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Kombo Audio Kombo

Portable PA System By Phil Ward
Published February 2024

Kombo Audio Kombo

With battery operation and wireless connectivity built in, could the Kombo be the ultimate ‘go anywhere’ PA?

I wrote about the Yamaha StagePas 200 battery‑powered portable PA/busking speaker back in SOS May 2023, and began my review with an assertion that there aren’t many such backline products around. So I should have known that I’d almost immediately happen upon another one, the Kombo, which is the subject of this review.

The Kombo is the product of a Danish startup company called Kombo Audio, and while it is primarily aimed at the same kind of applications as the previously mentioned Yamaha product, it introduces a few unusual twists of its own — the main one being that it’s specifically designed for wireless connection to its instrument and mic inputs.

To enable this, the Kombo ships with two wireless transmitter belt packs (one with an instrument input and one with a mic input), and two receiver modules. These attach to magnetic ports located either side of the rear of the Kombo cabinet itself, and electrically connect automatically. Extra transmitters and modules can be purchased to enable up to four wireless inputs to be used, and the Kombo also offers three conventional wired inputs (one mic, one instrument, one line) so, in theory, a seven‑piece band could busk with a single Kombo. There’s more: because the Kombo also provides a Bluetooth audio connection, that seven‑piece could also play with backing tracks streamed wirelessly from a smartphone.

...the Kombo ships with two wireless transmitter belt packs (one with an instrument input and one with a mic input), and two receiver modules.

The Box

The Kombo is usefully compact in dimensions and feels very solidly put together. All the enclosure edges and corners are coated in a matte‑black rubberised bumper finish, and its front grille is black‑painted, perforated steel. I can see the Kombo surviving with no trouble at all the rigours of a life of busking or in makeshift gig or rehearsal spaces. The slightly inset side, rear and end panels of the enclosure are finished in a contrasting grey leather effect, and it all makes for a unique and quirky appearance. A generous carry handle is inset in each enclosure end panel and, while my review sample lacked this detail, future production will, I’m told, replace the bottom carry handle with a pole‑mount hole.

One slight downside of the Kombo’s impressive build quality is weight. At 13kg the Kombo is not an insignificant lift, and certainly not something you’d want to carry a long distance from the car park to the town‑centre busking site. It is, however, perfectly proportioned to fit on a small sack‑truck style trolley. And I guess I’d rather have a busking amp that’s built to last than it be a few kilograms lighter.

One element of the Kombo that contributes to its weight is, of course, the battery. A lithium‑ion device, this is supplied uninstalled and has to be inserted in a rear‑panel recess where it connects to a multi‑pin terminal block and is held in place by a Velcro strap. The Kombo can’t be used without its battery installed. Battery charging is achieved through a mains power supply that connects to the Kombo rear panel using a 24V DC connector. Kombo Audio claim a 20‑hour battery life, which ought to be adequate for even the most profitable of busking spots. The Kombo wireless receivers and transmitters are also powered by rechargeable batteries, and can be charged, two at a time with a supplied splitter cable, from the USB Type‑A charger output on the Kombo rear panel. The receivers and transmitters are fitted with micro‑USB charging inputs.

When I first came across the Kombo I imagined that Bluetooth might be employed for its wireless connection from transmitter to...

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