Josh Walker is a self-described "professional creative." From music and recording to live sound and systems integration, Walker works with bands, musicians, and organizations, helping to create a powerful musical and visual experience.
In addition to his regular duties as creative arts director at Morgantown, West Virginia's, Catalyst Church, Walker is an AV consultant to churches and institutions across the U.S., helping their users to design and get the most from their systems. As he puts it, "I love technology, and I love simplicity."
Walker recently talked about an interesting project at Safe Harbor Christian Church in the Orlando suburb of Sanford, FL. The church's 250-seat sanctuary was plagued by a number of challenges, both environmental and operational. "The room itself is actually pretty good, other than a rather high ceiling," Walker observed. "But they had some rather outdated and ineffective technology, and that's where we started."
The sanctuary's analog console lacked many of the features the church needed. "Even at its best, they could only get two monitor mixes out of it," Walker said. And the aging mixer had apparently seen better days, with several channels either partially or fully inoperable.
The multi-channel snake fared little better. "The snake had been spliced with what looked like residential copper wiring to extend it to the 250 feet needed to reach the desk," said Walker. "It was pretty down and dirty and just a bit dangerous."
Walker recommended the PreSonus StudioLive 24.4.2 digital console. "I had mixed live shows on the PreSonus on a couple of occasions and was pretty impressed," he said. "For its size and price, it's surprisingly powerful. It's ideal for small to mid-sized churches." Apparently it wasn't hard to convince the church either. "They had been researching consoles, and the StudioLive was at the top of their list."
Not surprisingly, the butchered snake was a goner. "There was no way to salvage it, so we installed a new 200-foot multicore," said Walker. "Between the snake and the StudioLive, we immediately raised their available monitor mixes from two to five. The snake enabled us to go up to eight, and the console allowed for ten."
Another challenge plaguing the church was a lack of proper training. "Outside of their core team, it's largely a volunteer crew," Walker explained. "One of the guys had run the sound at a larger venue for about 20 years, so he knew audio but he didn't know digital. The rest of them were folks who wanted to help out, but had no audio experience."
Walker says the StudioLive made training the crew an easy undertaking. "We had to go through everything, from how to use a digital console down to the basics of how to mix, use EQ, compression, and so on. I think we did a total of around six hours of hands-on training, and when I left I was fully confident that they had a good grasp of things," he said. "The console makes it so easy. The Fat Channel is so intuitive - all the information is right in front of you. There are no layers of menus. In fact, there's almost nothing you can't get to within two button presses or two turns of a knob."
He points to the StudioLive's expandability as another asset. "If their production grows twofold in the next couple of years, they can get another one and connect them via FireWire."
"To be able to give them a console that takes up less space and does more than two of their old consoles is just a no-brainer," he concluded.