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My Top 5 Digital Mixers Under $5,000

I have a lot of conversations with sound guys, worship pastors, church leaders, and venue audio techs about sound equipment and one of the things that comes up the most is digital mixers. The past five to ten years have seen a lot of advances in digital mixing and there are a lot of options and the options are more affordable than ever before. So, here are my five favorite digital mixers under $5,000.

All of these mixers are 32 channels and have plenty of output options making them excellent options for any church or venue. They also have either USB or Firewire for connecting to a computer for live recording, which is a must for me these days.

5. Yamaha TF5 - $3,599 retail

Features - Touchscreen, 32 channels, 16 XLR outs, 32 motorized channel faders.

I've used the Yamaha M7CL Console heavily for mixing in the past, and for the $75,000 we paid for it, it was a great console. However, Yamaha's old system of starting from scratch with each console bit them when they developed the LS9, which in my opinion was not a great console. It's great once it's set up, but they got rid of the touch screen funtionality which made for a lot of setup time. The TF5 has a touchscreen back and they've simplified the layout, but I'm still causiously excited about this console.

4. Behringer X32 - $2,299.99 retail

Features - 32 channels in, 18 XLR outs, motorized faders.

Lots of us were really excited and nervous when Behringer bought Midas and released the X32 console. If you're strapped for cash, I think it's a good console. I love that it has motorized faders, and an output fader/DCA section but what drives me nuts is that there are only 16 faders up at a time. I just prefer to have all my channels available at any given time when it's possible. Generally, the bands I mix, especially in church music, have more than 16 channels. These days I mix a large band at the church where I work and we need 24 channels for the band each week, so I'd have to be bouncing back and forth between pages to set levels on some things, which would drive me nuts. If this doesn't matter for your workflow, the X32 is probably going to be great for you.

3. Midas M32 - $4999 retail

Features - 32 channels in, 18 XLR outs, motorized faders.

This console is everything the Behringer X32 dreams it could be except with the name all of us trust and higher quality preamps. Besides those things, it's essentially the same console.

2. PreSonus StudioLive 32.4.2AI- $2,999 retail

Features - 32 channels in, 14 aux outs, 32 faders, 4 groups.

There aren't a lot of things I dislike about this console. I've used this console a lot over the years and it's still one of my favorites in the "Affordable Ditigal Mixer" category. The preamps sound good, all faders are on top, and the "Fat Channel" provides all of your compression, gate, EQ, and output routing right in the center of the console. The analog feel of this console also makes it excellent for volunteer-run audio teams. Of all of the consoles I've trained people on, this one is the simplest for people to fully operate on. If you're not as used to an analog EQ/Compressor display, there's a great control software from PreSonus that you can run connected to a laptop or iPad for a more digital readout. The pricetag on this isn't bad either. The only thing this board doesn't have that the others do is motorized faders, but who needs that when all of your faders and send controls are on the top of the console?

The price tag isn't bad either

1. Allen & Heath QU32- $3,599 retail

Features - Motorized faders, touchscreen, excellent sounding Allen & Heath preamps, 24 XLR Outputs.

This is my current favorite from the more affordable digital mixers. I've always been a fan of Allen & Heath analog consoles and when they finally got into the digital mixing game, I was honestly a little apprehensive. However, once I worked on one I was sold. The preamps sound great just like all of their analog boards. There are plenty of outputs and options, which I love. And as with my other more favorite consoles, all of the faders are on top and are motorized for mixing sends on faders and controlling outputs. This console is also really slimlined and lightweight which makes it great for portable church/venue settings.

So I know this doesn't cover every console out there under $5,000, and these are just my opinions, but I feel that any of these five consoles are a great fit for any organization. If you have further questions or comments, feel free to contact me. We'd love to hear some feedback and/or love to help you decide what you need for your particular mixing situation.

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