Oct 11, 2007

Houses of Worship

Faith Chapel Foursquare Church adds new Soundcraft Vi6™

--Houses of worship often represent a unique challenge for sound system designers. With a wide range of services and other events to be accommodated during a typical week, flexibility represents a key parameter. And increasingly larger contemporary choirs with on-stage musicians can present a challenge to trained audio engineers, let alone volunteer staff. So when Faith Chapel Foursquare Church of Billings, MT, went shopping for a console for its 1,100-seat sanctuary, the list of requirements was long and complex. "We ultimately chose a Soundcraft Vi digital console," explains chief audio technician Kelly Olp. "It's an unbelievable sounding board with a great variety of routing options, onboard effects processing, and equalization. We couldn't be happier with the purchase of this outstanding console."

The church also needed to make sure that its new console would be suitable for a new 1,800-seat sanctuary, which is scheduled to open next summer. "Since the Vi6 digital console is used to mix both front-of-house sound and onstage monitoring, we needed to make sure that it would handle not only current requirements but future one as well," says Jeff Sanderson from Onpoint Designs, the Olympia, WA-based consulting firm that served as consultant on the project. "While conventional wedge monitors are used at the moment, we have specified an Aviom in-ear monitoring system [integration card] for the new venue; the Vi6 will interface perfectly with the digital IEM system."

"As everyone knows, there are many choices for a new front-of-house audio console," Olp continues. "I've mixed audio on analog boards for over 20 years--but I was encouraged by Jeff Sanderson to consider going digital. After I got my hands on a Soundcraft Vi6 at the AES Convention in San Francisco [Fall 2006] and compared it to other digital consoles in the same price range, I totally fell in love with it. What's even better is that it's tremendously easy to train volunteers how to operate the Vi6."

The new Soundcraft Vi6 digital live sound console replaces a larger conventional analog console. "The Vi6 offers all of the advantages of digital topologies," Sanderson considers, "including enhanced sound, total reset, and a free-form assignability. The church's services are very music-heavy with large bands, which means that there is a lot happening on stage. The original console was located on an upper mezzanine level--not the best place to mix sound for such 'energetic' events. Because the Vi6 is small and compact--and connects easily via a Cat-5 digital snake to the onstage mic racks--we were able to relocate the mix position to the main floor of the auditorium, with far better sight lines."

The Vi6's control surface is based on a patented Vistonics™ II design that places rotary encoders and switches within a series of ergonomically designed touch screens. Each Vistonics II interface controls eight input channels, with 16 rotary encoders and 16 switches per touch screen. Simply touching the screen immediately opens out that part of the strip onto the real knobs and switches mounted directly on the lower part of the display. All channel functions, including routing, input gain, digital gain trim, delay, high- and low-pass filters, four-band fully parametric EQ, compressor, limiter, gate, de-esser and pan, are easily and quickly accessible. The 32-fader control surface handles 64 mono inputs routing to 32 Group/Aux/Matrix busses plus LCR and Left-Right/Stereo busses, with 24 insert send/return pairs assignable to any I/O channel.

"We have four services every weekend and maybe two or three events during the week, plus weddings and funerals," Olp says. "A typical service will involve up to 40 channels of onstage sources, including a choir and full band. Vistonics II simultaneously displays 32 channels, which lets the operator see all of the sources. I love the ability to save and recall templates of Vi6 system settings for each type of service, and then let our volunteers take over mixing duties. That ability makes it very easy to train our volunteer staff; they found making the transition from the original analog console to the new Vi6 was very easy. It's been a fun experience for everyone."

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