Texas Church Gets Premium Performance on a Modest Budget
With a 12-year old analog sound system, First Baptist Church in Hurst, Texas, knew it was time to update. Located between Dallas and Fort Worth, the church serves a membership of about 2,000 members with two services every Sunday. Media coordinator Tim Carver had done a masterful job of integrating the existing system with the modern video and lighting systems that were in place, but its lack of flexibility and power was painfully evident.
"Over the years, the equipment had been manipulated and taken several different directions," Carver said. "I was given the task of designing a system with the functionality and ease of use that our presentation requires. The only thing that could deliver everything we needed within our price range was the Allen & Heath iLive."
The church put out bids and awarded the job to TPS Audio Visual in nearby Grand Prairie.
The console of choice for First Baptist Church proved to be the iLive-144, outfitted with an iDR10 MixRack with an Aviom card, providing 64 inputs and 32 outputs, adding significantly more DSP power along with the ability to program, save and recall settings for faster, repeatable set-ups. TPS also installed an Allen & Heath PL-6 wall-mounted mix controller in the sanctuary, providing control of eight channels (typically, a few handheld mics, a couple of musical instruments, and CD player) for smaller events.
The channel count upgrade was a strong need for the church, which offers a blended traditional and contemporary musical presentation. The contemporary band consists of a worship leader on vocals and acoustic guitar, augmented by a praise team of up to six backing vocalists, plus two acoustic guitars, one electric guitar, bass, drums, acoustic piano and electronic keyboards. The rest of the stage is occupied by a 10-piece string section, 6-piece horn section, and a choir that averages 120 voices. Along with the house mix, Carver controls all monitors from the iLive as well, with a mix of Aviom systems for most of the contemporary band and floor wedges for the choir, orchestra, and several others on stage.
"Before we installed the iLive 144, I had to do a lot of channel doubling, doing submixes on stage," said Carver. "The iLive has allowed me to expand to 50 channels, which still leaves me 14 more for expansion. Plus, I have a lot more possibilities for adding effects and EQ without any outboard gear."
Another key factor in the decision to go with Allen & Heath was ease of use.
"Our other audio people are volunteers, and when they first saw the iLive, they were overwhelmed. But operationally, it's really easy," he said. "Once we showed them how to set up a single channel, hit select, then look to the left and grab a compressor or EQ, it made sense to them instantly."
Carver has his console set up with everything group through the iLive's audio groups and digitally controlled amplifiers. He uses the DCAs to give him direct access to each element of the mix, such as the choir, praise team, and orchestra.
He said, "Basically, I live in my DCAs. With the iLive, you can configure your console however you like it. I chose 12 DCAs, so basically I never have to leave the center of the console. I just ride my DCAs."
This ease and simplicity of operation allows non-experts team members to operate the console when needed, which is greatly enhanced by the iLive's ability to save scenes for instant recall.
"I've been saving scenes for different types of services, plus anything new that we add, like different instruments," Carver explained. "Eventually, we'll get to the point where we're just executing scenes."
As the primary engineer, Carver really enjoys the iLive's remote access capability.
"When you think about it, the control surface is just another outboard device for the MixRack, which is the brains of the system," he said. "The iLive lets me use my laptop the same way. When I come in to set up, I just grab my computer and hit the stage before I even go to the sound booth. I power everything from backstage and do my setup on the iLive Editor software from there. In fact, I can also control my Sennheiser wireless and Audia processor racks at the same time. I just log onto all three systems from my laptop and go. I'm basically ready within 10 minutes."
Looking back on the first few months with the iLive, Tim Carver reports that everyone at First Baptist Church Hurst is very happy with the decision to go with Allen & Heath.
"The reason we chose the iLive was about the whole package – how functional and powerful it is, how easy it is to teach, what tools are built into it, and of course the price," he concluded. "But what's really great is the iLive has an analog warmth that you can't get from more expensive digital consoles."