Top 5 PA Systems for Cars & Trucks

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Have you ever wanted to install a PA system in your car or truck? Are you considering buying one?

If your answer to both questions is yes, then you’ve come to the right place. We are here to talk about PA systems for cars and trucks – we will discuss their working principle, prices, different use scenarios, and of course, we will talk about legal limitations.

After a short introduction, you can find our selection of best PA systems for cars and trucks.

Why Would You Buy a PA System for Your Car?

Don’t you hate it when someone cuts you off, or when someone is using a phone while driving? Wouldn’t be great if you could use a PA system to yell at them or just politely inform them that their behavior is unacceptable.

Well, unfortunately, you can’t use a PA system for that. Not because it’s rude, but because it’s not safe. And it can be really annoying.

Apart from police cars, fire department vehicles, ambulance vehicles, and other vehicles with special licenses, no one should use car PA systems on public roads. The use of car PA systems may not be strictly prohibited by the local traffic laws in your state, but it’s definitely not recommended.

So, why would you buy one? Where can you use it? Well, they can be used for car shows, parades, in construction zones, on the golf courses (installed on golf carts), firing ranges.

They can also be installed on boats. If you obtain a proper license, you can also use them for political campaigning and for other forms of mobile communication and advertising.

Are They Expensive?

No, not really. But they can be. The cheapest are priced around $20-$30. You can find a pretty good-sounding and very loud PA system for $100-$150.

However, the price can be significantly higher. For example, the price of car PA systems made in the US (like AmpliVox PA systems), can be $1000 or more, especially if they are extremely loud and powerful, and if they come with wireless microphones and a bunch of additional features.

Both cheap and pricey units are very loud, but there’s a difference when it comes to overall performance and sound clarity. Pricier units sound so much cleaner.

So, if you’re going to use your car PA system for talking and not for sirens, you should probably buy a pricier unit. 

Our Top Picks

This post contains affiliate links. See the affiliate disclaimer here.

ProductPriceOverall RatingReview
AmpliVox Sound Cruiser S312Check Price on Amazon5.0Read Review
Lamphus SoundAlertCheck Price on Amazon4.7Read Review
Xprite SIREN G2Check Price on Amazon4.4Read Review
YHAAVALE CJB200PCheck Price on Amazon4.4Read Review
ALAVENTE Car SirenCheck Price on Amazon4.0Read Review

How do They Work?

PA systems for cars and trucks come in two shapes – regular speakers and bullhorns. Both speakers and bullhorns come with dedicated amplifiers.

You can install those amplifiers inside your car and supply power through the cigarette lighter or wire them directly to your car battery. 

Now, PA speakers work the same way as other speakers. They just have higher sensitivity and can handle a bit more power than other speakers of similar size.

PA Speaker for Cars

PA Speaker for Cars

Bullhorns are similar to speakers but have a little bit different working principle. A bullhorn is a cone-shaped horn that amplifies voice or any other sound that comes into the narrow end of the bullhorn.

The amplified sound waves travel to the wider end. The bullhorn on itself amplifies your voice by matching the acoustic impedance of the incoming sound to the air.

That way, greater sound power is being radiated. In addition, inside the bullhorn, there’s a built-in speaker and an amplifier, which make the sound even louder.

So, PA bullhorns are fairly similar to speakers, but the sound is more directional and often louder.

PA bullhorns for cars

PA bullhorns for cars

Are They Very Loud?

PA systems for cars and trucks can be extremely loud. Painfully loud. Even ear-piercingly loud. As you may know, the pain threshold, in terms of sound loudness, is 120dB. This kind of sound can permanently damage your hearing in a very short time.

Even cheaper car PA systems can reach this pain threshold. Larger and pricier units can reach 130dB or even 140dB, which almost equals the noise that jet engines make during takeoff. 

Are They Legal?

Buying and installing car PA systems is not against any law. Using a car PA system, on the other hand, could be a violation. However, it’s not a violation under all circumstances. 

