At the time that I’m writing this a pandemic is winding down while shipping costs from China are on the rise. The rising cost of gear ownership is putting a strain on the music community. If you are getting ready to play out in small venues where you’re expected to bring your own sound, keep reading. Places like coffee shops, pubs, and restaurants will soon be hiring you to play. You’ll need a small, portable mixer that won’t break the bank or your back. Here are The Audio Brew’s top 3 portable mixers.
The Bose T4S 4-channel ToneMatch Mixer is perfect for small gigs. If you’re a solo singer-songwriter or even a duo, you’ll have everything you need to play any small to medium size gig. It does pair nicely with ToneMatch port-equipped Bose speaker systems (L1 Model II, L1 Model 1S, but you can plug it directly into any other setup. Chances are you own a set of powered speakers and these will plug directly in with either an XLR or 1/4″ cable.
The T4S also adds that extra shine to your live performance. You’ll get channel-level control over dynamics, EQ, and effects. There’s even a dedicated EQ for the overall mix in the venue. We all know how well most small venues are treated for sound. If 4 channels are not enough, there’s the Bose T8S ToneMatch Mixer.
In all reality, one of the best things about the Bose T4S is its size. It’s very compact and could easily sit on a music stand or stool. So long and whatever you put it on is stable, you should be fine!
The Allen & Heath ZED-6FX is a great 4-channel mixer if you’re working on a tight budget. I know you’re wondering why I’m not talking about Behringer for this category. That’s because this category is best in budget and not cheapest. Allen & Heath builds durable mixers at a killer price.
This mixer is perfect for solo artists. There are two XLR inputs for mics and two additional stereo channels for instruments like digital pianos, digital drums, or synthesizers. When you account for the two stereo channels, you would need a 6-channel mono mixer to compete. These two stereo channels really give you an advantage.
If you like having hands on control, and not paging through menu systems, this mixer might be right for your next small gig.
If you’ve been around the music scene for more than 20 years, you know Peavey. This little giant is a classic powered mixer design resembling an overweight guitar amp head. If you own passive speakers and need a small powered mixer to take to shows, this is your stop. The tactile knobs for level, EQ, and EFX sit squarely on the face.
With the PVi 6500 mixer, you’ll get a lot more connectivity than others in its class. An old-school RCA input is easily accessible on the front for your phone or MP3 player. You could also use it as an input for something like a Roland V-Drum kit – essentially making this an 8-channel mixer. Bluetooth wireless connectivity works with your phone or tablet to stream music to the system.
The PVi 6500 has enough power to fill a small venue and enough channels to handle a small band. If the idea of combining an amp with your mixer is appealing, then this is your ticket. If you have powered speakers, you’ll want to pass on this. You won’t need a powered amp if you have powered speakers. You could easily damage your equipment by plugging in a power amplifier into already powered speakers.
Following a receding pandemic, you will want to start getting back into the mix. I’m already seeing small venues like bars and restaurants opening back up with live music. You want to be prepared to play and stay safe at the same time. At some point, you have to get back to doing what you do. Now get back to it – Cheers!