Jul 15, 2004

Houses of Worship


--Queensway Cathedral in Toronto is in the process of upgrading its sanctuary sound system and has replaced its aging desk -- installed when the 4,000-seat sanctuary was constructed in 1984 -- with a Soundcraft MH4. Of particular note, this is the first MH4 sold in Canada to feature Soundcraft's new mono input modules, which expand the use of the aux buses by adding true mono/stereo configurations to take maximum advantage of the desk's 16 auxiliary buses.

The Cathedral’s technical director, Rich Bodnar, explained that while the old console had provided excellent service, parts were starting to wear out; and since it was configured 24/8/2, with only four aux sends, they were limited by channel capacity for their larger events. “The availability of parts and cost of repairs was proving prohibitive, and so we started to look for a new console,” he said. A short-term loan agreement funded the new purchase, which was made through distributor Soundcraft Canada and Mississauga-based Audio Operations — a dealer with whom Queensway has enjoyed a relationship over the past seven years.

The Cathedral was already familiar with the Soundcraft pedigree, having owned a smaller, 32-channel board a number of years earlier in their studio. “It proved to be a competent console and this helped to shape my decision,” admitted Bodnar. “I have also rented Series Five consoles on a number of occasions, as well as a K2. I find the Soundcraft consoles to be reliable, rugged, intuitive and straightforward with a good number of features for the investment made.”

In addition, Rich has experienced a number of other different-branded consoles during events at both his church and others. “Having been able speak to different engineers on their opinions, Soundcraft always appeared to have the edge in reliability, layout, quality and cost.”

While Rich Bodnar is the Cathedral’s technical director, he still took the precaution of bringing in two consultants “to make some recommendations upon which I ultimately made my final proposal to our board of directors.” He explained, “Many factors had to considered including monitoring capability, channel capacity, cost and ease of use for the volunteers using the console. The MH4 easily fit the bill in all categories.”

During normal Sunday church set-up, Queensway can expect to utilise just over half of the MH4’s 36 channels and approximately ten aux. sends for the instrumentalists and vocal monitors (mostly IEM). However, Queensway Cathedral also stages large-scale Christmas and Easter productions, which utilise nearly every channel on the console. “During our 2004 Easter Passion Play performances we used 55 of the 56 channels available, as we ran 24 wireless lavalier mics, an ensemble singing group of 16 as well as instruments — plus track and FX,” says Bodnar. “The flexibility of switching between modes on the MH4 has been a definite asset because of the varied types of events the church is involved in.”

Rich Bodnar was aware that this would be the first of the new MH4 series consoles sold in Canada. “We were very fortunate to have it up and running about a week and a half before one of our major events here at the church, and it certainly proved its worth and versatility through our Easter productions.”

The Queensway’s upgrade programme is expected to take a couple of years to complete. They have yet to tender out the rest of the installation process, but expect this to be done in the near future.

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