In some states, the use of mobile PA systems and PA systems, in general, is regulated through various laws. Most commonly, it’s regulated through traffic laws and laws about noise pollution. 

In California, for example, using a sound amplification that can be heard from 50ft+ away from the vehicle (while driving) is considered illegal.

In Georgia, it’s illegal if the sound is so loud that it can be heard from 100ft or more from a vehicle.

In Massachusetts, it’s illegal to use a horn, bell, or any other device that creates harsh, unreasonable, or objectionable noise. In most laws, you can find a detailed explanation (and values in dBs) on what kind of noise is considered harsh, objectionable, or unreasonable. 

One thing you should never do is using the PA system on public roads and while driving.

Even if it’s not illegal in your state, it’s very irresponsible, and it could scare or annoy other drivers. It could even cause an accident.

So, you should probably save the PA system for off-road use. Also, you should explore the local and state laws, and see if you need a license to use your PA system in public spaces.

Now that you know the basics, you can check out our selection of top 5 PA systems for cars and trucks. We did our best to make a comprehensive selection of PA systems for every budget. Hopefully, you’ll find something that meets your requirements and fits your budget.


Best Overall – AmpliVox Sound Cruiser S312

AmpliVox Sound Cruiser S312

Editor’s Rating: 4.9 out of 5 stars (4.9 / 5)

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Impressions

AmpliVox is one of only a few manufacturers that actually makes its products in the US. That’s why their products are more expensive, compared to others, but that’s also why their products are of higher quality.

They are louder, more durable, and more reliable than cheap and affordable car PA systems made in China and elsewhere.

This specific system (S312) includes two bullhorns, an amplifier with controls, and a wired handheld dynamic microphone If you need a wireless headset mic, try SW312.

If you need louder sound, you could try S314 (four bullhorns, wired handheld mic) or SW314 (four bullhorns and a wireless headset with a microphone). 

Besides the bullhorns, amplifier, and a mic, you will get the mounting kit (suction cups and tie-down straps), DC car adapter, battery clip cable, and an amazing 6-year warranty. You will never get this kind of warranty with those cheap PA systems. 

The bullhorns are weather-resistant and can be used in various weather conditions (hot, cold, rain, snow).

You can easily mount the bullhorns to the top of your car or truck. The bullhorns connect to the amplifier. The amp’s power output is rated at 50W.

You can supply the power to the amp in three ways. You can use the included DC car adapter and plug it into the cigarette lighter (the easiest way).

You could buy 10 D-cell batteries and insert them into the battery compartment. This will give you almost 200 hours of continuous use. Finally, you can wire it directly to your car battery (the hardest way).

The included amplifier allows you to connect three microphones (dynamic, condenser, wireless) and one analog audio source (via 3.5mm line input). The front panel also houses two 6.35mm speaker jacks for connecting bullhorns, as well as a 3.5mm line-out port for recording.

50-Watt AmpliVox amplifier

50-Watt AmpliVox amplifier

The amp also has a siren button and volume controls for the mic and for AUX input.

AmpliVox S312 PA system delivers very loud and very clear sound. The advertised range is half a mile.

Advantages

  • 6-year warranty
  • Easy to install (comes with suction cups and tie-down straps)
  • Weather-resistant bullhorns
  • Comes with a wired dynamic mic
  • The included amp can be powered in three different ways (DC, direct wiring to the car battery, rechargeable D-cell batteries)
  • Connect mp3 player or phone via 3.5mm audio input
  • Use line-out port to record your presentation
  • Siren button
  • Very loud and very clear sound output

Disadvantages

  • Very expensive

Best PA System for Cars and Trucks Under $100 – Lamphus SoundAlert Emergency Police Siren Kit

Lamphus SoundAlert Emergency Police Siren Kit

Editor’s Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars (4.7 / 5)

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Impressions

Lamphus SoundAlert PA systems are a much more affordable option than the previously reviewed AmpliVox.

