PA VS Mixer

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Inactive Since: Nov 11, 2007

I need help just understanding the basics of this. Will somebody just compare the two for me.

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Hold 'Em Czar
Member
Since: Dec 30, 2004


Dec 18, 2007 11:42 pm

a PA system consists of a mixer, a power amp and speakers...you can get what's called a 'powered mixer' that's kind of a one-box solution....

mixers don't power speakers....all their outputs are at level....ya gotta amplify the sound somewhere afterward to get speakers to move.

I wish I had a profile picture
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Since: Nov 11, 2007


Dec 18, 2007 11:44 pm

So a Powered Mixer is pretty much a PA except everything's put into one piece of equipment?

Hold 'Em Czar
Member
Since: Dec 30, 2004


Dec 18, 2007 11:55 pm

yep very handy for smaller clubs and whatnot.

I wish I had a profile picture
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Since: Nov 11, 2007


Dec 19, 2007 12:15 am

Wait a minute...if I went and bought a powered mixer right now could I plug in and go or do I need to buy speakers?



Also, what exactly would I be plugging into it anyway? I know vocals but would I plug in guitars too?

www.witchsmark.com
Member
Since: Aug 13, 2006


Dec 19, 2007 07:03 am

Yes you need to buy speakers for the mixer too, in order to produce sound. My band plugs Vocals, Guitar, Keyboard (using DI box), and sometimes Bass and Mic'ed Kick and snare drum, depending on the size of the vinue. We usually have a dedicated sound guy (Bless his heart he does this for free 90% of the time, as we play for very little ohh too many times) that travels with us and he mixes our live sound from about 50' in front of the stage, so we like to have the guitars and what not mic'ed so that he has complete control over the levels of the instruments for the most part.


I wish I had a profile picture
Inactive
Since: Nov 11, 2007


Dec 19, 2007 02:16 pm

You still use amps though right?

What's a DI box?

I'm having a hard time understanding the difference between a PA and a Powered Mixer still. I looked them up on the internet and the only thing that looks different is the PA's come with speakers and the Powered Mixers don't...

Administrator
Since: Apr 03, 2002


Dec 19, 2007 02:19 pm

DI is a direct injection box, plug your instrument (MUSICAL instrument:-) into it, and it creates a mic out level to run straight to the recording media.

I wish I had a profile picture
Inactive
Since: Nov 11, 2007


Dec 19, 2007 02:27 pm

Is a DI box necessary?

Administrator
Since: Apr 03, 2002


Dec 19, 2007 02:28 pm

Not necessarily, but it is certainly nice to have a couple on hand for live sound, particularly for keyboards and bass guitar.

Prince CZAR-ming
Member
Since: Apr 08, 2004


Dec 19, 2007 02:31 pm

I think it's the context:

back in war days (i sound old, don't I?), it was somewhat novel to have a Public Address system in a place. This means they could talk into a microphone, and loud voice comes out the other end.

Now in newer society, the public address idea is still valid, because you're still making normal voice louder, but I think with newer technology, it's become an understood that PA is the voice amplification of a band / group / whatever. The powered mixer can fill the need of the amplification part, but it can still be basic: mic -> amp -> speaker. Powered mixer adds the ability to mix several inputs to one set of powered outputs.

I wouldn't worry much about it, PA is the basic collection of bits, powered mixer is one component.

Also mixer and a separate power amp would do the same job as a powered mixer. Both fill parts of the PA picture.

I wish I had a profile picture
Inactive
Since: Nov 11, 2007


Dec 19, 2007 02:31 pm

Why not just plug the keyboard/bass right into the PA/Powered Mixer?

Administrator
Since: Apr 03, 2002


Dec 19, 2007 02:32 pm

Have you ever tried running a bass straight into a mixer? Not a very good sound at all...keyboards it may work, never tried it.

The DI gives it a better signal the mixer can work better with.

I wish I had a profile picture
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Since: Nov 11, 2007


Dec 19, 2007 02:40 pm

So if I got a Powered Mixer with speakers and a DI box for keyboard (my band doesn't have a bass player but the keyboardist plays the bass line) I would still need amps for guitar right?

What about those keyboard/bass amps...would I need one of those?

Ok so one of the advantages of a Powered Mixer is everything could be plugged into it then I could have headphones plugged into that and be able to hear the whole band playing rather than just one instrument at a time?

