Why I love digital mixers

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I’ve had the opportunity to setup two digital mixers in two churches this year. One was a Behringer X32 Producer and the other was a Yamaha TF1. Both mixers replaced old analog mixers and, more importantly, went into churches with volunteer operators with very little audio/video training and expertise.

So why did these churches want new mixers? Here were the top three requirements:

  • Lockable settings – lock it down to prevent settings from being changed and recall settings if needed
  • Presets – simple to operate
  • Audio quality – needs to sound better / reduce feedback

Yamaha TF1 at Palisades Church of Christ (photo Dennis Washington)

One of the greatest fears for many churches is that someone will change the settings on their audio mixer during the week. The volunteers may only walk in 30-45 minutes before worship to turn everything on… they don’t have time to troubleshoot problems.

In addition, big mixers can be complicated to operate, especially if you have multiple audio destinations. This combined with inexperience or inadequate equipment can reduce audio quality resulting in audio issues such as feedback and bad EQ.

This is why I love and recommend churches purchase digital mixers.

[RELATED: Why you need to move your mixer]

Peace of Mind

A digital mixer brings peace of mind. Just about all of them are programmable, giving you the ability to save your settings to the mixer and to a USB thumb drive. This doesn’t prevent someone from unplugging audio cables, but it does allow you to “fix” any settings that have been changed.

More advanced digital mixers, such as the TF1, also have the ability to restrict operations to users. The administrator creates user logins and restricts what can and cannot be changed by that user.

Behringer X32 at Sylacauga Church of Christ (photo Dennis Washington)

My favorite function of digital mixers is presets. Certain buttons can be programmed to recall certain settings. For example, I programmed the presets on the TF1 to do the following:

  • A – Default with everything muted
  • B – Singing (pulpit mic on at 40 percent + congregational mic on for streaming / recording)
  • C – Prayer (pulpit mic on at 100 percent)
  • D – Preacher (preacher mic on at 100 percent)
  • E – Spare mic (spare mic on at 100 percent)

The audio operator simply presses the preset button, and the mixer handles everything else. It’s that simple.

What’s also beautiful about digital mixers is the ability to set EQ on each input. I absolutely love how the X32 displays frequency response on the display – seeing which frequencies were squealing makes it extremely easy for me to notch out those frequencies in the EQ filters. Then, you simply save the settings and you’re good.

Bottom line: digital mixers enhance the worship experience by improving audio quality and, more importantly, reducing the risk of audio problems during worship. In my opinion, if your church can afford to purchase one, you should.