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Houston Church/Community Center Opts for Wireless of the Future

Nov 3, 2005 8:00 AM

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Copperfield Church turned to Sabine for a wireless mic system that solved bandwidth issues while keeping within its budget.

The fast-growing Copperfield Church in Houston was founded in 1991, and now its services average between 800 and 1,000 people per week. Also unusual is the fact that the church's entire technical arts ministry consists of lay people who volunteer their services for the church. Copperfield Technical Director Michael Mychalczuk, responsible for all audio and video at the church, also has a full-time job with a local software manufacturer.

According to Mychalczuk, "The church has grown over the years absolutely debt free. We build out as we have the funds to pay for the individual technical elements. So we had to design a sound, video, and lighting system that could be installed in phases. We had to think three to five years in the future, and build into them.

"One of those areas was wireless microphones. We originally had a mix of VHF and UHF systems, and they worked, but with the population growth in our area, the UHF bandwidth is quickly getting filled up. We're in Houston, a major market where we haven’t even felt the full effect of the HDTV thing yet. And I’ve been talking to other pastors in our area, which is very populated, and people were stepping on each other’s UHF space every time they turned around!

"So Sabine was the only wireless microphone company that put us in a safe harbor in terms of the frequency spectrum, but also had all of the outboard processing, compression, limiting, etc., built into the microphone and receiver, another major cost savings.

"And the Sabine system gave us the ability to model various microphones, which was important to us because of different singer types and other issues. The audio quality is really exceptional, for both vocals and instruments."

The services at Copperfield feature contemporary music with a full band of acoustic and electronic instruments, with a two- to six-person drama, and pastoring, along with video projection and magnification, lighting, and more.

The church's expanding audio system currently includes 40 inputs on stage, with the number expected to reach at least 60 by the end of the year. Other components include a Yamaha M2500 console for FOH, Furman monitoring onstage, and in-ear monitoring for all singers. The amps are all Crown with Community loudspeakers.

All of the audio can be recorded in the church's studio with up to 32 tracks of digital audio using MOTU’s Digital Performer running on an Mac G5.

As Mychalczuk adds, "All of our Sunday services are recorded to hard disk, which we can then duplicate into CDs, so that by the time between the first and second service, there are CDs of the service available in our store!"

For video, the church uses three Canon XL1s fed to a Newtek Video Toaster for video projections, magnifications, and DVDs.

Mychalczuk emphasizes the bottom line reality of the church's approach to technology: "When you look at the Sabine system from a dollar cost perspective, it’s extraordinarily competitive. When you’re working within a 'debt free' system and you have to go to your congregation and ask them for funding of a specific item such as wireless, you can’t afford to make a mistake."

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