What is a Powered Mixer?

(Last Updated On: December 10, 2020)
Audio mixer set.

If you have been on the audio production scene for a while, no doubt, you’d have heard the word ‘powered mixer‘ in several conversations. But do you know exactly what it means? Granted, some people have an in-depth understanding of what power mixers are and what they do. But, if you don’t, there is no need to beat yourself up. We’ll catch you on the essential details about the powered mixer.

A powered mixer is easily one of the essential pieces of equipment in any professional audio setup. Indeed, if you’re looking for a way to get your sound setups up-to-par, you may need to start looking at powered mixers. They offer several advantages in terms of the quality of audio you produce. Not just that, a power mixer also lets you add some vital effects to your audio channels in real-time!

But, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Let us start from the basics — what is a power mixer?

Introducing the Powered Mixer

A powered mixer is essentially an analog mixer, but with a built-in power amplifier. You see, a regular audio mixer collects audio signals, processes each of them, and then directs them to their respective destinations. However, with a powered mixer, you can play the sounds directly from the mixer to the speakers. 

In other words, a powered mixer eliminates the need for a powered amplifier in your setup. Yes, we said it. Powered mixers combine the functions of amplifiers and mixing consoles into one unit. Of course, having a mixer with a built-in amp naturally comes with a host of advantages, and we’ll share them with you.

Hopefully, you now have a clear picture of what a powered mixer is.

Benefits of Using a Powered Mixer

Most people who have added a powered mixer to their collection of sound equipment always have glowing reviews. Understandably, you’re probably already wondering why acquiring this is so. Well, we’ll tell you shortly. Here are some of the advantages of using a powered mixer.

Seamless Integration

The convenience a powered mixer offers is arguably why it has gotten so popular in recent times. You see, in one powered mixer unit, you get a power amplifier for energizing your speakers and effects console for optimizing your sounds, and of course, a mixing for balancing vocals and instruments. Indeed, a powered mixer is the total audio production package!

Simpler Setup & Operation

In a traditional setup, you’d have to get your mixer in place, then your editing console, and finally, your power amp. No doubt, this can be very time-consuming, not to mention energy-intensive. Let’s not start with miles of wires you’d have to deal with and the levels of synchronization you’d have to achieve between each unit. 

However, acquiring and using a powered mixer can instantly cut your setup times in half! The reason is simple. All your sound components are now conveniently in one unit. So, now you can set up and set down at record times without consuming so much energy.

Portability

If you usually have to travel around for gigs, you’ll undoubtedly appreciate having very portable equipment. As such, it may be best for you to invest in a powered mixer. This way, you don’t have to deal with lugging at least three separate components all around town. You will already have them in one unit! So, all you have to do is pick it up, move it to your desired location and set it down again.

Now that you know the various benefits of a powered mixer, let us examine scenarios where they prove useful.


When to Use a Powered Mixer

Right off the bat, you can use a powered mixer anywhere. Indeed, that’s one of the best parts about having them. Powered mixers can work in any scenario that requires professional sound production. But, let’s look at a few specific occasions where having a powered mixer can come in handy.

When There Are No Powered Speakers & Amplifiers

If you already have speakers and amps but are unpowered, it may be best to buy a powered mixer. This way, you have an all-in-one amp and mixer unit for your live performances.

When There Id Limited Setup Space Available

Having a powered mixer can be handy when you have a gig in a venue where a full setup may be complicated. In this case, instead of trying to fit three components into a tight space, you can simply use your one powered mixer.

Anywhere You Choose

There is no hard and fast rule about where or when you can use a powered mixer. As long as there is a need to provide amplified sound coverage, your powered mixer is up to the task. 

However, there is something you must note. It is not advisable to use multiple powered units at once. For instance, if you set up with a powered mixer, do not now combine it with a powered speaker. Asides from the fact that you are creating redundant power, you may also damage both units. So, that is something you want to watch out for while using powered mixers.


Factors to Consider When Choosing a Powered Mixer

Before choosing and acquiring your powered mixer, there are several crucial elements you must consider. These elements are what will guide you in picking a mixer model that works for you. That said, here are the factors you should consider when buying a powered mixer for your gigs.

Power & Channel Number

These are arguably the two most important factors to consider. You see, the functions of a powered mixer are heavily dependent on its power rating and the number of channels it has. Therefore, before you decide, think about how much power you need and the number of channels you may be working with. 

Of course, both answers depend on the nature of your live sound projects. Remember, your power requirement is not all about loudness. You want to make sure that your powered mixer can supply as much power as your speakers and whatnot need. In terms of channel numbers, we find that it is usually best to buy a powered mixer with more channels than you think you’ll need. This way, you have an overhead during unforeseen events. 

Features

While almost every powered mixer comes with the basic channel EQ, they don’t all have the same features. Some come with special effects and other unique features. Indeed, some powered mixers have fully seepage mids as well as the option of monitoring EQ. What about delay effects, compression, and reverb?

Before making your choice when shopping for powered mixers, think about the features you’d want in your equipment. Once you have the answer to this question, then check that the mixer meets the criteria. If it does, then you may move on with the purchase. 

Stereo Sources

Depending on how you want to use your powered mixer, you may need to explore its stereo sources before buying it. For instance, if you plan to use your mixer with a turntable or computer output, you’ll need one that has stereo inputs. Another option is a powered mixer with interchangeable mono or stereo channel pairs.

Some models even offer DI channels. These may come in handy if, for some reason, you’re missing all the DI boxes you own.

Wrap Up

By now, you should already have a clear idea about what a powered mixer is and its various applications. We’re sure you’ll agree that it is a fantastic piece of equipment to have in your arsenal. However, always make sure to balance the power rating and resistance between your powered mixer and speakers. Otherwise, you may damage your equipment. Also, remember, one powered gadget is enough in your setup. 

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