Behringer has finally entered the Personal Monitor Mixing arena. Their new PowerPlay P16 Digital Personal Monitoring System is yet another in the recently growing personal monitoring realm. It joins Roland, HearBack, and Aviom. Wait, what’s that? It’s JUST LIKE THE AVIOM SYSTEM? Let’s explore…
The PowerPlay system has four components;
- 16-channel personal mixers
- Mounting brackets for the mixers
- Input module for the rack
- Optional distributor for a stage-centric hook-up for the monitor mixer cabling.
Here’s is the information straight from Behringer…
The P16-M’s simple user interface makes it easy for even non-techies to dial-in the perfect monitor mix. For example, let’s say the electric guitar is too loud in the lead vocalist’s mix; they simply press the appropriate channel button (the one labeled E. GTR) and turn the Volume control to lower the guitar level in their mix. They can also adjust Pan (left to right mix), EQ (Bass, Mid with sweepable Freq control and Treble), and much more. All of these adjustments can be made without affecting anyone else’s personal mix.
A basic installation consists of one P16-I Input Module, which connects to the main mixing console, and up to six P16-M Personal Mixers, creating a system big enough to equip a typical recording studio, a small to medium-sized band, or a worship team. You’ll also need a few standard audio and CAT5 cables. The optional P16- MB mounting bracket allows the P16-M Digital Personal Mixer to be attached to any standard microphone, music or drum stand. The system can easily be expanded via the P16-D Digital ULTRANET Distributor, six of which can be combined to drive up to forty-eight P16-M Personal Mixers.
The POWERPLAY P16 puts total control of the monitor system where it belongs—in the hands of the performers, freeing up the engineer to sculpt the perfect front-of-house mix. The POWERPLAY P16 system is the easy, affordable way to tame runaway stage volume and give your musicians and vocalists what they really want—“more me!”
Similarities between PowerPlay and Aviom
At first glance, the Behringer and Aviom components are very similar in functionality. The set-up is the same, the components are similar. The glaring difference I see between the two is their personal monitor mixers. I think Behringer missed the mark here in two areas; the channel buttons seem noticeable smaller and thus can be prone to the user hitting the wrong buttons AND the bloody mixer mount. Here’s my gripe on the monitor mount; it’s required! Aviom sells the mounts as separate components so after you pay the $500 or so dollars for one mixer, you have to shell out more just for the mounting stand. I had hoped that Behringer learned from Aviom and would have included it with the mixer but alas, they did not.
Differences between PowerPlay and Aviom
Price is the biggest factor I see that this point. It’s too early to tell how well the PowerPlay will hold up under usage and what users think of the sound quality.
PowerPlay P16 is new to the market and I could only find one English web site that sold the components, so here is what you’d expect to spend on a setup;
P16-I 16-Channel Input Module
16-Channel Digital Personal Mixer
P16-I 16-Channel Digital ULTRANET Distributor
Mounting Bracket for P16-M
Therefore, for six musicians, that’s;
Sale Price: $1780
Compare that to Aviom’s $5800 and we’re talking a healthy $2000 difference at the least. There is a difference of $120 between each personal mixer so consider that if you need more than six!
Here is where I hesitate to make a judgment call as to which personal monitoring system is the better product. I’ve used the Avioms and I really like them. I have only used a couple of Behringer products over the years with nothing good or bad to say about them. However, when looking at customer opinions of Behringer products, you can easily find as many people as hate them as love them.
Considering this is a new product from a company with mixed reviews, before you jump on the “I’ll-buy-it-just-because-it’s-cheaper” bandwagon, demo it from a dealer. I’m not sure how quickly you can expect your dealers to have these available. However, before you try to demo, check out this article on demo’ing from churchtecharts.org.
*Let’s not forget that just because your church goes with any personal monitoring system that you are completely off the hook from responsibility. There is a learning curve and you also want to ensure the musicians are pulling in the right sounds for playing in time and in key.