BLOOMFIELD, CT-Since originally opening its doors to a few hundred parishioners as the 1st Baptist Church back in April 1968, Connecticut's First Cathedral of Bloomfield has steadily increased its membership to more than 11,000. To accommodate the growth, seven years ago the church constructed a new worship center housing a 3,000-seat sanctuary; however, the sound reinforcement system was never felt to be an ideal complement for the room.
Consequently, First Cathedral media director LeRoy Bailey III turned last year to Omega Consultants of Olympia, WA to provide the design and installation of a new audio system, which ultimately featured a Soundcraft Vi6 digital live sound console at front-of-house paired with an analog 48-channel Soundcraft MH3 running monitors.
According to Bailey, "Shannon Ericson at Omega and I designed this system to be as cutting edge as currently possible in an effort to best prepare our new sanctuary for the future of worship facilities. With the installation of our new Soundcraft consoles, BSS processors, Crown amplifiers, and JBL loudspeakers, volunteer and professional engineers alike can now expect to experience some the best equipment in the world here on our site." AKG C 414 mics were installed for the choir, with C 3000s and D 880Ms for the band. BSS London (BLU-16 and BLU-32) and FDS-336T Minidrive processors were added for signal processing. And finally, Crown I-Tech, Macro-Tech, and CTs Series power amplifiers and JBL Precision Directivity (PD), VERTEC, and Control Series loudspeakers, as well as LSR4300 Series studio monitors were added in the control room, with plans to add more stage monitors in the future.
A true test of the new consoles came in mid-December when First Cathedral presented its annual Christmas pageant and musical, which featured a drama team, full band, and solo and choir singers in addition to an intermission performance by gospel artist Erica McCullough recorded for CD and DVD.
With the Saturday and Sunday evening performances separated by two church services on Sunday morning, the benefit of the Vi6's snapshot recall was instantly apparent to First Cathedral FOH engineer Ed 'Stylz' Blizniak. "To be able to switch back and forth with the push of a button between service and pageant settings-both of which required extremely different EQing-was phenomenal," he said. "Gone, thankfully, are the old days where we had to make a page full of notes for our settings!"
The engineer also appreciated how the Vi6 allowed him to very quickly dial in an optimal microphone sound for the church's senior pastor and CEO, Archbishop LeRoy Bailey, Jr. "I always used to have difficulties achieving a nice presence and warmth on Archbishop Bailey's microphone, but even during the very first service on the new system, I was blown away by how powerful I was able to get it," said Blizniak. "Being able to keep the gain structure extremely strong and not have to beat up the EQ by using it in other places, I no longer have to fight volume to get clarity."
The Vi6 with its intuitive Vistonics II interface, which comes as a result of Soundcraft's partnership with sister console manufacturer Studer, was also deemed to be very helpful for a system that is largely run by volunteers with little or no formal audio training. "The Soundcrafts are very easy to step up to and learn, especially with the templates on the Vi6. The new boards provide much more flexibility than our previous ones-especially with how responsive they are to EQ, which will alleviate the frustration that our volunteers go through trying to learn audio. Plus, being able to quickly dig into those EQs and change them as necessary was a huge benefit for our pageant; the ability to go directly to the front fills and not have to go through the house processing system was really stellar."
As for the MH3 console up on stage, its ability to provide two stereo in-ear mixes in addition to eight mono mixes made it an ideal choice for the new sanctuary as well.