Prince CZAR-ming
Member
Since: Apr 08, 2004


Dec 19, 2007 02:47 pm

I've plugged Bass straight into my mixer for recording, it's worked fine. I don't think playing live, bass through PA would be too hot, like dB says.

Keyboard could play straight into line input on mixer. bass is played by keyboard player, no amp required. Guitar amps can be faked with modellers, I did it for awhile with a GT6 through Bose Pole system. It worked OK. I went back to my amp though, so I could control my volume better. I still sent a line out of my GT6 to the mixer though, it was coming out the PA a little bit for coverage.

Regarding your last question, are you talking about playing live, or recording? recording wont need a powered mixer, you're not making the sound loud, just sending to a recording media (PC, Tape, etc).

I wish I had a profile picture
Inactive
Since: Nov 11, 2007


Dec 19, 2007 02:55 pm

Yes, I meant live playing on the last question.

What's the point of a keyboard amp if you can just plug it into a PA/Powered Mixer?

www.witchsmark.com
Member
Since: Aug 13, 2006


Dec 19, 2007 02:56 pm

Quote:
You still use amps though right?

Let me see if I can explain a little better. An AMP(short for Amplifier) is a unit that gives power to amplify sounds.
These are the units you are basically dealing with:

Mixer - A device usually with sliders and multiple channels that you would plug sources(instruments/Mics) into. A plain old Mixer doesn't AMPlify sounds unless it has a separate AMP powering it between the Mixer and the Speakers. So the setup would chain together as follows: Mixer-AMP-Speakers

A Powered Mixer - Is the same as above, except it has a built in AMP so you don't need the AMP in between the Mixer and the Speakers, you plug the speakers directly into the Powered Mixer. Setup chain would be: Powered Mixer - Speakers

A PA[Personal Amplifier] - is a unit like a Powered Mixer, only it usually uses knobs instead of sliders for volume control and doesn't have as many bells and whistles as a Mixer. Again, the speakers plug straight into a PA because it too has a built-in AMP. Setup chain:PA[Personal Amplification] - Speakers

A PA[Power Amplifier also called AMP] - is a unit that solely is used to give power to speakers. It has only 2 volumes usually, 1 for each channel (left and right) and allows for 2 speakers to output from it, and a Mixer to Input into it. Without a Mixer, a Power Amplifier is pretty much useless as there is no sound source. Setup Chain: Mixer - AMP - Speakers

Speakers - these are needed no matter which option you use(Mixer, Powered Mixer or Personal Amplification.) You usually need 2 and mostly all of the above mentioned types of Sources need speakers so you can hear whats being produced.

Quote:
the only thing that looks different is the PA's come with speakers and the Powered Mixers don't...

It sounds to me like you are just looking at a Sound System when you are seeing the PA and Speakers together, and comparing with a stand-alone Mixer. PA's and Mixers usually come stand-alone and you buy speakers separately, but sometimes stores will offer a package deal to the consumer.

Administrator
Since: Apr 03, 2002


Dec 19, 2007 02:58 pm

The point of the amp is so the artist can hear themselves.

I wish I had a profile picture
Inactive
Since: Nov 11, 2007


Dec 19, 2007 03:01 pm

Ok so one of the advantages of a Powered Mixer is everything could be plugged into it then I could have headphones plugged into that and be able to hear the whole band playing rather than just one instrument at a time? I'm talking about live performance.

www.TheLondonProject.ca
Member
Since: Feb 07, 2005


Dec 19, 2007 03:04 pm

Quote:
A PA[Personal Amplifier]


Correct me if I'm wrong

PA = Public Address

Administrator
Since: Apr 03, 2002


Dec 19, 2007 03:05 pm

yeah, but with phones you only hear the mix from the mixer...

you are seriously misjudging what the typical live sound job is like.

each band member has their own amps, bass is direct, keya may lean on your for monitoring or may have their own amp, drums are loud...you have tio mix within the context of the sound the stage is producing...in headphones you may not hear the crash cymbal at all, take off your phones, and due to stage sound it's loud as hell cuz you turned it up in the mix due to what you heard from the mixer...for example.

