The Best Powered Mixer 2023 - Consoles & Box/Racks

The Highest Rated Powered Mixing Consoles

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Before the popularity of active speakers, the Powered Mixer + passive speaker combo was the go-to for mobile setups. The power amp being integrated into the mixer allows the speaker to remain light.

In the case of multiple speakers, the weight reduction adds up to a significant amount the more speakers you have since active speakers inherently weigh more than passive speakers. This is important for touring musicians, buskers, and sound system rental providers.

For permanent and semi-permanent audio installations, this setup is also easier to maintain.

Whether you want to update an existing permanently installed passive speaker setup with a great mixer-amplifier combination, or simply prefer a more traditional setup with passive speakers, this guide will help you choose a powered mixer for your needs.

The Best Powered Mixers

Author & Contributors

Raphael PulgarRaphael Pulgar

I've been an audio engineer for 20 years specializing in rock and metal recordings, and also I play guitar and produce original music for my band and other content creators.

The Best Powered Mixers Under $500

Rockville RPM45

91
GEARANK

91 out of 100. Incorporating 100+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$135
Rockville RPM45 1800w Powered Mixer Rackmount
At publication time this was the Highest Rated Powered Mixer Under $500.

Cons

  • Cooling fan can get loud

Pros

  • High headroom for the size
  • 4 Channels with independent EQ and reverb
  • High-quality enclosure

The RPM45 is a powered mixer with a lot of clean headroom in a high-quality wooden enclosure.

It features 4 channels with independent bass and treble controls with independent reverb.

A power rating of 225w x 2 @ 8 Ohms pushes passive speakers with plenty of clean headroom

Clean gain is important and the RPM45 has plenty. Even at 90% output, it gets loud enough for small to medium venues.

However, with great power, comes great heat production. The cooling fan gets loud but that should only matter in quiet studio environments.

The Rockville RPM45 is the best audio mixer option for those with limited budgets. It's readily available, loud and clean powered PA head that is sure to liven up your small gatherings.

Specifications

  • Inputs: 4 x 1/4” TRS inputs, 1 RCA L/R AUX input, 1 1/4” Effect loop input/output
  • Channels: 4
  • Power Rating: 225w x 2 @ 8 Ohm (Parallel mono) (RMS)
  • Phantom power: 4 Channels
  • Equalizer: Treble, Bass (per channel)
  • Outputs: 8-ohm dual 1/4” speaker outputs, 1 RCA L/R Rec output
  • Onboard FX: echo, and delay
  • Weight: 18Lbs.

Behringer Europower PMP1680S

89
GEARANK

89 out of 100. Incorporating 300+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$439
Behringer Europower PMP1680S 10-Channel 1600W Powered Mixer

Cons

  • Might not be enough for large venues
  • No input attenuation

Pros

  • Powerful Class D amplification
  • Quiet operation
  • Dual graphic EQ and Multi FX
  • Good amount of inputs

The Europower PMP1680S features a loud Class D amplifier with 2 x 300W RMS (1,600W bridged) at 8 ohms. It is part of the popular Behringer Euro Mixer line, which is considered as one of the best digital mixers in the entry level price range.

Even with the power rating, the Class D amplifier itself runs cool and foregoes the need for large heat sinks or loud fans.

The PMP1680S also features dual graphic EQ's for overall sound sculpting as well as dual multi-fx processors that feature reverb, delay, modulation and more.

Multiple xlr inputs enable multiple singers or band members to output to FOH. The amount of clean headroom is capable of driving speakers to fill small and medium size venues easily.

For larger venues however, the power might fall short. Another thing lacking is input attenuation. But it is more than enough to handle main mix duties in small venues.

The Behringer Europower PMP1680S is a versatile powered mixer with a versatile dual EQ and dual Multi-FX section. If you're looking for a standalone powered mixer for small to medium size venue audio production, this is a great pick. It is also ideal for typical gigs and rehearsals, especially if you need onboard effects like reverb and delay.

