Peavey XR-AT Mixer with Auto-Tune
Who says pitch correction is a tool of the devil?
by Chris Loeffler
Peavey’s XR series monitors have always represented a solid, mid-level powered mixer solution. They're flexible and simple enough to use as a DJ or karaoke rig, but include the features and audio quality that allow bands to play small-to-medium sized venues with pro quality sound for a very reasonable price. Given Peavey’s past engagements with Antares, it seemed inevitable that they would eventually bring Auto-Tune technology into their live sound assortment; that day is here.
The Peavey XR-AT powered mixer is a top-box design with 1,000 watts RMS (1,500 maximum) and 9 channels with built-in Auto-Tune on the first three channels, digital effects, dual 9-band graphic EQs, compression, Bluetooth streaming for audio, USB MP3 playback, and monitor and sub outs.
What You Need to Know
The first eight channels of the Peavey XR-AT accept ¼” or XLR inputs with pad and include independent controls for compression, high, Mid-Morph (which boosts 4k after noon and cuts 250 below noon), low, monitor out, effect blend, and output level. The first three channels also include Auto-Tune from Antares, which can be activated on the mixer or through an optional foot controller. A ninth channel is included for RCA inputs for audio playback devices.
Global controls include built-in KOSMOS-C LF enhancement for increased subs and highs, digital effects assignment, and independent 9-band graphic EQs for the monitors and mains.
The XR-AT is incredibly small and light, weighing 16 pounds and measuring t 9/5x9.5X18”, so portability is definitely a selling point. The construction feels sturdy, the grab bars are a nice feature to encourage appropriate toting, and all the knobs and sliders on the unit I reviewed travelled solidly.
The XR-AT is relatively loud, can sound pretty natural and clean once dialed in (or not, if you prefer to exaggerate the subs for dance music/DJ applications), and is noise and buzz free with clean power. Even when I plugged it in to a dirty power situation it stayed quiet and relatively unaffected. With an acoustic guitar and vocal channel for a singer-songwriter set-up I found it incredibly easy to get crisp, detailed audio that carried space and dimension. Playing with different speakers confirmed that the Peavey XR-AT can achieve exceptional clarity, and 1,000 watts (500 per channel) is plenty loud.
The Auto-Tune feature, the raison d'être and feature that distinguishes the XT-AT from the rest of the XR line, sounds exactly like what you’d expect. If can go from extremely subtle to the robotic, stepped pitch jump hip-hop and pop stars have been using for over a decade. Having used software versions of the Antares Auto-Tune as well as comparable hardware units by TC Electronics, the controls were straightforward (you still need to know the key the song is in to get the best effect). There was an odd doubling at some points, but I suspect that’s the nature of the effect doing its thing in real time.
The effects, like reverb, are utilitarian… they get the job done and sound good enough. I did notice some physical (i.e., not in the audio signal) noise from the internal fan, but it wasn’t enough to be distracting and certainly wouldn’t be heard from six feet away when no signal was present.
The Bluetooth connection and USB drive are nice additions for including backing tracks or playing recorded music between sets
With all the Bluetooth control I’ve seen pop up in the last few years, having an app with some control of the digital parameters would have been even more helpful for people who are used to popping their systems up quickly and making tweaks on the fly.
The Peavey XR-AT powered mixer excels at providing power, clarity, and basic sound enhancement features at an incredibly affordable price ($799.00 Street) in a very small package. -HC-
Chris Loeffler is a multi-instrumentalist and the Content Strategist of Harmony Central. In addition to his ten years experience as an online guitar merchandiser, marketing strategist, and community director he has worked as an international exporter, website consultant and brand manager. When he’s not working he can be found playing music, geeking out on guitar pedals and amps, and brewing tasty beer.