In the early ’70s, creators of the Contemporary Christian Music movement would gather at the Koinonia Bookstore, the birthplace of an influential style that continues to impact worship music. Now, musician, producer and missionary Tom Lane has transformed the location into a live music venue called 16th and Grand Coffeehouse.

The renovated brick-walled space is one of the first in the United States to be equipped with a new Yamaha TF5 digital mixing console, the largest of three new models introduced by Yamaha, along with the TF3 and TF1. The room also includes four Yamaha DXR12 powered loudspeakers and two DXS15 subwoofers. “This is a premium mixer that allows skilled engineers to go deep into digital capacities, but it also lets a typical house of worship engineer, who might be a part-time volunteer, get up to speed quickly,” said Lane. “For houses of worship and other venues, this is going to surpass a lot of what’s on the market due to the price point.”

He also praised the one-knob knob function that controls a number of levels and allows users to easily dial up the perfect setting: “it’s an amazing feature and they hit on a winner of an idea.” Beyond the TF5’s sound quality, Lane also chose the model because it will serve as an effective tool for teaching the next generation of worship sound engineers about the nuances of mixing on a digital console.

In addition to renovating and running 16th and Grand, serving as worship pastor at Belmont Church in Nashville, writing popular songs, playing recording sessions and performing with his band Blues Counsel, Lane helps oversee the non-profit Bridge-A Joseph Company, which runs youth camps, provides leadership training and conducts missionary work in Ecuador and South Africa. The organization offers a number of worship training programs, mostly for college-age students, including ministry, music, video production, acting and audio engineering. Young people interested in live sound mixing will be able to work with the TF5 at 16th and Grand, using the space as a hands-on training ground. The goal is to provide the same level of instruction most students can only receive at formal conferences. According to Lane, the TF mixers serve as ideal consoles to teach the basics. “They put high-end digital features at one’s fingertips and are set up to be intuitive so there’s no need to revert to a manual to master it,” he said. “You can go deep quickly and this console does a lot of what the higher-end rigs do so that a beginner can enter at a good starting point and get a sense of the big picture.”

Microphone and instrument presets provide a graphic representation of how to eliminate problems in the mixing process. The one-knob function eliminates the need to determine complicated compressor parameters, for example, yet it illustrates the benefits of compression with the help of the multimedia screen, which replicates the features found on more expensive consoles while conveying EQ curves in a visual representation. “When you bring up a preset, it is graphically represented, so users start to associate what they are hearing with what they are seeing on that graph,” said Mike
Overlin, worship resources manager at Yamaha.

Also enhancing educational opportunities, the board provides networkability, since it can record directly out of the console, and users are able to create their own presets. In addition, it allows for virtual sound checks where users track a band out of the console, record over USB and play back the performance. “It is important in worship to raise up and train the audio engineers, but you can’t
always get a band in there,” said Overlin. “This is a great way to practice with an actual recording of a band.”