Need insight about Powered vs Unpowered Sound Mixer

James Henoch

New member
Hello everyone, I am really new in this forum. I am kinda desperate looking in internet about this topic. I was thinking, this forum will be helpful.

So I am gonna start with background first:
  • well my church want to build better sound system in service hall.
  • Now we only have 2 speakers, installed with stands and 2 subwoofers.
  • Because we have audience also in balcony and the existing output sound system is not enough to cover the whole room.
Our plan: is to add 4 more speakers and hang it on the ceiling (2 on the left, 2 on the right).
I have been searching for the best speakers, and I was thinking to offer them to get passive speakers, because based on what I understood, it's lighter to be hung, no need to switch power on and off on the speaker and it's cheaper when we want to upgrade it (correct me if I am wrong). But in opposite, I am aware that we need external power amplifier to power up the passive speakers.
But then I am confuse, when it comes to integrating this new speakers to digital mixer we already have.

Sound Mixer: Behringer Digital Mixer X32, Powered by MIDAS & KLARK TEKNIK

My question:
1. Is Behringer Digital Mixer X32 a powered or unpowered mixer?
2. With this sound mixer, do we still need to buy external power amplifier?
3. If we still need the external power amplifier, how can we integrate it with the sound mixer?

That will be all for now, any suggestion and insights are welcomed and appreciated.

Thank you all!
That line "Powered by Midas and Klark Teknik" is misleading. It doesn't mean the mixer has a power amp built into it. It just means it benefits from some technology owned by the parent company that also owns Midas and Klark Teknik.

Yes, you need an amplifier, possibly two or three depending on the speakers and the required volume.

The line level output of the mixer is connected the the line level input of the amplifier. It may be as simple as chaining the output to all the amplifiers, or you might use separate outputs from the mixer to control the sound in different areas. Another possibility is to have a speaker processor between the mixer and the amplifiers.

This is a great forum, and there's a lot of expertise here, but you might consider taking this question to Pro Sound Web's H.O.W. (house of worship) forum. There are some real pros over there. They do have a rule of using real names (which you appear to be doing here).

The X32 is happy feeding either amps or powered speakers, nowadays it really doesn’t matter, and amps are also class D so much lighter. There are plenty of outputs on an X32 so the mixer is, just a mixer. The thing that is more of a concern is that just slapping speakers up is not a guarantee of better sound. You start to get problems with time alignment. People can detect delays of very small amounts and we are all different. I can work with a 9ms delay but a friend can’t. Another is comfy with 13ms and I’m sort of in the middle. Sound travels at 300m a second(ish) so if you are in the balcony close to one speaker but can also hear the others. If there are a total of 8 speakers and you can hear them all, instead of one hand clap you get 8 separate ones. If the space is small enough that the arrival times are so close they merge, all is good, but the maths shows you how bad it will be. Real sound designers build their systems to cope with this, but getting every seat a low delay time is very hard. It is not just a case of popping in speakers wherever there’s something to mount them on. Modern churches are just like theatres and other performance venues so easier that our gothic reverb traps we have here in the UK. In old churches, sensible audio people suddenly become very busy in the diary, because sorting these is expensive and guaranteed to be difficult.

if you have some speakers on stands, it could be better to put more speakers there but direct them where they are needed. HF from speaker boxes is directional, bass isn’t. Maybe what you have does not need adding to, but the whole thing rethinking? That’s often a better solution.
I"m someone with experience in designing sound systems and doing live sound in many old New England spaces, which are near legendary for being reverberant with huge issues with intelligibility. Rob did a good job of outlining the problem with balcony speakers but the best solution would be to use multiple delay lines. This would involve a loudspeaker management system such as a DBX Driverack 260. The way delay lines work is that the speakers further away from the mains have added delay so that as the sound from the mains arrive at the secondary speaker position, the delay matches the timing and so the balcony speakers would be in time with the mains.

This approach allows the secondary speakers a better ratio of direct sound to the balcony listeners vs reflected which will aid in clarity and intelligibility. Setting something up like the Driverack is fairly strait forward as it has settings in both ms or ft. You measure the distance and add the approximate delay and adjust by ear at the rear listening position.

In difficult rooms such as reverberant spaces, more speakers spread out closer to the listeners is the better solution to getting good sound than one bigger cluster up front. Just needs to be properly delayed.
You could just use the delay feature built into the X-32 to experiment. Go to routing, select the outputs and bottom right is an adjustable delay in mS. No real need for a driverack for simple stuff like this.
You could just use the delay feature built into the X-32 to experiment. Go to routing, select the outputs and bottom right is an adjustable delay in mS. No real need for a driverack for simple stuff like this.
Not familiar with the X-32 routing so my question would be if the main mix output is routable to the auxes? Goal would be that the main sliders control the entire system. What I like about something like the drive rack is the crossover, EQ and limiter along with RTA features. It's two in and 6 out where speaker curves can be entered for specific boxes. I had long throw boxes that required an EQ curve with specif Q settings that are hard to get with parametric or 31 band.
You can do all that in the mixer. What would you want the master out routed for the auxes for? These mixers have large numbers of outputs on the XLRs, and the routing is flexible enough to allow you to use those, or even the matrix section. If you want fills, or video feeds or just more outputs you can patch these so you have control individually or route things pretty much however you fancy. They can have EQ too. Lots of people do their subs via these outputs. One of mine in a theatre at the moment has all sorts of strange routing 15 and 16 at the stage end run to the main system, 13 and 14 feed the subs, 11 and 12 go to front fills, 1 to 4 run to 4 monitor amps, and 7 and 8 are patched to be the same as 15 and 16 - I cannot remember why!
Interesting board. Seems unusual but perhaps this is what the current crop of digital consoles does. I was an early adopter of digital for live. So early it created a lot of issues with riders and getting acceptance from traveling engineers. I remember one major show, I had to agree to bring a 40 channel Midas and a rack of analog processing in case the engineer wouldn't accept the Yamaha digital console. Engineer got the concept in about 5 minutes and the promotor had to pay a lot of money for a rental that didn't get used.
The concept has been stretched with each firmware update - I've got a Midas M32 as well - and it's just got nicer faders and buttons and a slightly different layout - but they're the same really. As the firmware changes - functions move to different menus and bits get added. At first, you could only re-route channels in blocks of 8 - so first 8 came from the digital stage box, then you had 8 local channels, then on the next layer - back to stage or wherever. Umpteen years later, we can patch any input to virtually any output.

It does confuse other people - I set the thing up my way - and then one of my guys does the next show or project and he wants it different. The best bit is I save my setup to a USB stick, and so does he - so we can mix and match! It's sometimes madness - when I want to play music in from the USB drive, but he's removed the USB audio system from it's usual fader and I can't find it! For me - the nicest update was when you bash the EQ button and the curves pop up - they're overlaid with a spectrum scope - so when the drummer goes bang bang bang - you can see it's 3.2K, and not have to hunt for it!