Allen & Heath PA12-CP
Konrad Skirlis finds A&H’s new powered mixer brimming with features.
llen & Heath has released a new range of small PA
systems that feature some of the renowned aspects
of the bigger, more expensive models in its fleet.
The new Allen & Heath PA12-CP is one of the new
breed of powered mixer that contains individual circuit
boards, pots and copper bus connections common to the
highly regarded ML series. The console offers eight
channels of mic preamplification plus two dual-stereo
line level channels.
The PA12-CP can be mounted in a standard 19-inch
rack, and with a weight of 21kg, justifies its front carry
handles and optional rack ears [NB: pictured is the larger
frame PA20]. Inside is Allen & Heath’s new constant
power amplification providing 500W RMS per channel
into either 4Ω or 8Ω. Additional features include switchable phantom power and HPF on each mic
channel, internal FX, analogue
parametric EQ and
outputs – to
name but a few.
The choice of
S/PDIF digital or
analogue two-track
recording is also available
with a dedicated two-track
(analogue) input for confidence
monitoring. Each of the eight mono
channels and the two balanced stereo channels offer
mute and PFL capabilities as well as four aux buses.
There are two (pre-fade) foldback sends, one post-fade
aux and one post-fade internal FX sends. Furthermore,
the two monitor and L/R master sends include mutes
with additional AFL functions on each long-throw
monitor fader. The L/R main output also contains a
mono output summed from L/R. This has a switchable
sub-bass filter for easy crossover connection in order to
amplify dedicated bass speaker boxes.
On the night, the A&H mixer was used with a QSC
3,000W PowerLight II amplifier, a pair of Martin
F15’s,and an additional pair of F10’s and F8’s, that were
used as vocal monitors and side fills respectively.
Amazingly, all this gear along with the FOH rack, mics,
stands and cabling were comfortably accommodated
within the confines of my standard [very ‘standard’ from
memory! – CH] four-cylinder sedan.
Shaping The Sound
The sound of the PA12-CP was smooth and controllable.
Each channel strip offers four-band equalisation with low
frequency shelving at 60Hz, low/mid shelving at 250Hz,
sweepable high/mids covering 300Hz to 7kHz and high
frequency shelving at 12kHz. The choice of the frequencies is very practical, especially low/mid shelving at
250Hz which I often find to be a troublesome frequency
at live gigs. A range of ±15dB is offered, and boosting or
attenuating frequencies provides the smooth response
Allen & Heath desks are famous for. The 100mm faders
make this small and compact desk feel like a large
console when mixing.
Rather than offer a watered down graphic EQ on the
outputs, the PA12-CP includes a four-band semi-parametric. I can hear the sound of eyebrows being raised, but in
practice, I found the parametric choice more useful than
the seven- or nine-band graphics found on most powered
mixers today. Those of you used to a graphic may have
noticed the lack of discrete bandwidth control on offer
while the parametric allowed me greater precision to tune
in to the exact frequency required without savagely
affecting the overall signal. While individual sound shaping
is best done on desk channels, the function of master bus
equalisation is to fix problems in room acoustics in order
to match speaker-to-room response. In addition, master
bus inserts are offered to help patch outboard devices
such as compressor/limiters. In the case of dedicated
speaker processors, the internal amps provide a slave
output and amplifier breakpoint inputs to access processors before internal amplification takes place!
Loud & Compact
The PA12’s two internal amps can be configured in
different ways to suit venue requirements. Obviously you
can use the on-board power to fire up a stereo house
system (with no monitors); or you can opt for a mono
house system with one monitor send; or use an external
amp (FOH) with the PA12’s internal amplification powering
two independent monitor sends – which is the configuration I used to test the system. The internal amplification is
safeguarded with isolating relays, short circuit and over
current protection as well as an output clip limiter.
I tested the system at a gig in a 700 seat function hall.
Internal Effects
The PA12 includes a built-in digital effects unit offering
reverb, delay, echo and chorus from a selection of 16
presets. While the parameters are fixed, effects can be
edited using a PC connected via Midi while simultaneously running the Allen & Heath PA FX Editor software.
An on-board FX engine of this type isn’t going to replace
outboard FX but the benefits of convenience and instant
access are hard to go past in many situations. Furthermore, a dedicated long throw fader with PFL and Mute
functions made operation a whole lot easier. The master
FX section also includes returns to Foldback 1 and 2 to
provide the stage monitors with effects. In addition, an
option for external effects (using the dedicated return)
works the same way. For small duos or solo acts, an
effects footswitch allows remote effects muting by the
artist on stage.
The PA12-CP has additional features worth mentioning. A 12V lamp connector on the rear of the console
provides for easy and convenient lighting. Connection to
speakers is via speakon cables, and each of the dual
stereo inputs offer both RCA and TRS connectors, each
with independent gain control. The two inputs can mix
together to feed the channel strip or the RCA inputs can
be selected directly to the L/R mix adding greater flexibility to the gain structure of external two-track input
devices. Additionally, the PA12 allows the two-track input
to route directly to the L/R output bus during master
bus fader muting. This makes it possible to keep all input
settings intact without affecting the output stage. This
‘BGM’ (BackGround Music) function allows the twotrack input signal to be routed to the L/R outputs after
the master fader but before the mute switch. A large
green light appears when ‘BGM’ is selected. For
recording, the ‘2TRK Out’ function selects either a pre or
post L/R fader, so recording may or may not be affected
by master L/R fader movements. The ‘Standby’ mode
puts console amplifiers into protect mode when the PA
is left unattended.
PA Assistance
The Allen & Heath PA12-CP offers many more features
over and above standard powered desks of this type. It’s
been designed with a professional touch and using the
console was intuitive and enjoyable. The dual functionality of traditional channel shelving (and sweepable
high/mids) equalisation along with parametric EQ on
the master outputs makes the most of the console’s
compact design features. Overall, the 1,000W power
rating this compact desk offers is very clean – comfortably able to handle low frequencies. With ‘Constant
Power’ amplification, the PA12-CP automatically detects
4Ω or 8Ω speaker impedances thereby maintaining
efficient loads. Mic preamps offer a respectable gain
structure of over 60dB and the S/PDIF digital output is
a bonus for live recording or interconnecting system
processors with digital inputs. Not just another generic
powered mixer, and well worth a test drive.
Distributed by
• Technical Audio Group
Phone: (02) 9519 0900
Email: info@tag.com.au
Web: www.allen-heath.com or www.tag.com.au
• $4,299