Simplicity is sometimes best…

Just back from a wedding of two dear friends – itself a great day.  I was humbled to have been asked to contribute to their service by doing live sound duty, on an unknown PA system in an unknown church.

I arrived at what I think was the most simple and effective PA system I’ve yet encountered in a small church:

  • 4 x EV SX300’s
  • 1 x Behringer power amplifier (not sure which one)
  • 1 x Allen & Heath GL2400 analogue mixing console
  • Mostly fed with Shure dynamic microphones (even for lectern-based speech!) or passive DI’s
  • Mackie SRM450’s as stage monitors

It has to be said that I didn’t expect miracles – this is to some engineers the most basic system they’ll encounter.  No need for delay or dynamics protection for the speakers, no graphic EQ even for either main or monitor feeds.  So what went into the mixing board was going straight to the speakers unaffected.

What struck me was how “direct” the mix felt.  Though I’ve used systems that felt more revealing in terms of minor EQ tweaks and such, the system punched well above its weight in terms of clarity and dynamics.  The SX300’s aren’t the best speakers in the world, I know, but the sound they gave was a convincing reproduction of what I knew to be coming into the mics.

The other significant thing about today’s task was that I’ve spent the last three or so months of my working life configuring and mixing with an entirely digital console.  So of all the analogue boards I could have encountered it was refreshing to find myself so at home with the GL2400.  This is a good, no-nonsense board that I felt immediately at home with.  It is equivalent in concept to the Soundcraft Live 8 series consoles, I guess.  Combined with the simple amp/speaker setup, I felt completely at home with the board, and it was a real joy to mix with.

So – Well done St John’s Stoke (Guildford) – you’ve managed to pull off the impossible.  You have a system that is technically adequate, that sounds good and that has minimal visual impact on your building.  Further, the in-house tech’s I spoke with were friendly, willing and knowledgable – which are always encouraging qualities to encounter.  I wish you well in your ministry, and despite working in a venue that has much more complex needs to deal with, I could learn a lot from your approach!  So thank you.

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