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Pyle Pro PWMA-120 Review and comparison to the MiPro MA-101
A detailed review by M Ghia
Note- this very detailed. Please do not post that it is long. Just scroll down to the end if you do not want a complete understanding of this unit. Others who OWN the unit are welcomed to put their own two cents in after.

The Pyle Pro PWA-120 is rechargeable, portable PA system with two built- in VHF channel mics. (One mic as a lav or headset option included.) http://www.pyleaudio.com/itemdetail.asp?......=PWMA120

The average US street price as of this date is $150 delivered. I was able to use a coupon to get mine delivered for about $126.

Currently, it would seem to be a low cost solution if it lived up to its claim of 150 Watt peak, 75 Watt RMS. I was in need of a rechargeable system with built in mics that would cross over from small house parties to fire house halls. Small size and fast set up and music playing ability was also the goal. I usually do not have the time to separate a case and run wires and tripods. I wanted to see if there was a small unit that I can just put down and turn on and have it reach 100 people.

If you have never priced small systems that pack a punch, you might be shocked to see the prices at $400 and up for portable units.

What other systems are on the market that would cost less and do the job?

Could the Pyle Pro fit the bill? At the end I will compare it to the popular MiPro MA-101 system to see how it stacks up. The results were surprising.

I did not have any illusions that this would be as high quality as $400-800 systems. However, I feel some of those systems are over priced to start with.
The cost of technology is always changing and there is always something new on the market that can sometimes compete or at the least, DO THE JOB.

The PWMA-120 comes with many features and extras one might not expect for $150. (I expect them but compared to systems costing at $150-200 more, some of these features are welcomed to see.) I will go into some of these features later but two are a built in cassette deck with record and two speakers- a woofer and compression tweeter.

Intial Impressions:

The initial look and feel is of “boom box” quality grey plastic. The PWMA-120 lacks any cosmetic design but seems to be as compact as it can be. The plastic front grill will protect the speakers but one wonders if it blocks some sound and allows for some noticed “plastic vibration” during some heavier bass sounds. The PWMA-120 lacks a protective transport design. There is only one position it can be transported; the upright position. There are knobs and unprotected ports on most of the system that could be damaged if putting this unit in a case or if it tipped over in the back of a car.
The base has molded feet and does not have the option to put a pole mount. Not that I expected it to come with a pole mount but if the base was flat, one could have been added by the user. With small systems, the closer to the audience ear level, the louder they will sound.

At about 14 lbs, one can appreciate the retractable handle or better yet the included soft carry bag with padded strap. The bag is designed so that the system will be fully functional. Black Nylon and clear plastic with die cuts allows everything to be used while in the bag. The front and back are mesh to allow the sound to transmit and there is a convenient side pock that will hold your ball and lav mics but not the head set mic. The bag zippers around the unit and has a cut out for so you can still access the handle.

However, most will enjoy using the over the shoulder strap.
The benefit of having this black bag included is that it improves the look of this system. All features can be used with the bag in place.

The disappointment is that it does not PROTECT most of the important parts of the unit.

It is a CARRYING BAG and not a protective bag. I have seen material like this before. The clear plastic may indeed yellow and crack over time.
What would have made the bag an excellent value, would be to have flaps to keep dust out of the unit. Many ports are wide open and dirt and dust could easily find its way inside. It would not be hard to ADD IN some flaps on your own.

My first impression of mic transmitter was that it is made of cheap plastic, over sized and hollow. But a side by side comparison to my Nady 101 mic and the Mipro lav showed that the PWMA-120 was about the same width and thickness but a at most ½” longer.

The PWMA-120 has plastic mic heads on the headset and lav and larger diameter wire is used. The mic clip is plastic and too large. I believe mic clips should be as small as possible so as not to detract from a costume.

