Flexibility Of Digital Mixers

In yesterday’s post, I listed 4 reasons why digital mixing is a perfect fit in the Catholic church…

  1. Because it is consistent
  2. Because it is easy
  3. Because it is foolproof
  4. Because it is flexible

How is a mixer flexible? I know you’re dying to know. Let’s unpack it…

Most analog mixers have a basic structure of input, output, auxiliary sends, and a basic 3 or 4 band eq (high, mid with adjustable frequency, and low). So, in a church, you’d plug in your ambo mic, clergy mics, and music ministry mics into your inputs. You’d then eq them so they sound clear and crisp, and then send the signal through your outputs to the main speaker cluster in your church. Additional tools like parametric EQs, compressors, gates, and de-essers are luxuries. Not true in a digital system. If, by chance, you had a couple of outboard compressors or external EQs laying around, they took up space in a rack near the mixer and had to be patched in.

Most digital systems have all of those tools available for EVERY INPUT Channel. Here is a screen shot of our digital system.

Screen Shot 2014-09-10 at 2.10.45 PM

I have selected the input channel we setup for our Ambo, where the Scriptures are proclaimed. Notice that all the tools I listed above are included on that channel strip, and then multiply that strip 64 times. That’s how many channels we have available in our system, and every channel has the same amount of processing power available through their own channel strip. Can you imagine what an analog mix location would look like with 64 outboard EQ’s, 64 compressors, etc?

Do we use every tool available on every channel? No, that would be silly. Is it nice to have the option of clicking a compressor to help squeeze the drums together, or a de-esser to make a vocalists mic less sibilant in a matter f seconds? You bet.

Ok, so that makes a digital system feature rich, not flexible…

Ahh, wait one minute there cowboy. Now, let’s look at the Output section…

iDR_64_Front_MainIn the picture, you’ll see the iDR 64 that we have. Notice the 28 outputs on the right side (our has 32 outs). I can assign those outputs to be a MAIN out, a mono Auxiliary out, a direct out (mirror of an input channel), a matrix out (which is a combination of auxiliary outs), and more. To demonstrate the more, see the screen shot from the system help menu (which is an AWESOME feature – not sure what something is or how it works, click the ? icon and voila).

Screen Shot 2014-10-22 at 7.45.59 AM







Putting it to work in a church…

Okay, so one of the outputs will be your send to your main speaker cluster. Here’s a list of possibilities for your other sends (outputs).

  • Route an output Matrix of your main to the narthex
  • Use an Aux out to create a monitor mix for your musicians
  • Use an Aux to create a monitor for your clergy
  • Send an Aux to your assisted listening device (you DO have an assisted listening device in your church, right?)
  • Send a Matrix to an output dedicated for the videographer people that come in to film weddings. They will love you for it.
  • Matrix to the nursery
  • Matrix to the live stream
  • Aux to the in ear monitor system
  • Aux to the overflow hall
  • Want to send a direct copy of the drum channel to a handheld recorder? Do it.
  • Send anything, anywhere

Try any of that on an analog board, where people are always fiddling with the shiny knobs. Fight that uphill battle if you dare.

By the way, the pricing on digital mixers has come down so far, that for what you’d pay 5 years ago for a decent analog board, you can now have the world at your fingertips.


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