Mixer vs Receiver: What’s the Difference? (+5 Answers)

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Mixers and receivers are used in a lot of applications and environments. Some of these include; recording studios, public address systems, televisions, home theater systems, and more. They are a key component in many audio applications.

However, many don’t know the difference between the two, and there are some misconceptions about these two audio devices. So after some hours of research, here is every thing I learned about Mixers and Receivers.

What Is a Mixer?

A mixer is an electronic device that is used for changing the levels and quality of audio signals. It is also referred to as an audio mixer or a mixing console. Mixers are basically used for mixing, balancing, and combining different sounds and audio signals. It is the easiest way of combining or routing different audio signals.

Mixers offer you the opportunity to adjust the different incoming signals to enable you to achieve the highest quality output possible. It can also be used to change the dynamics and timbre of a sound.

There are a lot of mixers available, and they come with a variety of configurations that enable these mixers to be a central connection point for external devices. They come with various inputs which can be used to connect microphones, instruments, and other equipment.

Most of them can enable you to mix analog and digital signals and are a key component to managing live and studio-recorded audio.

Analog Mixer

Analog mixers are good for live sounds and recording. However, they do not have the automation and programmability needed for complex shows and recordings.

Analog mixers do not give you the option of wireless control and are less expensive as compared to digital ones. They have fewer onboard audio effects like digital mixers, and most of the control knobs and fades on them are located on the bottom panel of the board. With analog mixers, each control on it performs a single function.

Powered Analog Mixer

A powered analog mixer refers to an analog mixer that has an in-built power amplifier. It is usually referred to as a powered mixer. Powered mixers combine an amplifier and the cables that connect them to a mixer into one compact unit.

These mixers are usually portable and easy to set up as well. This is because, with powered mixers, you don’t have to carry around separate amps. The sound can be played by connecting the cable from the mixer directly to the speakers.

Digital Mixer

Digital mixers are a type of mixer that gives you a wider range of control than traditional mixers have to offer. Digital mixers process audio signal inputs and regulate the volumes and tone using digital signal processing technology. 

These mixers come equipped with equalizers that adjust the tone of every individual channel, among other features.

Digital mixers can also save the positions of controls, faders, and knobs and can recall or load these positions instantly. They are great for making quick scene changes during theatre productions. Most digital mixers have wireless remote control features. This means you can perform the mixing on your tablet or laptop while moving around.

What Is a Receiver?

A receiver basically refers to an amplifier that has a built-in radio tuner and usually comes with at least a two-channel stereo model. Receivers work by receiving audio signals and amplifying these audio signals to drive multiple speakers. Some receivers also receive and transmit corresponding video signals to display devices such as televisions or projectors.

A receiver has extra functionalities such as tuner, radio, volume controls, input selection, etc. Just like a mixer, a receiver comes with a number of connections and outputs. Some of these standard connectors include USB, HDMI, S-Video, Analog and digital audio connectors, etc.

Stereo Receiver

A stereo receiver is a type of receiver that is engineered purely for audio. It comes with two separate amplifiers. This means it has only two channels of amplification.

Stereo receivers usually have functions such as radios, volume controls, and input selectors for choosing different audio sources. However, it does not support video. It is a great option for people who are mainly interested in listening to music.

AV Receiver

AV receivers are a type of receiver that supports both audio and video and usually have more than two channels of amplification. They are optimized control hubs that serve as the central connection between your home theater audio and video requirements. AV receivers are engineered to deliver phenomenal home theater sound.

The majority of AV receivers on the market have either five or seven channels of amplification. AV receivers with five channels of amplification are usually referred to as 5.1 receivers, while those with seven channels are referred to as 7.1 receivers.

AV receivers support audio and video; hence they have the option for multiple inputs. This allows you to connect gaming consoles, media streaming devices, speakers, television, etc.

Is a receiver a mixer?