And the headset is a TOY. It is plastic and does NOT adjust plus it has weird ear pads which will make it appear that you are listening to music. By no means can one look good using this mic. The mic head with screen scream 1980s and the over all set up is very uncomfortable. The mic works well but the aesthetics will just kill it from being used. One could remove the cord and remake the head set to get it to look better. ($1500 nude high end acoustical head set mics can be purchased elsewhere that would plug into the transmitter if you really wanted the modern headset effect with the best quality.)

The transmitter pack has a plastic molded clip. Many packs have a spring metal clip that could be replaced. It is highly unlikely the clip on the PWMA-120 can be replaced. It appears to be fused onto the body and while it seemed strong, there is a greater chance that in the wrong conditions it could snap.

I enjoyed seeing the positive lock system on the transmitter packs. Both lavaliere and Headset have 1/8” male ends that plug into the mic pack as well as threads to screw the connection into the transmitter pack. There is no way the connection can be accidentally knocked out. There is also a gain on the transmitter pack, standby position and battery low LED. This is an example of higher end features on a lower end system that I did not expect to see. Be warned that the gain/volume on the mic is a tad loose so under a costume can be bumped to change your volume. But in general use it holds its position fine.

The Dynamic ball microphone has a plastic body and metal head which contains a built -in windscreen. It also has the three position switch with low battery LED. The mic is VERY sensitive. Sadly this means that nearly all hand movement on the mic shaft is picked up by the head. The body would need to be insulated some how from the head to eliminate this. However, as with the other mics, it works.

The ball mic is set up on a SEPARATE channel than the lavaliere. If you add in a mic through the ¼” side port, you could run three microphones at one time without interference.

One design flaw is that the wireless mic volumes are on the front of the unit. This is not a huge problem however; they also added red LED meters which while an SFX extra (and maybe good for setting volume and trouble shooting,), could be a distraction for the audience. The audience will be seeing the LEDs moving up and down your entire show.

They also included two green LEDs on the front of the unit that indicate if the mic is ON or in Stand-by. This is another example of extra features one would not expect a low cost unit. The flaw is having the controls and indicators on the front when the person needing the see/adjust the features, would be behind the unit to reduce feedback.

The cassette player works fine but there is a little extra noise that can be heard on the line when the unit is at high volume.

There is a USLESS IC chip feature that appeared to have potential. You can record, loop and repeat 200 seconds of sounds from the tape or mic. Unfortunately the instructions are poorly translated into English and the feature does not work as it should.
In a nut shell, you can not record to the chip without having the play button pressed and it does not seem to retain the information after the button is released. If you use your cassette it will erase the stored sample and start prepping for the next sample.

I would forget this feature ever existed, since it is a waste of space without a practical purpose. If the info can be stored for later use, than one could put a voice over announcement on the IC.
Again, this has potential to be a higher end feature (sampler) but they fell short on that one. One person received the PWMA-120 and their cassette did not work but the IC was stuck playing a drum roll. SO it is possible that the proper procedure needs to be explained to store a sample, but in all my tests, it is a temporary feature not to be bothered with.

The system is over rated at 150 W peak (75 Watts RMS). I suspected as much when a Pyle CS stated
“All I can tell from actually using the speakers is that they sound good for their size, but are by no means a PA system.
Wattage ratings can be pretty confusing, and don't reflect actual output, but rather the power consumption of the drivers...

Pyle Pro
Customer Support”

This is a true statement the system might use that much power but is not putting out the decibels one would assume as system using that much power should. The problem is that many systems in the audio world are advertised in the format of WATTAGE. Most consumers equate more watts with more Decibels. I see some manufacturers like ANCHOR advertise their units in the more comparable DECIBLE level specs.

In a separate email the Pyle CS wrote”

“The specs for the wireless PAs are provided to us by the OEM factory in China.
As for frequency range, I do not have that spec for this model.
I cannot confirm or deny the specs as I have no way of testing the units myself.
All I can say is that the unit doesn't sound VERY loud when I have tried it, but was adequate for classroom settings
For more power, have a look at some of our larger models.”

