When their analog mixing console failed, Life Center Foursquare Church saw it as an opportunity to improve both the sound quality and the workflow of the music presentation in their 1800-seat sanctuary in Spokane, Washington.
“We knew that our next console would be digital, so we looked hard at everything in our price range,” says Dave Compogno, front of house engineer for the church. “The MIDAS PRO2 was a perfect fit for us, especially with the extra capabilities the Mixtender iPad app gave us.”
First and foremost, Compogno was impressed with the sound quality of the MIDAS digital platform.
“Because we needed a replacement console right away, we actually flew down to the MIDAS showroom and training center in Las Vegas,” he recounts. “Being a 24-bit, 96 kHz system, especially with the MIDAS preamps, the sound quality improvement was obvious.
“But the key was really the Mixtender app, which allowed us to replace our existing 16-bit monitor mixing system with iPads and bring that same sound quality to the musicians on stage.”
Life Center Foursquare performs a powerful contemporary Christian music presentation, with a band consisting of electric and acoustic guitars, drums, bass, keyboards and three vocalists.
Each musician controls their own monitor mix via Mixtender, a free iPad app for MIDAS customers.
“It’s really nice because there’s a mix lock feature in the software so that each person controls just their own mix,” says Compogno. “If there’s a problem, I can always assist directly, either from the PRO2 or my own iPad.
“But generally, that’s not necessary. We found that, after the first time running it, everyone was perfectly comfortable managing their own in-ear mix.”
Like most houses of worship, Life Center Foursquare controls both the house and monitor mixes from a single console. The 64-in, 24 out architecture of the PRO2 affords Compogno all the routing he needs to handle the house mix along with eight personal monitor mixes for the band.
At a typical service, there are eight IEM mixes, five of which are sent via Shure PSM 900 wireless systems and three going to on-stage headphone amps.
“All our mixes are in stereo, so I use all 16 sends off the DL251 stage box for monitor,” Compogno notes. “That still leaves me plenty of room for sends to the house mix and video director. In fact, the video director is now doing his own mixes on an iPad as well.”
Coming from a background of over 20 years mixing on analog consoles, Dave Compogno found his transition to digital to be fast and painless.
“For me this was a big step, but I really had no issues with the change. It’s been pretty intuitive. We tried just about everything in the price range, and the PRO2 just felt the most natural. The layout is all labeled from input to output, and it just seemed to make sense to me.”
In fact, Compogno trained himself for the most part. “Having that first demo in Las Vegas was a big help,” he says. “Then I went home and installed the MIDAS offline software on my computer, just to get familiar with everything.
“I’m also the kind of guy who reads the manual, which I have downloaded on the computer we have at front of house. By the time we installed the PRO2, I had some presets ready to load from my thumb drive.
“I love the fact that I can delve deeper into the EQs and effects processing at home, set some things up to try and them bring them to rehearsal to try live. It really saves a lot of time.”
Implementation of the MIDAS Mixtender app was equally smooth. “We have just a standard Wi-Fi router in the sanctuary, so all we had to do was download the app into our iPads and we were ready to go,” says Compogno. “Everyone noticed the improved sound quality right away – even the guitar players. They’re always the most picky when it comes to their sound.
“The switch to MIDAS has really cleared up a lot of their issues about how their amps sound in their ears, which is really great.”
Out at front of house, Compogno has found several advantages to augmenting his PRO2 with Mixtender.
“Obviously, it’s great to be able to walk around the sanctuary adjusting levels and EQs,” he says. “During services, I use Mixtender to give me access to eight more channels beyond the 16 active faders I have on the PRO2 surface, which is very convenient.”
Monitor mixes are generally set during Saturday rehearsals, then finalized before services on Sunday, when the iPads are removed from the stage.
“That gives everyone a chance to fine-tune their mix. We do three services each week, and one thing I love about the PRO2 is how easy it is to accommodate different musicians,” notes Compogno. “I’ve got a library of presets for everyone, including different EQ and channel settings for whatever amp or guitar someone may bring in.
“I love the fact that I can just pull up the settings from the Preset Manager and be ready to go. That really saves a lot of time, both at rehearsals and during services.”
Being new to the world of digital audio, Life Center Foursquare Church was also pleased with the support they receive from MIDAS.
“When you make a technology investment like this, you really want to know you’ve got the support you need,” says Compogno. “When I can’t find the answer in the manual, I can always get someone on the phone – someone who knows what they’re talking about. It really reinforces how happy we are with our purchase decision.”