A powered mixer is a piece of sound amplification gear that mixes two key pieces of gear into one unit. A powered mixer is like a cross between a power amplifier and a mixer, and can serve both functions at the same time. Powered mixers are very popular with people who are looking for sound reinforcement because it solves one very big problem… it eliminates the need to haul both a mixer and a power amplifier, and instead, includes both in one easy-to-carry unit.
Before shopping for a powered mixer (also interchangeably called a power mixer or a powered audio mixer), you need to first decide if a powered mixer is what you want. There are a lot of situations where a power mixer is ideal. Some examples would include a church sound system, or a small sound system that you need to be very portable and moveable. Having a powered mixer can make moving your sound system a lot easier, as these are two of the most sensitive (and also two of the heaviest) pieces of gear that you will have with you.
Now, there are some situations where you may not want a power mixer. One example is if you are running a very large PA that is running thousands of watts, such as for a rock band or some other huge act in a huge venue. The reason that you may not want a powered mixer in a place like this is, first of all, you will be needing to run several amplifiers anyway, and your powered audio mixer will probably not have the power you need.
And two, if you were to blow an external amplifier, you could replace it during the show with regular power amps. However, if you were using a powered mixer, you would not be able to. So, this is one example where power mixers might not be the ideal thing to use.
If you are shopping for a powered mixer, then there are a few things that you need to think about. First of all, what brand do you want to buy? There are a lot of different brands out there, and all of them are priced differently. Some of the popular name brands include Behringer, Yamaha, Peavey, Mackie and Phantom.
If you want to buy a more name branded power mixer, then you will pay more for it… but it also comes with a better warranty, and usually, a better track record. Off brand powered mixers will work fine, but they usually do not have as good a warranty, and you can also usually count on them to cave under stressful use.
So, if you will be using your power mixer professionally, or if you will be using it a lot, then you should go with a name brand. Otherwise, you can usually go with an off brand. If you are not going to be using it every day, or if you are not going to be on tour with it, then an off brand power mixer should work fine.
A powered mixer is perfect for a lot of sound amplification systems, and you will doubtlessly be pleased with it if you decide to go that route with your system.