Blog beg: portable speakers

This is a bleg, or a blog beg. Is there a brand of portable speakers you like and can recommend — the kind connected by an ordinary audio jack and powered with batteries — that would be convincingly clear and loud for a group to listen to. Say, a podcast sermon or — don’t wince — a hymn track to sing-along to. I’m trying to avoid tinniness, and this is not an area I know well.

By Scott Wells

Scott Wells, 46, is a Universalist Christian minister doing Universalist theology and church administration hacks in Washington, D.C.


  1. We have a pair of separate small speakers that we chose for our small flat panel television (instead of some massive surround sound thing.) The speakers are AudioEngine2.

    They have both RCA and miniplug (headphone) jack input. They are *not* battery operated (do you really need that?) but plug into an AC outlet.

    The quality is really terrific for their size. You could run an Ipod or laptop directly into them and really rock.

    (Research and product choice done by my wife with my enthusiastic affirmation.)

  2. I would suggest two things: first, give up on the dream of not plugging your speakers into AC power. You will not get anywhere near enough volume or clarity for what you want to do with a battery- or USB-powered speaker. You need more wattage, and you need a subwoofer (you specified “not tinny”).

    Go down to your local office big-box store and look at the subwoofer-satellite systems they have for computers. The Logitech system I have is several years old, sounds quite good and cost under $100. I have used it outdoors while showing movies for a crowd of 20-30 neighbors, so something like that should fill a room quite nicely.

    Now, if you can find one of these to listen to in person, it MIGHT do what you’re looking for:
    The rated frequency response only goes down to 122Hz, which means you’re losing the bottom two octaves in our hearing range. But that’s around the fundamental frequency of a male voice, so speaking should be pretty good, if the clarity and volume are adequate.

    But I would count on plugging something in, and if the wireless thing works, then you’ve gotten lucky.

  3. You should take a look at the passports. Investing in a flexible sound system is worth it. A passport 300 can take you from playing cd’s, speaking, all the way to a basic musical ensemble of any genre. And its very portable and simple and can be used as stage monitors after you upgrade later on.

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