Review: Anchor Audio Bigfoot 2 Series

They’re loud, big, and battery-powered—and a lot easier to find than their namesake.

One of the staples of science-fiction movies is machines that can shrink or enlarge objects or people. After reviewing the Megavox 2, I had the feeling that someone at Anchor Audio found one of those machines, put the selector switch on “enlarge,” aimed it at the Megavox 2—and ended up with the Bigfoot 2 family. These systems are intended for situations where you need a loud, portable sound system, and may not have access to AC power. Powered by Li-On batteries or AC (120/240 VAC, 50/60 Hz), it will run for around 6 to 8 hours on a full charge. What’s more, several models accommodate wireless mics, so not only is the sound system portable, anyone using these mics (with options of hand-held, headband, or lapel) isn’t tied down by a cable.

1_Bigfoot 2
Figure 1: Bigfoot ready for action (left), and folded up (right) for portability.

The main Bigfoot applications include sporting events, fairs, conferences, weddings, beach parties, marching bands, graduation and other ceremonies, houses of worship, auctions, the military, conferences, gymnasiums, and the like. For the outdoor (and even many indoor) applications, battery power is a big feature. And speaking of big, Bigfoot is heavy—around 63 pounds. You’ll want to enlist someone’s help getting it out of the van or pickup truck you used to get it to the gig. Once you’ve done that, though, it’s pretty easy to move around. Although Bigfoot is 68″ tall in use, it folds into a relatively compact enclosure (42.5″ x 14″ x 23″), and has roller wheels to you can roll it around like luggage (Fig. 1)—just don’t try rolling it through a muddy field.

The Bigfoot 2 is not a single “one-size fit’s all” product, but a family of customizable solutions—at various price points—designed for an array of applications. However, there’s much the family members have in common. All are battery-powered and have Bluetooth, with a 100 foot line-of-sight range. The basic model is the BIG2, which has the following connections in common with all other Bigfoot 2 units.

The back panel (Fig. 2) is easy to figure out, because it’s not that different from a typical powered monitor system. It includes two XLR dynamic mic inputs (no phantom power) with volume controls, and two line inputs stereo (1/8″ line input, and mono ¼”) with a common level control.

2_Back Panel
Figure 2: This back panel view shows the top cutout for the transmitter, receiver, or MP3/CD player, as well as two cutouts for the wireless mic bays. Different models populate these cutouts differently.

Additional controls include Volume for whatever you’re streaming in via Bluetooth, and tone controls for Bass and Treble. An LED gauge shows the battery level, and charging status. Those are the basics; let’s look at the options.

Variations on a Theme

The cutout above the back panel can accommodate either a wireless transmitter, wireless receiver, or CD/MP3 player. Each of the two cutouts to the right of the XLR mic inputs can be populated with a dual wireless mic receiver, which has a “master volume” control that affects both mics. However, the mics themselves have adjustable volume and mute, so it’s easy to set up a balance of the two mics. (Note that the wireless mics are proprietary to Anchor Audio; other wireless systems are not compatible.) Also note that the wireless mics use Anchor Audio’s wireless technology, so thanks to the 1.9 GHz operation, they’re not subject to the same distance limitations as Bluetooth—the line-of-sight range is typically 300 feet.

Adding a suffix to the BIG2 indicates other capabilities. U means that the unit can handle wireless mics, a numeral indicates how many wireless mics it can accommodate, X represents that it can transmit to other Bigfeet, and R indicates it can receive transmissions from a Bigfoot. For example, the BIG2-U2 builds on the BIG2 by including one of the dual mic receivers, and can accept signals from two wireless mics. The BIG2-X includes an Air transmitter, which can transmit signals from the inputs or Bluetooth to a unit like the BIG2-R, which substitutes the BIG-X’s transmitter for an Air receiver. The BIG2-XU2 also includes a transmitter, but incorporates a dual mic receiver to accept signals from two wireless mics. Similarly, the BIG2-RU2 expands on the BIG2-R by adding a dual wireless mic receiver to the Air receiver.

Anchor Audio’s portable PA systems are available with a variety of options and configurations, call a Full Compass Sales Professional at 800-356-5844 to configure a system that fits your needs.

