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Church Sound: Digital Consoles In Worship Applications

The how and why of several recent projects

By PSW Staff March 29, 2013

Digital consoles present a comprehensive slate of benefits to churches. It’s almost as though they were created specifically for this application.

It starts with universal advantages, such as flexibility and “bang for the buck,” and continues to specific feature sets that make a huge difference in the workflow of church sound professionals and volunteers alike.

Let’s have a look at some recent applications.

Northside Christian Church, Wadsworth, OH

Music pastor Matt Howard opted for a Soundcraft Si Compact 32 to serve as the new front of house console at the church, which hosts traditional services on Sunday morning and contemporary services (“worship on steroids”) in the afternoon.

Specifically, Howard wanted a console that wasn’t too daunting for his volunteers to operate but with the sound quality and durability of the Soundcraft Vi Series consoles the church has used with great success.

“We have a pool of about 20 musicians and 40 vocalists who constantly rotate each weekend,” Howard explains. “Since we don’t have professional sound engineers, we wanted the easiest board to manage their settings. With Soundcraft’s ability to snapshot settings, it has made the whole process very easy.”

With an additional MADI card, the Si Compact 32 conveniently records rehearsals and also serves as a learning tool for the volunteers. “We turn the rehearsals into a virtual sound check where the person operating the console can play the service back and find the optimal settings for high-quality sound,” Howard notes.

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With an acoustically challenging building, having the ability to easily establish optimized settings has also proven beneficial. “We have a huge wooden wall behind the stage that dulls all the sound, and there are also sound absorbing panels in the back row of the audience,” he says. “With the matrix on the Si Compact, we can offset that with some delays, and it has become really easy to manage.

“I’ve always loved the sound quality of Soundcraft, but am greatly surprised by the power of the Si Compact,” Howard concludes. “Everyone at the church is extremely pleased with the results of the upgrade.”

Blue Bridge Church, Tri-Cities WA

This portable church, which meets weekly in a movie theater to keep overhead low so that the saved funds can be distributed to the needy, recently took possession of a new Roland Systems Group M-200i V-Mixer with iPad control to serve as it’s house console. John Skaanland, production and communication director for the church, took the advice of local systems integrator Focus AV to evaluate the M-200i as a possible solution, and liked what he found.

The mixer’s design is based around iPad and the free remote application, which allows control of all key mixing and control parameters. The iPad application connects to the M-200i via the Roland USB connect adapter, wireless LAN, or the supplied multi-pin cable. “The M-200i integration with iPad and the touch interface is really nice,” Skaanland states. “We like being able to set up EQs for each musician using the iPad.”

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The church typically connects the iPad via the dock cable, which supplies power, connectivity, plus audio playback from an iTunes library. “I really like the flexibility to play songs from my iPad when connected via the dock cable to the M-200i,” Skaanland explains. “You just simply assign the audio to a channel anytime you need music.”

Installed in a rolling rack for easy transport, the M-200i travels with a Roland S-1608 digital snake for remote I/O using a single Cat-5e cable from the stage to front of house. In addition, the church ordered four Roland M-48 personal mixers for musicians, and these also easily integrate with the M-200i via Cat-5e linked to the REAC port on the console. In addition, wireless microphone systems can also be connected to the local I/O on the back of the M-200i.

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