Worship Facility Gear Report: Audio Consoles

by | Audio, Gear, Gear Report, Production

Your church sound system’s audio console provides your audio inputs and outputs, microphone amplification, routing, and more. To find out which would be best for you, you first need to consider how many inputs you’re going to need. Are you mixing just a single performer or a full band? Also, keep in mind that whatever you buy has to be used by your staff and volunteers. With that said, let’s take a look at an assortment of the boards you can, at a variety of price and performance levels.

Audio Consoles in 2024


1. Allen & Heath SQ-7 48-channel Digital Mixer

Based on Allen & Heath’s acclaimed XCVI 96kHz FPGA audio engine, the SQ-7 digital mixer delivers extensive live sound mixing capabilities. Even with its powerful processing, the SQ-7 delivers best-in-class audio quality with less than 0.7ms of latency. You’ll have a lot of flexibility when it comes to creating monitor mixes, with up to 12 stereo mixes (groups or auxiliaries) in addition to the main LR out. Eight stereo FX engines provide studio-quality effects, with dedicated returns. Complete with a 32 x 32 USB audio interface, and dedicated controls for mixing convenience, the Allen & Heath SQ-7 is a smart mixing solution for live music, worship sound, and educational facilities.

SPECIFICATIONS
  • Type:Digital Mixer
  • Channels:48
  • Inputs – Mic Preamps:32 x XLR (mic/line)
  • Phantom Power:32 channels, Talkback
  • Inputs – Other:2 x 1/4″ (Stereo 1), 2 x 1/4″ (Stereo 2)
  • Outputs – Main:2 x XLR, 2 x 1/4″ (A out, B out)
  • Outputs – Other:16 x XLR (stereo mixes, L/R)
  • Outputs – Digital:1 x XLR (AES)
  • Busses/Groups:36 Bus
  • Inserts:Internal Pre EQ/Compressor
  • Talkback:1 x XLR
  • MIDI I/O:USB (control)
  • Data I/O:1 x EtherCon (dSnake, DX mode, gigaACE), 1 x Ethernet RJ-45 (LAN TCP/IP)
  • Headphones:1 x 1/4″
  • USB:1 x Type B, 1 x Type A
  • Computer Connectivity:USB (32 x 32), Ethernet
  • Remote:1 x 1/4″ (footswitch)
  • I/O Expansion Slots:1 x Option card port (Dante, Waves)
  • Faders:33 x 100mm motorized
  • A/D Resolution:24-bit/96kHz
  • EQ Bands:Parametric EQ, 28-band Graphic, HPF
  • Effects:Delay, Reverb, Chorus, Flanger, Phaser (8 x RackFX engine)
  • Signal Processing:Compressor, Gate
  • DAW Control:MIDI DAW control via USB
  • Screen:7″ color touch screen
  • Storage:USB Type A (16 x 16)
  • Software:Wireless Remote Mixing app iPad/Android (network router not included)
  • Power Source:Standard IEC AC connector
  • Height:7.8″
  • Depth:20.3″
  • Width:31.7″
  • Weight:23.1 lbs.
  • Manufacturer Part Number:AH-SQ-7
REASONS TO BUY
  • 48-input digital mixer with 96kHz FPGA processing
  • Best-in-class audio quality, with less than 0.7ms latency
  • 33 faders for hands-on mixing, with 6 fader layers
REASONS TO AVOID
  • MADI not available yet

2. DiGiCo Quantum 225 Digital Mixing Console

Quantum 225 is considered a small-format mixer, being made of two DiGiCo Quantum sections. The right half has the mixer’s sole touchscreen interface,13 motorized faders, and a master control section. The left half has 12 motorized faders and space for an additional screen, laptop, or other control surface. Having fewer, simpler sections is one way Quantum 225 achieves a lower price point, as all other Quantum mixers have three sections and three touchscreens.