Based on a comparison test, my guess is that the actual output is closer to a 20 Watt rated system.

I was originally excited to find a two speaker system. I used an old Radio Shack Guitar PA with Mic input for years and found the two speaker system to provide a better sound range.
The PWMA-120 was the only system I found with a woofer (6”) and tweeter (3”) set up under $225. Although in this case, the sound quality is a little muddy. It might help the voice quality if they used a horn tweeter. Instead they used a compression tweeter.

Other features- This system is packed with extra features that one might not expect on the lower end gear. The treble and bass controls work but do not expect huge changes. They do the job.
The ¼” line- in and the ¼” line-out work. The separate mic volume control provides enough power. The RCA stereo line-in works with my CD player but there is not an auxiliary volume control as with the tape player. Your line input source will have to have its own volume control if you do not want to run at the master level.

The tape player volume is a bit on the low side. I had to have it all the way up on a dub tape. Commercial tapes are a little better. Most will most likely not be using the cassette thanks to MP3 and CD. There is enough stretch in the mesh that you could slip and MP3 player into the carry bag with the wires hooked into the side RCA jacks.

Testing the system:

Both mics work well. The lavaliere is plagued, as with any other lav, in that you have to turn the gain up more than with a mic closer to your face. Surprisingly, when compared to the NADY 101 plugged into the side, the PWMA-120 built in mic could be turned up louder with little feedback. The NADY mic would feed back a lower volume. I could stand closer to the unit using the supplied mic before feedback occurred. In fact, I could stand closer than I thought without having to turn the system down. This is a plus since most who use small units work in smaller spaces and can not always stay behind their speaker.

Of course the headset and the ball mic provide a greater volume than the lav. Maybe this is where they get their higher RMS ratings. The reality is that many performers use a hands free wireless so they can handle their props and it is that mic we must focus on more. Over all, the lav does the job thanks to the adjustable gain on the pack. It is neither the most sensitive, nor the smallest profile but it did crackle or clip out.

The hand held mic is sensitive and distorts some if held too close to the mouth.

Range: I was able to get 40-50 feet and it operated fine. I did not test it beyond that point.
The ball mic seems to loose the signal if not in direct line of site after 20 feet. I would hear a little cut out as I would turn away from the system at that distance or greater. It is possible that the supplied Chinese batteries were not the best quality and it was hard to tell if they were designed to work with wireless systems.

Battery life was fair but leaving it on over night, as with most transmitters, will drain out your battery. The low battery LED functions well to let you know the battery is low.

Speaking of battery life, the rechargeable LEAD ACID battery in the unit lives up to its claims. For some reason the first charge I made did not hold for more than 2 hours but the second time it held for 3 hours 15 minutes before not functioning properly. This was repeated a second time to be sure.
The test was playing a cassette tape and leaving the mics turned on until the unit showed signs of failure. After the time listed the tape would try to play and the sound would clip out. The battery indicator would light.
This was more than rated 3 hours using the most power. The mics seemed to work a little after that but I did not do further tests. It is my guess that if you do not use the cassette deck continuously, as well have the volume up loud, that you can get more than 4 hours of battery life. If only using one mic you might get 8 hours.

The Lead Acid battery requires over night to fully charge. One might want to get a spare and have it charged. An added bonus feature is a 12 V DC line-in to charge from a car battery. You will always have you’re A/C cord as a back up and for charging but getting a spare would allow you to quickly change the battery just in case you are not near a power source. After doing some searching you can find a battery that will fit for about $20 US delivered. The style of battery is used in other rechargeable systems like alarm systems.

There is also a replaceable fuse to protect the unit from a surge.

Sound quality-
Noise on the line- As with most systems, when you have them turned up, there can be a small amount of noise heard. The better the system, the less noise on the line. This system has some noise that is noticeable when the volume is past the ½ way mark. BUT it not all that noticeable when the unit is being used. Turning down the treble will help but then that can cause other sound issues.

