Read Amazon Reviews | See comparison chart

The Best Compact Line Array Speaker Is…

After months of looking, I chose the Turbosound IP300 because I believe it’s the best compact line array speaker in the shootout. I purchased two IP300’s and have been using them for practice, small and large events. They are quite a bit more powerful than the L1 Compacts. I can stream in Bluetooth stereo, plug up a mic and a guitar and control the mix wirelessly via Turbosound’s app on my android phone. I can add a bit of reverb to sweeten my guitar and vocals as well. I actually purchased a pair of Behringer B1200D-Pro 12″ powered subwoofers to fill out the low end and the combination rocks! Much more powerful and flexible than a pair of Bose L1 Compacts without compromising audio quality. I hope you found my journey to finding the best compact line array speakers for my needs and it inspires you to use a compact line array speaker for your performances! Be sure to check out my other posts for the best in pro audio! | Check Out The Turbosound IP300 on Amazon!

Compact Line Array Feature Comparison

Gemini
WRX-843
JBL Eon OneTurbosound IP300Bose L1 Compact
Power (RMS)300 Watts
(250 Watts – LF
50 Watts – HF)
380 Watts
(250 Watts – LF
130 Watts – HF)
600 Watts130 Watts
SPL (Peak)Not
Listed
118122112
Subwoofer8″10″(2) 6.5″8″
Mid / High(4) 3.5″(6) 2″(4) 2″(6) 2″
Coverage PatternNot
Listed
100 deg. x 50 deg.Not Published180 deg. x 40 deg.
Weight24 lbs41 lbs26 lbs29 lbs
Number of Channels4632
Effects / ReverbYes (Reverb Only)Yes (Reverb Only)YesNo
BluetoothYesYesYesNo
Wireless ControlNoNoYesNo
Optional Stereo SetupNoNoNoNo
Powered ExpansionNoNoNoNo
Multiple ConfigsYes
(3 Options –
No Extensions,
1 Extension, or
2 Extensions)
NoNo
Pole Mounted
Yes
(3 Options –
No Extensions,
1 Extension, or
2 Extensions)

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