The Behringer X32 digital mixing board is an amazing product: used reliably all over the world, loved by beginners and pros, and is still a great choice in many situations nearly 10 years after its initial release! It’s so good it singlehandedly rescued the reputation of the Behringer brand. But does your church need it, or any digital mixer for that matter?
In the last few years I’ve witnessed a frustrating theme in my service calls. The often-repeated story goes like this: a church has a total of three microphones in the building, no monitors on stage, and a digital mixer: usually the X32. The reason I am hired is that the sound person would like to know, “How do you work this thing?” Honestly, I would estimate this is 25% of my service calls.
It seems the desire to have a cool new piece of tech with lots of cool lights trumps the wisdom of looking at what the real needs of the situation are. When I’m trying to discern needs, I ask clients questions like: how many inputs are you using on your busiest Easter service ever? What are all the different events that will ever take place in this room? What are the needs for monitoring? What style of music are you doing and where do you see the overall sound and vibe of your worship ministry headed over the next few years?
Sometimes the old tech is better. Analog mixers are not going anywhere anytime soon. They are still great options for smaller churches, churches with only a few instruments, mobile situations, fellowship halls, or meeting rooms.
A few weeks ago I was working in a larger venue with repeat clients. We had previously set up a nice sound system in their main hall (with an X32). They wanted to add a good system in their fellowship hall area for small events and open-mic nights. After discovering that different volunteers would use this system every night of the week, that there would only be one monitor wedge, and the most inputs anyone would ever use topped out at five, the solution was simple. A small Soundcraft mixer, a rolling rack and mixer case, a couple old school rack units for house EQ and FX—and cost of installation was still less than a used X32.
And no one will ever be calling me because they don’t know how to use it.
Two fantastic very affordable options to consider:
- Soundcraft EPM – the 6, 8, or 12-channel models. (Their 12-channel model actually means 12 mic inputs, unlike most other brand’s offerings.) Crucially, it has sweepable mids, without which it is near impossible to EQ an SM58 or a DI acoustic guitar.
- Soundcraft Signature series – for just a little bit more than the EPM series, it has upgraded preamps and EQ, digital outputs, and built in FX, would justify the price difference by itself, if that’s a need for you.
“Go big or go home” may work for rock’n’roll, but an analog mixer may be just the right gear for your church.
Caleb Neff is a producer, pastor, songwriter, worship leader, husband, and dad from Cape Coral, Florida. His passion is helping artists both inside and outside the church develop their full creative potential. Check out his website.