Smaller venues the stage sound matters A LOT...in bigger venues not so much...

www.witchsmark.com
Member
Since: Aug 13, 2006


Dec 19, 2007 03:06 pm

I would just get a Powered Mixer if it were my decision, your better off now and in the long run, thats the bottom line. Don't forget a good set of speakers too.


www.witchsmark.com
Member
Since: Aug 13, 2006


Dec 19, 2007 03:07 pm

[quote]Correct me if I'm wrong

PA = Public Address[/quote]
Your probably right I am just using Personal Amplification as a way to try and explain and not confuse with PowerAmp.

I wish I had a profile picture
Inactive
Since: Nov 11, 2007


Dec 19, 2007 03:08 pm

Ok that's for all the help and answering my dumb questions.

BeerHunter, PA does stand for Public Address. Don't ask me why but it does.

Administrator
Since: Apr 03, 2002


Dec 19, 2007 03:08 pm

I totally disagree with that statement...unpowered is better for future growth, just add more amps, you are not limited by the mixer. With a powered one, if you amp goes, your mixer is in the shop too...if they are separate and you blow an amp, it goes to the shop, and you rent one until it's fixed, you still have the mixer...with separate amps you have the ability to run crossovers and larger format speakers if need be...

www.witchsmark.com
Member
Since: Aug 13, 2006


Dec 19, 2007 03:09 pm

Quote:
in *igger venues not so much...

May want to fix that to BIGGER, hehe.

Administrator
Since: Apr 03, 2002


Dec 19, 2007 03:10 pm

changed.

yikes...my buddy mike could be pissed at me for that one...he'd just call me a cracker and slap me.

www.witchsmark.com
Member
Since: Aug 13, 2006


Dec 19, 2007 03:18 pm

I run a Behringer PMH3000 and 3 Behringer EP2500's off of that. I use the Mixers built in AMP for a set of Monitors, I use the Main Out1 for My Mains which go to a X-over where Highs are run by EP2500#1 and Lows by EP2500#2, and then Out of Mon2 I run to another EP2500#3 that runs some more monitors. And the mixer still has Main Outs 2, and even still another Mon1 Out for 2 more AMPS if I choose.


www.TheLondonProject.ca
Member
Since: Feb 07, 2005


Dec 19, 2007 03:22 pm

I think the best way for me to describe a PA vs. a Powered mixer would be to use a home stereo analogy.

Powered mixer would be the similar to an all-in-one home stereo system. That is it contains a CD player, amp, tuner, cassette deck etc.

A PA system consists of individual components. You could build it using whatever components you want.

EG: a powered mixer will most likely have a crappy EQ built-in whereas with a PA system you could purchase a better EQ if needed.

Powered mixer = convenient
PA System = tailor made to your needs.

I wish I had a profile picture
Inactive
Since: Nov 11, 2007


Dec 19, 2007 03:24 pm

Which is a cheaper way to go?

www.witchsmark.com
Member
Since: Aug 13, 2006


Dec 20, 2007 06:53 am

I don't think that question is answerable. The costs vari amongst units so greatly, just find something within your price range your interested in, and then give a post of it here and see what others think.

The Czar of BS
Member
Since: Dec 31, 2007


Jan 01, 2008 03:36 pm

Hi guys, I know I am posting a lot here. But I think I can help clear up a lot of misconceptions. First, PA does stand for Pubilc Address. This is an old term from the very beginning of sound engineering. It just has never been changed. Second, the DI box. DI does stand for direct injection, but, it has to do with impedance, and level. You use a DI box when you are running a line level device into a mic level input. What does that mean? A line level device is something that is rated at what we call +4. Such as a Bass, CD player, Guitar, etc... Not alway, but, a good rule of thumb is, IF it has a 1/4" cable coming from it, more than likely, it is +4. So, runnig a +4 device into a mic level input will cause distortion. This is because you are overdriving the input, with the gain all the way down. A DI box, will take the +4 signal, and reduce it to -30. (+4 and -30 are the DB rating) A mic input is rated at -30. So, now we can plug your bass, or, what have you into your board. And be free of distortion. There are two types. Active, and Passive. An avtive DI will give you the full range of the wave. And are expensive. A passive DI will cut off some of the lows and highs of the wave. (Trust me, sometimes you want that.) And are much cheaper. Now, on to what's better, PA or Powered mixer. That all depends on application. Most powered mixer's are limited on inputs, and power. Most only have 8 inputs, with a max output wattage of 300 watts. So, if you are a small accustic band, only playing rooms that hold 100 people and below, your fine. If your a rock band, playing rooms that are a 100 people and above. You need more than a powered mixer can supply.

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