Buyers Guide for Volunteer-Friendly Consoles

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Reading the newest e-magazine this morning, I happened on a buyers guide for "Volunteer-Friendly Consoles."  Skimming over the prices, my immediate thought was YOU'VE GOT TO BE FREAKING KIDDING!"

First off, prop's to Bill Evans for starting the audio mixers buyers guide by saying "we asked console makers to give us specs on consoles they think fit the bill and then make the case for volunteer friendliness."  These companies responded by detailing mixers pricing from $1,499 up to $63,999.  A point could be made that the companies are trying to promote their products in the buyers guide.  I get that.  But let me take this as an opportunity to ask "the church" what a wise use of God’s money is when it comes to volunteers.

The most expensive volunteer-friendly mixer listed is $63,999.  Nine of the mixers are over $20,000.  The remaining eleven were sub $20,000.  Six of those were sub $5,000.  I'm not saying $5k or $20k because I want to make a point with those extra zeroes.  My point – THAT'S A LOT OF FREAKING MONEY FOR VOLUNTEER CONSOLES.

How can any church purchase a mixer worth tens-o'-thousands of dollars for "volunteers?" The immediate response from a church that comes to mind is "just because they are volunteers doesn't mean they don't know what they are doing."  This can be true.  So I'll skip trying to argue the vagueness of the definition of "know what they are doing" by making a fairly safe and straightforward comment; volunteers must be trained in not only live audio but also in equipment usage and the most advanced audio equipment cannot make up for the lack of training.

A good volunteer knows how to use the equipment to its maximum effectiveness, how to problem-solve, how to deal with people, and how to mix properly.  If a church doesn't have that in their volunteers, they have no reason to be putting money into expensive equipment when the real need is training.  

Now, if you don't mind, I'm going to review my tech budget for next year and make sure I've allocated enough for training.

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  1. says

    You use THAT language in a church website???? FRE……. WOW I love Soundboards and yep they ARE expensive. LOVE this website,ignoring bad language!!!! GOD bless you

  2. says

    So the least expensive ‘volunteer-friendly’ mixer is $1,500? My last church paid $400 for their mixer (Behringer XENYX 2442FX), and I preferred it over the $1,300 Yamaha MG32 that a church I attended for a few months had. Cheap taste? Possibly. But the XENYX (and it’s rackmounted EURORACK cousin that was submixing part of the band) handled a stereo mix of an ever-changing band with 3 monitor sends, a record send, and an effects send using the onboard effects. It sounded great, and was easy to run. Plus, the person running the mixer also had to run the recording computer, and I often also ran the lyric slides at the same time.

  3. Chris says

    Based on the list, Berhringer wasn't represented. 

    The cheapest listed was $1,149 for the Mackie 1604-VLZ3. 

    You bring up a great point – researching the right mixer is more than reading one list.  It's more than going with a popular brand name.  It's researching what's available, what funcationality you need, and finding out what others are using and what they like and dislike.  And of course price :)

  4. says

    Thanks for not only thinking in terms of excellence but stewardship as well. I would love to hear more thoughts from you on what volunteer training looks like.

  5. says

    Totally understand what you mean about consoles. My church has a nice little A&H Mixwizard 3 16:2. It was bought 2 years ago, and the church band has slow expanded since then, and there’s still room to grow on it. It’s also a small accurate desk that packup churches can use if they don’t have too much demand.

    People ask me what my favourite sound desk is and I say pass. I’ve got a list of about 5 /6 favourite mixers depending on what the use is, and what is needed. Thankfully being sound team leader I’ve got my favourite, volunteer friendly, analogue 16 ch mixer!