Specifications

  • Inputs: 8 x XLR, 4 x TRS, 2 x RCA, 2 x 1/4"
  • Channels: 10
  • Power Rating: 2 x 300W RMS @ 8 ohms
  • Phantom power: 8 x Channels
  • Equalizer: dual 7-Band Graphic EQ
  • Outputs: 2 x speakON, 2 x RCA, 1 x 1/4" (Monitor), 2 x 1/4" (Send), 2 x Post (FX), 1 x Pre (Monitor)
  • Onboard FX: reverbs, echo, chorus, delays, multi-fx
  • Weight: 21.8 lbs. lbs.

Rating Source Highlight

Website Source *Rating Value
YouTube JUST ONE ID10T 90/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

The Best Audio Mixers Over $500 (Powered)

Yamaha EMX5

90
GEARANK

90 out of 100. Incorporating 80+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$700
Yamaha EMX5 12-channel 1260W Powered Mixer

Cons

  • Headroom greatly affected by impedance mismatches

Pros

  • Great reliability, good build and audio quality
  • Complete 3-band EQ per channel
  • Compression and feedback suppression welcome additions
  • Very portable

The Yamaha EMX5 is a 12-channel box-type powered audio mixer with portability in mind. It sports a 3-band equalizer section per channel (including the stereo channels), a compressor knob on channels 1 to 4, multi effects, feedback suppression and more. To drive speakers, the EMX5 employs a dual 630W (4 ohms) Class D amplifier.

Ruggedness is the name of the game when it comes to the EMX5. The build quality is topnotch and can perform fine from hot beaches to cold winter events. The size makes it easy to transport and set up. The Mic preamps are also quite good, and works well with common uses of compact PA systems.

As with all amplifier/speaker matchups, it's important to note that impedance plays a key part of headroom. Mismatched speaker impedance causes lower volumes and while the Yamaha EMX5 is capable of pushing 2 x 630W at 4 ohms, that figure gets reduced to 460W at 8 ohms.

Nevertheless, the EMX5 is a wonder of a unit; portable enough to take around while being full featured enough to provide more than adequate levels of tweakability. Matching the output impedance to speakers is the key to getting maximum headroom from this unit.

Specifications

  • Inputs: 4 x XLR, 4 x XLR-1/4" combo, 4 x 1/4", 2 x stereo RCA, 1 x 1/8" (stereo Line)
  • Channels: 12
  • Power Rating: 2 x 630W @ 4 ohms, 2 x 460W @ 8 ohms
  • Phantom power: 8 Channels
  • Equalizer: 3-Band Graphic EQ
  • Outputs: 2 x speakON-1/4" combo, 2 x 1/4" (main stereo line out), 2 x 1/4" (aux 1, aux2), 1 x stereo RCA (record out)
  • Onboard FX: Reverb, Delay, Phaser, Flanger, Chorus, Pitch, Tremolo
  • Faders: 15 x 60mm
  • Weight: 20.9 lbs.

Yamaha EMX5014C

92
GEARANK

92 out of 100. Incorporating 100+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$900
Yamaha EMX5014C 14-Channel Powered Mixer
At publication time this was the Highest Rated Powered Mixer - for the third Edition in a row!

Cons

  • Limted controls and tweakability

Pros

  • Excellent build quality and reliability
  • 14 channels allow more performers through to FOH
  • Great value for money

This 14-Channel mixer is meant to be an all-in-one soundboard for the typical needs of small venue sound reinforcement. It has enough XLR input options and controls for most musical applications, while saving on space and weight.

Something in common with many Yamaha products is the reliability and build quality. The EMX5014C is no exception as the build quality is excellent all around. Sound quality is no slouch either; it has studio grade IMP (mic preamp) with good headroom and quality. It meets the quality standards of units beyond the price of the EMX5014c. The

While this Yamaha mixing board scores points on quality, it falls short on versatility. The monitor outputs don't have much tweakability, which might be a concern for those that want an all-in-one unit. This means that you would have to get a separate feedback suppression or graphic EQ to tailor the monitoring to your tastes and function. There are more modern and expensive options if you're looking for a good Yamaha DJ mixer.