SPECIFICATIONS
  • Type:Digital Mixer
  • Channels:72
  • Inputs – Mic Preamps:8 x XLR
  • Phantom Power:72 Channels
  • Inputs – Line:8 x XLR
  • Outputs – Main:8 x XLR
  • Inputs – Digital:2 x XLR (AES/EBU)
  • Outputs – Digital:2 x XLR (AES/EBU)
  • Busses/Groups:36 Aux/Sub-Group busses with full processing
  • Inserts:24 Mustard processing strips (internal)
  • MIDI I/O:In/Out/Thru, USB
  • Data I/O:4 x Ethernet
  • Headphones:1 x 1/4″, 1 x 1/8″
  • USB:1 x Type B, 3 x Type A
  • Computer Connectivity:USB, Ethernet
  • I/O Expansion Slots:2 x Slots Available
  • Word Clock:In/Out
  • Faders:25 x 100mm touch-sensitive, motorized faders, 17″ Multi-touch screen
  • A/D Resolution:24-bit/96kHz
  • EQ Bands:16 x 32-band Graphic EQ, 4-band with 2-band Parametric
  • Effects:Yes, Delay, Chorus, Reverb, Pitch Shifter, Audio Enhancer
  • Signal Processing:Compressor, Multiband Compressor, Gate, Duck
  • Transport Controls:Yes
  • Screen:17″ touchscreen
  • Power Source:2 x Standard IEC AC Cable
  • Height:17.1″
  • Depth:32.5″
  • Width:44.25″
  • Weight:94.8 lbs.
REASONS TO BUY
  • Interface is colorful
  • Dedicated input processing controls
REASONS TO AVOID
  • Eight analog inputs and outputs

3. Yamaha CL5 72-channel Digital Mixing Console

Designed to excel in live sound and broadcast applications, the Yamaha CL5 digital mixer delivers outstanding sound quality and impressive show control. Connect Rio series stage boxes (not included) for up to 72 mono and eight stereo mixable channels, with 32 channel faders and two master faders for control. Built-in Virtual Circuitry Modeling created by Rupert Neve Designs gives you access to Neve Portico 5033 EQ and Portico 5043 compressor/limiter processors, plus other spot-on emulations of classic hardware processors. And built-in Dan Dugan automatic mixing makes it easy for any operator to optimize microphones and effectively fight feedback. In short, world-class sound is easily attainable with the Yamaha CL5 digital mixer.

SPECIFICATIONS
  • Type:Digital
  • Channels:32 + 2 master faders, 72 mono channel mixing plus 8 stereo channels
  • Inputs – Mic Preamps:8 x XLR
  • Phantom Power:8
  • Outputs – Other:8 x XLR (line out)
  • Inputs – Digital:2 x RJ-45 (Dante)
  • Outputs – Digital:2 x RJ-45 (Dante), 1 x XLR (AES/EBU)
  • Busses/Groups:16 send Mix bus, 8 send Matrix bus
  • Inserts:Internal
  • Talkback:1 x XLR
  • MIDI I/O:In/Out
  • Data I/O:1 x D-Sub GPI (15-pin female), 1 x Ethernet
  • Headphones:1 x 1/4″
  • USB:1 x USB Type A
  • Computer Connectivity:Ethernet
  • I/O Expansion Slots:3 x Card slots available (DSP cards or mini-YGDAI cards)
  • Word Clock:In/Out
  • Faders:26 x 100mm faders
  • EQ Bands:4-band parametric channel EQ, 31-band Graphic EQ, 15-band flex EQ,
  • Effects:Reverbs, Delays, Modulation, Premium Rack compressor modeling and more
  • DAW Control:Yes (via Dante)
  • Height:11.75″
  • Depth:26.25″
  • Width:41.5″
  • Weight:79.4 lbs.
  • Touchscreen display for intuitive control over the Centralogic user interface
  • Built-in Dante interface plus 3 MY-card slots for digital expansion
  • Control port for computer control (wired or Wi-Fi)
REASONS TO AVOID
  • Touch screen QWERTY keyboard a bit sluggish
  • Spacing of some controls is rather tight.

4. Behringer X32 40-channel Digital Mixer

The Behringer X32 digital mixer packs everything you need to easily mix and record a live show into a compact, roadworthy chassis. With its amazing-sounding Midas-designed mic preamps, the Behringer X32 is also great for the studio. Powerful and intuitive, the Behringer X32 sports 40 processing channels and 16 mix buses, giving you the flexibility you’ve always longed for. It comes equipped for 32-channel recording, with instant compatibility with major DAWs. Its serious signal processing can be quickly configured for sessions of any size. If you’re tired of negotiating an endless sea of encoders and menus, then it’s time you tried a new approach to digital mixing: the Behringer X32.

