Is a Digital Mixing Console Right for Your Church?
Simple question, simple answer. I do not recommend digital consoles for all churches. Many churches have a totally volunteer audio, video, and lighting team. Digital consoles require a major learning curve, along with signal flow programming and assignment. Unless you have someone working on the AVL team that fully understands digital consoles, it can become a burden more than a blessing.
Yes, digital consoles offer you many features and benefits to enhance your sound, but in untrained hands, those same features can become a nightmare and, instead, create problems with your sound. I could list many instances in which I have come across a church that purchased a digital console, only to have to continually pay for someone to come in and re-train their AVL team or reprogram the console after someone had pushed too many buttons.
Do not misunderstand me, digital consoles are an exciting invention and, in the right hands, can truly enhance a church service. BUT, if you do not have the AVL team to support the technology of the console, then expect to be continually spending training and programming fees.
Analog consoles are much easier to understand and operate. They can provide you with reliable, quality sound when used with a properly designed and tuned audio system.
Consider all of the costs before you purchase a digital console.
Acoustical Treatment of Your Sanctuary
One of the most neglected aspects of audio in churches is the acoustical treatment in the sanctuary. Many churches have high reverberation factors in the sanctuary due to the architectural design. Reflections of sound waves (echoes) often cause the audio in the service to be unintelligible. In contemporary services where there are full bands playing music, this becomes an even greater issue.
Many churches think newer audio equipment will resolve this problem. Though audio systems have come a long way in addressing acoustical issues within a room, having the room acoustically treated is still the better approach. An acoustically treated room will provide the very best performance from your audio system.
You can often receive an acoustical analysis of your room at no cost, so it is worth the time spent to have this done. The acoustical treatment material itself is costly, but you can often install it yourself and save on installation fees. There is an assortment of acoustical materials that can be used to treat your sanctuary. These consist of wall panels, ceiling baffles, and bass traps that can be produced aesthetically to blend into the design of your sanctuary.
I invite you to click on the link below to learn more about the acoustical treatment of your sanctuary and the materials available to make that happen.
Audio System Tuning
Another important practice of good sound in your sanctuary (or other areas of your church) is having your audio speaker system tuned properly to the room.
If you are having a new audio system installed in your sanctuary, system tuning should be a part of that installation. Make sure that it is. Each speaker has its acoustical characteristics. Each room has its acoustical characteristics. The process of tuning audio speakers to a room is the process of shaping the tonal characteristics of the audio speakers to complement the acoustical characteristics of the room. This is accomplished by using a 20 Hz to 20 kHz equalizer (these days often in a digital format). Having your audio speakers tuned to the room will provide your audio system with the best possible sound for that particular room.
I do not advocate using the DSP (digital signal processing) built into a digital mixing console for tuning your audio speaker system to the room. You should use either amplifiers with DSP built in or purchase a separate digital system controller to have your system tuned. In this way, you can lock out the settings so that no one can change them and it can be racked with the amplifiers away from roaming hands. Audio system tuning should only be executed by an experienced audio technician.
Always have your sanctuary audio system professionally installed and tuned.