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Part of the PMI Publishing family:  Church Production  •  Church Designer

Four Worth the Wait

New mixing consoles made with church clients in mind.

By Bruce Borgerson   •  September 8, 2017 2:39 pm EDT

Tags: audio, consoles, digital audio networking, mixing, worship,

"Good things come to those who wait." Hmm. Could be. If your church client has been postponing a major audio upgrade, that patience may be rewarded with user-friendly features and cost-benefits ratios unattainable just a few years ago. Here are four distinctively different examples of new mixing/production systems well worth the wait for the church market.

Allen & Heath MixRack for Installation

At this year’s InfoComm show in Orlando, Fla., Allen & Heath ambitiously expanded its technology horizons. Watch out Biamp and Symetrix.

These Brits are moving into your realm of integrated, campus-wide networked digital systems.

At the core of their installation-oriented concept is the new dLive MixRack DM0, a powerhouse mix engine that can handle 128 channels and 64 mix buses at 96 kHz. Three slots are provided for networking ports—pick your preferred protocol—each with 128-channel capacity. When set up with the DX Link I/O card and the DX Hub, the system can connect with up to 48 I/O devices, each up to 100 meters distant. Much more is available a la carte, including a GPIO card (for room lighting and curtains, etc.) as well as networked control surfaces, personal monitor mixers, fixed and portable I/O modules, and even wall plates for source selection and level control. Integrators for the church market, take note.

SSL Live L200

For me, the letters “SSL” (as in Solid State Logic) were long synonymous with “Right, mate, which bank to rob?” I’ve lusted after the pristine sound and ingenious flexibility of SSL recording desks since I first spied them in Nashville and New York studios over 35 years ago.

Those cravings returned two years ago when a friend who operates a successful regional sound company purchased SSL Live’s flagship console, the L500. He testifies it’s the best-sounding digital board he has ever used for mixing anything from symphony to bluegrass. But his indulgence came with a six-figure price tag, a sum beyond the reach of most churches. Fortunately, SSL’s new L200 provides the same mix engine, same sound quality and nearly all the same features. True, the control surface, I/O setup and busing are adjusted slightly downward—from what’s needed for global arena touring to a level appropriate for production-oriented churches dedicated to exquisite audio. But with pricing around half that of an L500.

PreSonus AR Series

We all remember basic analog mixers that offered effects loops for patching in an external effects box. Plus RCA connectors for an external recorder. And preamp outs for multi-channel tracking on yet another connected device. It functioned, but it made for a kludge that often confounded volunteers.

Along comes PreSonus with a keen idea. “Let’s combine everything into one analog-digital hybrid unit. You can have up to 16 analog inputs with 12 spiffy mic preamps, and we will build in a USB recording interface for up to 12-in x 4-out tracking and playback. For the stereo mix, you’ll get a built-in SDX recorder, and we’ll toss in a Bluetooth input.”

Voila, the StudioLive AR Series. It’s a clever solution for small churches as well as for secondary rooms—classrooms, fellowship halls, cafés—in larger churches. I could call it the Swiss army knife of mixers, but that’s a stale analogy and Baton Rouge is nothing like Zurich.

Digico S31

The S31 is a 40-channel mixer with 24 analog inputs and 12 analog outputs, all on rear-mounted XLR jacks. Its interface includes three large touchscreens, each with 10 touch-sensitive encoder knobs and faders. Add one assignable fader on the right-hand side of the mixer, and you have 31 faders (hence the name).

The S31's back panel holds its analog I/O plus a host of digital connectors. These include UB/MADI for DAW recording and playback, DVI monitor output (for a fourth overview display), Ethernet, dual USB, GPIO in/out, word clock in/out and AES/EBU in/out. The S31 also boasts a pair of Digico Multichannel Interface DMI (DMI) option card slots. DMI cards are available for Dante, Hydra 2, MADI, Aviom's A-Net, ADC, SoundGrid and other protocols. If you need the S31 to talk to some other digital gadget, odds are it can.

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