Move your mixer

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One of the biggest problems in many churches I visit is audio. People can’t hear what is being said. And while some fixes do require money, many solutions simply involve a “change in latitude.”

In about 90 percent of the churches I visit, the audio mixer is inside some sort of control room. It was put in there years ago to secure it, keep people who don’t know how to use it from changing the settings, or both. However, a person’s ability to hear what is happening in the auditorium, and properly mix the audio sources, is usually extremely difficult. Even in control rooms with open windows, the sound of the computers and other equipment running in the control room dramatically reduces your ability to properly hear the volume of the sound coming out of the speakers.

Headphones or speakers inside the control room only make this problem worse. The preacher may sound wonderful in your headphones… because you turned up the volume on your headphones, not the output to the house speakers.

The Solution

To adequately mix the sound in your auditorium, MOVE your audio operator out of the control room into the auditorium. Your audio operator needs to be able to hear the sound coming out of the speakers and mix accordingly, just like an audio operator at a concert is sitting out in the middle of the crowd.

If you own an analog mixer (which most churches do) then you will need to move the mixer out of the control room, too, because the mixer cannot be operated remotely. This might be expensive, especially if you need a cabinet that can be secured or if lots of audio cables need to be rerouted.

If moving the mixer is not an option, then I suggest you consider purchasing a digital mixer because most of them include the ability to be controlled remotely from a wireless device, like an iPad. This allows the operator to sit out in the audience and control the mix as if he were sitting in front of it. As of this writing, I have successfully controlled a Mackie DL806 and a Behringer X32 Producer with an iPad over a WiFi internet connection.

A bonus of using a digital mixer is the ability to connect the mixer to a computer through ASIO drivers. This gives you the ability to ingest and send multiple audio channels over a single USB connection, making it easy to record and live stream your worship services and events. This is important in software such as vMix, because you can then automatically turn on and off certain audio sources going to your recording and live stream without affecting the sound mix in the auditorium. It’s almost like having two mixers in one device.

If getting a new mixer or moving your old mixer are not options, then I recommend you at least remove the windows of your control room and make the openings as big as possible to allow as much sound from the auditorium to come into the room. The ultimate goal here is for your audio operator to hear the room just as it sounds to everyone else.