Anytime that I spend church money on equipment, these are things I look for and use to filter the decision through. I’ve served in several churches over the years, and I’m now in the third church where I’ve introduced a PreSonus mixer. Interesting to note…my previous churches are still using PreSonus! They sound and work great, they last, and they simply make sense in the church.
When I saw the StudioLive 32 Series III being released, without a doubt I knew I wanted to switch. I’ve been in my current church for just over two years. They had recently purchased a very expensive digital soundboard (4-5 years before me) and I’ve spent two years trying to learn it. It frustrates me, there are things that seem poorly designed, and… it frustrates me! Switching from that board to the SL32 Series III, well…it’s like the difference between “Pre-T9 texting” when you had to press the number 4 button three times just to get the letter “I” and smartphones with talk-to-text. Seriously, I won’t go into detail telling you about the frustrations of the old board, but let me say that the PreSonus is a breath of fresh air!
I received the board the week before I had a guest worship leader, Michael Bennett, coming in from California. I wanted everything to sound great and work smoothly for Michael…so, what’s better than completely pulling your FOH board and setting up a new one? Tongue-in-cheek because that would normally be a potential nightmare, but the SL32 was setup and EQ’d to the room in moments.
The workflow is logical and visible on screen. I don’t find myself saying, “Now, where is…?” If you’ve never gone digital, this board is not daunting. Like I mentioned earlier, it’s comparable to using a smartphone. This is a smart-mixer! It’s even equipped with a feature, “Scene Safe,” that prevents you from accidentally “losing” settings on individual channels. Each of the 32 inputs has a “Fat Channel” that has been upgraded from previous StudioLive boards. This is where you build in channel settings like EQ and Effects (if you’re not familiar with the PreSonus Fat Channel) with an intuitive, easy-to-navigate workflow. As far as viewing scenes and meters, multiple iPads and/or computers can be connected wired or wirelessly through your Ethernet router at the same time, which will give you multiple and customizable views.
Obviously, the SL32 has 32 mic inputs. 16 of them are mic/line inputs. In addition, there are two stereo AUX inputs and unbalanced stereo (RCA) tape inputs, plus a Bluetooth input! There are the typical L/R Main outputs, a Main summed mono output, four TRS subgroup outputs, two TRS monitor outputs, and 16 XLR FlexMix outputs (these can be AUX, Subgroup, or Matrix ouputs). That’s a lot of output!
Using those AUX sends, I will be switching from a separate personal monitor mixing system for our in-ear monitors to running the “personal” monitors from the board. Currently, our personal monitor mixers are off platform (except keys and drums) with wireless transmitters to reduce clutter. Musicians and vocalists have to walk backstage to make adjustments. The SL32 is a complete upgrade as wireless transmitters are connected to one of the 16 AUX outputs and from the platform, platform leaders can then adjust their mixes with the QMix-UC app for iPhone and Android smartphones. With the original personal monitor system, we were reduced to having only 16 channels of monitor mixing, but now we can personally mix the entire board! There are two ways to run in-ear monitors…wireless or wired. To save money, I’m not purchasing wireless systems for the drummer or keyboard player. They’re stationary, so I will run an XLR from the AUX output to a headphone amp like the PreSonus HP2, which is just like having a wireless pack without the transmitter.
I haven’t mentioned the recording function yet. On the SL32, there are options…You can connect directly to a computer via USB or an AVB (Audio Video Bridge) Ethernet connection and record with Capture (FREE) and then mix the tracks using the included StudioOne Professional (Included $399 value). Using the AVB connectivity, you’re able to multitrack 55×55 tracks!! Using the USB connection, you can capture 40×40 streams. As well, you can record directly to an onboard 34×34 SD card recorder. If you’re traveling, there really is no need to bring a computer… just record directly onto an SD card and then open that file with StudioLive Professional when you get back to your computer. Every track, every channel, and even fader levels are stored and ready to go! This board is equally comfortable for live venues as well as studio, and perfect for those worship teams wanting to record. For our church setup, it’s a complete game changer! BTW, the AVB capability has the potential to open up a new world of coolness, so stay tuned! The PreSonus StudioLive32 Series III has a list price of only $3500 and a street price just under $3000 (remember, this includes Studio One Professional).