Depending on your needs and budget, you can choose between three systems of different loudness (124dB – speaker, 130dB – bullhorn, and 140dB -speaker).

We are reviewing the cheapest 124dB Lamphus PA system. This thing is our top choice under $100. 

The packaging contains one 100W amp that doubles as the controller unit, one powerful speaker, detachable mic, mounting brackets, wiring harness, installation instructions, and user manual. 

The amplifier comes with two replaceable fuses. All the controls (mode switches, volume knob, horn/siren switch) and mic input are located on the front panel.

The front panel also houses two auxiliary switches that can be used to power additional equipment (like warning lights). 

The speaker is very rugged and very compact. It’s only 2″ thick and 6″ tall, and it comes with all the necessary mounting equipment (bracket and screws).

It is IP66 certified (resistant to high-pressure water jets and dustproof). The frequency response is focused on the midrange and low-treble frequencies (400Hz – 4kHz). 

The unit has six working modes – stand-by, radio, and 4 different sirens (Yelp, Wail, and two versions of Hi-Lo siren). 

You can wire the siren unit to the horn relay or your vehicle, which allows you to activate the horn through the push button on your steering wheel. It can also be connected to your radio and used as a public announcement system.

Finally, you can use the included detachable mic for PA purposes. Just press the button on the mic and start talking.

The unit delivers more than satisfying performance for the price. It’s very loud and the sound coming out of the speaker is fairly clear and comprehensible. 

Advantages

  • Affordable (under $100)
  • Max loudness – 124dB (higher than the pain threshold)
  • Comes with all the necessary installation equipment
  • Easy to install and use
  • Rugged speaker with aluminum housing (IP66 certified)
  • 6 modes – radio rebroadcast, push-to-talk mic, and 4 different sirens
  • Great price/performance ratio

Disadvantages

  • You have to hold the microphone right in front of your mouth

Best PA System for Cars and Trucks Under $80 – Xprite SIREN G2

Xprite SIREN G2

Editor’s Rating: 4.8 out of 5 stars (4.8 / 5)

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Impressions

Xprite is fairly similar to the previous Lamphus PA system. It has a similar feature set and offers similar performance. Xprite system is somewhat louder (up to 130dB) and cheaper.

One of the reasons for the lower price might be the lack of IP certification. Just like the Lamphus system, Xprite also has a very rugged and durable speaker housing, but it’s not officially IP certified.

The box contains a heavy-duty speaker, 150W amp (doubles as the controller unit), wiring harness, mounting brackets, a detachable mic with coiled cable, installation manual, and user manual.

The speaker is only 1.5″ thick and 6″ tall, so finding the right place for it should not be a huge hassle.  It’s quite hefty, and it feels solid.

Running the wires from your car battery to the amplifier could be tricky, so you should pay a professional if you don’t have any relevant knowledge and experience.

Xprite G2

The front panel of the amplifier unit houses all the controls and most inputs.

From left to right, you have a mic input, volume knob, mode selector (six modes), horn button, siren/horn switch, and two auxiliary switches for connecting and powering additional equipment (warning lights, strobe lights).

The amplifier offers you a selection of different sirens (hi-lo, wail, traffic, yelp). It also allows you to use the mic for public announcements. You just have to press the button and talk. Unlike the previous Lamphus SoundAlert, this Xprite system can’t rebroadcast radio.

The overall performance is very good. It’s painfully loud, and the sirens are really cool. When using the microphone, you have to hold it directly in front of your mouth. Otherwise, it won’t pick up your voice well, and the sound will be muffled.

