Reading the newest fohonline.com 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.