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Hands-On Review: Peavey XR 8300 and XR 8600 Powered Mixers

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Legendary mixers with the latest technology

By Sam Plisskin

Peavey XR 8300 Powered Mixer

A clumsy friend of mine has a 20-year-old Peavey mixer and he swears it’s totally indestructible. He’s dropped it down the stairs too many times to count and it still sounds as good as the day he bought it. So when I heard Peavey was updating their legendary XR Series mixers, I knew I had to check them out. Not only are they built with a rugged casing and Peavey’s exclusive technologies, the XR 8300 and XR 8600 powered mixers feature a host of DSP effects, dual power amps, new ultralow-noise mic preamps, subsonic filter to prevent low-frequency problems, and multipoint clip sampling that makes the DDT speaker protection even more effective.

The engineers at Peavey have updated the XR mixers with the latest smart technology, including high-quality recording preamps—the same preamps they put on their high-end mixers. The new multi-Q bandwidth circuitry in the graphic EQ allows some filters to perform feedback control while others perform tone control. Peavey’s patented Feedback Locating System (FLS) makes ringing out the room to neutralize feedback-producing frequencies a piece of cake. Peavey also put signal and clip indicators on every channel instead of just one. Also, a track select button for karaoke was added to help when using soundtracks that are split into vocal and accompaniment tracks.

The only difference between the XR 8300 and the XR 8600 are the dual power amps. The XR 8300 delivers 300W per channel @ 4 ohms while the XR 8600 dishes out 600W per channel @ 4 ohms. The power amps can run parallel in dual main mode, making their full power available to the main output, or they can be used independently to drive both mains and monitors.

Rock solid

When I got the box from Musician’s Friend, I pulled out the robust XR 8600 mixer and looked it over. The first thing I noticed was how sturdy it was—this mixer certainly lives up to the Peavey name. The indestructible casing is made out of polycarbonate—the same material as football helmets. This thing would easily survive a bar fight and come out in perfect shape. An optional coverplate made of rugged plastic can be snapped on over the knobs, saving you from having to unplug your cords while ensuring nobody messes with your settings.

The versatile I/O includes eight boutique mic preamps, 10 line inputs, a pair of RCA inputs, EFX defeat jack for an optional footswitch, a 1/4" monitor output, 1/4" main output, and a pair of RCA outputs. Two Power Amp In jacks provide direct paths to the power amps. The main/monitor and main outputs are combination 1/4" - Speakon jacks. Peavey recommends using Speakon cables because they offer more protection and lower distortion, but these combination jacks let you use the 1/4" speaker cables you already have until you’re ready to step up.

Each channel has 3-band EQ, monitor send and effects send, signal and clip LEDs, and a gain control. There’s also a 48V phantom power switch, a mute button for channels 1-8, and a 16-effect DSP section with parameter control. The effects are assignable to each input channel as well as the main and monitor outputs via independent level controls. Other controls and indicators include FLS Feedback Locating System LEDs, two 7-band graphic EQs (one main/one monitor) with 12dB of boost or cut, an LED to indicate that Peavey’s award-winning DDT speaker protection is active, monitor and main level knobs, power amp mode switch, and a power LED.

Peavey XR 8600 Powered Mixer

Ready to rock

I took the XR 8600 to a gig I had at a local club with a rock cover band. We miked the drums and plugged those into the first three channels, then connected the guitar and bass to channels 4 and 5, plugged a vocal mic into channel 6, a synth into channel 7/8, and a CD player in channel 9/10 to play during breaks. We rung out the system with help from the FLS Feedback Locating system in a matter of minutes then dialed in the EQ. I was really impressed with its musicality and ease of use. At the onset of feedback, the FLS indicates which slider on the graphic EQ you need to adjust to kill squeals, making it easy to get maximum gain-before-feedback.

The mic preamps were topnotch—it was hard to believe Peavey found a way to put them on mixers so affordable. The 16 digital effects include several reverbs and delays, plus two effects that brighten vocals and add ambient reverb. Our singer really liked the vocal enhancers and the other effects were good enough to consider leaving my outboard pedals at home.

When it came time for our much-needed break, all I did was mute channels 1-8 and play the CD I had ready to go on channels 9/10. When we were ready to play again, I just unmuted channels 1-8 and all the levels were right where I left them.

I was definitely impressed with Peavey’s updated XR mixers. They offer plenty of power, superb sound, and intuitive control, not to mention the killer low prices. Combine that with loads of input options and renowned Peavey reliability, and you’ve got the mixer you’ve been waiting for!

Features & Specs

  • XR 8300: 300W/ch @ 4 ohms
  • XR 8600: 600W/ch @ 4 ohms
  • 8 ultralow-noise mic preamps
  • 48V phantom power
  • 10 line inputs
  • Combination 1/4" - Neutrik Speakon
  • 3-band EQ on each channel
  • Monitor send and effects send on each channel
  • 25dB pad on channels 1-6
  • Signal and clip indicators on each channel
  • Dual main or main/monitor operation
  • Dedicated 7-band graphic EQ for mains and monitors with FLS
  • DDT speaker protection
  • DSP-based effects with parameter control
  • Channel mute switch
  • Rugged plastic case

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