The sound quality is a bit muddy. There was a lack of crisp-clarity, one would hope for. Could one change the speakers to a higher quality? I wanted to see the quality of the speakers inside.
I tried to take the shell off the unit but one screw was stuck. Since I was not sure if I was keeping this unit, I did not force it. I did get a peek and the unit seemed to be stuffed with a white poly-batting which I assume is to help deaden vibration. The batting seems to be all over the electronics and that could cause some overheating or shorter life of the components. Since I could not open the unit fully, I can not say if the batting was too close to anything it should not be on.

With PA systems the more professional systems allow for optimization for voice projection or for music. The magical entertainer might have both so to stay professional one should not have their music sound as if it is coming from a tin can. No matter what BOSE tells you, bigger is better. You will get a greater dynamic range with a larger woofer and a greater voice projection with a HORN style tweeter. This system just will not reproduce music very well. One can get much better sound out of a portable “boom box”. If it was not for a built in mic in the PWMA-120 I would say you can spend the same amount for a portable stereo and get richer (and louder) sounds.

LIVE TESTS: Testing at home base is one thing but what about some real world testing? Ok- I took the fully charged unit to a few shows.
I enjoyed the convenience of just setting the unit down, turning it on and making one quick adjustment. No worry of power cords to trip on and no extra down time unpacking a separate wireless mic receiver.
One show was in a spacious home basement with about 20 active children. The volume was sufficient but still turned up about ¾ and the tape was still up 100%. That could be due to the age of the tape but if I needed more, I would not have had the juice to give it.

I was able to use the lav and get enough volume without feedback.
Bringing a sound system in the home seems to add value to your show.

The other two shows were at a fire house style halls. I felt the tape did not have enough power and would have to be recorded with higher levels. I would guess it was just boarder line not being loud enough if the room was full. I will mention the unit was on a chair not the ground. It might have been up higher to fill that room. I would say it was under powered in that room for the tape and the lav. The ball mic would have carried to the back.
So if you have more than 30 loud children or gabbing adults, it might be undersized. I had the volume turned up 100% on all devices. If the room was full and they were not quiet, I think the ball mic or headset would have provided enough volume.

The Question: Based on my experience I wondered how it compares to something more expensive. Was the PWMA- a weak system compared to something with a better name and a higher price tag?

Thanks to Jack Disbrow and his MiPRO MA-101. http://www.mipro.com.tw/products/e/ma101.asp The MiPRO unit weighs about 4 pounds less including the tripod and is much smaller with one 5” speaker and sans the tape player. The MA-101 is rated at 27 watts RMS at 4 ohms.

We placed both units outside in the free air and tested the mics and volume range of both.
I as not able to get the PWMA-120 off the ground to the same height as the MA-101 on the tripod but the results were surprising.

The MA-101 was louder BUT NOT BY MUCH. The MA-101 had room to increase the volume since it matched the PWMA-120’s full volume at about half on its volume dial. INTERESTINGLY increasing the volume on the MA-101 DID NOT provide a noticeable increase in volume. Instead it did nothing or created feedback with its mic.

Our outdoor tests showed that for $300+ LESS, the PWMA-120 could hold its own.

The volume was about equal with some differences. The MA-101 provided a clear crisp voice. The PWMA-120 came across a little muddy. That is, the sound was a bit muffled and lacked the crisp quality that might be needed to project to the back of a room and be understood. Jack described the PWMA as “bassy”

Now for music one needs a little more bass but for voice it can create this muddy sound.
Turning down the bass helps the voice but then hurts the music. And if bass is called for, this unit is still too small to get that thumping feeling. You would need an 8-10” woofer if not 12” to get a true thump in a hall.

In the same location, side by side, both performed near the same as far as volume. Both kept their mic range at 30 feet both and units could be heard clearly.
Note that we were in a corridor shaped area with trees on one side and condos on the other.
One might get LESS volume in say an open field at a picnic shows.