Cons aside, 14 channels for a powered mixer of this size and price is still quite the feat. Add great build quality and reliability to the mix and you have a great value audio gear. If you're looking for a budget-friendly and reliable 14-channel powered mixer, then check out the Yamaha EMX5014C.

Specifications

  • Inputs: 8 x XLR, 6 x 1/4" Mono, 6 x 1/4" (CH 1-6), 4 x 1/4" (CH 7-10, Stereo), 4 x 1/4"(CH 11-14, Stereo, RCA)
  • Channels: 14
  • Power Rating: 350W @ 8 ohms, 500W @ 4 ohms
  • Phantom power: 8 Channels
  • Equalizer: 9-band Graphic (Main), 3-band Sweepable Mid (Channels), 3-band (Stereo)
  • Onboard FX: Reverb, Drum Ambience, Echo, Chorus, Flanger, Phaser, Autowah, Distortion
  • Faders: 14 x 60mm
  • Weight: 23 lbs.

Rating Source Highlight

Website Source *Rating Value
Audiofanzine JimboSpins 80/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

Things to Consider When Buying A Powered Mixer

How Much Power Do I Need?

The key thing to take note of is how big your venue is. Small venues can get away with one or two speakers so checking these speakers for their power requirement to achieve their optimum operating volume is key. Bear in mind that it is much better to distribute power and volume across multiple speakers than it is to push fewer speakers to a loud volume. Not only does it stress your speakers, but it also stresses the people directly in front of them! With soundboards, volume goes hand in hand with dispersion and your power requirement is then a matter of how many speakers are you going to use to achieve an optimum level of volume controls rather than how loud you want one or two speakers to be.

For a more technical explanation, check out this Live Sound 101 primer by B & H.

Inputs, Phantom Power and Channels

The more input options available, the easier it is to accommodate the different mics, musical instruments and tools of performers. If you're using mics that require Phantom Power, you'll want as many XLR inputs with phantom power to match the number of mics. The same rule applies to stereo inputs, line inputs, and channel count. More inputs and channels will let you accommodate more sound sources simultaneously. On the flip side, the inputs and channels require more space and components, which translate to added bulk, weight and cost. So it is recommended to assess your needs prior to buying a sound board. 16 Channels has enough inputs for the usual band setup.

Powered vs Passive Mixers

Stage powered mixers come with built-in amplifiers, so they perform two tasks simultaneously and allow for an even more streamlined and centralized operation. With these, you don't need a separate amplifier, simplifying setup and reducing potential clutter. Since these mixers house the amplifier, all the amp controls are also accessible within the unit. Passive mixers on the other hand require a separate amplifier to work, and along with it extra cables, or you need to use powered speakers. While it does complicate setup, it makes troubleshooting easier since the two units are separated, also reliability is better since there are fewer components within the mixer. Note that many modern setups utilize passive digital mixing desks, because of their versatility.

EQ, Effects and Other Tone Shaping Elements

EQ settings and effects allow you to make quick fixes and adjustments to the resulting sound, which is important especially in a live performance situation. Note that having too many of these options may be detrimental, in that you may waste too much time setting up.

Gear Compatibility

The main compatibility considerations include how many phantom powered mics you'll be using, the number and types of inputs, built-in effects, and the ability to directly connect to a computer for live recording if that's what you need. Another factor is checking to see if your speakers or the speaker you're going to buy have impedances that match the mixer's power. The most common problem caused by impedance mismatching is inefficiency which results in low headroom. Having the necessary ports and controls to monitor via stereo headphones is another important consideration. Some modern digital mixers come with USB output for direct recording. You can do live recording with older analog mixers by using a dedicated audio interface with usb connectivity.

