Pastored by Casey and Wendy Treat for 28 years, Christian Faith Center has one of the largest and fastest-growing congregations in the United States. The church is located on two main campuses in suburban Seattle—one of which is a state-of-the-art facility completed in September 2007—and 8,000 people a week now attend services at the two sites. Christian Faith Center is dedicated to continuous growth, and has integrated the highest quality equipment at their facilities to ensure a worship experience second to none. When it came to upping the ante with regard to sound reinforcement, the church worked with AV specialists Michael Garrison Associates to install two XL8 systems in the 5000-seat sanctuary at their new campus, a 550-sq. ft. octagonal space with stadium seating. Kris Hillstrom, Technical Director at Christian Faith Center, described how the church is sounding better than ever with the inimitable warm sound—and unprecedented digital flexibility—of Midas XL8 consoles at both FOH and monitor mix positions:
“We knew that we wanted to make a substantial investment in our new sound system. Seattle is a very music-savvy part of the world, and we and felt that, as one of the largest houses of worship in the Northwest, we had high standards to uphold. We want to provide an inspiring, high fidelity experience for the congregation, and Midas, with its industry standard reputation, was the way to achieve that. We’ve been preparing our congregation for this building for seven years, and expectations were very high; the XL8 has surpassed them all.
“Our praise and music teams perform in a wide range of musical styles,” Hillstrom adds, “from gospel to upbeat contemporary rock, all of it high energy. The overall atmosphere is fresh and energetic; services can be very dynamic, with frequent changeovers. A high performance sound system is an essential element of how we worship, and we wanted the new facility to be equipped as a state of the art performance venue. We bring in a lot of big-name Christian groups, and up to this point we’ve had to hire huge PAs to meet their riders; that was not only expensive, it was a lot of work for our technical team. The XL8s have changed everything: the flexibility of having a 96-input console installed at both FOH and Monitors is a very big deal, and, of course, every visiting engineer is happy to see the Midas badge and excited to mix on the new digital Midas!
Christian Faith Center had previously used analog boards, and their volunteers and in-house AV staff alike are finding the XL8 very intuitive to use and easy to operate, despite its formidable digital horsepower. “Obviously we were a little concerned at first,” says Hillstrom, “diving into the deep end of digital, but the XL8 is not like other digital desks—it retains that familiar analog feel, layout, and all-important audio quality. XL8 makes sense: buttons and dials have similar functions as on earlier Midas desks, and the faders and EQ retain that hands-on feel and responsiveness. There are also lots of new user-friendly features—like the displays, color-coding, and POP groups—that make life simpler. Jorgen Brotnov, our Head Engineer, loves mixing on it. Technically it’s a supercomputer, but physically it feels like your favorite analog Midas. We only have two in-ear mixes; the rest is all wedges, for a nice live, rocking sound—real room mixing. The room has plenty of acoustic treatment, and the mid-sized line arrays (in a stereo plus mono configuration) provide great coverage throughout.”
As is the case in large houses of worship across the U.S., as congregations get bigger, so do their locations. This leads to larger musical productions, which end up little different expanding to full-blown theatrical productions, with the additional logistical challenge of involving multiple acts with various lineups over the course of a single day. XL8 offers the flexibility needed to handle any such scenario, as Hillstrom explains: “The XL8 has centralized our control of the mix. The DSP is onboard, we have plenty of inputs, and we can quickly go to another scene in the console when there’s a set change—the list goes on. As well as the musical praise teams, we have a very active school, and they put on a wide range of musicals and productions. It really simplifies things to have those stored settings in there; we have scenes EQ’d out for lapel mics, so you can make a quick, seamless transition from loud wedges for the band to lapel mics in the next scene for more theatrical performances, and all without having to scroll through a ton of pages—the XL8’s large display screens make accessing presets and plug-ins so much quicker. We also have a weekly TV show that will expand back to the national level now the new building is finished; we send a broadcast mix to the control room from the FOH XL8. We’re all set to address any logistic in the broadcast, live concert, or school production realm—it’s all covered.”
For more information: