Choosing the best PA systems for acoustic guitars and vocals is an important decision.
Your PA can make or break the quality of any performance, so making sure you've chosen the best one for your needs is essential!
No need to worry though, there are plenty of amazing PA systems on the market for a variety of needs, and I've compiled this helpful list to guide you to the one that will work best for you!
In my latest YMI guide, you will learn the following:
- What is a PA system for acoustic guitars and vocals?
- What different kinds of acoustic guitar and vocal PA systems are available?
- What to look for in the best PA systems for acoustic guitar and vocals?
- And much more!
Below is a quick list of all my top picks. Keep scrolling to learn more about how to choose and use PA systems for acoustic guitar and vocals
Bose S1 Pro Portable Bluetooth Speaker System
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Bose L1 Compact
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Mackie FreePlay LIVE 150W 2ch Personal PA System
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Yamaha STAGEPAS 400BT Portable PA System Bundle
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Peavey Escort 5000 Portable PA System
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My Overall #1 Pick
It’s the newest PA system on test, and I’m absolutely smitten with it. It’s the incredible Bose S1 Pro. Why?
First things first, the Bose S1 Pro is one of the most adaptable PA systems for acoustic guitar and vocals that I’ve ever come across.
In typical Bose fashion, it fills the room with booming lows, smooth mid-range, and super crisp high-frequency sounds, all without distortion at any volume.
In what I consider to be a pretty tiny package, you’ve got an acoustic guitar and vocals PA capable of playing everything from small to medium venues.
Bose put a conservative audience of 50 as its theoretical limit, but the S1 Pro should comfortably take care of double that number.
Bose have included treble and bass EQ functionality for fine-tuning of sound, and have even installed acoustic guitar and vocal presets which they call ‘ToneMatch’.
I was really blown away by this feature, which for the majority of folks playing small venues, should be all you’ll ever need EQ-wise.
It even has some built-in effects! Well, when I say effects, I mean basic reverb, but it certainly lets you tweak your sound if you don’t have, or don’t want to use pedals.
The reverb isn’t the most complex, but it’s warm, not too dark, and has just the right amount of sustain (I personally dislike excessive ‘echoey’ sustain on reverb).
Top 5 Best PA Systems for Acoustic Guitar and Vocals
In a hurry? Check out our Top 5 picks below! Keep reading to learn more about these PA systems!
What Is An Acoustic Guitar And Vocals PA System?
PA Systems, or Public Address Systems, for acoustic guitar and vocals are a means of amplifying your microphone and acoustic guitar in order to play to an audience.
Their frequency range is much wider than anything you’ll find in a guitar amplifier, making them a better choice for handling both microphones and guitars simultaneously.
Most guitar amps are geared towards electric guitars, and will inherently alter the way that the guitar sounds, and this is not something that acoustic guitarists typically look for.
When I play acoustic, I want a natural sound that matches my instrument without amplification.
The speakers in an acoustic guitar and vocals PA often have at least one tweeter, as well as a woofer, in order to clearly amplify the entire range of sound and accurately reproduce both guitar and vocal frequencies.
As well as being built specifically for vocal and acoustic performance, a PA system usually has brackets that will allow the speakers to be mounted on stands.
This raises the height of the speakers to get clear sound to a larger area.
What Are The Different Types of Acoustic Guitar And Vocals PA System?
Bundle or Package PA Systems
If you’re in a band and you’re hoping to start playing live, paid gigs, you better show up ready! Many smaller venues don’t have their own systems and will rely on artists to bring their own.
A bundle PA system is a really smart way to go if you’re just starting out.
Bundle PA systems allow multiple line inputs, with as many as 8 being found in even the most basic packages, so they’re ideal for bands with multiple members.
They also have the capability of providing phantom power to cardioid mics.
What you’ll actually get in your package varies between brands and obviously price ranges, but for a pretty reasonable amount, you could expect to get two speakers, speaker stands, a mixing desk, a microphone or two, and all the requisite speaker cables and leads.
With a setup like this you can definitely start playing paid gigs, albeit in smaller venues.
Obviously, as you spend more, the quality of the gear increases, as does the amount of gear you’ll get. I’ve added a couple of great bundles to this list, so, if this is what you’re in the market for be sure to check them out!
Modular PA Systems
Modular PA systems are a high-end choice for singer songwriters and other solo artists looking to take their music to an audience.
These systems often feature a large subwoofer at the base, for a meaty bottom end, and a tower that houses a mid and high range speaker array.
