Crate PFR-15 PowerForce PA sytem | Crate CSM-1402 Stereo Console Mixer

September 17, 2009 by  

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Crate–In recent years, all-in-one PA systems have become a hot item. These units offer a mixer, power amp and a pair of speakers in one portable package. The problem with many of them, hover, is that they don’t give you much room to grow. And while a two- or three- channel PA with small speakers and a meager amount a lot of power is fine for solo gigs, it won’t be much use when you decide to add a bassist or a second guitarist.

Enter Crate’s PFR-15 PowerForce PA, a portable system that can be expanded upon as your needs change. The unit consists of a speaker cabinet that includes a built in mixer, power amp, crossover and graphic equalizer. On its own, the PowerForce is a stand-alone monitor or PA for solo gigs. Used in conjunction with several PFR-15s and an external mixer, it provides you with a complete system.

Channel one of the PFR-15’s two-channel mixer has an unbalanced ¼-inch line input and a balanced XLR mic input with phantom power. Channel two has an unbalanced ¼-inch and RCA jacks to permit use of a tape deck or CD player, and both the ¼-inch and RCA inputs can be used simultaneously. Each channel has a gain control and a two-band equalizer, and channel one also features a low-cut filter designed to eliminate wind noise from microphones. In addition, the unit features a master seven band eq (+/- 12dB on each band) and a master volume control. Each PFR-15 enclosure is equipped with one 15-inch speaker and a two-inch high-frequency driver. The biamp design delivers 175-watts of the low frequencies and 65-watt for highs.

We tested two PFR-15s in a rehearsal room, with and without an external mixer. Hooking up the units was extremely simple, and the manual provides easy-to-follow diagrams for a variety of applications and configurations. As a stand-alone unit, the PFR-15 was well suited to the needs of a singer/guitarist, although with just two channels, the PowerForce required players to unplug in order to switch instruments. There are also no built-in effects or aux sends, but you can use the unit’s line-in and line-out jacks as an effects loop to patch in reverb or other outboard effects.

The PowerForce has no feedback filter, but the channel eq and master eq were useful for solving noise problems. We tested the PFR-15 using a Shure SM-58 Microphone and, alternately, a Martin D1 acoustic and Fender Strat, both plugged straight into the PFR-15. The unit clearly reproduced vocals and the sounds of the instruments with plenty of power and range.

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While a small compo could conceivably chain together multiple PFR-15s, using some as monitors and some as house speakers, a mixer would be requisite to the needs of a full band playing large venues. To this end, Crate’s CSM-1402 is a 10-channel mixer that packs all the essentials into a small, lightweight and easy-to-use board. While it doesn’t offer a lot of fancy features or extras, it does include everything you need in a small live-sound mixer. The board contains six mic/line inserts (for patching in dynamics processing units, such as compressors). Each of the four remaining channels features stereo ¼-inch line inputs, three-band eq and two aux sends. The CSM-1402’s master section includes two stereo and aux returns, master tape ins and outs, balanced XLR master stereo outputs and a ¼-inch mono master output.

The CSM-1402 is well designed, with controls that are spread out and clearly marked. It lacks some of the features that other compact mixers offer (in particular, subgroup/busses and sweepable midrange on the channel eqs), but for a basic live-sound set-up, it has everything you need in a convenient, affordable and user-friendly package.

End Line

Crate’s PFR-15 PowerForce is a brilliant idea. Throw a couple of them together with a CSM-1402 mixer and you have a fully functional PA. If you’re looking for a simple, easy-to-operate PA equipment that will get the job done, look no further.–Discontinued Products

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