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The Small/Start-Up Church Gear Checklist

Avoid the "inventive" systems cobbled together by well-meaning folks by doing it right in the first place...

By Brian Gowing March 9, 2017

Analog Vs Digital Mixers

Here’s the difference between an analog board and a digital board. With an analog board what you see is what you get. That means that if you want to change a setting, there’s a knob on each channel for it.

On a digital board, you have to bring that channel into focus since the function of the knobs on a digital board change depending on what you’ve got on the screen.

A digital mixer is a computer and is subject to the same issues that a computer has. An analog board has greater latitude in the environment it’s operated in and can tolerate a greater range of temperature, humidity, and power variances.

A digital board has all of the effects, dynamics and individual channel EQs and front of house EQs needed, which means the above gear can be paired down. An analog board doesn’t have the luxury of having all of that built in.

Consider the Allen & Heath Qu16, Behringer X32, Midas M32, and the Soundcraft Si Expression line. They are a decent chunk of change but when factoring in the additional capabilities and what you’d be spending for a decent EQ and compession, it’s about even. PreSonus StudioLive mixers also continue to be very popular.

Da Fat Channel

PreSonus, along with other companies like Soundcraft and Behringer, offers digital mixers with a single-channel surface design. PreSonus calls it the Fat Channel design. This is where everything for a given channel is shown all at one time. No layers to wade through. It’s not as intimidating as higher end digital boards.

It’s important to note that digital mixers do not all have the same workflow. Demo several to find which works best for your situation.

Powered Loudspeakers & Subs

Why powered? Because in a relatively short time they’ve come a long way.

Powered loudspeakers along the lines of QSC K or KW Series have built-in amplifiers and crossover circuits custom tailored to the specific loudspeakers. Plug in the equivalent sub, hook up the mains, and you can rest assured that the subs will crossover at the optimum frequency and that each amplifier is designed to produce the maximum sound for the given loudspeaker. No additional amps or crossover boxes to wire in and fuss over.

Be aware that you’ll need to have power receptacles located near the loudspeakers to plug them in, and that they’re heavier than non-powered models. While they may seem more expensive, by the time you factor in the cost of the proper amps and crossovers, the powered direction comes out equal.

Powered Stage Monitors Or In-Ear

Monitor loudspeakers are the typical – some say “old-school” – way for musicians to hear themselves on stage.

What musicians need to hear is quite different than what the congregation needs to hear.  Most musicians want the lead vocal and lead instrument to focus on what they’re doing. Sometimes they’ll need to bring their instrument into their mix. Vocalists always need to be able to hear themselves.

Monitor wedges require the sound team to mix each musician’s monitor mix from the sound booth. The problem is with more monitors on stage and multiple monitor needs, stage volume becomes a problem. This is especially true if the drums are right behind any vocalist.

In-ear monitors are pretty much headphones plugged into a box. They take the individual channel sends from the mixing board and allow each musician to create their own mix. By being on headphones, stage volume isn’t a concern.

In-ears take some getting used to because of the amount of audio isolation. To compensate, it’s common to have a microphone on the stage aimed out at the audience and mixed into the musician’s mixes. In-ears are usually more expensive than monitor wedges.


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