Desk/Console vs Rackmount Form Factor

Choosing the right form factor boils down to how portable you want your setup to be. For more permanent setups, Desk/Console form factors would be the way to go especially when they have faders. Rackmount or Box units offer the convenience of being able to transport them along with other outboard gear you may have. This doesn't mean Desk/Console form factor mixers aren't portable, but it will depend on how much of your setup is integrated as a system. Rackmount systems with outboard gear in the set up allows fast set up and teardown but often don't have the controls and faders like Desk/Console types. You also have to consider cable, power cord positioning. Software digital mixers paired with rack mount units are very versatile, and ideal for recording studios.

Best Powered Mixer Selection Methodology

The first edition was published in 2016.

For this edition, we looked at powered audio mixers that consistently rank well, and we ended up with a short-list of 21 models which you can see in the Music Gear Database. We then collated all related ratings, reviews and forum discussions, and fed over 4,900 of them into the Gearank Algorithm - a 58% increase over the previous edition. This process gave us the rating scores out of 100 that we used to narrow down the list to the highest rated among them. The result is the list that you see above, separated and sorted according to price ranges. For more information about our methods see How Gearank Works.

About the Author and Contributors

Here are the key people and sources involved in this guide's production - click on linked names for information about their music industry backgrounds.

Lead Author & Researcher

Raphael PulgarRaphael Pulgar

I've been an audio engineer for 20 years specializing in rock and metal recordings, and also I play guitar and produce original music for my band and other content creators.

The times that I have worked with powered mixers, the ease of setup and teardown were among the first positives to come to mind. That is why I think that the combo isn't going to go out of style just yet. Despite having powered speakers dominate the market, it can get quite logistically challenging to bring several heavy speakers with amplification along. For practicality, the Powered Mixer + Passive Speaker combo still wins for certain situations.

Contributors

Jason Horton: Editing and Illustrating.

Media

Main/Top Image: Compiled using photographs of Yamaha and Mackie audio mixing consoles.

The individual product images were sourced from websites, promotional materials or supporting documentation provided by their respective manufacturers.

Comments

hello what power amp do I

Hello what power amp do I need to power my z10 thanks mick.

Hi Mick - I'm not sure what

Hi Mick - I'm not sure what you mean by "z10", can you provide a link to an example?

I read it some where that we

I read it some where that we should not use the power mixer to set up with power speaker due to conflict some thing between them and make the power speaker easy blow up after while use them. Is that true? if not then what is best mix between power speaker and mixer?

Powered means that they have

Powered means that they have an amplifier built-in, so if you send an amplified signal from a powered mixer to a powered speaker which is expecting only a line level signal, then yes you will damage the powered speaker.

Technically, you could use a line level output from a powered mixer to safely drive a powered speaker, but then you wouldn't be using the amplifier in the mixer so you'd be paying for an amp you're not using and you'd have extra weight to lug around.

For these reasons it's best to use powered mixers with passive speakers (unpowered) and use unpowered mixers with powered speakers.

If i pick unpower mixer and

If i pick unpower mixer and power speaker and sub speaker, which kind of sub speaker should go with that set? Do i need amplyfier with power sub speaker? Thank you for all your help in past post .

I have interests in the

I have interests in the PreSonus StudioLive 16.0.2 USB. What where the reasons to remove this one? It's a digital mixer, seems really good for small home studio. Is it outdated? Please let me know, thank you.

The PreSonus StudioLive 16.0

The PreSonus StudioLive 16.0.2 only just missed the cutoff for being included when we updated the guide due to other options having higher ratings.

It's ratings are still quite good and many people are happy with having chosen it.

Yamaha will be your best

Yamaha will be your best choice for any high end application in professional audio equipment .

Back when we completed the

Back when we completed the research for this guide, Soundcraft mixers didn't make it onto our short-list, however a quick look at the current data suggests they will at least be on that list when we next update this guide.