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Maximizing the Worship Space, Part 1

Jan 13, 2014 2:58 PM, With Bennett Liles

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Part 1

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.

The First Free Church in Rockford, Ill., had to have a sound system that could handle both traditional services and those with live, high-energy bands. They called Brent Hayes with SVL Productions and he brought in Aaron Johnson from Johnson AV Engineering to help with the design. They’re here to tell us about it, coming up next on the SVC Podcast.

SVC: Brent Hayes and Aaron Johnson, thanks for joining us on the SVC Podcast from the Chicago area. We’re talking about an installation at the First Free Church in Rockford that involved sound and lighting and projection. This is a pretty big church that seats about 1,800 people over a very wide area. Brent, they called you in from SVL Productions so tell us a little about your outfit there.

Brent: SVL, we’re a full-system integrator. We do have a rental side of our company, too, but on the system integration side, we do everything with churches and corporate ballrooms, corporate conference rooms, as well as commercials installations as well; everything from sound, video and lighting. [Timestamp: 1:29]

And you worked together with Aaron on this project. Aaron, what’s been happening at Johnson AV Engineering?

Aaron: We do design engineering for lots of contractors and production companies, and I’ve got quite a few different projects going on—an auditorium, lots of churches in the area, a couple of conference rooms as well. [Timestamp: 1:49]

Church AV projects can be pretty interesting because they can run from traditional services that require very little in the way of sound and video to live music and some very ambitious setups. At the First Free Church what do they have, high-energy live performance or more traditional?

Brent: It’s actually both. They have two services currently on the weekends. They have an earlier service, which is very traditional with the organ and choir and orchestra—a full orchestra. And then their second service is a very contemporary service with a full band; no choir, no organ. So they’re kind of right in the middle, I’d say. [Timestamp: 2:27]

It looks like a pretty big place and very spread out, a large area to cover. Brent, what was the main challenge with the sound upgrade?

Brent: Well, one of the things First Free has been known for in Rockford is that they do a lot of Christian events. They bring in a lot of Christian acts, and they actually have an outside amphitheater that in the past, every summer, four or five big acts have been in there. There’s a little time off with that now, while transitioning some of the acts in the main room as well as their sound system. It was dated and ready to take a step into the future with both the sound and they also wanted to refresh the room and give it kind of a full facelift, if you will. It’s all new carpet and chairs, painted the whole place. They did a little work to the backdrop and freshened that up a little bit, as well as some other things around the facilities. [Timestamp: 3:13]

Obviously with a lot of live music going on, a bad sound system is really going to be crusher from the beginning. I noticed that at the heart of this system you put in a Yamaha CL5 mixer. Was that your idea or did they specifically ask for that one?

Brent: When we did some demos, they looked at the cost versus functionality in the CL5 and they fell in love with it. We gave them a list of choices and they ultimately decided on that one. [Timestamp: 3:38]

Yeah, the CL5 is used by a lot of churches and it may be because it seems to have the perfect combination of virtual controls and real faders and knobs that you can wrap your fingers around.

Brent: Yeah, I agree. The Yamaha interface was very easy and intuitive to use for mixing tech staff and volunteers, and with the feature set they wanted. The CL5 had everything and the price was well below some of the other consoles we were looking at. It ended up being a really good fit. [Timestamp: 4:05]

In looking at a few pictures of the First Free Church, it looks like a very wide spread on the house. What have you got there, Aaron, close to a 180-degree wraparound there?

Aaron: Yeah, it about 160 degrees left wall to right wall, and it is pretty much a perfect circle on the back wall reaching all the way around. [Timestamp: 4:23]

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