Praising Performance

Praising Performance
  • GREENSBORO, NC-In 2004, Danny Slaughter was searching for a new console for the expanding worship center at Westover Church, Greensboro, NC. He turned to a higher power: the internet.

Danny Slaughter, technical director of WAV, Westover Church's AV team, at the Midas XL8 console which is in the FOH position at Westover's new 3,000-seat sanctuary.
"Originally I was looking at a large-format analogue console, but realizing the variety of programming aspects between Sunday services and other events in the new space, I knew that we needed to go digital," said Slaughter, technical director of WAV, Westover Audio Visual Technologies, the church's AV team. "The regular Sunday programming includes worship band sets ranging from choir, full backline, horn section, and background vocals, to bands that are more contemporary with just electric guitars and drums, to acoustic sets with mandolin, violin, acoustic guitar, piano, and djembe. There is drama programming and of course the weekly sermons and we are looking at community events ranging from a church conference to a city-wide Christmas opera."
Online, Slaughter spotted a story about Midas digital EQ research and immediately called Midas U.S. sales manager Matt Larson, Burnsville MN. To Slaughter's delight, Larson invited him to the Midas factory in Kidderminster, U.K. "I was blown away," Slaughter said. "The console was in development; it was different from anything I had seen, and I came back home and said, 'This is the console we've got to have.' We got our P.O. in early and had to wait it out for almost a year."As a result, the first Midas XL8 live performance system to roll off the production line is now installed in Westover's new 3,000-seat sanctuary, providing FOH audio and monitor mix for onstage IEMS and wedges, and supplying the record feed for video production and feeds to the 70V and hearing impaired systems. The extensive Electro-Voice, Midas, Klark Teknik, and Telex audio system is the heartbeat of a system featuring 204 EV loudspeakers including the Xi, Xsub, QRx, SxA, and EVID models. The main speaker systems are controlled with IRIS-NET software and EV NetMax N8000 matrix hardware, via the XL8 work surface.

The main speaker systems in the sanctuary are controlled with IRIS-NET software and EV NetMax N8000 matrix hardware, via the XL8 work surface.
"We're running 70 amplifiers and dozens of speakers, from surface-mounted EVID surrounds through to the Xi-series mains, fills, and delays and we know what every component is doing," Slaughter said. "We can provide precise real-time adjustments at all points in the signal chain, from crossover point to EQ points to feedback control. We use NetMax/IRIS-Net to control volume levels throughout the facility, turning off or turning down amplifiers directly from the XL8 console surface via the KVM switch. Coupled with the XL8, the EV system here represents a new paradigm in house of worship sound. A rack with digital to analog gear is available for touring groups to plug into the house system, allowing them to use the distributed speaker system. There is also a truck panel for recording and for satellite broadcast, with audio and camera lines coming out to it."

Westover, which already had Midas Venice and Verona consoles in its system had outgrown its 12-year-old, 750-seat worship center and even multiple services and a video café closed circuit feed approach couldn't meet the demand for its Sunday services. "We upgraded our audio, lighting, and projection systems to provide adequate technical support for a growing ministry," Slaughter said. "We also began hiring more fulltime WAV staff including video production director Doug Jennings, lighting and scenic director Jeff Neubauer, digital media associate Danny Price, and part-time technical associate Cheryl Hall."

The ultimate solution came in the form of Westover's $28 million building expansion and AV systems installation, in many ways an evolutionary process, Slaughter said. The expansion, designed by Greensboro architects Bradley & Ball, brought Westover's size to some 330,000-square feet encompassing the sanctuary, common areas, life group community rooms, and a children's center.

The new audio system, for which Armando Fullwood, principal, Design 2020 Church media Consultants, Charlotte NC, was the consultant on speaker design/layout as well as the acoustic shape of the worship center, was installed by Audio Ethics, Charlotte, which specializes in worship centers of 2500-seats or more.

Westover, Haulk said, reflects a dynamic ministry with no standard service. "It's very much a performance-based service featuring drama, a musical, or a traditional pastoral message. They described a performance venue with a system to serve touring artists from the first day. That was the goal and they had understood budgeting and cost, and costs and wants aren't always in the same column. They had everything prioritized."

The challenge was that the space is a church as well as a performance center, he said. "This was a combined effort between us and Armando [Fullwood] and the church team, with [Audio Ethics engineer] Tim Owens, doing most of the programming. The intense technology of the Westover project involved waiting for manufacturers to release the latest, and we worked closely with them to schedule installations. The actual installation went as planned."