It Does Get Loud

Yes, Bigfoot 2 can get loud. Really loud. Anchor Audio specs the max SPL at 130 dB @ 1 meter, with a rated power output of 300W AC/DC RMS. The enclosure has five 8” neodymium woofers, and one neodynium compression driver for high frequencies. The frequency response extends from 55 Hz to 16 kHz, ±3 dB, so unlike the Megavox 2 with its smaller speaker, the Bigfoot 2 line is music-friendly as well as speech-friendly.

Anchor Audio claims Bigfoot 2 can cover an audience of 5,000 people, but as you might expect, I couldn’t round up 5,000 people to confirm this. What I can confirm is that it’s LOUD. As in, “you-can-break-your-lease-in-under-a-minute” loud, or “let’s meet the friendly neighborhood police who just got inundated with noise complaints” loud. Also take into account the portability factor. Because a Bigfoot 2 is not a fixed installation, you can wheel it around to where you get the best coverage, raise it on top of a stage to project the sound out further, etc. If it’s still not loud enough for you, you can pump up the volume, or extend the coverage, using the units mentioned above that include Anchor Audio’s Air wireless transmitter and receiver.

Look Ma, No Wires!

Bigfoot 2 is all about no wires—battery-powered so you don’t need AC, Bluetooth streaming so you can accept audio wirelessly from your smartphone or tablet, and wireless mics. Anchor’s WH-LINK wireless handheld mics (Fig. 3) are compatible with the receiver. Pairing them with the main unit is a relatively simple process; do it once, and the mics will stayed paired with Bigfoot 2.

3_WHLINK
Figure 3: Clockwise from top: Anchor’s WH-LINK wireless mic, WB-LINK 1.9 GHz belt pack, and MIC-90 wired dynamic mic.

Anchor also offers the WB-LINK belt pack, which is compatible with a variety of other microphone types: the HBM-LINK headband mic, CM-LINK collar mic, EM-LINK ultra-light, miniature mic, and LM-LINK lapel mic. This makes Bigfoot 2 suitable for situations like panel discussions, and demos where the demonstrator needs both hands free while showing how a product works. Anchor Audio also sells the MIC-90, a wired handheld dynamic mic with a 20-foot cable and a cardioid response.

About the Batteries

Bigfoot 2 uses three 12V rechargeable, lithium-ion batteries, rated at 7.5 amp-hours. The batteries last around 6-8 hours on a full charge. Like the Megavox 2, you can’t switch out batteries if you run them down to zero; you’ll need to recharge them (typically overnight), or move over to AC power. The batteries have a four-year warranty, but an extended warranty (available for $50) extends that by two more years, which then matches the six-year warranty of the unit itself. Anchor Audio will replace an out-of-warranty battery for $175 + round-trip shipping, or $50 + shipping to Anchor if it’s under the extended warranty. Although it’s possible to replace the batteries (assuming you can find new ones somewhere; Anchor Audio doesn’t sell individual replacements), it’s definitely not recommended unless you really know what you’re doing. Leave it to the experts.

Rocket Science? No, Racket Science

It’s easy to get up and running with Bigfoot 2, and start creating a racket. If you have a unit that accepts wireless mics, you’ll need to follow the instructions to pair them; it involves a few more steps than Bluetooth pairing. (The complete manual is online, although the mic pairing procedure is thoughtfully written on the back panel—you can’t lose those instructions.)

As to construction, bear in mind that the Bigfoot 2 line is designed to work outdoors or indoors, in any reasonable ambient temperature, and intended to be moved around. When you couple those requirements with heavy-duty construction and three Li-On 12V batteries, the price tag isn’t inexpensive. Then again, the Bigfeet 2 family is solid, made in the USA, have a high-impact casing, and are backed by a serious warranty.

Although there are plenty of portable/personal PA systems, the Bigfoot 2 line is a unique combination of wireless operation, battery power, portability, expandability, and high volume levels. There’s also no question this Bigfoot really does exist. Next time you’re at an outdoor event, look around—you just might see Bigfoot in the wild.

 

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