Allen & Heath launched its PA series of stereo live sound consoles with the introduction of the PA12-CP and PA20-CP 1kW powered mixers.
The PA series is targeted at live sound customers including PA and A/V rental companies operating smaller systems, bands, music venues, churches and schools. PA12-CP has 8 mono plus 2 dual stereo channels and removable side trims for desk or rack mounting. PA20-CP has 16 mono plus 2 dual stereo channels and is desk-mounted. Key assets include Allen & Heath's own Constant Power amplifier, which gives a full 500W RMS per side into either 4 or 8 ohms, a new padless preamp, internal FX unit, SPDIF output and parametric output EQ.
The mono channels feature an XLR input with individually selected +48V phantom power and a TRS jack input which feed a new two-stage padless preamp which directs line sources to the second stage for improved matching and performance. The EQ is a specially designed 4-band type with shelving LF and HF, a fixed LM band at 250Hz and a swept HM. The 250Hz frequency was carefully chosen for controlling the proximity effects of microphones and eliminating 'muddy' sounds or enhancing 'warmth'. Four auxiliary sends are included, with 2 pre-fade sends for foldback, one post-fade for internal or external FX and another post-fade for additional FX or special feeds. Mute and PFL switches with LEDs, peak metering and a full 100mm fader are also provided.
Each dual stereo channel has stereo TRS jack and RCA phono inputs with independent gain and 2-band shelving EQ. The RCA inputs can be switched direct to the L&R main mix to provide extra returns.
PA12-CP and PA20-CP provide a main output with 100mm fader, mute switch and LED on TRS jacks, plus a mono sum output with level control which can be switched to subwoofer mode. Pre/post fader analogue and digital recording outputs are provided on RCA phono and SPDIF connectors, allowing the user to record to the desired format with minimum hassle.
The two new mixers are the first products to benefit from Allen & Heath's new Constant Power amplifier technology. A pair of 500W RMS professional mixed technology class AB amplifiers is built into each console, with a rear panel switch configuring them for use with 4 or 8 ohm speakers and outputs on locking Speakon connectors. Amplifiers can be assigned to different output combinations for stereo PA, twin foldback or mono PA with single foldback. Allen & Heath has chosen to replace the more usual graphic EQ on the amplifier channels with its own 4 band semi-parametric design. A well-designed parametric EQ can provide more precise management of speakers, particularly foldback monitors.
PA12-CP and PA20-CP have an updated 24 bit version of the high quality built-in FX processor used on Allen & Heath's MixWizard WZ16:2DX console. A choice of 16 practical presets is provided and free software is available for accessing and editing more presets and parameters via MIDI.
Standout features in the master section include 12 segment LED meters, standby switching to disconnect the speakers and an XLR lamp socket. Allen & Heath has also included a BGM (background music) mode switch which plays the 2 track input into the main mix post-fader, allowing recorded music to be played with the main mix fader pulled down whilst patching and between performances.
In terms of build quality, the PA12-CP and PA20-CP both employ the same vertical PCB construction and nutted pots as Allen & Heath's flagship ML5000 touring console.
Allen & Heath's Design Manager, Carey Davies describes how the series was developed: "The PA series is all about professional quality and ease of use for smaller PA systems. We began by looking at the application and put together what we felt to be the perfect package for everyday live events. The result is a really tough, practical design with plenty of fresh ideas and the kind of sound quality that serious pro engineers will be proud of".
Allen & Heath's Sales & Marketing Director, Bob Goleniowski added: "People have been asking us for analogue powered mixers for many years, but we've always refused to bring out a 'me too' product. With the PA series we have found exciting new ways to bring genuine benefits to our customers and we've truly raised the bar in terms of quality and functionality."