SPECIFICATIONS
  • Type:Digital
  • Channels:40
  • Inputs – Mic Preamps:32 x XLR
  • Phantom Power:32 x Channels
  • Outputs – Main:16 x XLR, 2 x XLR (monitor), 2 x 1/4″ TRS (monitor)
  • Outputs – Digital:1 x XLR (AES)
  • Send/Return I/O:1 x Dual RCA Stereo (aux in), 6 x 1/4″ TRS (aux in), 1 x Dual RCA Stereo (aux out), 6 x 1/4″ TRS (aux out)
  • Busses/Groups:25 total (16 x bus, main LCR, 6 x matrix)
  • Inserts:Yes
  • Talkback:1 x XLR
  • MIDI I/O:In/Out
  • Data I/O:1 x Ultranet, 2 x AES50, 1 x Ethernet
  • Headphones:2 x 1/4″ TRS (stereo)
  • USB:2 x Type B, 1 x Type A
  • Computer Connectivity:USB
  • I/O Expansion Slots:1 x slot (32-channel USB audio interface)
  • Faders:25 x 100mm (motorized)
  • A/D Resolution:24-bit/48kHz
  • EQ Bands:4-band EQ (channel strip), 6-band EQ (mix bus)
  • Effects:Yes
  • Signal Processing:Gate, Compressor
  • Features:1 x 4-pin (lamp)
  • DAW Control:Yes
  • Screen:7″ Color TFT (main), LCD with RGB Color Backlight (channel)
  • Power Source:Standard IEC AC cable
  • Height:7.9″
  • Depth:20.8″
  • Width:35.4″
  • Weight:45.4 lbs.
REASONS TO BUY
  • 16 mix buses, main LCR, 6 matrix buses
  • Gain-programmable Midas-designed mic preamps deliver enhanced dynamic range and superior common mode rejection ratio (CMRR)
  • Highly configurable, with up to 40 processing channels and 25 motorized faders
REASONS TO AVOID
  • Base sample rates only.
  • No external word-clock facilities (yet).
  • No S/PDIF or AES3 inputs.
  • USB replay not compatible with iPod or compressed audio.
  • No SRC for USB replay (yet).
  • EQ reset only available via the main display screen.

5. Midas M32 LIVE 40-channel Digital Mixer

If you’ve run upscale live sound anytime in the past 40 years, then you know Midas’s reputation for creating top-quality full-sized consoles. The Midas M32 digital mixing desk brings cutting-edge Midas innovation to the world of medium-format consoles. Loaded with 32 premium Midas preamps, 25 time-aligned and phase-coherent DSP mix buses, brilliant DSP processing and routing, and massive expansion options, the M32 is an ideal foundation for moderate venues and professional touring rigs. Add to that a sense of ergonomics that makes it one of the easiest digital boards to get around, and there’s no wonder the Midas M32 is one of the most popular mixers of its class we’ve ever seen.

SPECIFICATIONS
  • Type:Digital Mixer
  • Channels:40
  • Inputs – Mic Preamps:32 x XLR
  • Phantom Power:48V, Switchable per Input
  • Inputs – Line:1 x Dual RCA Stereo (aux)
  • Inputs – Other:6 x 1/4″ TRS (aux)
  • Outputs – Main:16 x XLR, 2 x XLR (monitor), 2 x 1/4″ (monitor)
  • Outputs – Other:6 x 1/4″ TRS (aux), 1 x Dual RCA Stereo (aux)
  • Outputs – Digital:1 x XLR (AES/EBU)
  • Busses/Groups:25 time-aligned/phase-coherent mix buses, 8 DCA groups
  • Talkback:1 x XLR
  • MIDI I/O:In/Out/USB
  • Data I/O:1 x EtherCon (Ultranet), 2 x EtherCon (AES50), 1 x Ethernet
  • Headphones:2 x 1/4″ TRS (stereo)
  • USB:1 x Type B, 1 x Type A
  • Computer Connectivity:USB, Ethernet
  • Faders:16 x Input Faders, 8 x Bus Faders, 1 x Main Fader
  • A/D Resolution:24-bit/48kHz
  • EQ Bands:4-band EQ
  • Effects:8 x Stereo FX Engines
  • Signal Processing:Gate, Compressor
  • Features:100-band RTA, 100 scenes, 100 Snippets, 32-bit/48kHz SD Card recording
  • DAW Control:Yes
  • Screen:7″ TFT Display
  • Storage:2 x SD card slots
  • Power Source:Standard IEC AC cable
  • Height:10.1″
  • Depth:24.1″
  • Width:35.1″
  • Weight:55 lbs.
REASONS TO BUY
  • Simple USB port lets you record to a standard flash media drive
  • 32-in/32-out, 48kHz USB 2.0 audio interface accommodates both studio and live recording
  • Control your DAW via either Mackie Control or HUI protocols with full automation
REASONS TO AVOID
  • TFT display not a touchscreen & can be cluttered

