Best Powered Line Array Speakers : Portable Compact Line Arrays

Bose L1 Compact: The Best Powered Line Array Speakers

My Search for the Best Powered Line Array Speakers

Six years ago I purchased the best powered 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 in a portable easy to setup package. 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 powered line array speakers available for my needs. I recently began looking at options including the Turbosound IP300, the Electro-Voice EVOLVE 30M, 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 portable powered 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 powered line array speakers for my needs?

Electro-Voice EVOLVE 30M

I recently purchased a pair of Electro-Voice EVOLVE 30M portable powered line array speakers and I couldn’t be happier! Electro-Voice definitely hit a home run with this compact line array speaker. The EVOLVE 30M provides a lightweight (34.9 lb) sub with backpack carrying case for the column speaker and extensions (9.1 lbs) making this one of the most portable all-in-one powered line array solutions currently available. Bose’s new SUB 1 is also thirty-five pounds, but is easier to carry due to it’s form factor. The EVOLVE 30M’s sub’s boxy shape makes it a bit more cumbersome to carry, but this certainly isn’t a deal breaker by any means. The build quality of the EVOLVE 30M is head and shoulders above many of the other “plastic” portable line array speakers on the market. The speaker construction is wood with a road worthy durable finish. The speaker extension poles are metal construction and lock in place providing a solid mount for the line array speaker above. Electro-voice definitely did not skimp on build quality or portability.

The EVOLVE provides a built-in wireless mixer designed by Dynacord with tactile control on the rear of the unit. I’ve found both mixer control methods extremely easy to use. I’ve seen reviews complaining about the wireless app not having mute buttons for each channel and being clunky by forcing the user to change to channel view to adjust volume. Both of these complaints are not valid with the latest version of the software. In landscape mode (on a tablet or a smartphone) all channels have volume sliders and mute buttons that can be used on one screen for quick and easy adjustments to the mix. I find that the app works wonderfully! In fact, it’s easier to use and more responsive than some dedicated wireless tablet controlled mixers! The EVOLVE has plenty of portable power with ample low end, present mid frequencies and crisp, clean high frequencies. One of my biggest complaints with other all-in-one compact line arrays is that the preamps for the microphone or instrument inputs just don’t have enough clean headroom. This is definitely NOT the case with the Electro-Voice EVOLVE 30M. I have plenty of headroom for my Shure Beta 58 without any noise! Phantom power is also provided for condenser mics! There are 8 total input channels for the built-in Dynacord mixer as follows: 4 combo XLR / line inputs, 1 Hi-Z Instrument input on one of the Combo channels, 2 XLR inputs on a stereo channel (also provides RCA inputs and 1/8″ stereo input for the same channel), and finally 2 channels of Bluetooth audio. The Bluetooth audio is easy to setup and sounds great (not as good as my FIIO BTR5, but better than any other all-in-one powered column line array I have tested). The EVOLVE 30M is awesome by itself in mono mode, but kudos to Electro-Voice for also considering stereo usage with a second EVOLVE 30M. There is a mix out XLR connection that can output either Left or Right channels. When in use, the master EVOLVE 30M will output the other channel (Left or Right). The mixer also provides pan control for all mono input channels to take full advantage of this capability! Another item on my wish list that the EVOLVE 30M provides is effects processing on each channel. The effects are also the best that I’ve heard on a powered line array speaker. A typical input channel in the mixer provides compression, High / Low EQ, pan, volume and an effects send. Another item that is included on the EVOLVE 30M is an Auxiliary out. This is perfect for use with monitor speakers, or even an additional subwoofer.

There truly aren’t many things that Electro-Voice didn’t think of when designing this all-in-one powered line array speaker. It does it all and does it all very well. The sound is powerful and clean. This portable PA could be used for small setups with an acoustic guitar and a vocal all the way up to a small band. DJ’s and Karaoke performances would also work nicely with the EVOLVE 30M. The XLR stereo input provides the perfect place to input an additional mixer if more channels are needed for future expandability. These compact powered line array speakers check ALL the boxes for me. I can simply take these, mics and one or two XLR cables and have all I need for a performance! 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 powered 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 Powered Line Array Speaker Is…

After months of looking, I chose the Turbosound IP300 because I believe it’s the best powered 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!

Powered Compact Line Array Feature Comparison

Electro-Voice
EVOLVE 30M
JBL Eon OneTurbosound IP300Bose L1 Compact
Power (RMS)1000 Watts
(500 Watts – LF
500 Watts – HF)
380 Watts
(250 Watts – LF
130 Watts – HF)
600 Watts130 Watts
SPL (Peak)123118122112
Subwoofer10″10″(2) 6.5″8″
Mid / High(6) 2.8″(6) 2″(4) 2″(6) 2″
Coverage Pattern120 deg. x 40 deg.100 deg. x 50 deg.Not Published180 deg. x 40 deg.
Weight44 lbs Total
24.9 lbs Sub
6.0 lbs Speaker
3.1 lbs Pole
41 lbs26 lbs29 lbs
Number of Channels8632
Effects / ReverbYes (Reverb,
Delay, Chorus)
Yes (Reverb Only)YesNo
BluetoothYesYesYesNo
Wireless ControlYesNoYesNo
Optional Stereo SetupYesNoNoNo
Stereo SetupYesNoNoNo
Multiple ConfigsNoNoNo
Pole Mounted
Yes
(3 Options –
No Extensions,
1 Extension, or
2 Extensions)

Previous Powered Line Array Picks

Gemini WRX-843

The Gemini WRX-843 powered line array is an excellent sounding, lightweight, portable 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 conjunction with a small mini mixer with built-in effects. Read Amazon Reviews | See comparison chart


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