It was set up in the early 1980s by New Zealanders Brian and Bobbie Houston, who saw the need to provide people in Sydney's North West with an active, contemporary church.
Today it is possibly the largest church in Australian history, operating from a 21 acre site in a modern business park in the Hills district, and from a contemporary facility near the heart of Sydney's CBD. With a congregation of over 12,000, the reputation of the church continues to expand, and has a dynamic influence both domestically and internationally.
Hillsong Church had been planning to build a larger auditorium since moving into its current building four years ago. With only two worship centres - one holding 1500 at Baulkham Hills in Sydney's north west, and the other holding about 1200 in Waterloo near the heart of the city - they had already exceeded capacity before they moved in. With between ten and 12 services held across the two worship centres on a weekend alone, the need for a bigger auditorium was overdue.
The audio tender for the new building took around 18 months to write and involved a team of five engineers. Decisions were make on a number of factors including, cost, functionality and quality, and the budget for the audio and lighting was negotiated when the tender was being drafted.
Production manager Dave Watson was pleased to keep the faith with Soundcraft mixing consoles, having used Delta and Venue series boards (for FOH and monitors) over a seven-year period. " We have always found the preamps to be good quality and the EQ's to be responsive." He says. "The brightness and sparkle of the preamps work especially well when it comes to using in-ear monitors."
Thus Soundcraft was again the preferred option for both FOH and monitors in the youth hall of the new building (seating 800) - a new MH4 deployed at FOH and an SM20 on monitor duty.
Dave Watson takes up the story. "In order to give these boards a trial prior to installation we decided to upgrade the two consoles in the current auditorium. This would give us a chance to train our engineers while also making sure the consoles would be suitable for the new building." Thus 40-channel SM20 and MH4 desks were installed and are currently in use.
The SM20 is being used to maximum capacity, with eight sends of wedges and the remainder IEM (providing four stereo and the rest mono mixes).
Watson continues, "When we installed the MH4 we discovered our PA to be a lot more responsive below 150 Hz than ever before - the preamps are very impressive."
He states that the FOH desk is configured for dual-mode operation. "Normally it is a stand-alone FOH board only, with the SM20 handling all monitors. But during the week it sometimes used to control four sends of monitors as well. We call this 'solo pilot mode', and it enables us to cut out a monitor engineer when they are not needed."
Supplier of all the audio equipment for the new building was local company, Lots Of Watts. But in addition to the local suppliers, Dave Watson also praises Soundcraft distributor, Jands for their support. He says, "Jands technical support has been fantastic and they have helped us way beyond expectation."