6. PreSonus StudioLive 32S 32-channel Digital Mixer

The PreSonus StudioLive 32S is a powerhouse — it’s PreSonus’s most formidable offering yet. This 32-channel digital mixer boasts a dual-core FLEX DSP engine with enough muscle to drive 286 simultaneous processors, and then some. What’s more, its FLEX FX multi-effects processor vaunts four slots of reverb emulations and delays with four dedicated effects buses.

Benefit from easy expandability thanks to built-in AVB networking. Enjoy versatile operation by virtue of the 32S’s 16 Flex Mixes. Shape and polish each channel to perfection, courtesy of PreSonus’s lauded Fat Channel processing. The PreSonus StudioLive 32S includes a comprehensive software suite, which enables you to make top-flight recordings right from the get-go.

SPECIFICATIONS
  • Type:Digital Mixer
  • Channels:32 channels, 40 mix channels
  • Inputs – Mic Preamps:16 x XLR (mic), 16 x XLR-1/4″ combo (mic/line)
  • Phantom Power:Switchable per channel
  • Inputs – Line:1 x Dual RCA Stereo (tape), 4 x 1/4″ (2 x stereo aux in)
  • Outputs – Main:2 x XLR (main out), 1 x XLR (mono sum), 2 x 1/4″ (monitor)
  • Outputs – Other:12 x XLR (mix out), 4 x 1/4″ (mix out), 1 x Dual RCA Stereo (tape), 4 x 1/4″ (sub outs)
  • Outputs – Digital:1 x XLR (AES/EBU)
  • Busses/Groups:16 x FlexMix Buses (aux, subgroup, matrix), 26 total mix buses
  • Talkback:1 x XLR (phantom power)
  • Data I/O:1 x Locking Ethernet (AVB audio network), 1 x RJ45 (network control)
  • Headphones:1 x 1/4″
  • USB:1 x Type B (64 x 64)
  • Computer Connectivity:USB 2.0
  • Bluetooth:v4.1
  • Faders:33 x Touch-sensitive motorized faders
  • A/D Resolution:24-bit/48kHz
  • Effects:FLEX FX Multi-effects processor, 4 x effects slots, 4 x effects buses
  • Signal Processing:Fat Channel plug-ins, 10 x EQs, 10 x Compressors
  • Transport Controls:Yes
  • DAW Control:Advanced Studio One, MCU Logic emulation, HUI Pro Tools emulation
  • Screen:7″ Touchscreen
  • Storage:SD card recorder (34 track)
  • Software:Studio Magic Plug-in Suite, Studio One Artist, Presonus Capture, UC Surface
  • Power Source:Standard IEC AC cable
  • Height:6.51″
  • Depth:22.97″
  • Width:32.37″
  • Weight:37.2 lbs.
REASONS TO BUY
  • 32-channel digital mixing console with built-in SD card recorder
  • Dual-core FLEX DSP engine possesses enough processing muscle to run 286 simultaneous processors, 26 mix buses, and 40 mixing channels
  • Record and play back up to 64 channels via USB — almost twice that of previous generations
REASONS TO AVOID
  • No dedicated stagebox available at this time, although it can be used with a rack version to provide this functionality.

7. DiGiCo S21 Digital Mixing Console

When they designed the S21, DiGiCo pulled out all the stops. A robust ARM quad-core RISC processor puts an abundance of power under the S21’s hood. Dual touchscreens supply intuitive tactile control and instant visual feedback. 24 mic/line inputs and 12 analog outputs give you enough I/O to get started, while dual DMI option card slots provide room for expansion. The S21 delivers 24-bit/96kHz digital audio for world-class sound and comes loaded with a complete arsenal of digital effects. The built-in 48-channel USB interface on the S21 makes capturing any performance easy. Featuring an aerospace-graded aluminum extrusion and rugged polycarbonate overlay, the DiGiCo S21 is a full-featured digital mixer that’s built for the road.

