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Audio Mixers

Audio Mixers
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How to shop for an audio mixer

A PA (public address) mixer blends the audio signals coming from microphones, instruments, and other audio sources. It then sends a combined and polished output signal on to powered PA speakers or amplifiers.

Below we introduce you to the different types of PA mixers. And we provide a few basic tips on how to choose. To learn a lot more, please read our live sound buying guides. For expert help with your selections, please contact a Crutchfield advisor.

Analog mixers are relatively simple, inexpensive, and easy to operate. Volume and tone adjustments are made with an array of knobs, buttons, and faders. Some models have effects like reverb and delay built-in.

Powered mixers are analog mixers that have built-in amps. A system with a powered mixer would typically use passive speakers as the main speakers. Powered speakers would be a good choice for the monitors. (Monitors are speakers that are aimed at the performers, so they can hear themselves better.)

Digital mixers convert the incoming audio signals to digital before the mixing takes place. Volume and tone adjustments are often made via a phone, tablet, or computer.

What are the big advantages of a digital mixer?

  • You’ll have the ability to easily mix from the audience.
  • You can save and recall your settings. That’s a big time-saver for bands that frequently return to familiar venues.
  • You get a much greater variety of built-in effects, along with the ability to apply multiple effects simultaneously. (And that’s without adding any outboard gear!)
  • Digital mixers are usually much smaller and lighter than comparable analog mixers.

To learn more about mixers, see our audio mixers buying guide.

No PA system is complete without a few essential accessories. Think about how you’ll transport and use your system. Make a list of all the microphone cables, speaker cables, and power cords you’ll need.

Where you place the mixer and mics will dictate how long your cables need to be. Think about where you’ll need AC power connections? Do you have enough extension cords?

For more tips, read our guide on how to set up a PA system. Follow the links below to shop for accessories: