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A Quick Worship Audio Set Up and Break Down, Part 1

Sep 10, 2013 10:58 AM, With Bennett Liles

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Editor’s note: For your convenience, this transcription of the podcast includes timestamps. If you are listening to the podcast and reading its accompanying transcription, you can use the timestamps to jump to any part of the audio podcast by simply dragging the slider on the podcast to the time indicated in the transcription.

When Breakaway Ministries, a massive Bible study congregation, meets on the campus of Texas A&M, Puresound from Houston has 1 hour to load in, set up the whole sound system, and get the full band ready. Wes Mathew is going to tell us how he uses JBL Vertec line arrays and a nimble crew to get it all done in time, coming up next on the SVC Podcast.

SVC: Wes, glad to have you with us on the SVC Podcast from Puresound in Houston. Breakaway Ministries is an outfit that has grown to need venues like Texas A&M’s Reed Arena and Kyle Field football stadium to meet and when they do it everything has to be set up and struck real fast by your outfit, Puresound. Tell me about Puresound. What kind of outfit is it and what sort of stuff do you do?

Wes Mathew: Puresound, we’re a small business out here in Houston, Texas and we started in Austin, Texas actually probably about 15 years ago, and it was all for fun and games. And I’m actually a musician, I’m a drummer and percussionist, and currently still a drummer/percussionist, and all the bands in Austin needed an audio guy and so this is how it began. I just started providing audio for live productions, some partners bought in and it kind of grew and now we have probably 10 to 15 contractors under us. And so currently we do installations, 90 percent of our clients are churches, and also live production work, which includes churches—Breakaway is one of our clients—and also corporate events.

Well, churches are always needing some kind of AV support. They’re a perpetual AV market and it goes from the most modest setups to big broadcast outfits. Now Breakaway Ministries started with just a few people getting together and now it’s several thousand strong and meeting in some major venues on campus there.

It’s a Bible study, yes, that started with a few people in an apartment and it’s grown rapidly. And right now we meet in Reed Arena, which is a basketball arena. It currently holds about 13,000 people, but when there are no exams and no studying going on, it caps off at 13,000. Possibly this year we’re going to pass that and probably get into the 15,000 range. And so when Reed Arena is not available, we have to go to Kyle Field, which is their football stadium. And we use one side, and of course I don’t know what the number is, but I assume probably twenty or thirty thousand can fit in there. But Kyle Field is the football stadium and that is an outdoor venue, and we are jam-packed on one side for sure. [Timestamp: 2:57]

So when they get ready to meet in these places, what exactly do they need Puresound to do? It looks like they need to get in and out of these places pretty fast.

Yes. So we only get an hour to set up based on their rental times for the event, and they also have basketball games or something going on out on their fields, and so they give us an hour. And so we have a crew of about two full-time guys and about 15 volunteers and we back up the trailers and as soon as they give us the whistle, we start hustling. We start rolling in gear. And before we came into the picture they had speakers on sticks or just some full-length speakers and it was not the quality needed to project to this many people. So we introduced line arrays to them and introduced the possibility and versatility of switching from venue to venue—from an arena where we have two stacks of speakers versus a football field where we have four to six stacks. [Timestamp: 4:00]

A basketball arena sometimes and then other times, a football stadium. These are vastly different environments. How much does that affect how you have to get things set up and then get it all out of there? Is there a big difference between, say, working in those two places or do you have the same basic routine down?

We’ve got the same basic routine. The real consideration is that in Reed Arena, more people are, I guess, seated high—high meaning like 50ft. to 60ft.—versus Kyle Field we’re at a wider stance; like we’re at 100 yards versus 50ft., per se. With Kyle Field, we definitely have to break the system apart into four stages and to get a wide coverage area versus Reed Arena, we can stack the arrays six tall and we can shoot up. And as far as power, Reed Arena, they allow us to tie in directly. We have a 400-amp power distro that we use for AV & L. For Kyle Field we definitely have to run a generator. We’ve got 100k WhisperWatt out there that we tie our power to. Another consideration is the weather for Kyle Field. It is outdoors. We’re still working on solutions for this. Currently we do have a quick, cheaper way of just throwing tarps over it for now. And front of house is definitely under a canopy, so we’re safe all the time. But [for] the speakers and the stage, definitely there’s just guys on standby with tarps. But we’ve only had one incident with rain, so we always try to look at weather before the week comes. [Timestamp: 5:33]

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