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Peavey XR 1200D

powered mixer + HiSys 2 monitors

A PA system you can take anywhere


Nicholas Rowland examines a budget PA system that could put the front-of-house sound back under your control.


No serious live act these days can afford to be without total control of their own stage sound. It's a lesson often learned through experience, but when your band has sweated blood and cried tears over the creation of that unique melange of grunge rock and jazz sampling sensibility, the last thing you want is for it all to be buggered up by someone on the mixing desk who doesn't know your act... or worse still, doesn't care.

The first approach to this problem is to nobble the resident sound engineers with excessive alcohol and quickly replace them with your own crew - risky and expensive. The second is to rush out and buy one of a growing number of mixer/power amp combinations designed for small scale gigging - definitely not as risky, and certainly getting less expensive as more and more manufacturers begin to compete for a slice of the pie.

Among them we have Peavey Electronics Corp of Meridien, Mass, with their 8-, 12- and 16-channel versions of a stereo mixer/amp combination which has the added luxury of an in-built 16-bit digital FX module.

Under scrutiny here is the 12-channel version (codename XR 1200D) which delivers 300 watts per side into 4 ohms. (As indeed does the 16-channel version. The 8-channel is only rated at 200 watts). Of conventional design the mixer offers no real surprises in terms of layout and design, except perhaps the fact that it can generate two separate monitor mixes.

The first thing you notice on switching the desk on is how noisy it is - not in terms of hissy signal paths, you understand, but in terms of the cooling fans. It sounds as though the only thing preventing it from taking off is confirmation from air traffic control! Of course, an efficient cooling system is necessary in the confined space of the casing, and the sound wouldn't exactly be intrusive during a gig. However, I'd think twice about giving the XR1200D a daytime job in my home studio. All mixer channels are equipped with 1/4 inch jacks and XLRs and can swallow mic or line inputs no problem. Phantom power is also available (all inputs at once) at the flick of a switch.

Channel controls comprise gain, pan and fader plus a 4-band EQ section. The EQ controls are all shelving types centred on frequencies of 350Hz, 60Hz, 15kHz and 2.2kHz. Some might lament the lack of a sweepable midrange, but in practice the controls prove musically useful and provide all the tweakability you'll need for live work. For tweaking further down the line the XR 1200D is equipped with a 10-band stereo graphic EQ covering frequencies 63Hz-16KHz.

There are two pre-fader (monitor) and two post-fader (FX) sends. FX send A is normally routed to the in-built FX processor which gives you a healthy selection of fairly high quality reverbs and delays plus some degree of programmability. This can be bypassed if necessary, and the signal routed to a second external FX processor. Each channel also has an insert point, and there are further inserts both at the input to the graphic EQ and at the input to the amplifiers.


Like all good mixers, the XR 1200D includes separate masters for FX send and return and even one for FX pan. You can also apply two FX separately to each of the two monitor mixes - now this is luxury!

If you're going for a stereo mix out front, you'll need an external amp or two to drive the monitors. However, one shake of a patch cable and you can set up the one XR 1200D amp to drive the front-of-house speakers and the other to drive the monitors. (I use the plural here as each amplifier is endowed with two speaker sockets.)

Other ins and outs include headphone socket and connections for recording/playback of tape decks etc, all with associated volume controls.

Metering comprises of a peak LED on each channel plus four-bar graph meters - two for the main stereo outs and one each for the monitor mixes.


Never mind that Mrs Lincoln, how does it all sound? The answer is pretty pokey, as I discovered when using the system to try out a new electronic drum kit for MT's sister magazine Rhythm while my accomplices pegged away on bass and guitar. The system certainly delivers a goodly amount of bottom end: we're not talking subsonics here, but it's easy enough to coax a happening low level groove out of this one, so clubbers take note.

If anything the speakers lack a bit of sparkle at the top end (though one man's sparkle is another man's excessive treble).

Whereas the sound is loud the desk itself is commendably quiet - and this time I am talking in terms of hissy signal paths. What's more, there's virtually no mains hum and no nasty crackling or clicks when you switch FX presets. The output from the amplifiers remains clean almost all the way up to number 11.

The ergonomics of the desk work fine too, although I would have liked to have seen solo/mute buttons on individual mixer channels and brighter coloured knobs - if only to cheer up the sound man a bit.

Overall, the Peavey turns in a solid performance. There's power enough to rock the house in your average pub or club, and sound quality is a definite cut above many of the (admittedly cheaper) all-in-one-box systems which seem to be springing up these days.

If you care enough to want to take charge of your sound, then take care to charge over to where you can give this system an audition.

THE LAST WORD

Ease of use Plug In and play
Originality Not really applicable
Value for money Given the quality, yes
Star Quality More workhorse than prima donna
Price XR1200D £1299 inc VAT
HiSys 2 speakers £295 each inc. VAT
More from Peavey Electronics UK Ltd, (Contact Details)


HiSys 2 speakers

For the all important MT road test my review model came with a pair of HiSys 2 speakers, a two-way design rated at 350watts (continuous). A titanium compression driver/horn takes care of the top end, while a 15" kevlar-impregnated woofer does the business down below.

Fresh out of the box, these speakers look pretty smart, but as they're covered in material reminiscent of Fuzzy Felt I'm not sure how long they'd stay that way. Still, they come equipped with integral stand adaptors plus reliable (though fiddly) Neutrik 4-pin Speakon input connectors, so life isn't all that bad. And, of course, they sound pretty good too, particularly below the stairs.


Hard fax

Mixer channel
Frequency response: 20Hz to 30kHz, +0, -2 dB
Distortion: less than 0.02 per cent @ 0dB
Impedance: low 2Kohm/high 8.6Kohms
Maximum gain: 53dB low input to patch send
Nominal input levels: low -30dB 70mV RMS
high -16 dBV, 160mV RMS

Amplifer section
Output power: 300 watts @ 4 ohms
Total harmonic distortion: less than 0.1% 100mV to rater power
20Hz to 10kHz, 4 ohms (typically below 0.05%)
Hum and noise: 83dB below 300W

FX section
Frequency response: 20Hz-11kHz
Signal to noise ratio: 95dB minimum.


Peavey's FX

No rusty spring reverb jobby this - the effects unit is based on a high quality chip offering a more than halfway decent selection of reverbs and delays. These are organised in eight banks of 16 presets and selected using two rotary controls - one for the banks, one for the presets. The selected bank/preset is shown by a combination of LEDs which have to be cross referenced to a grid on the front panel. The first five banks cover small, medium, large and extra large rooms, gated and reverse reverbs. Banks six and seven give you a range of mono, slapback, stereo and multi-tap delays, (including one which appears to have an infinite loop). The last bank - Multi-Effects - comprises what proves to be a rather inspiring bunch of reverb/delay special effects. Maximum reverb time is 10 seconds plus - more than adequate for making that gig in the closet sound like it's coming from the Cavern. Decay times can also be tweaked using the Delay/Tempo control, which, as its name suggests, also allows you to match delay times to the tempo of the music. This feature is not programmable though, and any adjustments will have to be made by ear as there's no visual indication of selected delay times.



Previous Article in this issue

Korg 05R/W

Next article in this issue

Novation mm10-X


Music Technology - Copyright: Music Maker Publications (UK), Future Publishing.

 

Music Technology - Oct 1993

Donated by: Ian Sanderson

Quality Control

Gear in this article:

Mixer > Peavey > XR 1200D

Monitors/Speakers > Peavey > HiSys 2


Gear Tags:

PA Speaker

Previous article in this issue:

> Korg 05R/W

Next article in this issue:

> Novation mm10-X


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