Published on April 9th, 2013 | by Greg0
Do It Live With The Alto iPA Music System
Want to host your own karaoke parties? Throw events in your house with a DJ? Turn your backyard into an instant dance club? Or entertain everyone in the park with your act? There are lots of ways to use a powerful, portable loudspeaker with 400 watts of power- at a church, theater, or any sort of event where you want amplified sound. We’ve looked at a lot of interesting audio gear in the past few days, from Ion’s bedside table dock to a slick USB microphone and even some monitors that can help turn your desk and computer into a studio.
Today, we’ve got the Alto Professional iPA Music System- the ‘i’, as you might expect, indicates Apple compatibility. Unusually for a PA system- we haven’t seen many others like it on the market- there is an integrated iPad dock and a built-in 30-pin connector for easy charging and playback for older iPads. You can use various apps (we tried some karaoke ones) and still have control of your tablet easily with the iPad in the holder, and it stays put even if you move the system around. There isn’t a stand in the box, but there is a very solid microphone included, the Alto Professional ADM10 dynamic mic, with a 10-foot cord that allows you to sing or speak without being too tethered to the PA system. And, handily, there’s a mic holder included as well.
Most public address systems that we’ve seen like this emphasize volume over fidelity- cheaper ones end up making music sound tinny and distorted. We were impressed with the iPA- we wouldn’t use it for audiophile listening, but music sounds crisp and clear. In terms of output, this thing can boom- loud enough to fill a giant room and maybe a gymnasium, with clean bass and extremely solid vocals. There’s even an instant EQ adjustment that switches between karaoke and music modes (a contour switch).
There are most of the usual connections- RCA stereo inputs and an XLR-1/4 jack for your microphone or instruments (keyboards, drum kits). Each has a dedicated volume control, via fairly small knobs on the control panel. We also tried using an iPod Touch and an older iPhone with the 30-pin connector and they worked well, though they won’t fit in the mount of course. You can also pair two of these together using the XLR ouput (we didn’t try this but it’s be perfect for bigger spaces, and you select from left, right or mono channels). There are a couple of things missing though- you’ll need to supply your own cable to use any mini-jack device like your CD player or iPod, and get an RCA adapter as well. Plus, we’ve seen PA systems that include a nice place to store everything, but the iPA doesn’t have space unfortunately. The handle is one the side, as well, which can be a bit awkward.
Alto makes a variety of models, including one with Bluetooth wireless compatibility! But the iPA seems like a great musician’s friend- record your tracks on GarageBand on your iPad, then take the whole kit on the road without a need for a laptop or anything else. Whether you’re hosting a meeting or setting up a kid’s magic show, this is a perfect portable loudspeaker for anyone who needs to travel with an iPad. Available now, online and in stores, for $300.