Advantages

  • Affordable (priced under $80)
  • Max loudness – 130dB (higher than the pain threshold)
  • Comes with all the necessary installation equipment
  • Rugged speaker with aluminum housing
  • The speaker is only 1.5″ thick
  • Various modes and sirens – push-to-talk mic, wail, traffic, yelp, hi-lo
  • Great performance for the price

Disadvantages

  • Can’t rebroadcast radio
  • Lacks IP certification

YHAAVALE CJB200P

YHAAVALE CJB200P

Editor’s Rating: 4.6 out of 5 stars (4.6 / 5)

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Impressions

YHAAVALE CJB200P is similar to the previous Lamphus and Xprite car PA systems but, instead of a compact speaker, you get a bullhorn. It’s not as loud as the previous two, but it can still reach painfully loud volume levels (up to 122dB). 

The packaging includes a plastic bullhorn speaker, a very compact amplifier with all the controls, a push-to-talk detachable microphone, all the necessary installation equipment (wiring harness and brackets), installation instructions, and a user manual. 

The speaker is made of very hard plastic (not metal like the previous units), and it’s rugged and durable. It is IP66 certified, which means it’s dustproof and water-resistant. The frequency response spans from 300Hz to 5kHz.

The included amplifier is quite small and should be easy to install. On the front panel, you have all the necessary controls – mode selector, volume knob, horn button, siren/horn switch, and two auxiliary switches for powering additional equipment (strobe and warning lights). The front panel also houses the mic input.

Like all the previous units, YHAAVALE CJB200P offers you a selection of different sirens (hi-lo, wail, traffic, yelp, etc.). You can also use the included mic for PA purposes.

The performance is satisfying. It’s fairly loud. The sound is somewhat muffled, but still very comprehensible. Still, it’s not on par with pricier units.

Advantages

  • Affordable (priced under $70)
  • Max loudness – 122dB (louder than the pain threshold)
  • Comes with all the necessary installation equipment
  • IP66 certified bullhorn
  • Various modes and sirens – push-to-talk mic, wail, traffic, yelp, hi-lo
  • Very good performance for the price

Disadvantages

  • Bullhorns are a little bit bigger than speakers, which makes them a little bit harder to install
  • You can’t use this PA system to rebroadcast radio

Best Cheap PA System for Cars and Trucks – ALAVENTE Car Siren

ALAVENTE Car Siren

Editor’s Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars (4.7 / 5)

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Impressions

ALAVENTE car siren is one of the cheapest car PA systems on the market. It’s definitely not on par with the previous units, but it’s still a viable choice if you really can’t or don’t want to spend more than 30 bucks on a PA system. 

The packaging only includes a plastic bullhorn and a push-to-talk mic with all the control buttons and siren selectors. There’s no amplifier – you are supposed to install the bullhorn and connect it to the battery and to the controller/microphone. 

The included bullhorn, just like the rest of the system, is made of cheap plastic and doesn’t feel very durable. The bullhorn is almost 7″ tall, 6″ wide, and 2.4″ tall. Considering its size, it may be harder to install than a speaker.

The controller has 5 buttons on its front panel. Each button activates a different sound (siren, alarm, yelp, wail, fire). There’s also the push-to-talk button on the right side. 

ALAVENTE Car Siren is fairly loud, but not as loud as the previous units. The max SPL level is 110dB. The mic muffles your voice, but the sound is still comprehensible.

Advantages

  • Very cheap (under $30)
  • Max loudness – 110dB
  • Comes with all the necessary installation equipment
  • Various modes and sirens – push-to-talk mic, wail, traffic, yelp, hi-lo
  • Satisfying performance for the price

Disadvantages

  • Feels like a toy – very cheap plastic build
  • Doesn’t come with a dedicated amp unit (all the controls are on the microphone)
  • Lacks volume controls

This concludes our selection of top PA systems for cars and trucks. Hopefully, you now at least know what to expect from a car PA system and what to look for.

For more information about the installation process, read the following text. If you have further questions, or if you want to share your experience, leave us a comment below.


How to Install a PA System for Cars and Trucks?

PA systems for cars are simple, but installing them, mounting the speaker and controller units, and wiring them, can be a hassle.

