FreedomHouse Church, located in La Habra, California, started six years ago with a dynamic young pastor whose vision was to create a church people want to come to. Today, with a congregation of almost 1,000, FreedomHouse ensures the congregation continues to grow and stay engaged with high production values compliments of a recently added Zen Studio multi-channel interface, from Antelope Audio.
The church’s use of technology helps create an atmosphere conducive to worship: “I have always felt that if you want to do something, you should do it well,” says Music Director Omar Reyna, FreedomHouse Church. “This meant being intentional and inventive about when and how we use the technology. Since we acquired it a couple months ago, the Antelope Zen Studio has become an integral component in our pursuit of excellence in many different areas.”
When Omar Reyna acquired Antelope’s Zen Studio to bolster FreedomHouse’s media capabilities, he didn’t immediately recognize all the potential uses and applications the unit would have. Measuring just 16.8” wide x 1.8″high x 5.8” deep, the Zen is the ultimate portable device, enabling Reyna to ‘set up and go’ with his MacBook Pro.
With 20 analog inputs, 12 microphone preamps, onboard DSP and an onboard monitor controller among many other features, the Zen Studio presents a vast array of features — and professional audio quality — for just about any sized church. “One of the first things that caught my attention on the Zen Studio was just how many features are packed into this little unit and just how portable it is,” he says. “This was a big factor in my purchasing decision.”
On acquiring the Zen Studio, one of the first things Reyna did to begin using it to capture audio for the FreedomHouse Podcast, which has already produced no less than 50 episodes since launching in October of last year.
“This is the most simple scenario we use the Zen for and it has proven to be a solid and reliable setup,” he explains. “Our podcasts are rated highly among the Christian podcasts on iTunes and have devotional content, as well as sermons and general guest Q&As.”
In this application, the Zen’s portability shines, enabling the media team to interview guests in any location, or capture sermons ‘on the fly’ in the sanctuary using a pair of MXL 990 large condenser microphones plugged into the front of the Zen interface, and Logic X recording software, running on an Apple MacBook Pro.
After he became more acclimated to the quality and feature set of Zen Studio, Reyna began to use it for recordings of FreedomHouse’s band, which performs at the church each Sunday.
“We’ve begun to write our own songs,” he says. “We play very dynamic music that embraces our diverse church culture: from high energy EDM style songs, to epic rock ballads, to old hymnals with a modern sound.” So far, Reyna and his band have been pleased with the sound quality: “For everything we’ve done, the sound quality of the Zen has been fantastic. I would describe the sound as very transparent, and natural. The preamps, by the way, are phenomenal.”
The church band is recording a new CD with the Zen, and has already completed four songs.
Aside from podcasts and recording, FreedomHouse Church also uses the Zen Studio for playback of tracks during worship services.
“After we’re done tracking vocal parts and any additional instrumentation in rehearsal, we will use between four and six tracks as part of our stems for our click tracks,” says Reyna. “The tracks enhance the overall sonic quality of the music — with the playback on the Zen, everything sounds bigger, wider, and the image is very crisp.”
The church’s live performers include a drummer, bass guitarist, two guitarists, acoustic guitar and four vocalists. These are then combined with the backing tracks.
For FreedomHouse Church and Omar Reyna, the Zen Studio has not only brought about a dimension of audio quality, but has also challenged how the production team thinks about creating new content. “Our congregation is growing, and we are not afraid to go out and try new things. The Zen has really motivated us and helped us bring some of these ideas to reality.