I am sure some are thinking- Well what did you expect? You get what you pay for.
AND they are correct… to a point.
Sometimes there are some gems out there that GET THE JOB DONE. They might not be the best and maybe sometimes you do not need the best.

While one should never be SURPRISED if a lower cost item has a lower quality, it does not mean we should not expect better. The technology has been out for a long time so there is no reason items can not be made well and for less. Pyle’s slogan is “High performance at an affordable price.”


I would say for the price of $150 it is a good value if you are not expecting the best results. All the mics work without clipping or interference. Volume was maybe 20% less of the MUCH higher priced MiPro MA-101 but would be adequate for home parties, class room and small halls of 50 people or less. The system could be stretched to maybe rooms of 100 people if you get the PWMA-120 up to their ear level and using the handheld mic or speaking a little louder. It is best suited for the smaller spaces and if you do not do many Cub Scout or fair shows, this should be fine.

I returned the unit since I felt if it did not live up to its 75 watt claims and due to the lack of clarity in the speakers.
If this is your first system, you might not be as picky. It DOES THE JOB for the price you pay. It is an inexpensive way to get two mics in a built in system with tape and all the line in and out features you would need. If the sound and volume was just a little better I would have kept it after seeing how well it did side by side with the MiPro.

My next search will be to find a similar system, for $50-100 more and see if I can get the quality I am seeking without increasing the size much. Looking at Pyle’s web site, they have some options that might work and look more professional, but the sacrifice will be in size/weight.

Final word- There may not be a good cross over system for under $200. I think if you are only going to use the PWMA-120 for audiences of 25 and do not use music, than one can go with something much smaller and lighter.

If one is not looking for rechargeable or mind hooking in a name brand wireless mic, than there are better options that would reach a larger crowd. I have not tested or heard the quality but something like this would work in more locations and would reach a larger crowd http://www.hisonic.net/HS687.htm IT is a shame this unit did not have a built in wireless and battery.

I also see that Pyle has some more powerful and professional looking systems but not one other comes with a lav option. One would have to find a transmitter on the same frequency to be able to use a lav on their more powerful systems.

In conclusion, TWO systems may be the way to go. I was hoping for one-size-fits all and the Pyle Pro PWMA-120 comes close. I would have liked to seem some of the extra features removed and the cost savings transferred to a louder and richer sound quality.

If you do not have a lot of experience with audio or do not do many larger shows, you will be happy enough with the system and can use the $250 you saved on some new tricks. 

Copyright 2006 M.Ghia. Brand names and copyrights are owned by their originators not the Café. The information contained has been published prior to this post and thus owned by its author. Repost and archive permission has be granted to the Café but no other rights to the information contained in this post has provided without written permission.
If post is removed than email me and I will send you the link to the article outside of the Café.
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Profile of RicHeka
M.Ghia:Why such a long review?...Just Kidding! Smile

Seriously,that is one of the finest an most complete reviews I have come across.As you know,I already own and use the PWMA 120.For my purposes it certainly fits the bill:BD's,Yard parties,Small Halls,Picnic's etc.It is just so darn convenient,fitting snuggly into my suitcase table.
I really think the quality of the sound is more than adequate..especially when compared to other low priced units I have owned.
Not being a technically savvy person,I also learned a lot from your review.Thanks.

As far as the headset mic is concerned,it is the best that I have 'personally' owned.I think 'toy' is a bit of a stretch.If you want to see toy headset mics I have a few laying around.Smile
I do not wear the headset mic on my head.I wear it around my neck,under my collar.I have painted the last 12" and the ball with flesh colored paint,so all that is visible is a fairly discreet 4" wire and a small ball coming out of my collar over my chin and below my mouth.
Again Great Review.
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Profile of mghia
My comment about the toy headset is mostly about the UNadjustable PLASTIC head gear with funky ear pads.
Yes I did play around with the concept of putting around the neck. While that solves that problem it does not solve the problem of the large, oddly shaped mic head. By they time you put the wind screen on, it reminds me of a Madonna mic from the 1980s.
As I said,the mic WORKS and works pretty well but cosmetically it is not all that attractive.