Some of the newer modular PA Systems feature long-life rechargeable Lithium Ion batteries as well as mains power.
This makes them true ‘go anywhere’ setups. If you plan to play smaller venues with a simple guitar and microphone setup, this is a great way to go.
Good modular PA systems will feature on board EQ and multiple channels, although usually not as many as a traditional PA mixing desk.
All In One / Combo PA Systems
All In One, or combo systems tend to look like standalone speakers at a glance, but look a little closer and you’ll find a couple of input channels and some EQ features.
While they make a great entry-level option, there are some super high-quality combo PA systems out there that will even hold up to professional use in certain settings.
All in one PA systems can also double up as monitors for larger setups, too. If you’ve invested in a bundle or separate component system, a combo acoustic guitar and vocal PA can most likely be linked to that setup, too.
Separate Component Systems
When it comes to separate component systems, the sky is the limit. You can keep it simple, or you can add multiple speakers, monitors, EQ rigs, and other gear ad infinitum.
Separate systems, as you can probably guess, are built up from components purchased separately.
You might love the sound of Mackie speakers, but prefer a Yamaha console – buying separates allows you to build a system that works harmoniously with your sound.
Are Acoustic Guitar And Vocals PA System Expensive?
The word expensive is pretty relative when we’re talking about PA systems. In most cases, a PA system will be as expensive, or more so, than your acoustic guitar.
Just as with your instrument itself, you get what you pay for. Yes, ‘cheap’ systems are available, but chances are that they’ll buzz at higher volumes, distorting your sound.
If you’re looking at a more inexpensive system, stick to the well-known brands (Bose, Mackie, JBL, Peavey, Yamaha to name a few). I’m not saying there aren’t some hidden gems out there, but there are also a lot of lemons, too!
The cost of your acoustic guitar and vocals PA system will also depend on which type of setup you choose. Combo and all in one systems are typically cheapest – expect to pay between $300 to $600+ for a good quality setup.
Modular systems, being a step up from all in ones, are invariably more expensive. A good setup in this category will cost anywhere from $700 to $1000.
Packages and bundles start out at around $700, with prices going up depending on the gear that is bundled in. For example, does the kit contain a Behringer XM8500, or a Shure SM58 microphone? A bundle with premium names like Shure included is going to be more expensive in this case.
Now, when we talk about a separate component acoustic guitar and vocal PA systems, the cost is limited by what you want to spend! Often, people build up their systems over years, buying new pieces when they can afford to, perhaps even starting with a bundle and building up from there.
What To Look For When Buying A PA System For Acoustic Guitars and Vocals?
PA Systems for acoustic guitar and vocals can range from plug and play, through to complicated pro-level setups. Be realistic about what it is you need before committing to purchase.
Will you be playing paid gigs? Will you be playing large venues? What is the ambiance of the venues you’re playing? These are the types of question to ask yourself.
If you’re planning to use your PA for karaoke or garden parties, or even live performances at small café type venues, an all in one or modular system will probably have all the functionality you need.
If you’re playing paid gigs to large groups in large spaces, you’ll need a much greater degree of control over how your PA works and sounds.
This is a bag factor for PA purchasing. Pictures on websites aren’t always representative of how much space a full PA system can take up.
If you need power, but don’t have the room at home, or a van for easy transport, you’ll be better off with a modular or combo PA.
On the other hand, if you do have space and the means for transporting your gear then your options are much greater.
I mean a couple of things when I say power. Firstly, power source – will you be playing outdoor spaces that have limited or no access to mains power?
Combo PA systems and some modular systems are equipped with powerful lithium ion battery systems that allow as much as 10 hours of use.
If access to electricity isn’t an issue, and you’re playing to a large, noisier crowd, chances are nothing short of a bundle or separate component system using powered speakers will work for you.
Noisy environments need the additional wattage to put out sufficient volume.
If you want your live sound to be clean and unaltered, then you don’t need to worry about effects (or ‘FX’), but, if you do want some changes to your vocal or guitar sound then a smaller setup like a combo or modular may not have all the functionality that you’re looking for.
Combos and modular systems will most likely have between two, and maybe 6 inputs on the high end. Some might allow EQ for individual channels, while others will only give EQ for one.
A separate component system can be set up with a desk that allows as many input channels and EQs as you need. Even basic bundles come with as many as 8 channels.
My Reviews Of The Best Systems for Acoustic Guitar and Vocals
The top prize in my insider guide to the best PA system for acoustic guitar and vocals goes to the amazing Bose S1 Pro.