A receiver is not a mixer. Mixers are designed to control the levels of different audio signals are sent to speakers, while receivers are basically amplifiers that come with a radio option. Receivers are mainly responsible for amplifying the relatively weak signal that comes out of the mixer.

The only mixer that comes close in terms of functionality to a receiver is a powered mixer. This is because, just like receivers, powered mixers are also responsible for amplifying the relatively weak signals that enter them. However, receivers are not mixers. Therefore, though there are mixers that may look like receivers, they are not the same.

What Is The Difference Between A Mixer and A Receiver?

There are three different types of mixers and two types of receivers. These mixers have slight variations among themselves. The same goes for the two types of receivers available. Due to this, the difference between a mixer and a receiver will depend on the type of receiver and mixer in question.

That notwithstanding, fundamentally, this is the difference between mixers and receivers. 

Receivers come with a radio option, while mixers do not. This means that all receivers are designed to enable you to tune in to radio stations whiles mixers do not.

Also, receivers work by increasing line-level signals sufficiently to drive one or more loudspeakers. On the other hand, mixers are traditionally designed to simply combine the inputs of different devices, while amplifiers are designed to take audio signals and increase them.

A receiver is basically an amplifier. This means receivers are designed to strengthen low-amplitude signals and make them larger, while audio mixers are designed to combine multiple signals into a single output or group of outputs.

Although there are lots of powered mixers which also increase line-level signals, traditionally, a mixer is by itself not an amplifier. 

Can I use a receiver instead of a mixer?

No, you can’t use a receiver in place of a mixer. Receivers and mixers are two different audio devices that serve different purposes. A receiver is engineered to amplify audio signals, while mixers are primarily designed to combine input from different signals and output them.

Mixers are primarily used at live concerts or shows for broadcasting and recording purposes as well. On the other hand, a receiver is basically home stereo equipment and is not built for mobile and heavy usage. This is because the mechanical construction of these receivers is not very sturdy. 

Also, the cooling system in most receivers may not be enough to protect against overheating of components when these receivers are subjected to heavy usage.

Though there are quality receivers out there, they are designed to function differently from mixers. Therefore, you can’t use receivers instead of mixers for the same purpose.

Do you need a receiver if you have a mixer?

Aside from powered mixers, which can work independently without a receiver, all other mixers require that they be connected to receivers. This means, if you own a non-powered mixer, you need a receiver to go with it. This is because a receiver or an amplifier is needed to drive your non-powered mixers.

If you own a powered mixer, you don’t need to combine it with a receiver. This is because powered mixers have their own amplifiers built inside them. Hence they do not depend on external receivers(amplifiers) to boost the audio signal that passes through them.

On the other hand, non-powered mixers do not come with inbuilt amplification. Due to this, they depend on external devices such as receivers for amplification. Therefore, if you own a non-powered mixer, you need to get a receiver to go along with it.

Can you connect a mixer to a receiver?

You can connect a mixer to a receiver. Many mixers come with line outputs which you can use to connect to the inputs on receivers. Connecting a mixer to a receiver will increase the input capacity of your receiver. This will enable you to indirectly connect microphones, musical instruments, and other sound-producing devices to your receiver.

To connect your mixer to your receiver, you need to first identify the type of connectors that will be needed. Most mixers have a mono output port that accepts mono plugs. This means you can connect mixers to receivers using cables with mono phone jacks on one end and RCA jacks on the other end.

To do so, you can connect the left and right 1/4″ outputs on the mixer to the left and right RCA inputs on your receiver. If your receiver is connected to speakers and your mixer has an audio signal passing through it, you should be able to hear the sound being generated.


In summary, a receiver is an amplifier that has a radio section built into it. Receivers primarily work by amplifying sound so that it can be transmitted to speakers. It also allows you to choose the audio or video you want to listen to or watch. On the other hand, mixers are audio devices used to combine and change the tone, level, and dynamics of audio signals.