“People are surprised at how good portable PA systems can sound today,” says Emily Golding, director of marketing at Anchor Audio, which made its first portable sound systems in a small building in Torrance, Calif., in 1975. Those systems, with untethered-sounding names, such as Liberty and Explore, are still manufactured today, but, says Golding, go through continuous reengineering every four years or so.
Frequency response has improved, though systems are still focused heavily on the speech-intelligibility range, which underscores the category’s primary mission of projecting the spoken word into a wide array of environments.
Portable PA systems have also taken on features such as integrated CD/DVD and MP3 players. And beyond AC-free, battery-powered operation, new systems have become even more wireless; Anchor’s Liberty system incorporates up to two built-in, 16-channel UHF wireless receivers.