9/10/2010 [Live Sound]When Faced With a Need to Replace the Mixer at Grace Evangelical Church in Fayetteville, the Choice Became Obvious: Yamaha
Walter Ivey (l.) and Phillip Wallace
BUENA PARK, Calif. – The recent installation of a Yamaha IM8-32 analog console at Grace Evangelical Church has greatly improved the delivery of its message—to the congregation and to the world.
Several congregants volunteer their time and abilities at the front-of-house position in the Fayetteville, Georgia-based church. Walter Ivey, for example, handles mixing duty when he isn't playing bass with the praise team, or out of town on a business trip.
"I oversee it, and mix some," he said. "Mostly, when I'm there I'll play bass and the other guys can mix."
Phillip Wallace, a CNN broadcast engineer who also mans the console at Grace Church, said that "the three main people who typically do that position can't be there seven days a week."
Ten years ago, necessity led Ivey to Yamaha's Guide to Sound Systems for House of Worship. "It seemed like we never had anybody who was fully capable," he said. "I studied the Yamaha guide and got into it that way. My copy is just about torn to pieces—every page is taped back in and highlighted."
The sound team began researching mixing consoles when their older board began to wear down. "We noticed that over a period of time some of the pots lost their tolerance," said Ivey. "You could make an adjustment and come back to the same sweep, be it a trim, EQ, whatever. You could set it up one Sunday to the next and everything would be referenced to the same place, but they wouldn't have the same value. I read online that other people complained about that, so I don't think the quality of the pots in that board are as good."
When it came time to make a decision, Walter sought the opinion of his brother, Andy Ivey, a former Nashville-based A&R executive and producer, who recommended Yamaha based on his own experiences and observations.
"When I asked, Andy just said 'Yamaha,'" said Walter. "He said that with all the big production companies, it seemed like Yamaha was the toughest, most robust board, that it was one you'd commonly see on the road. It was a board that people didn't have trouble with. We looked at a couple of others, but the IM8 seemed like a good, solid board with a good reputation."
Andy's recommendation dovetailed with Walter and Phillip's research and the sound team chose an IM8-32.
"The preamps are wonderful," said Wallace. "I knew we were going to get a much better preamp stage, but I was really impressed with the preamps on the IM8. I also love the EQs and spend a little more time with them—and that's a good thing, not bad, because they really are great. To me, [the IM8] is also more logically laid out than the previous board for the signal flow, and a lot more flexible, as well."
That flexibility is demonstrated in the IM8's stereo inputs, and particularly the stereo mini phone jack situated on the front panel, with which a portable player or similar device can feed an audio signal to the 2TR IN channel. "We had a 32-channel board before, but you'd have stereo inputs for your CD, your computer inputs, your video. All that stuff eats up channels, whereas those inputs are additional features on the Yamaha, so you don't tie up your channels doing that."
The sermon is always recorded and uploaded to Grace Church's website (www.gracechurchfayette.org). Here, too, the IM8-32 represented a significant advantage over the church's previous console.
"The way we recorded the service with the other board was a mono out of the board to a tape deck," Wallace recalled. "This board gives us the capability of recording directly to the computer."
"We like the USB output because we were having to go through a USB audio adapter to the computer for either direction," said Ivey. "We also had to use the USB audio adapter for any video clips or whatever you may have out of the computer, and the audio associated with that. It had some issues. It was a nice bonus that the Yamaha had a USB terminal. It simplifies things, and there are fewer cables running all over the place."
The sound team also appreciates that the IM8 features compression on each mono channel. The fact that it consists of a single knob is also appealing. "A compressor seems to be hard for people to understand—the ratios and things like that," said Ivey. "For working with the vocalists' dynamic range, [the one-knob compressor] works really well."
The church's audio quality also continues to impress. "When we put the Yamaha in and just played a digital track," said Ivey, "we were surprised that we could really hear a difference."
For more information on the Yamaha DKC-850, write Yamaha Corporation of America, P.O. Box 6600, Buena Park, CA 90622; telephone (714) 522-9011; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.yamaha.com/press.