Church Audio Console Chosen With Backs Turned
A diverse group of classical, rock and metal FOH engineers pick mixing console unanimously during blind shootout.
Sometimes turning ones back is the best way to find what you’re looking for. At least that is what happened at Cokesbury United Methodist of Knoxville, Tennessee. Cokesbury is one church in three locations. Actually it’s four locations counting the church’s online ministry that streams worship services on the web. Two of the campuses have a contemporary style of service with singers, keyboards, bass, drums & percussion, piano, horns and a string section. The third campus delivers a traditional theological service with classic choir, piano, guitar, bass, brass, woodwinds and strings.Charged with orchestrating the diverse audio demands is Technical Director, Mischa Goldman. This veteran audio professional conducts his audio responsibilities with a wealth of product experience – in particular, mixing consoles. But anyone who has spent time in the live sound realm will know that one audio pro’s preference can often be at odds with another’s. Mischa Goldman’s situation is no different; indeed this disparity of preference could have been an issue at each campus location. “My musical background is classical, my front-of-house engineers come from rock and metal,” he says. “So we asked our audio contractor to arrange a shootout for us.”ML Sound of Knoxville, Tennessee has been the church’s audio consultant and contractor for over ten years. Which, given the three distinctly different acoustic environs of Cokesbury, is no small achievement. So with their backs turned Goldman and his team of FOH engineers listened to the same audio track over & over, through an assortment of mixing consoles. Remember, audio pros have their distinct sonic preferences, regardless of a console’s feature set. What happened? Goldman puts it succinctly: “We did a four console shootout, we all chose the GLD-80. I’ve been in production for over fifteen years and have used ten different mixing consoles. The Allen & Heath processing is fantastic and the sonic quality of their consoles can’t be touched in this price range,” states Goldman. Joe Hamilton of ML Sound says he’s not surprised. “Allen & Heath has been embedded in our company for over two decades.” Hamilton and his ML Sound colleagues had done other shootouts previously and say the Allen & Heath GLD-80 had held its own sonically against more expensive brands, he reports. “It’s a challenge and a thrill to be Cokesbury Church’s audio contractor. They have high expectations – A & H mixers always deliver great results for us.”Once the testing phase was over, it was time for the GLD-80 to prove itself in the various Cokesbury Church locations. With unabashed frankness, Goldman reveals his immediate reaction to the first hearing of the GLD-80 in situ: “I felt like all these years I’ve been listening to our sound through a paper bag – we turned the GLD-80 on without any processing – it was a whole new sound spectrum. It’s warmer with very clear articulation and the audio presence is very clean.” Contemporary CampusAt the north campus of Cokesbury Church, contemporary services are performed utilizing two, A & H GLD-80’s, one for FOH and one for monitor mixing with a Dante card to manage the network. Additionally, there are Mackie 1400 amps powering EAW point source speakers, a dozen Shure ULX-S microphones and Sennheiser G3 in ear monitors.Goldman points out that both the FOH and Monitor Mix Engineers are using the Allen & Heath I-Pad app to check sound levels throughout the worship sanctuary, a welcome new feature, he mentions. “We are also doing all of our DSP in the GLD-80 console, a great advantage,” he adds.