Hands-On Review:Behringer EUROPOWER PMP5000 Mixer
More power, more features, and more sound for much less
Darius Van Rhuehl
Musician’s Friend Staff Writer
I’m a dyed-in-the-polyester audio geek with a collection of designer pocket protectors. (Okay, I’m exaggerating a bit; I only have one designer pocket protector.) While I do handle the board and mixing chores for a live television show, my most recent experience with live sound was playing weekends at Balboa Island in SoCal back in the late ’90s.
Since then, my primary focus has been in the studio. So where am I going with this? I’ll be judging the PMP5000 as both a live sound and recording mixer—against a very tough set of standards.
A tower of EUROPOWER
Behringer touts this new series as more powerful than ever, so I figure that this is a good place to start. First of all, the 1200-watt rating on the PMP5000 is peak in bridged mono at 8 ohms, which means you’ll be running a mono output to an 8-ohm subwoofer such as the Behringer B1800X. For sub bass, that’s enough power to shake the floor in a Northridge earthquake kind of fashion. Taking advantage of those 1200 watts to power a sub in bridged mono ties up both rear-panel powered outputs. That means you’ll need a separate power amp to run your main loudspeakers via the top-panel Main Outs. Behringer offers easily affordable power amps for that purpose, such as the EP2500. With that setup, there’s plenty of power for hard rock in a 250-350 seat venue or outdoor concert.
But let’s talk about the built-in power amps. Running the unit in stereo gives you 215-watts per channel at 8 ohms and jumps up to 450 watts RMS at 4 ohms. For pop music, that’s enough power to handle small to mid-size venues. Putting it to the test, I ran the PMP5000 in stereo with two passive 15" two-way loudspeakers in a 50' x 100' room—there was plenty of power to spare. (The rear-panel powered outputs are for passive loudspeakers only.)
Sounding it out
With the power issue firmly resolved, I decided to bring the PMP5000 into my studio for some sound-quality tests. I connected it to a pair of KRK monitors for a little “to tell the truth.” I was particularly interested in the preamps, since they boast a frequency range that is clearly in the realm of boutique pres. As a user of such gear, it was very hard for me to believe that Behringer can give you 12 preamps with a 1dB at 10Hz-155kHz bandwidth in such an affordable mixer, when a standalone single-channel preamp with similar specs runs $3K. Here’s what I discovered. The ultra-high bandwidth handling is on the input side of the preamp. What this means in terms of sound quality, is that your input signal is more phase-coherent as it passes to the output stage of the preamp, which is how Behringer engineers can provide more clarity while keeping costs down.
Being the audio curmudgeon that I am, I didn’t expect to be impressed by the sound of the preamps, but I was pleasantly surprised by their clarity. They certainly give you sound quality well beyond what you’d expect given how inexpensive this unit is.
With gain being listed at +60dB, I gave it the old ribbon mic test. Ribbon mics require at least 60-70 dB of gain in order to work at all, and I had no trouble getting a sweet sound out of my Royer 121. I also tested it with a nice German condenser mic as well as my trusty SM57. All yielded a good and eminently useful sound.
PMP my mixer
Looking over the PMP5000, I’d say the feature set reflects the “we-thought-of-everything” approach. For example, the fader side of the mixer has a handle incorporated into the design while the back panel has feet on either side. You can carry the mixer with one hand, just like a suitcase, and put it down without damaging the back-panel Neutrik-style speaker output jacks—very handy in the clubs when you’re looking for a free table to place your mixer on. Small details have also been considered, such as including guides on either side of the top-panel standby switch to prevent wandering fingers from cutting out your sound during performance. I was also impressed by the build-quality of the mixer casing.
For bands that want to mic drums and vocals, there are 12 mono preamps and four stereo channels with RCA and 1/4" inputs. Two of the stereo channels have two monitor sends, so musicians playing with pre-recorded backing tracks on MP3 or CD players can hear the tracks through the stage monitors. There’s also a Tape In section that has its own level control for playing music during breaks, and a vocal canceller for karaoke-style performance or learning and practicing songs. Its effectiveness depends on the way the song’s vocals are mixed. Overall, I’d say it works pretty well.
The PMP5000 also includes the XPQ Surround effect, which enhances the depth of the stereo field. It did indeed give a sense of spaciousness and extra high-end clarity. Other sonic enhancers include a speaker processing circuit, that adapts the mixer’s output to the frequency range of your speakers, and a feedback detector that lights an LED in the appropriate fader of the seven-band graphic EQ.
The geek speaks
This is a great all-in-one mixer for a budget-challenged band that both gigs and records. You’ve got plenty of power; versatility; and clean, clear sound. And back in your rehearsal space/studio, you have the ability to use it as a recording desk. Dual 24-bit onboard effects processors give you plenty of production options and the preamps provide phantom power and enough gain for you to use any mics wish. If your resources are limited and you’re looking for a mixer to cover as many bases as possible—and do so very effectively—you’ll be glad you bought this mixer.
Features & Specs
- 20-input powered stereo mixer (12 mono,
- 4 stereo)
- 24-bit dual FX processor with 100 presets
- FBQ feedback detection system
- 12 high-quality IMP “Invisible” Mic Preamps
- +48V phantom power
- 3-band EQ, switchable low-cut filter, and clip LEDs on all mono channels
- Stereo 7-band graphic EQ
- Voice canceller for karaoke applications
- Selectable stereo (main L/R), double mono (main/monitor), or bridged mono amp operation
- XPQ 3-D Surround for enhanced stereo image
- Adjustable stereo CD/Tape input
- Multi-functional stereo preamp outputs
- Noise-free audio, superior transient response
- 215W RMS @ 8 ohms per channel
- 450W RMS @ 4 ohms per channel
- 900W RMS bridged mode @ 8 ohms
- Peak Power, both channels driven: 300W @ 8 ohms per channel, 600W @ 4 ohms per channel
- Peak Power, bridged mode: 1200W @ 8 Ohms
- Dimensions: 23-1/2"W x 4-7/8"H x 19-1/2"D