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This article was originally published in issue #25
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As an innovator, Peavey has an impressive track record. Its Tri-Flex speakers introduced the concept of the truly portable sound system over 30 years ago, while its XR series of PA amplifiers were among the first of their type to feature good quality anti-feedback protection, courtesy of the now ubiquitous ‘Feedback Ferret’ that Peavey first introduced during the late 1990s.
Having happily used a 16-channel Peavey XR1212 12-channel mixer as a live desk for the past five years or so, I was intrigued by the opportunity to try the new FX2. Our review focuses on the 16-channel version but the range also currently features 24 and 32 channel models; suggesting that besides weekend warrior musos, the FX2 will also suit a permanent installation in professional music and arts venues, or maybe on the road with multi-instrument bands requiring more than the usual number of channels.
Peavey recently treated its FX series of mixing consoles to an overhaul, resulting in the FX2 range. The FX2 series shares several features with the FX line, notably a flexible four-bus routing setup with four pre-fader auxes per channel that provides four separate monitor mixes, but the FX2 series also boasts several new features that Peavey claims extend the desks’ capacity to function as both a versatile live mixer and a very capable project studio desk.
The desk is housed in a rugged bent steel chassis with rack-mountable lugs. The rackmount function is handy for project studios because, despite having a fairly compact footprint for a 16-channel desk, the FX2 still occupies a fairly hefty chunk of desktop real estate.
Starting with the main channel strip, the mic channel has rotary input gain and a rotary 5-band EQ that combines dedicated low, mid-range and high frequency controls with rotary Mid Freq and Lo Cut controls. The Mid Freq control is useful for helping to compensate for the different timbres between instruments, while the Lo Cut knob can eliminate the annoying low-end rumble that live microphones occasionally suffer courtesy of resonant concert stages.
The PV2 range bristles with processing power in the form of two - yes two - DSP engines whose functions are monitored by the desk’s backlit LCD screen. The user-friendly interface employs just four simple controls that select the three basic modes: Effects, Output Processor and Digital I/O.
Both multi-FX processors offer a selection of up to 10 fully programmable effects, with a maximum of three effects used simultaneously. The effects from each dual processor can be assigned via each processor’s dedicated FX sends, or alternatively the second processor can be assigned to an individual channel or sub-group.
Output Processing mode contains effects that might otherwise be employed in external rack gear; the Feedback Ferret can be run in line with a 5-band graphic parametric EQ and a stereo delay that can be assigned to compensate for the natural delay in large venues, for example the gap between the performer singing or playing a note and the audience actually hearing it in synch with the rest of the band. Whilst it’s doubtful that this feature would see much use with a semi-pro pub or club band, it is nevertheless a good indication of the professional applications that the FX2 is capable of.
Editing and assigning the effects process feels fairly intuitive - definitely no barriers to learning the simple basics here - and the FX2 is fairly easy to drive more or less straight from the box. There is a shallow learning curve to scramble up if, like Yours Truly, you are used to something a little simpler but Peavey hasn’t lost sight of the fact that its end users are mostly gigging musicians and not professional sound engineers.
The FX2’s USB 2.0 port allows audio to be streamed directly onto a memory stick or USB hard drive in real time. Besides the useful facility to record and archive performances directly via USB, the FX2’s USB will also play back audio files.
Live sound users will surely appreciate the built-in Feedback Ferret, a remarkable EQ system that automatically locates and then eliminates offending frequencies that generate feedback. Feedback Ferret still feels almost supernatural in use, despite heading towards its second decade as a standard feature on many Peavey pro audio products but believe us, it works!
The FX2 definitely leans more towards the high end and it's probably fair to say that some of its features may not get a lot of use from the average semi-professional band. But if you've already gone down the path of using separate power amps as opposed to a powered mixer and are looking for a highly capable product to upgrade your rig - particularly if you would like a mixer that can double for recording uses as well as live sound - then this new Peavey has to be on your test drive list. Especially when you factor in Peavey's excellent warranty, it's hard to see how you could go wrong with the FX 2.