Updated by Danielle
Updated on September 22nd, 2022
This article was put together in collaboration with several sound folks we work with when writing about mixers. Note the prices are updated live and we're making every effort to keep this page current. If you notice a mistake or something outdated, let us know about it in the comments section. Thank you!
What is the best digital Mixer for Church? (Our Top Pick)
Allen & Heath Qu-32 Digital Mixer
Based on pricing and functionality, we recommend the Allen & Heath Qu-32 digital mixer for mid to large churches with worship teams of five or more people. It strikes a good balance of features and price, plus it gives you the option to run the physical board from an iPad app.
In this rather narrow space of requirements, you don't have a ton of options to choose from. Though in my experience working with churches and audio setup, I've found a lot of places use mid-tier Allen & Heath boards like the Qu-32.
Here's a quick list of perks that I've found to be the most helpful:
- Motorized faders
- Digital iPad/mobile app control
- Plenty of channels to work with (32 in this case)
- Control options
These are the big pieces of what you would need in most mixers of this size. Other technical details are of a lot less consequence, unless you want something really specific. Other features like inputs, outputs, and effects tend to be similar between mixer models and brands (more on those issues below).
I should also note that there are a lot of mixers that give you either a physical board or a mobile/digital interface, but not both.
This particular mixer gives you both, allowing you to control either way.
I've used mixers that can be controlled only by the iPad and mobile app, which isn't ideal because, if that system fails, you don't have a physical mixer to fall back on. A big part of the Allen & Heath recommendation is that it gives you a great physical mixer, but provides you with multiple ways to control it.
Our recommendations are always based on personal experience and thorough research. However, they are still inherently subjective and based on opinion. Take them with a grain of salt. Also note that we use partner links to vendors we trust like Sweetwater to support our site and keep it ad free. If you decide to buy gear, shopping through our orange Sweetwater buttons is a huge help to us. Thank you for your support.
In addition to the Qu-32, here are three other mixers with a similar spec list that would also make great options for a mid-sized church, perhaps as an upgrade to a smaller mixer to accommodate a growing congregation and/or worship team.
Allen & Heath Qu-32
PreSonus StudioLive 32S
Soundcraft Si Expression
QSC TouchMix-30 Pro
We always try to include pricing tools in our recommendations just to give you an idea of your options and allow you to compare from multiple vendors. Larger 32-channel digital mixers like the Qu-32 are typically not available through many retailers. Moreover, Sweetwater is specifically known for the selling and supporting of live sound gear.
Though the Qu-32 is pretty widely available, which is not typical for these larger mixing boards. Note that I've included the Qu-32 and the Qu-32C.
Price Alert (tracks with Sweetwater)
Price History (tracks with Sweetwater)
Price History for Allen & Heath Qu-32 32-channel Digital Mixer - Chrome Edition
|Current Price||$3,999.99||December 1, 2023|
|Highest Price||$3,999.99||September 22, 2022|
|Lowest Price||$3,999.99||September 22, 2022|
Last price changes
|$3,999.99||September 22, 2022|
Do we need 32 channels?
32 channels sounds like a lot.
But we've found at our church that once you get going, channels start to fill up really quick. For example, on a given Sunday morning service we usually have the following:
- Lead pastor's mic
- Second pastor's mic (they typically do welcome and non-sermon elements)
- Lead vocals
- Backup Vocals
- Multiple Monitors
This alone gets us to around 10 channels or higher, and that's without more than two vocalists and no drum set mics. Plus, you want room to grow in your mixing board given that you never know how things will be setup in the future.
So I'd recommend taking inventory of everything that will take up a channel, and then consider doubling it.
Unless you're a really small church, 32 channels won't be overkill.
If it is overkill, note that there are 16 and 24-channel versions of the same mixer:
Additional Channel Variations
Most mixers - or mixer series - will have a variety of channel numbers to choose from, which usually go up in increments of 12 or 16.
When buying a mixing board for any live sound situation, this number is the most important thing to consider.
Other Features to Consider
There are a ton of features when it comes to digital mixers, but just a few headliners that I like to pay close attention to.
On digital mixers, motorized faders allow you to call up digitally stored presets and automatically shift the faders to the correct positions all at once. Other wise you'd have to do this manually every time something changed.
With motorized faders, it works both ways:
- Digital faders can mirror physical faders
- Physical faders can mirror digital faders
With the old Mackie mixer at our church, we used an app called Master Fader, which worked ok, but honestly isn't something we'd buy again. Still, it gives you at least an idea of what you can expect controlling a mixer from an iPad.
Most mixers of this size have a ton of output options. Of primary concern are two mains and two track outs. But here's a full list of what the Qu-32 provides:
- Outputs - Main: 2 x XLR (left, right), 2 x 1/4" (2 track out), 2 x 1/4" (alt out)
- Outputs - Other: 4 x XLR (mono mix outs), 3 x XLR pairs (stereo mix outs), 4 x XLR pairs (stereo group outs), 2 x XLR pairs (stereo matrix outs)
In my experience, a comprehensive EQ, compression, and reverb are all you really need at a mixer level. Though the Qu-32 adds some delay (ambience) and several forms of modulation (phaser, chorus, flanger, etc.)
We sometimes use a little ambience for vocals, and simply let instruments take care of their own effects.
Using the iPad/App Mixing: From personal experience
As I mentioned, we've used a Mackie system that was decent, but only provided for iPad/app control. Getting ready to replace this system, we're definitely wanting to go in a more physical direction that allows us to control directly from an actual board and/or from the iPad app.
The digital app just seems to be more buggy and less consistent than physical faders. Often times we've had to restart the system to get it to work, which isn't where you want to be on Sunday morning.
And that's not an indictment of Mackie, but just something that you might run into when using an iPad app to mix live sound.
You're better off using the iPad as a backup/secondary control and not the primary.
So that's just me speaking from personal experience. Whatever mixer you buy, make sure you get the number of channels right, and make sure you can control it a couple different ways.
A mixing console is a big decision with an ominous amount of technical detail involved. But I'd encourage you to not get too caught up in the small technical considerations, and focus instead on the big picture features that will matter most.
Just to review, those would primarily be the following:
- Console control options
- Total number of channels needed
- EQ flexibility
- Inputs and outputs available
If you start here, you'll be able to narrow your choices pretty quickly. For those that want to just take my word for it, I'd say the Allen & Heath Qu-32 is the best option and most likely to be a good fit for the largest number of churches and scenarios.
For those with questions about my recommendation, jump into the comments section below and I'll do my best to help out.
Thanks for reading.