CityHope Church, located in the Mobile, AL metro area, recently made a leap forward with its summer installation of a new DiGiCo Quantum338 console at its flagship Malbis campus as the centerpiece of a larger audio upgrade that also includes two integrated DMI-Dante cards, an Orange Box interface for MADI, integrated DMI-KLANG card for in-ear monitor mixing, SD-Rack fitted with 32-bit “Ultimate Stadius” mic preamps, and more.
Also new are a SD-MiNi Rack used for broadcast audio-for-video I/O (including video switcher, computers, and lobby audio-processor feeds) and DiGiGrid rackmount Quad MADI interface that allows recording of up to 128 channels at 96 kHz. The Q338 console, SD-Racks and KLANG audio are all on a newly-installed Optocore loop network.
The package was specified, designed and installed by Springville, AL-based integration firm ESB Group, which also installed CityHope’s L-Acoustics Kara(i) and ARCS WiFo loudspeaker systems six years earlier when the fast-growing church first moved into its new 1,400-seat worship center.
The Q338 console replaces three existing desks. “The consoles they had at front of house, monitor world, and broadcast were showing their age and lack of support, but putting in the DiGiCo Quantum console was more than just an upgrade—it represented an order-of-magnitude improvement,” says ESB Group Solutions Architect/Design Engineer Drew Breland. “For starters, it’s completely eliminated two entire consoles, at monitors and broadcast. The Quantum console at FOH and the KLANG card take care of all of the sound in the house, from the PA to the in-ear monitors on stage,” where, he adds, the church’s usual complement of five vocalists, two electric guitarists, acoustic guitarist, electric bassist, keyboardist, and drummer have taken quickly and completely to KLANG’s immersive mixing.
CityHope Production Director Adam White adds, “Coming from a studio background, for me, the mix is always first about creativity, and I was amazed at what I could find once we got into Mustard and the Spice Rack. The processing immediately felt familiar. I was able to get the same results I was used to working on Pro Tools and a DAW, without having to use third-party plugins.”
White also brought up the economics of the shift to the Quantum console, noting how being able to now manage FOH, monitors, and broadcast from a single work surface has saved money and time while improving workflow. “The routing and assignment flexibility of the Quantum is pretty incredible,” he says. “I can create one mix for the house, then use the buss structure to create completely separate mixes for streaming and for areas like cry rooms and overflow space in the lobby so that each use is perfectly tailored for what that use needs—and for a fraction of what it would have cost to buy three consoles to cover all of that.”
The shift to the KLANG system for stage monitoring was its own inflection point as well. “KLANG has been a game-changer,” he says. “Before, we had a monitor console, but no dedicated monitor mixer, so the musicians would have to walk up to the monitor console to adjust volumes, and that was all they could really adjust. Now, with the DMI-KLANG card, I can send the band a fully processed mix that they can have individual control over onstage.”
The addition of the SD-Rack’s 32-bit “Ultimate Stadius” mic preamps has made a noticeable difference in the worship center’s sound quality. “We didn’t touch the PA system at all; the transparency of the 32-bit mic pre’s really made it come alive even more,” says Breland. “They played back tracks recorded in the worship center and they’re literally hearing the PA system in a different way. And the AES cards in the SD-Rack allow us to stay digital directly to the PA system amplifiers, so the signal path is cleaner and more direct. It all contributes to make the overall sound in the room better.”
At the same time, two 64-input DMI-Dante cards feed 128 channels to the ProTools system in the church’s recording studio, while a DiGiGrid Rackmount Quad MADI interface provides 128 channels at 96 kHz for redundant recording and virtual soundchecks, further streamlining the church’s music performances. “In fact, the virtual soundcheck capability turned out to be even more important that we’d expected,” he concludes. “They were able to take previously recorded tracks and use them to set up the routing and preliminary EQ for the new console during the one rehearsal they had before the first Sunday church service.”