Technology Showcase: Powered Mixers
Sep 2, 2009 12:00 PM, By Bennett Liles
Flexible all-in-one mixers are ready to tour.
While the concept of mixers with built-in power amps is certainly not new, there have been some amazing strides made in this line of products because of the advances in power amp design and electronics integration. The models we will explore here are designed for live sound and primarily for mobile applications rather than for permanent installation, such as in paging systems. In venues with space restrictions, though, the solutions represented here can certainly be used in a permanent setup. Most of these units can be connected directly to loudspeaker systems or connected using only the mixer section with line-level outputs run to external power amplifiers. Their primary advantage is in taking live sound on the road with the mixer and power amps contained in one compact enclosure.
The PA20-CP is a powered version of the Allen & Heath PA Series mixer using the company's Constant Power system to deliver 500W RMS power on each stereo side into either a 4Ω- or 8Ω-load. The output signal is selectable to carry left and right stereo, left plus right mono, foldback 1, or foldback 2. Maximum flexibility is provided through inclusion of master trim control, level meters, slave outputs, 4-band semiparametric equalizers, and patch points for connection of external processing gear, if needed. The features of the PA20-CP allow the board to be used as a standalone sound system connected directly to main house loudspeakers or to be used in conjunction with an existing sound system where the mixer's power outputs can be used for equalized stage monitoring or powered feeds to other locations. The meters provide a peak threshold indication 5dB before clipping, and there is a 4-pin lamp connector on the rear of the console.
With 16 microphone input channels and two line-level stereo inputs, the APM200 from Alto incorporates a 24-bit digital effects section with 16 factory presets and 16 variations for every preset for a total of 256 custom digital effects. Each mic input channel has 3-band EQ controls, and the stereo input channels with balanced TRS input jacks feature 4-band EQ. The mixer also features a 9-band graphic EQ, a peak LED indicator on each input channel, and a continuously variable input pad knob along with a 12-segment bar graph meter on the main outputs. The mic channels also have a 75Hz, 18dB-per-octave low-cut control. To provide maximum space for operator controls, the input connectors are located on the back of the console, where each channel includes a 1/4in. line input jack, an XLR mic input connector, and a TRS insert patch point. Slide switches control phantom power to the mic inputs in groups of four.
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