The First Baptist Church at the Mall in Lakeland, FL has a rich history of serving its parishioners since it was founded as the First Baptist Church of Lakeland in 1885.
From its beginnings with 12 charter members worshipping in a 32-foot by 50-foot wooden frame structure, the church has been steadily expanding to where it now stands on the site of a former mall (hence its name) that can accommodate almost 2,500 congregants.
With growth came the need for a more capable live sound console: a Studer Vista 5 M2, which the church uses for both front-of-house and monitor mixing.
“We simply outgrew our old console,” says Daniel Livingston, program technology supervisor at the Church at the Mall. “We now have three services on Sundays alone, which along with our pastor can include a full choir, a praise band, recorded music and more.
“We reached a point where we needed to upgrade our audio facilities, and we wanted to make sure we acquired a console that was not only up to the task but could handle our future needs.
“Input count was a major factor in choosing the Studer Vista 5 M2,” Livingston continues. “We need to accommodate more than 100 FOH and monitor inputs for a Sunday service—not only the pastor, choir and band but also pre-recorded music sources and effects sends and returns.
“The Vista 5 M2 was one of the few digital consoles we looked at that we could configure with the required number of inputs, and we went with 104 channels. Another important consideration was that we can upgrade the console in the future with even more inputs, DSP and other functionality if we need to—having a future-proof console is a big deal for a church like ours.”
Reliability and redundancy are also paramount, Livingston adds. “The console simply has to work. In addition to our own busy schedule of services and events, we regularly bring in national Christian artists like Christy Nockels, Tenth Avenue North and Avalon, so we need the console to be fully functional, 100 percent of the time,” he said. “The Vista 5 M2 has backup power supplies and redundancy and if there’s ever an issue, the console will identify the problem and you can correct it immediately. However, we haven’t had any problems. The Vista 5 M2 has been solid as a rock.”
In addition, the Vista 5 M2 is easy to use. “The Vistonics interface and the console’s meter bridge provide lots of information,” Livingston says. “Everything just seems to be right there when you need it, or else you can get to it quickly. Every knob has a label and with the console’s color coding there’s no guessing about what anything does.”
“The Vista 5 M2 sounds absolutely amazing,” Livingston said. “The preamps are incredible. The Vista 5 M2 sounds better than any analog or digital desk I’ve ever mixed on.”
First Baptist Church at the Mall