The Console Switch

By EXW Staff
July 03, 2023

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from Analog to Digital by Michael J. Faber

I recently had the opportunity to make the switch from an analog to a digital console. I guess I am one of the old school guys who had to be dragged kicking and screaming into the digital world. I still love the sound of analog; I still love two inch tape machines, old microphones, and tube amplifiers. There is warmness available with the old equipment that just isn’t available in today’s digital equipment.

However, on a recent monitor gig I had to learn a new trick: I had to mix seven in ear mixes on a Yamaha PM5D. I had just one week to learn the console in the shop, then go and do four days of rehearsals. Let me just say this was a real eye opener. First off, the console had a very small footprint compared to the analog desks with several stereo sends used for mixing IEM’s. Secondly, the ease of learning a basic mix, weather it is for house or monitors, was fairly short. Admittedly, the internal patching concepts may take a little longer, but if you are at all familiar with today’s DAW’s, this shouldn’t be much of a problem either.

Making the change to digital from analog in your church setting shouldn’t be a difficult one either. Since most of the digital consoles have effects and DSP built in, the space savings is enormous. You can lose your rack(s) with gates, compressors, equalizers, and reverbs and delays. It is all there. There is an EQ on every output, both parametric and graphic. The reverbs sound amazing, because most of the console manufacturers have either a sister company in their arsenal that they can tap to provide the algorithms, or have made a business arrangement with one.

The advantages to having a digital console in a worship setting are many. The consistency in the day to day audio quality will dramatically increase. To a new trainee on your volunteer staff it may be less intimidating than an analog one. There are quite a few less knobs. There is total recall on the consoles so that all a new user/trainee need do if the staff person has programmed the console, the trainee will recall the console settings and have his or her starting point immediately. This is especially true for monitors. The monitor engineer takes more time than the house engineer to get the mixes up for each Sunday Service, or at least that is how it is in my church. The ability to recall many stage setups and have a starting point is unbelievably time-saving.

Do not be afraid to take the plunge into the digital realm. It is a very welcome change. I know many of you already have, but for some of you costs have gotten in the way. There are many points of entry into the world of digital consoles now, some of them are very affordable and the features are plentiful. Financing your new equipment purchases is always an option, and I will feature creative financing in a future article.

I believe God stretches us in our daily life, or at least, He stretches me daily! We get complacent in our lives, and we go about our daily routine with out even thinking. When we get complacent, we are not learning and if we are not learning, we are stagnating both in our spiritual lives and in our daily routines. If we are in the Word, and constantly learning, it is when we feel the most alive, and when we have the most answers.

Many churches have already made the switch to digital, and are constantly advancing the quality of their sound system with new microphones, new cables, in ear monitor systems and many other areas. Improvements are happening daily in the industry as well. Some are using monitor systems connected by Ethernet cable such as the Axiom or Furman systems. Hopefully we can review some of this equipment in the future as well.

As significant strides are made in the industry, other subjects arise, and as God gives me the passion and knowledge, I will attempt to write about them here at This is my first article since my friend and colleague Leon Sievers was contributing to this column. I can only pray that with Gods help I can do as good a job at this as he has. Feel free to contact me with subject matter you wish to have explored here.

I pray you have a blessed day… on purpose.

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