Cited as one of the fastest growing churches in the nation by Christianity Today, The Potter’s House in Dallas has grown from 50 families to more than 30,000 members since opening in 1996.
Founded by Bishop T.D. Jakes, the megachurch prides itself for staying on the cutting-edge of technology, from its main sanctuary (built in 2000), to the broadcast command center, which distributes materials and messaging to two satellite campuses as well as simulcasting online to an audience of around 10,000 connections for its weekly Sunday services.
Technical manager of production Jacob Campbell - who has also overseen all of the production elements for the church since coming onboard in 2008 - was one of the proponents in the search to replace consoles servicing front of house, monitor world and the broadcast arena.
The several year-long research project led them to DiGiCo and the purchase of a trio of SD7 systems that would serve their immediate, as well as long-range, broadcast audio production goals and provide consistency throughout the facility.
After the 2010 WFX Conference, Atlanta Audio Visual’s Brad McWhorter and DiGiCo’s Matt Larson took Campbell and chief of administration Gerard Robinson through the bells and whistles of the new SD7 console and all the capabilities of the newly released DiGiCo SDRack with Opticore.
By the summer of 2011, the deal was done and the integration began with the aid of McWhorter and the Atlanta AV team of Jim Greene and Mitch Donner, and from DiGiCo technical sales manager Taidus Vallandi.
“We have been looking at replacing the Yamaha PM1Ds for about 3-4 years now. The PM1Ds have been in use since we opened our doors to the new sanctuary in 2000,” recalls Campbell. “They have served their purpose well for the timeframe that they were designed for, but these units are now outdated and starting to show some age on them. We looked very aggressively at lots of products lines—including Yamaha first, Avid, Allen & Heath, and Midas, to find some level of replacement product for what we currently had.
“After purchasing an SD8 for our Fort Worth campus, we knew DiGiCo was the way to go! We were very pleased with what the DiGiCo console offered in terms of the expandability of the product, and what we felt it could do in the future. The SD7 just blew away all the competition when it came down to expandability, ease of use, flexibility and its ability to be sonically superior in its audio quality.”
One of the concerns in looking at other solutions Campbell was confronted with was input capability.
“We’re at about 117 inputs at any given time,” he explains, “for a 12-piece band, 100-150 voice choir, 9-12 praise team singers, playback from video, playback for miscellaneous tracks, six Pro Tools lines, Bishop’s mic and a backup, and 6-8 handhelds—nothing else out there that would successfully complement the existing needs that we had. Our worship services are very unique and spontaneous.
“There is no time to find which bank of faders you need when the order of service changes. The DiGiCo SD7 allows us to really be in sync with the mix of services. So from a baseline perspective, with the exception of DiGiCo, the other systems fell short in what they were able to offer.”
In total, the install included over 200 -feet of 50Um 6-strand fiber installed to three locations in the existing infrastructure - across four floors and two buildings - to connect the world broadcast suite with FOH and monitor consoles. The fiber network allowed all users to take control of mixes from each location and share I/O on each rack.
The three SD7s serve critical functions for Potter’s House. “One is situated in the main sanctuary at FOH providing about 18 mix output feeds,” outlines Campbell. “The Main Worship Center has to be mixed like an arena, not your typical left, right, fill, and sub set up. All FOH feeds are sent via AES to a BSS Audio Soundweb London for speaker processing. The Soundweb London is driving the delay rings comprising delay speaker zones 1-4, under balconies, Gallery, VIP, Far Delays, Step Fill, under balcony, hallway, lobby, translation (approximately 4), a listening assist feed, press feed, and a backup Internet feed.
“At monitor world, the SD7 handles approximately 40 mixes, interfacing with an Aviom 16-channel mix system, 12 stage mixes, and 4 stereo pair mixes distributed on the stage for in-ears. And in the broadcast area, another SD7 drives the TV broadcast audio master, which is used to produce our national TV broadcast and also drives an Internet feed as well as additional in-house feeds to the nursery and other areas of the church.”