Review: Australian Monitor PicoBlu
A small form-factor, 30W three-channel mixer amp with BlueTooth.
Review:/ Christopher Holder
As a brand, Australian Monitor is like a Victa lawn mower — dependable, Aussie, and hard working. I was going to say it’s like a Hills Hoist but that might be a too close to the bone.
In its day and at its peak, Aussie Monitor amps were in every man-with-a-van install around the country. Lots of brands have subsequently done their best to be the next Australian Monitor — an AV installer’s best mate, providing great-value AV basics.
The PicoBlu mixer-amp from Australian Monitor embodies the plucky spirit of the brand: it sounds good, it’s built well and not weighed down with unnecessary bells and whistles.
Around the front you’ll find level pots for the three sources, along with bass and treble controls.
Around the back are speaker terminals and inputs on RCAs along with an XLR input, principally to plug in a microphone that can be wired to override other sources if you use the mute terminals, providing a simple paging solution. The RCA inputs are internally summed to mono. Stereo? Get real, Charlene.
The amp is rated as 30W RMS but it remains a heavy beast thanks to a chunky transformer that takes care of the 100V high impedance audio — which will allow a cafe or retailer to daisy chain a bunch of constant voltage loudspeakers.
There’s a rackmounting kit if you need it — but Pico Blu is really designed to be bracketed in situ, under a desk or on a wall or sitting in a cupboard.
Distinguishing this mixer/amp from something from 10 years ago is a Bluetooth audio module, which makes connecting a device to the PicoBlu a breeze.
KNOWS ITS PLACE
There’s nothing particularly sexy about PicoBlu but installers don’t want a PicoBlu app to remotely monitor a $400 mixer/amp from their phone. Australian Monitor specialises in set ’n’ forget gear for jobs where ‘no news is good news’.
I’m not branding Australian Monitor as simply a purveyor of ‘dumb’ devices. There are intelligent amps and DSP-based product in the catalogue (and more to come in 2022, according to GM Euan Brown), I’m just saying Australian Monitor knows when to keep things simple and solid. PicoBlu is manifestly a piece of high-quality commercial audio — everything about is reassuringly solid, and there’s a five-year warranty to go with it.
Once hospitality and retail bounces back, doubtlessly Australian Monitor will sell these things hand over fist.
Australian Monitor PicoBlu
Installation Mixer Amplifier
1800 251 367
- 30W mixer amplifier
- 100V or 4Ω output
- 3-channel mixer: Input 1 – Mic/Line; Input 2 – 3.5mm/Line; Input 3 – Bluetooth/Line
- Bluetooth 3.0+EDR audio receiver supporting advanced audio distribution profile (A2DP)
- 3.5mm TRS jack line input
- External mute contact closure
- Small form factor
- Rack or desk mounting kits options
AUSTRALIAN MONITOR GENERAL MANAGER, EUAN BROWN, REFLECTS ON PICOBLU
Euan Brown: The PicoBlu represents the start of a development of an expanded portfolio for us. An awful lot of our products are rack-based, server-room systems. PicoBlu recognises that many customers need a small form factor unit without a huge number of bells and whistles. It can sit under a desk or be mounted to a wall, for example — that’s one of the key things that differentiates it from the rest of our product range.
It’s an all-in-one solution but it’s also a commercial-grade product. So you’ve got that five-year warranty; you’ve got the 100V speaker output that allows you to daisy chain multiple speakers. So this isn’t just a little little stereo, hi-fi solution, it is a commercial-grade product with the features you’d expect.
The BlueTooth connectivity is a great feature. Everyone has a smartphone in their pocket and access to streaming services. It’s provides a very convenient source.