SPECIFICATIONS
  • Type:Digital Mixer
  • Channels:48 mixing, 24 input
  • Inputs – Mic Preamps:24 x XLR
  • Phantom Power:24 channels
  • Outputs – Main:12 x XLR
  • Inputs – Digital:1 x XLR (AES/EBU)
  • Outputs – Digital:1 x XLR (AES/EBU)
  • Busses/Groups:16 x Flexi Aux/Sub-group busses, 10 x 8 Processing Matrix
  • Data I/O:2 x Ethernet (networking), 1 x DVI out, 2 x 1/4″ (GPI/O future feature)
  • Headphones:1 x 1/4″, 1 x 1/8″
  • USB:3 x Type A, 1 x Type B
  • Computer Connectivity:USB (48 x 48 capable with UB MADI)
  • I/O Expansion Slots:2 x DMI slots
  • Word Clock:2 x BNC
  • Faders:21 x 100mm Touch-sensitive Motorized Faders
  • A/D Resolution:24-bit/96kHz
  • EQ Bands:4-band Parametric/Dynamic EQ, Low/High Shelving, 32-band Graphic EQ, LPF, HPF
  • Effects:Delay, Reverb, DigiTube Drive, 8 x Effects Engines
  • Signal Processing:Compressor, Gate
  • Screen:2 x 10″ Multi-touch screens
  • Power Source:Standard IEC AC cable
  • Height:11.6″
  • Depth:23.1″
  • Width:30″
REASONS TO BUY
  • Great specs and performance.
  • Big channel count in a compact package.
  • Quality build and physical design.
  • Directly inherits several features from established upmarket DiGiCo products.
  • Company have a reputation for standing behind their products and providing great user support.
  • Customisable — arrange the surface just how you want it.
  • Tight and effective integration across all aspects of function and surface.
  • Multitrack recording and virtual soundcheck.
  • Range of DMI cards including extra inputs and Waves SoundGrid access.
  • Brilliant value.
Reason To Avoid
  • Only available in black.

8. Yamaha MG16XU

The Yamaha MG16XU analog mixer is well-suited for portable rigs or permanent installations, with its rich features and outstanding sound quality. The MG16XU’s quality op-amp ensures that your mix sounds transparent and articulate. The MG16XU’s crystal clear D-PRE preamps will squeeze every drop of tone from your mics, with natural-sounding bass and smooth highs. Featuring onboard digital effects, switchable phantom power, a pad switch, one-knob compressors, EQ, plenty of I/O, and LED metering, the MG16XU can take on just about any task you throw at it. Using many state-of-the-art features from Yamaha’s high-end consoles, the MG16XU is ready to work for you!

SPECIFICATIONS
  • Type: Analog
  • Channels: 16
  • Computer Connectivity: USB (2 x 2)
  • Faders: 16 Faders
  • Inputs – Mic Preamps: 8 x XLR/TRS Combo, 2 x XLR, 4 x TRS
  • Phantom Power: 12
  • Inputs – Line: 4 x TRS
  • Inputs – Other: 2 x RCA (Stereo)
  • Outputs – Main: 2 x XLR, 4 x TRS
  • Outputs – Direct: 4 x TRS
  • Outputs – Other: 1 x TRS (Footswitch)
  • Aux Sends: 1 x Pre, 1 x Post/Pre, 2 x Post
  • Send/Return I/O: 4 x TRS (Send)
  • Busses/Groups: 4 x Groups
  • Headphones: 1 x 1/4″
  • USB: 1 x Type B
  • EQ Bands: 3-Band, Sweepable Mid
  • Effects: Yes
  • Software: Cubase AI DAW software (download)
  • Rackmountable: Yes
  • Height: 5.1″
  • Width: 17.5″
  • Depth: 19.7″
  • Weight: 14.6 lbs.
REASONS TO BUY
  • Very affordable.
  • Easy to use.
  • Good range of facilities.
  • Good audio quality.
REASONS TO AVOID
  • Choice of available effects may not suit everybody.
  • USB interface only 16-bit.

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