Yes, it is the most affordable unit with those features but if money was not the option I would suggest the MiPro 101 since it is much smaller and the tri-pod that comes with it, is VERY stable out doors. Music is not a huge issue if using an IPOD or portable CD.
Honestly I love the price of the Pyle and am not sure why so many companies are selling the small units for so much money. It will be a hard sell to convince me that the quality difference equals the price difference.

As I state in my review, the comparison really did surprise me. I was on the fence to return it since I have yet to find something similar but a little louder. I could have delt with the lack of crisp sounds. I could not put my finger on it until I heard the two side by side. For me, I just need that it to be a tad louder.
Hey, you never know, if I can not find something better (without breaking the bank) I just might re order it.

I am curious to test the Hisonic unit other have posted they are using but they confirmed with me it is a 15 W RMS not the 35 W steady in their copy. BUT it would depend at what ohm and what effiencey plus the quality of the speaker to really know if it is louder. I would loose the cassette feature but then, I really should be weaning myself off tapes. (It is just that the newer AXTEL CDS do not have the exact routines as the tapes did and I like the tape routines better in some cases.)
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Profile of RicHeka
Sure it would be nice to have a Countryman size headset included..but at $119.00+ S/H???.This set is so reasonable I just may purchase another for back-up.

My Magic is so amazing who the heck is looking at my mic anyway... Smile

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Profile of rickmorse
Excellent review! I use a large Fender system for large audiences and have been using an Anchor system for small. I wish I had found this unit before buying the Anchor!!!
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Profile of RicHeka
Up until this weekend I have been using PP PWMA 120 with the head set mic only.

This weekend, I, for the first time, used the hand-held wireless mic with a Gim Crack mic holder.

I am no audio expert, by any means, but the sound of the hand-held mic seems soooo rich. [The head set mic sounds fine, but the wireless hand-held has a more pleasing sound, IMO] Also, I actually forgot I had a mic on after a while. (very comfortable)

I am truly loving my Pyle Pro PWMA 120 and Gim Crack mic holder.
Total cost:$119.00 for the Pyle Pro PWMA 120...$10.00 for the Gim Crack holder. Smile


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Profile of mghia
I am sure you will get some use out of it. It just was not the quality I needed. For a little extra, you can build a far superior system if you are handy.

Yes, the Wireless Dynamic Mic does have a full sound due to the larger head. I still stand by my review, that it is hyper sensitive and picks up any noise when holding it. The one I had seemed to clip a little when further away from the unit.
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Profile of RicHeka

I would not doubt your knowledge in this area. (Although, I rarely actually hold the 'hand held mic.' It is secured in my Gim-Crack Holder.)

Yes, the PWMA 120 is working fine for ME.

:idea: IDEA:Why don't you put out an e-book on your methodology for building a personal system...Could be a winner!

Best regards,

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Profile of mghia
Well, it was a thought. The issue was the battery powered amp. I was able to get two Amplivox amps, which are Stereo and 25 watts per channel. Normally, these are sold for $300. I did not pay anywhere near that.
I was going to build two systems. One to keep, and one to sell. But, now, I do not think I want to deal with finding a buyer, so I will be selling the amp on eBay at some point.

So the issue for an ebook is tricky, since you can not really sub parts unless you can find specs that are close.
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Profile of MoonRazor
I have this system, it has been in working order for a few years. It is loud, the sound quality isn't' great but would be good for birthday parties.
I just used it for a school show, 200 kids. b/c my anchor audio liberty system is having problems. Filled the gym w/ sound but not as nice as anchor systyem, but it doesn't cost $1,500 either
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