Looking to put together a compact PA system for your practice room or small venue? Or maybe portability is your main concern. A powered mixer is a great way to get a lot of bang for your buck while keeping your rig compact and easy to set up and tear down. If you've ever used a per hour rehearsal studio, you'll recognize the ubiquitous black, brick shaped unit in the corner. Those puppies are indeed the workhorses of the practice space, but there are many different styles kitted out with lots of channels, effects and options that make powered mixers a versatile tool for many situations.
The great thing about powered mixers is they eliminate the need for a bank of external power amps between your mixer and your passive PA speakers. While having the power supply built into the mixer does make it a bit heavier, it saves a lot of space and it simplifies your PA setup and teardown which saves time.
Your two biggest decisions when choosing a powered mixer are how much power and how many channels you need. Both are somewhat dictated by the types of live sound scenarios in which you're likely to be working. Sizing your power requirements isn't just about how loud it is with the faders pushed all the way up. Power amps aren't designed to be constantly run full blast. You'll need to figure in some overhead when deciding how many watts of power you need. Consider the size of the space where you're likely to be operating and the number of channels you'll need. These two factors should put you in the ballpark.
Powered mixers also come with a variety of options in terms of on-board equalization and effects. Nearly every mixer comes with basic channel equalization. Many of the larger format, console style mixers can be equipped with fully sweepable mids, fully featured mains and monitor EQ sections. Want more? Why not add reverb and delay effects, per channel compression, and enough effects sends for incorporating your favorite outboard gear?
If you plan to incorporate stereo sources, such as laptop output or a turntable, make sure you choose a mixer with stereo inputs or mono/stereo switchable channel pairs. Some units even include a couple of DI channels, which can be very handy if when you suddenly realize you lent out all your DI boxes.
Here's an important thing to keep in mind. When you piece together your PA system, you have to make sure your PA speakers will work properly with your powered mixer. If you mismatch the ohms or wattage, you could damage your equipment. We can also help with sizing your powered mixer for your application. Give us a call, and let our knowledgeable Sales Engineers help you sort out the details. We'll work with you to make sure your powered mixer and your existing PA equipment play nicely together and sound awesome. Learn More
Sweetwater's Sales Engineers are regarded as the most experienced and knowledgeable professionals in the music industry, with extensive music backgrounds and intense training on the latest products and technologies. They are available to offer you personalized product advice any time you need it.