Ask the Expert: Will sound engineering skills taught for analogue desks transfer to a digital desk?

Ask the Expert: Will sound engineering skills taught for analogue desks transfer to a digital desk?

We had an email from Paul Keeping at City Life Church in Portsmouth:

I have seen your DVD set for sound tech training for churches, we have just changed to a Allen & heath digital desk from the analogue one you are showing. What are your views on using this DVD although we have a newer desk style. There is so much more on the digital desk.

Pat Smith, Sales Engineer from SFL Group, who is one of the presenters on the new Sound Tech and PA Training for Churches DVD answers the question:

The Sound Tech & PA Training DVDs teaches fundamental mixing techniques from beginner right through to advanced concepts. On the DVDs we exclusively demonstrate on an analogue sound desk, however it is still entirely relevant and applicable to users working on newer digital desks. We deliberately chose to just use an analogue desk for a number of reasons:

  1. Many churches are still working on analogue desks, which are generally cheaper and more accessible than digital counterparts (although digital desks are now increasingly affordable).
  2. The skills learnt on an analogue desk are completely transferable to digital. We mix in exactly the same way and follow exactly the same processes.
  3. Analogue desks are more generic and thus are more appropriate to teach on when our viewers are using a wide variety of technology. Whilst all analogue desks operate and are laid out almost identically, the geography and navigation of digital desks varies wildly from model to model so it is harder to teach transferable skills on a digital desk without getting confused with the nuances of the specific model.
  4. We couldn’t possibly cover all makes and models of digital desk, this would take a whole other DVD by itself and would soon be out-of-date as new technologies are launched all the time. By using an analogue desk we ensure that our DVD is a lasting resource that remains relevant and useful for your church long into the future. SFL offer dedicated training courses covering specific digital desk families for customers in the UK. For our American and other international customers we recommend asking your dealer or visiting the manufacturer website to find out more about where you can get training on your particular desk.

It is true that digital desks are often packed with more advanced features such as compressors and FX. These also exist in the analogue world, it’s just that they are usually present as separate pieces of equipment rather than being integrated into the desk as they are with digital. We cover the most common of these advanced features in the DVD using analogue equipment, so there are sessions directly relevant to you if these are the areas you are hoping to develop.

As an analogy that might help, you could also draw a comparison with the experience of reading on a Kindle. A Kindle is a digital book, it has a few extra features that I had to learn about when I first got mine, but the learning curve was restricted to the question of “How do I operate a Kindle?” I didn’t have to relearn how to read – I’d already done that using analogue books and the skills were 100% transferable with no conscious effort.