So, if you don’t have any knowledge of car mechanics, it’s maybe smarter to pay for professional installation. You can spend hours, maybe even days, trying to install it, while a professional installer can do it much quicker. 

In case you are a serious DIYer, here’s a simple step-by-step tutorial, with some basic instructions on where to install the speaker and controller/amplifier, and how to wire the system.

Step 1: Find the spot

Depending on the car type, this can be a more or less tricky task. As you’re already aware, there’s very little available space under the hood.

The easiest way would be to mount the speaker or the bullhorn on the roof. However, that’s not a great option if you are looking for a clean setup as it disrupts car aesthetics.

The good news is that some PA systems allow temporary installation -instead of screws, they come with suction cups, so you can mount them and remove them in just a few minutes. 

Removable car PA systems with suction cups

Removable car PA systems with suction cups (source – AmpliVox Sound Systems YouTube Channel)

If you’re looking for a permanent setup and you want it to look clean, you will have to work harder. In some cases, much harder.

You will need to drill holes and find the best way to run the wires. Whether you choose to mount the speaker on the roof or hide it somewhere under the hood, you will have to choose the place carefully and measure if the speaker can fit the space.

When it comes to under-the-hood installation, most people choose to mount it at the very front – behind the bumper or under that plastic cover right at the front end of the bonnet.

The most important thing to avoid is placing the PA speaker/bullhorn next to components that create a lot of heat.

The most suitable places for installing the PA system for car

The most suitable places for installing the PA system for car

Step 2: Mount the speaker/bullhorn

Mounting the speaker will usually require drilling two holes somewhere in the structure of your car.

By itself, drilling is not that difficult, but since we are dealing with places that are not easily reachable, planning is essential. Mark the spots and find the best way to drill the holes. In some cases, it will be fairly easy. In other cases, it may be quite frustrating.

Step 3: Wiring

If you opt for temporary installation, you can simply plug the controller into the cigarette lighter (PA systems sometimes come with the car power adapter) and connect the speaker to the amplifier. You don’t even have to hide the wires.

However, if you want a clean permanent solution, wiring is the trickiest part.

You can either wire the speaker directly to the car battery, and also run the wire from the speaker to the amplifier/controller, or you can run the wire from the speaker to the driver’s cab, connect it to the controller unit (amplifier), and use the included car power adapter to connect the unit to the cigarette lighter.

It sounds easy when we say it, but it’s not. Trust us. It’s very hard to find the best path and hide the wires. 

Wiring is the hardest part

Wiring is the hardest part

Step 4: Install the controller unit

Finally, you have to mount the controller unit, which is usually much easier than mounting the speaker/bullhorn. Space is still very cramped, but not as much as the space under the hood.

Step by Step Tutorial – How To Install a PA System for Car

Is it illegal to have a PA system in your car?

Buying or installing a car PA system is not illegal. Using it, however, may be against the law. It all depends on the circumstances and local traffic and noise pollution laws.

In most cases, there’re traffic laws and laws about noise pollution that prohibit the use of PA systems and car speaker systems that emit objectionable and unreasonable noise.

Different states have different definitions of what is considered harsh and unreasonable.

So, the best answer we can give you is to check out your local traffic and noise pollution laws and see what’s allowed and what’s not. 

Which is the best car PA system to buy?

We would recommend US-made Amplivox SoundCruiser car PA systems. They are very loud and deliver a very clear sound. The problem is – they are quite expensive.

So, if you are not prepared to spend $500 or even $1000 on a PA system, you can get a very loud one (like SoundAlert or Xprite 8) for approx. $100-$200.

Just like Amplivox PA systems, they are extremely loud, but they are not as clear as higher-quality AmpliVox systems.

What is the loudest PA Speaker?

Numerous PA systems for cars can reach painful or even unbearable dB levels (up to 140dB). You just have to check the max SPL when buying a PA system. If you’re looking for some suggestions, check out our selection of top PA systems for cars and trucks. 

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