Prestonwood Baptist Church, with two campuses in Texas, recently selected the Roland M-48 live personal mixers for its Plano home base campus, installed by Clair Solutions.
With a large number of musicians every Sunday, not to mention an expanded orchestra performing throughout the holiday season, serving the different monitoring needs and preferences of so many musicians has been challenging to say the least.
“Some players just want to adjust volume, and others want to adjust the EQ and add reverb and the ambient mic channel into their personal mixes. And some just want to turn the click track up and go.” states Chris Schutz, chief audio engineer at the church (and whose credits also include touring with contemporary Christian acts DC Talk, Michael W. Smith and others, as well as mainstream acts like Dream Theater, Alicia Keys and Ozzy Osbourne).
The M-48 offers musicians the flexibly to control what they want to listen to during their performances. It provides individual musician customization for both headphones and IEMs (in-ear monitors) as well as for wedge and powered monitors for live performance and studio applications.
“The main sanctuary holds 7,000 seats. It’s a big room,” notes Schutz. A regular Sunday morning music ensemble includes a rhythm section, a Latin percussion section, an orchestral percussion section, strings, woodwinds and brass – essentially a small orchestra with added percussion.
For a month or so during the holiday season, the configuration expands even further, and moves in front of the stage, for the holiday program, which is run on a nightly basis. Monitoring channels for each musician was proving to be a challenge.
“As far as monitoring, we needed more flexibility,” Schutz says. “I needed to get more information to everybody on stage, and I needed to do it in a better fashion. It needed to be intuitive because the people on stage have to operate it, and it had to be simple for some and powerful-and-nuanced for the more particular users. We were aware of the M-48 system, and we knew that it would give us what we needed in those regards. Recently we made the change in infrastructure. We basically wiped the slate clean in terms of audio and replaced everything in the room.”
Schutz configures as many as 32 M-48 units for the musicians mix, which involves four separate groupings, or “universes” as Schutz calls them, for each orchestral section.
He adds, “One thing I like is how I can monitor different things from the monitor position using the engineer’s monitor function. I can make suggestions to mixes if I need to, and I can pop in, I can listen to someone’s mix, I can solo one of the groups and it doesn’t affect them for me to hear just the group. For instance, a violin player will say that she can’t hear the mix right. I’ll be able to see from the S-4000 RCS software that one of her channels is turned all the way down – I can tell her what’s wrong and make an adjustment. Troubleshooting is a breeze.
“The level of customization for each musician is perfect. Everyone is happy – the director of the orchestra told me that the trumpet in the mix now sounds like a trumpet for the first time. Little things like that make a big difference for overall sound.”