Ingleside Baptist Church in Macon, Georgia, is a large, fan-shaped worship space with stadium seating that accommodates 1650 people.
In an effort to attract more worshippers to its services, the church decided that time had come to expand beyond its blended style of services, which feature a contemporary worship band augmented by orchestra and 60-voice choir.
The centerpiece of the upgrade is a pair of Midas PRO3 digital mixing consoles for FOH and monitor positions.
“The idea was to add a more edgy, contemporary service on Sunday evening, focused on the rock band,” notes Chris Hawkins, technical director for the church.
“That’s when we put the wheels in motion to change to digital mixing consoles. In order to accommodate the different styles of worship on Sunday, plus rehearsal and other events during the week, we needed digital recall. There’s really no other efficient way to do it.”
The church enlisted Marty Jones, owner of Knobheads Pro A/V in Canton, Georgia, to do the system design. Owner Tome Resue of TE Audio/Video in Harrison, Tennessee, was then engaged to handle the physical installation.
“The church had an old Midas Legend console at front of house, which they loved the sound of,” Jones states. “And, since they have separate FOH and monitor consoles, we knew that dual PRO3s would be the perfect, affordable solution for the upgrade.”
In researching his recommendations for Ingleside Baptist, Jones attended InfoComm 2010, where the PRO3 was being launched, to meet with various console manufacturers.
“There have been so many new developments in consoles, I wanted to be sure we were comparing apples to apples,” he relates. “We needed two control surfaces with snapshot ability that could be operated by a volunteer staff and still meet all the technical requirements. The PRO3 was a perfect fit.”
Those technical requirements included a major upgrade to signal routing and infrastructure. Ingleside Baptist was running a 3-way split (house, monitors and a separate production feed) of copper cable via patch bays, with 107 stage inputs.
Converting that mass of copper into a remotely patchable digital audio network that could be managed from the PRO3 control surface was achieved with the AES50 network infrastructure.
“The Midas Digital platform lets you use any of their stage boxes with any console,” notes Jones. “So we ended up using the DL351 variable I/O stage box, which gave us extra inputs and flexibility.”
Technical director Chris Hawkins is a big believer in having separate house and monitor mixers, especially when working with a staff of volunteer engineers.
“It lets the front of house guy concentrate on his mix without distractions, and the same thing holds true for the monitors,” he explains.
“The band gets a dedicated mixer, and it puts a production person near the stage to handle any equipment problems that come up. It means a better experience for the congregation as well as every performer on stage.”
One thing working in Ingleside’s favor was the fact that Chris Hawkins had experience working with a digital infrastructure from his previous church.
“When I came here to Ingleside, I really missed that digital flexibility, so I was ecstatic that we could go that route,” he recalls. “Our volunteers were understandably a little intimidated, but we got some excellent training from Midas. We’ve been using the PRO3s for about six months now, and the volunteers are really owning it at this point.”
Hawkins found that the PRO3 lent itself nicely to teaching his staff. “From a training place, I just love this console,” he says.
“Instead of just visualizing what’s happening to the sound in your mind, like when you’re changing EQ or compression, you can see what’s happening graphically as well. It’s still about using your ears, but the visual feedback from the PRO3 makes it a very teachable place.”
As proof, Hawkins points to the level of independence his staff has attained with experience. “When we first installed the boards last August, we made sure everything was set up so all they had to do was mix,” he explains.
“But it wasn’t long before they started personalizing the board layout to their own preferences, for example, by assigning channels to the POP Groups. When I heard the volunteers discussing different ways to automate the patching for scenes in our Christmas production, I was really excited.”
“Now they are even saving different settings for different musicians to handle situations were, for instance, one drummer plays softer than another. They’ve become better engineers because the board really lets them.”
At the front of house console, channels are grouped by instrument via VCAs, while the six available POP Groups provide instant access to all relevant channel groupings – worship leader, backbeat/rhythm section, a “talk” grouping for use during the welcome, etc.
At the monitor desk, the POP Groups are split by application with separate channel groupings for each of the five floor wedge mixes in use – vocal team, choir, etc. – plus the sends to the Aviom system used by the band members.
Among Hawkins’ favorite design features of the PRO3 is Area B, a group of faders that operate independently from the rest of the console. “It’s a great time saver during set-up for rehearsals,” he notes.
“I love having that group of faders that’s always on top. During services, I assign a POP Group with my money channels to Area B, so I’ve got the worship leader’s mic and guitar, the pastor’s mic and his backup always available.”
But the most important piece of the puzzle for Ingleside Baptist Church is sound quality. “I’ve always loved the Midas sound, especially the mic preamps and EQ,” says Hawkins. “When the PRO3 came out, it was like a prayer being answered.”