This really is the little PA speaker that could! It sounds fantastic, it’s ultra-portable, and thanks to the design it can stand up straight, lay down flat, and even tilt for a dynamic range of projection patterns.
It’s at the higher end price-wise when it comes to all in one systems, but it’s amazing value when you consider all you’re getting.
It has 2 TRS inputs that can accommodate your XLR lead and a third aux input that can also be connected to a Bluetooth device – perfect if you’re planning plugin and play along to a backing track from your cell phone.
- A limited number of inputs
- Sound becomes a little thin beyond 60 feet from the speaker
The L1 Compact from Bose is the big brother of, and the logical step up from the fantastic S1.
It doesn’t have a huge range of built in features, but everything it does do, it does exceptionally well.
Like the smaller S1, it has 2 guitar and mic inputs (XLR and TRS) plus an aux input for your phone or MP3 player.
It has basic EQ, which I found to be more than adequate for acoustic guitar and vocals, and for simple setup, it also features the same ToneMatch presets as the S1.
Thanks to the Bose ‘Spatial Dispersion Loudspeaker Technology’, this PA system pumps out beautifully clear sound evenly in all directions.
- Excellent sound distribution
- Comes with handy travel case
- 6 Speaker articulated line array
- No Bluetooth input
- No built in reverb
- Not well suited to use as a monitor
The single coolest thing about this loudspeaker is the 2 channel mixer – everything is controlled from the FreePlay Connect app!
This gives you full graphic EQ on a portable combo PA, almost unheard of, especially at this price. It puts out rich sound with its subwoofer and double tweeter setup for up to 15 hours on a single charge.
- Speaker stand bracket
- 2 XLR / TRS combo jacks
- Durable construction
- Some won’t like relying on a smartphone for EQ
- Tends to rattle when used on a speaker pole
The package includes 2 passive speakers, an 8 channel powered mixer, 2 speaker cables, an instrument cable and an XLR cable.
It features a digital reverb system that with one control, gives you access to four great reverb presets which are all ideal for vocals and acoustic guitars.
If you’re using a cardioid mic, you’ll have access to 30V phantom power on 2 different channels, which is a really handy feature!
- Super easy setup
- Ideal for audiences of 200 or more
- The monitor output isn’t powered
- Mixing desk looks intimidating to novices
This, though, is the latest version, with new digital features like a multi-effects processor, USB input, and graphic EQ. There are 8 channels total, with 7 of those being XLR or 1/4” jack inputs.
- Solid build quality
- Built-in feedback location system
- Carrying case prone to cracks
- Bass isn’t the strongest
My Top Pick
The S1 pro isn’t the biggest, it’s not the most powerful, but that doesn’t stop me from loving it!
Despite the fact that it’s not as loud as a 500-watt system, you will be absolutely amazed by how loud this little thing is!
One of my favorite features is its versatility. The housing it built to allow you to point it straight or even tilt it upwards without the use of any poles or stands.
You can use this to tailor sound distribution to the venue you’re playing at. If you want to use it as a monitor in a larger setup, the S1 Pro’s angled design lets you easily point it up towards you on stage for optimum sound.
This model can be used when plugged into a power socket or under its own lithium-ion power.
If you’re plugged into the mains, the battery will continue charging, and thanks to modern battery technology, there’s no need to unplug once it’s fully juiced up.
A full charge does take around 3 hours using the quick charge function, which isn’t exactly rapid, but a full battery does yield up to 11 hours of use, which should be more than enough for most applications.
I really love the Bluetooth input, too. By making the smart device connection wireless I can still have a backing track playing and use my phone or tablet for lyrics or setlists without it being tied down to the speaker.
If you do plug your phone in by the USB, you’ll be pleased to know that it will charge your device too – very handy for extended sets.
If you’re willing and able to invest in two of these, this would make a superb replacement for a bulky bundle or separate component system, for pretty much the same price.
Final Thoughts On the 5 Best PA Systems For Acoustic Guitars And Vocals
A good PA system can make the world of difference to the way you sound live, which, especially for beginners, can make the difference between getting a return invite, or not!
Even if you aren’t ready for the stage yet, a good PA system can be super useful for parties, hosting open mic nights, even for karaoke.
You don’t have to spend a fortune to get a good PA system for your acoustic guitar, but do be honest with yourself about your needs.
I know how tempting it can be to get into a music store, see the fancy mixing desks and huge speakers, and want everything!
But with new technology and ever-shrinking components, it’s now possible to get some super powerful systems that can even be carried with you on the bus if needs be.