Bringing Modern Sound to a Vintage House of Worship
“We are a very energetic and dynamic congregation. There is a lot going on in our church on Sundays, and every day of the week,” says Stephen Wolgamott, worship pastor of The First Baptist Church of Leesburg, Florida.
Since the church was founded in the 1880s, the congregation and its activities have steadily grown to a population of over 1,200 individuals and families.
“Our three Sunday services include a 12-piece orchestra, a 70-person choir and six individual praise vocalists. Oh, yeah, and a five to six person contemporary band,” says Wolgamott.
Energetic and dynamic would seem an understatement.
This past year, the church completed a thorough renovation of its main sanctuary, which now includes an Allen & Heath ILive T112 console for front of house and an Allen & Heath GLD 80 mixing board for the adjacent broadcast/audio recording center. As with many older buildings, there were untraceable noise feeds happening in the audio chain…challenges not easily overcome with older, analog consoles. Enter Tim Huff, president of Entertainment Arts of Orlando, Florida.
“We had to augment the early 20th century sanctuary with some acoustic treatments. This was a classic shoebox with a balcony room,” said Huff. “But once a client goes from an analog desk to a CAT-5 snake, clarity increases 10 to 15%.”
In addition to the Allen & Heath mixers, there are Worx Audio Trueline X 5 Arrays, V 5 front fills and a pair of 218 subs powered by Crown XTI 6000 amplifiers. Rounding out the new gear lineup are Sennheiser EW 335, 312 microphones and Sennheiser EW 300 in-ear monitors. The iLive T112 console is run by an Allen & Heath IDR-48 Fixed Format Mixrack with a digital split capability employed.
One line of the split feeds into the video production room’s iLive GLD-80, with the other line sending all 64 tracks of audio into an Apple Mac Mini computer for editing and CD or DVD production.
“We really are big fans of Dante, Allen & Heath’s audio networking technology,” said Huff. “The split gives us easy distribution of audio for all the places we need it. Plus, it gives reliable and easy mix down in the video suite.”
For Josh Gussler, church media director, and his broadcast/recording team, the seamless integration of multiple audio components could have been a daunting challenge. The diversity of brands (Allen & Heath, Worx Audio, Crown Amplifiers plus 16 Sennheiser microphones and IEM monitors) in the upgrade is impressive, but could have consumed extra hours, if not days in the final room tuning.
“The intuitiveness of the iLive editor made the patching of inputs and outputs during the whole install seamless,” said Gussler.
Wolgamott and Gussler both speak enthusiastically about the exclusive iLive app on their Apple I-Pads. The app allows for full scale mixing and control in conjunction with an iLive surface.
Gussler said, “The app allows a person to make intelligent decisions about what is happening onstage…because they are onstage, with full mixing control.”
As if the demands on Sunday were not enough for the new sound system, the children’s school and other ministry’s use the system five days a week. Often, those using the board have little experience at mixing audio.
“The school and other ministries have their own pre sets. Given the intuitive nature and user friendliness of the ILive interface, the learning curve for those people has been very easy,” said Wolgamott. “Overall, we are thrilled with the sound in the room.”
When asked why Allen & Heath is the mixer of choice for his house of worship audio installs, Huff is succinct and to the point: “British engineered mixing consoles are still second to none for tonality and pre amp clarity. Plus, the Allen & Heath line offers plenty of choices, ease of use, and great price points.”
For a vibrant and diverse church community like the First Baptist of Leesburg, the Allen & Heath mixers ease of use and variety of pre sets keep up reliably and with pitch perfect musicality.
Established for over 40 years, Allen & Heath designs and manufactures professional audio mixing consoles for an international clientele in the live sound, installed systems, and worship facilities markets, www.AmericanMusicAndSound.com.