Audio Mixing Consoles: Account for Skill Levels, Inputs/Outputs, Processing

The audio desk is the heart of your audio system. If you don’t believe me, think about the last time you had feedback or a dead microphone…

Audio Mixing Consoles: Account for Skill Levels, Inputs/Outputs, Processing
A member of the tech team works the Allen & Heath digital audio mixing system console during one of the first services for Christian Life Assembly in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, in July 2016.
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They can be called mixing consoles, mixers, mixing boards, sound boards, audio desks, or even control surfaces. I personally prefer the term “audio desk” or “console.”

Take into consideration the skill level and expertise of your audio engineers.

What are all these things?  Science would tell us that an audio mixing desk is a voltage summer that combines multiple audio signals to a single or multiple outputs providing a summed result of the signals. An audio desk often has circuitry that will allow the user to manipulate these signals (frequency, amplitude and phase) to provide a desired result.

Let’s take a look at an entire audio system in its basics. An audio signal (voice, etc.) is converted to electricity by a microphone. This electrical signal is received by the audio desk, manipulated and combined with other audio signals. The resulting output is an electrical signal that is then sent to an amplifier where the signal’s voltage is increased.

From the amplifier, the electrical signal is sent to a loudspeaker, where it is converted from electricity back into audible sound.

The audio desk is the heart of your audio system. If you don’t believe me, think about the last time you had feedback or a dead microphone… People at the speakers, they look at the person running the audio desk. 

Not all desks are created equal, and no single desk will fit everyone’s needs. Channel count, numbers of outputs, buses and signal processing capabilities, along with your budget determine almost everything about your desk needs. Most of the forums for Church Sound, for example, poke fun at certain desks as a “Swiss Army Knife” for church sound. While I agree that there are a few desks that are a very good fit for many circumstances, they all have limitations.

Skill Levels

Are your audio engineers’ volunteers? Take into consideration the skill level and expertise of your audio engineers. Some volunteers are very savvy and will grasp the latest and greatest technology, while others might only know which fader to push when the preacher needs to be louder.

Some volunteers will never grasp the concept of a complex desk, digital technology or how to operate in layers. You will need to assess the skill level of your volunteers and the amount of time they will need to learn a new technology.


More About Jeff Snyder
A/V Professional services with 25 years experience in sound, lighting, rigging, power distribution, stage management, set/scenic design, convention services, facility management, video production and commercial broadcast engineering and production. Works as an audio contractor at Granger Community Church in Granger, Ind.
Get in Touch: jeff@eventswithmojo.com    More by Jeff Snyder

Latest Resource

Worship Facilities Magazine, September-October 2017
The September-October 2017 issue of Worship Facilities Magazine offers a glance at a Granger Community Church, and their recent install of a Lawo audio mixing console system.


Article Topics

Technology · Audio · Team Management · Budgeting · Leadership · Team Development · Volunteers · Amplitude · Audio Mixing Consoles · Audio Signals · Consoles · Frequency · Phase · All Topics

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