Northland Church – a church distributed – is viewed by staff and congregation members alike as a “church of the future.” The purpose-built 160,000 square-foot main campus in Longwood, Florida hosts more than 8,000 congregation members during five weekend services. Simultaneously, multi-sites in Mount Dora, Oviedo, and West Oaks, Florida, bring the word of Pastor Joel Hunter to thousands of other Christians through a high-capacity metro Ethernet. “The church exists to link churches and other organizations with the same mission,” says Tim Tracey, Northland’s executive director of worship. “We were never meant to be alone.”
New audio-visual systems in the 3,000-seat sanctuary help fulfill the non-denominational Christian church’s goal: to use technology to help members within the sanctuary, as well as remote worshippers, feel closer to each other and closer to God. A collection of Sennheiser wireless microphones and wireless personal monitors help bring the religious experience, including high-energy contemporary worship and a broad range of musical genres, to life.
“The entire audio-visual aspect of the service is designed around the message, and to support the message,” says Tim Wilson, project manager at Electrosonic Systems. Wilson, along with Chris Conte, headed up the Orlando, Florida-based Electrosonic team that designed and installed the state-of-the-art audio and video systems in the sanctuary. Bettina Buckley of Wow!Works in Clermont, Florida, also assisted the church as the project manager for worship technical systems. Platt Design Group in Sierra Madre, California, completed the concept consulting design.
During services twenty channels of Sennheiser 5200 Series and 5000 Series handheld transmitters, used with a collection of 3500 Series receivers, help performers reach out to worshippers. Northland’s audio engineer, Steve Groves, selected the Sennheiser mics for their “rock-solid reliability and crystal clear sound.”
Noting that he is a long-time user of Sennheiser products, Groves said the church used ten 3500 Series receivers in the former sanctuary, which were retained for use in the new space. Groves liked the fact that the 3500 Series receivers were compatible with the 5200 Series handheld transmitters. “Being able to use our existing receivers helped us keep our budget down,” he said.
The SKM 5200 and 5000 transmitters in conjunction with the 3500 receivers make a smooth transition from spoken word to powerful rock and gospel music. Flexibility was a key requirement for all audio components in the church. “Our worship team is very flexible,” said Groves. “We do everything from the Eagles to the Beatles, to rock and gospel. Our sound system has to be able to smoothly go from full concert level down to more of an intimate level.”
During Northland’s Christmas pageant, held shortly after the church’s opening services in the new space, the mics supported nineteen different vocalists during seven separate Christmas services.
“The sound was indistinguishable from the wired mics we had been using,” Groves said. The audio installation also includes twenty SK-50 body-packs, twenty MK 104 lavalier mics and sixteen evolution 300 Series G2 personal monitors for musicians. Each ew 300 IEM G2 system includes an SR 300 G2 rack-mountable transmitter, an EK 300 G2 portable body-pack receiver and IE4 high-performance ear buds. Twelve pre-set memory locations per bank can be assigned to any of the 1,440 frequencies within its operational range, making it easy to set up a large show with dozens of different wireless sets in use. In addition, the crystal clear wireless pairs the unmatched durability, reliability and convenience of Sennheiser gear allows performers to focus on the music and dance, worry-free. “The personal monitor system made choreography easier,” Groves said. “We didn’t have to worry about wires all over the place.”
Northland’s main PA consists of a Meyer Sound Constellation system, while FOH mixing is accomplished through a Euphonix Max Air 106-channel console. A Yamaha PM1D handles the monitor mix. “Each week, we’re trying to create a significantly different environment,” Tracey said. “The audio technology, from the house PA, to our extensive collection of Sennheiser wireless mics, is a tool that allows us to create an environment where we can gather to worship God.”