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Technology Showcase: HOW FOH Mixers

Jan 1, 2009 12:00 PM, By Bennett Liles

Options abound for every type of worship service.

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Yamaha LS-9

Yamaha LS-9

The TT24 portable 24-bit/96kHz digital mixer from Mackie fits the bill for FOH applications in small to midsize churches, and it is particularly well-suited for the growing number of portable churches that have to set up and tear down every Sunday in venues such as high-school gyms and bowling alleys. The unit provides 24 mic/line inputs, each with four-band EQ, compressor, gate, high-pass filter, and polarity reverse switches. In addition, there are line inputs that can be stereo-linked, and the configuration of all these sources can be stored into as many as 99 recallable setups with filtering. The QuickMix section has a 5.5in. LCD touchscreen, 12 push-button rotary encoders, and QuickMix buttons. The TT-24 also provides 12 aux sends with four-band parametric EQ, dual kill filters, and a compressor/limiter.

The Peavey Sanctuary Series is one of the few lines of AV gear developed from the ground up expressly for the house-of-worship environment. At the top of the Sanctuary Series mixers is the S-32 with 28 XLR mic and 1/4in. line inputs, eight automix channels with compressors, two stereo line inputs with three input selections, track selections, and Monitor Blend control for split accompaniment tracks. Monitor Blend can send a mix of left and right program to monitor loudspeakers. The input channels can be sent to three subgroups: choir, solo, and music. Channels 25 to 32 have an additional subgroup that engages the auto-mix function. There are also eight programmable mute groups; high, low, and mid EQ; and direct outputs on all input channels for multitrack recording feeds. The digital effects processing section provides an entire library of effects, and the power DSP allows programming of EQ, crossovers, compression, limiting, and delays.

The M-400 V-Mixer from Roland is integrated with its digital snake, and the system is based on Roland Ethernet Audio Communication (REAC) Cat-5e-based protocol carrying 48 channels of digital audio from the stage to the mixer. The control surface features 25mm×100mm motorized, touch-sensitive faders and an 800×480 color screen that is operated by function buttons just below it. For carrying sound signals for distances more than 1 mile, the S-Opt optical converter can interface with a fiber link. Using the REAC split port on the M-400, a direct Cat-5e connection can be made to a gigabit PC port while running Cakewalk's Sonar software for multitrack recording.

For sanctuary mixing where space is at a premium, the Soundcraft Vi4 packs 48 inputs on 24 faders and 27 output buses into a desk less than 5ft. wide. Pairs of mono inputs can be linked for stereo operation while 24 insert send/return pairs can be configured and assigned to any of the 48 inputs or 27 output channels. All 48 input channels have direct outputs for multitrack recording or monitor board sends, and connection between the local rack and stage box is made through Cat-5 or Cat-7 twisted pair — saving hundreds of pounds of copper snake. There is also a fiber-optic interface available as an option. With Cat-7, the distance on this connection can extend up to 130 meters. There are controls for four mute groups and 16 VCA groups. The Vi4 features the same Vistonics II interface used on the larger Vi6, and this provides 16 real knobs and switches along with a touchpanel. Each Vistonics II controls eight input channels.

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