We usually don’t give too much thought to the loudspeakers we see at events and concerts. We take for granted the fact that we can hear music and speech with perfect clarity even when we’re sitting far away from the stage. We never think about the plugs, wires, or lack there of used to power those speakers. It wasn’t always like this, however, and the best portable PA systems like the ones we sell here at Anchor Audio haven’t always been around. Here’s a little background information on how the best portable PA system you can find on the market today originated.
PA system is a short way of saying public address system, which is an electronic sound amplification and distribution system. The system usually contains a microphone, speaker, and an amplifier, which allows a person to project their voice loudly over long distances. Some systems also have mixing consoles that make them suitable for more complicated events. Other systems, like those manufactured by Anchor Audio, are all turn-key portable PA systems – meaning they are battery powered and have the amplifier and wireless receivers built into the unit which means that everything is in one place and easy to use. They’re used every day in schools, churches, and venue halls, as well as in public and commercial buildings.
Rumor has it, the first PA system was invented in Napa, California, in 1910 by two sound engineers at a company called Magnavox. They eventually filed the country’s first patent for a moving coil loudspeaker in 1911 and made a dynamic loudspeaker in 1915. They tested this product by placing the loudspeaker on their laboratory roof and broadcasting sound. Reports state that the sound could be heard one mile away. They later refined the system and connected a phonograph to be able to broadcast prerecorded music.
The first reported public use of a PA system was when California Governor, Hiram Johnson, was too sick to give a speech in person and used the Magnavox system to give a speech from the comfort of his own home. A wired microphone was cabled from Johnson’s house to the PA system placed at the Civic Auditorium in San Francisco. Magnavox continued to develop the system, and by 1919, they patented the standard 25 Watt amplifier. This system, a very early forerunner of the best portable PA system found today, became widespread and was even used by presidents William Taft and Woodrow Wilson. In the early 1920s, the Marconi Company understood the potential of the PA system and dedicated an entire department to focus on the R&D of the best portable PA system.
From early inventions in 1911 to the sophisticated systems sold by Anchor Audio, PA systems have certainly come a long way!