- Travis Middleton
7 Best Digital Sound Boards For Churches
Churches and other religious organizations benefit from quality sound setups that help speakers and musicians project their important message. Often, these setups are run by teams of staffers and volunteers who have (or are developing) audio expertise. The most successful audio visual (AV) teams are ones that have access to the right equipment for exercising their skills and keeping attendees’ focus on the message.
Whether your church uses instruments or voices, handheld microphones or lavalier mics—all the relevant audio equipment needs to run through a sound board (also called a sound console or sound mixer). For today’s audio setups, a digital sound board, rather than an analog sound board, is the most helpful choice for any religious organization because of its powerful recall settings (more on that below). In this article are seven great digital sound board options for churches, as well as what to look for to create a powerful audio setup.
Looking for a trustworthy AV partner who can help you engage with your audiences more effectively? Reach out to the knowledgeable team at Aspen Custom Electronics.
Digital Sound Boards Vs. Analog Sound Boards
You might be wondering: Why should you use a digital sound board for churches? Because analog sound boards, though powerful, aren’t as helpful for churches looking to streamline their everyday tasks. Here’s why a digital soundboard is more useful:
Global Scene Recall—A digital sound board allows you to take advantage of presets, even down to the presets for each song in a worship service. Your default preset mixes everything to a known starting point, allowing you to make custom mixes for each part of any given service. With one push of a button, you can turn channels on and off, change levels, feature different people as lead singers and push them up in the mix, mute the instruments, or turn up the preacher’s mic.
Digital Processing—This type of processing is more powerful and less likely to lag, which you’ll want if you facilitate audio for a worship team or preaching team of many people. This type of processing also offers features like corrective EQ, and noise gates. While an analog sound board would use five different external processors for five different channels, digital sound boards have these capabilities built right in.
Audio Compression—Though this feature falls under the umbrella of “digital processing,” it’s worth mentioning on its own. Audio compression helps you control sudden volume changes within a sound mix. For example, if someone who speaks quietly passes the mic to someone who speaks more loudly, an analog sound board would struggle to regulate the sound. On digital sound boards, however, audio compression is built into every channel . This digital feature is helpful for churches that sometimes employ congregational participation or who offer announcements from different individuals at different services.
Channel Preset Recall—Digital presets also save your meticulously set audio levels for individual performers, instruments and presenters for quick recall later. With an analog board, your settings can be easily disrupted by a well-meaning volunteer or a child running loose in the auditorium.
Streamlined equipment—Digital sound boards have fewer buttons and fewer opportunities for things to go wrong. Features like audio effects, digital labeling, and channel selection are incorporated into the sound board. With analog sound boards, you’ll need considerably more outboard gear and cables to achieve the same level of control.
Remote Control–You don’t have to be stuck behind a console with a digital mixer. In general, digital mixers are network enabled and will connect to a tablet via WiFi. This allows you to mix from anywhere in the room. Whether your console is located in a part of the room with bad acoustics or you just want to sit with your family, digital mixers allow operators untethered control. You definitely can’t get that with an analog mixer!
7 Reliable Digital Sound Boards For Churches
1. Best All-Around: Allen & Heath Avantis
This is a more than capable unit from reliable sound board manufacturer Allen & Heath. It provides your audio engineers with a smaller sound board size and less control surfaces, but it’s perfectly suited for small to medium sized churches that want to offer their sound engineers all of the necessary features to perfect their mixes.
2. Best For Live/Streaming: Allen & Heath dLive
This range of sound boards is built for live and broadcast sound, so it offers extra audio features for teams that run live services streamed from your church. If you offer online services, streamed programs, or religious TV shows from your location, this range will provide a reliable set of controls for your use case. Keep in mind that this is their flagship offering so it might not be in your budget—however, it’s an excellent choice for religious organizations with advanced needs.
3. Best For Custom Controls: Allen & Heath AHM 64
This unique product is a type of digital signal processor, which Allen & Heath also calls an Audio Matrix Processor. The AHM product is designed to sit directly in your audio rack and has no control surfaces on its own—even though it has third party control capabilities (Crestron, Extron, etc.) and an optional fader control surface for customizable functionality of a much larger sound board. You can program each of those faders with the specific controls that you need…and none of the controls you don’t. In this way, the AHM allows you to build out a custom sound board layout and restrict controls to certain parts of your sound mix. It’s a great choice if you plan on building out a custom control surface to meet your unique sound needs.
4. Best For Uncompromised Performance: DiGiCo SD-Range
The DiGiCo SD-Range sound boards are expensive, but well worth the investment. These are luxury options meant for professional contexts, and they guarantee great sound quality, diverse control features, and stellar build quality (for longevity and many years of sound mixing).
5. Best For Barrier to Entry: Yamaha TF Series
Yamaha is a reliable choice that builds solid sound boards. The TF series can handle a variety of church needs, such as live instruments, media players, and live speakers. If your audio team is loyal to Yamaha—or if you’ve had great experiences with this brand in the past—the TF Series provides a helpful suite of sound boards that would fit well in many churches and religious institutions and won’t blow your budget.
6. Best For Compact Luxury: Yamaha QL Series
Also from Yamaha, this is a more upscale board than those in the TF series. If there’s room in your budget, the QL Series is an upgrade that provides refined sound, lots of control features, and diverse input/output capabilities in a premium package. So, if you have space limitations, you won’t be disappointed with the Yamaha QL1.
7. Best For The Budget: Midas M32 Live
Lastly, our honorable mention: The Midas M32 is a respectable budget choice that offers churches several basic controls, presets, and input/output options. While it won’t handle megachurches or conference-level events with ease, it’s a worthwhile contender for smaller venues and congregations.
Host a Successful Service With Digital Sound Boards
As a church or other religious institution, you have a message to share with the world, and that message means everything to you and your congregation. A digital sound board can help you communicate more clearly, more effectively, and even more simply than the analog sound boards of old.
If the pointers above aren’t giving you everything you need to get started building out a quality audio setup, reach out to the experts at Aspen Custom Electronics. We have years of experience building AV systems for churches just like yours, and would be happy to answer your questions, offer advice around AV challenges, and even help you design and build an audio visual environment that fulfills your vision. Get in touch with us today and let’s get started!