Digital Mixers Are (almost) Foolproof

Have I told you the story of how we got into digital mixing? It’s a crazy story…

It’s Christmas Eve 2011. On Christmas Eve, we have so many people attending mass at 4:00PM that we have masses in (4) locations. Every seat is taken, every bit of floorspace is occupied. At 4:00PM on Christmas Eve, everyone that lives in Peachtree City is catholic. We have masses…

  1. In the church
  2. In the hall
  3. At the adjoining high school auditorium
  4. At the high school auditorium across town

On this particular Christmas Eve, I was leading worship for the mass at the adjoining high school where we did a big music and video production before mass began. As I was about to begin the hymn for presentation of gifts, one of my friends from the parish had walked up from backstage and grabbed me by the shoulder. He told me there was no audio “next door”.

Imagine for a moment, that your pastor is celebrating mass for the 1,400 people crammed into your parish that holds 550 people, with no working microphones, on Christmas Eve. You can almost hear the children crying, the parents fidgeting, the musicians struggling, the lector tapping the microphone to ‘check it’…and my pastor trying to loudly lead the prayers by raising his voice to fill the gigantic room.


What to do? I quickly motioned for one of our volunteer techs and sent him quickly next door. Now, bear in mind that we got notification during offertory at the mass which we delay a few minutes so people can get in and seated. That means that the majority of the mass was completed in the church by this time.

Guess what the issue was?

Some ‘helpful’ person had, at some point prior to mass, turned the ‘mono out’ knob of our mixer OFF. On Christmas Eve. Here is a pic of the analog console we had in the church at that time.


It has about 2,947 knobs on it. The only one touched? The ‘mono out’. It is a miracle that someone touched it. It truly is. As a tech director, it took me a while to find it when I went back over to the church that night to see what had caused the issue (and been fixed by our great volunteer).

When we had our post Christmas meeting, I was tasked with figuring out how to prevent this from ever happening again. At that time, I had already been doing homework on exploring new technology for our audio system, so I already had a pretty clear idea on what we needed to do.

I knew a digital system would ensure that we could always instantly recall and reset our audio, never to leave us in the dark again. Setup, configure, save, recall and backup.

A single knob recreated the inspiration for “Silent Night”. I still shudder when I think about having a complete tech fail at that mass.

So far, it has only failed us once, well twice, but I’ll cover that tomorrow so you won’t make the same mistake when you go digital. It’s not what you think…




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