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32 channel church mixer recommendations?

I'm trying to get our church to move up to a larger mixer. I have not looked at buying a new mixer in five or six years, so I'm looking in all directions. After primary considerations of sound quality and durability, ease of operations comes in a strong third. We don't need a large number of buses or aux outs. I'm probably stuck with using volunteers to mix, so I've got to keep it pretty simple. I can't see us going digital unless someone makes a really good case. So I'm looking at sort of medium level analog boards.

The usual suspects are interesting:
A&H GL2400-32 $2400
Soundcraft LX7ii 32 $2200
Mackie Onyx 32.4 $2000
Yamaha MG32/14FX $1100

I know Yamaha is concentrating on digital, and yes there is some feature difference, but this is a pretty big price gap. Any thoughts? Am I looking at the right collection of boards? What are your favorites in this category? What else should I be looking at? Should I get out of this business?

Thanks in advance, Bob


moonbaby Mon, 02/18/2008 - 10:46
I tried a Yamaha 32-channel MG board when I was looking to replace a well-worn Mackie SR32. I was not impressed. First off, the MG series isn't really made by Yamaha, but by Phonic. While it did take up enough real estate to keep from making the operator clausterphobic, it had no headroom. As I stacked up inputs, the groups and auxes started to sound like mush with dynamic drums and vocalists.
I own a few A&H's (GL2's, GL2200's). They sound OK, and have held up alright. I hear some folks have good experiences, some don't. I have owned a couple of Soundcrafts over the years, no more due to reliability issues.
Anyway, I ended up buying a used Yamaha M2500. This is a professional, "pro audio" board from the late 90's. While it takes up a good bit of room as well, it really delivers a great sound with gobs of headroom. I bought it from a regional broadcast production house for $2500. Even though it's 10 years old, it has plenty of life left in it. All of the hardware -switches, pots, and faders- STILL have a better feel to them than the new boards, all of the lamps work, etc. Something to consider, you might contact the broadcast facilities in your area to see what they might be getting ready to replace. They certainly take better care of their gear than most sound companies tend to, and don't throw them in and out of a truck.
Back to your list: my vote would go for the Onyx.

BobRogers Tue, 02/19/2008 - 03:23
I agree about the feel of some of the older boards vs. the newer boards that I've tried. If it was for me, it would be a possibility. (Though you might be shocked at the condition of broadcast facilities in this neck of the woods. Some of the boards still have the Carter family fingerprints on them. Others are run by students majoring in vandalism.) But for the church I'm probably going to recommend something with a full warranty and dealer support.

I'm trying to figure how to settle the reliability issue in my mind. I've looked at various forums and found mixed review on every major brand I can think of at this price level. People have had bad luck with A&H and Soundcraft in this thread, but it's not hard to find the same reaction to Mackie and Yamaha. I've never seen any sort of scientific survey. It may just be a matter of playing with the boards and going by feel. (I've had good luck with the Mackie, A&H and Soundcraft boards that I've used, but none of them had that hard a life.)

I'm leaning toward the Mackie right now. I'll try to look at the Soundcraft G2 since I've never looked at that series. And the fact that we have a few people in the church with some training on their 16 channel Soundcraft mixer is a little vote in that direction.

moonbaby Tue, 02/19/2008 - 05:59
Maybe I was lucky. All I had to do was to use a little bit of elbow grease and Gunk Off to remove some dumbass labelling, now the board looks new. Knock wood, next week it'll crash.
I agree that there should be some sort of objective review of live audio gear's performance and reliability. Maybe J.D. Powers will step in...
The Allen & Heaths that I've seen road-rashed 'n' bashed did not fare well.
The ones that are pampered seem to do well. Ditto with the Soundcrafts. I only know of two users of the Onyx ( plus me, but mine is a dinky 1220 I use as a submixer for drums). One has a 32.4 they replaced an SR32 with, the other church popped for a 3280 to replace an older Soundcraft Series 600. Both are very happy with their choices. Time will tell, I guess.

Codemonkey Tue, 02/19/2008 - 17:33
I've been mildly looking into the 24.4 for the Church...
How bad are the pres? Not in comparison to a $1m console but in general. Currently we have a low end Phonic powerpod K-16.
So long as they're no worse than current (mildly noisy, seems to be really cloudy around the midrange although that could be the PG58s) then the next time the moon shines at midday and cash is going spare around the Church, I might suggest an upgrade.
The powerpod is junk, half the knobs are out of line, the pad buttons seem permenantly on and the 3rd channel has totally died.
Something tells me a 24.4 would be an improvement.


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