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Church on the Rock Streamlines Broadcast Infrastructure for Livestreamed Services

Yamil Martinez at Church on the Rock's Waves eMotion LV1 live mixer
Yamil Martinez at Church on the Rock's Waves eMotion LV1 live mixer (Image credit: Waves Audio)

Church on the Rock in St. Peters, MO, considers its online community a distinct campus, with distinct needs that go beyond the church’s physical space. With its emphasis on high-quality streamed services, the church places a high priority on having the right digital tools. The team there chose the Waves eMotion LV1 Live Mixer to mix and stream the church’s services

Mixer, producer, and audio consultant Yamil Martinez consulted Church on the Rock on this project. His recommendation to adopt the eMotion LV1 was based on the LV1’s ability to deliver precision sound for live events and streams: “LV1 is based on integrated Waves plug-ins, so it helps me tailor the sound to any requirement in ways that most regular consoles can’t,” he said. “Because Waves’ precision plug-ins are so accessible from within the mixer, eMotion LV1 enables us to achieve an extremely polished studio sound in a live situation. We’ve been able to accomplish processing chains that make miracles happen, especially when dealing with unwanted noise. To me, the LV1 is a chameleon-like console that I can personalize to achieve any coloring palette needed.

“Our decision to adopt the LV1 was driven, first of all, by our need to improve the church’s online experience,” Martinez continued. “Before the LV1, the church’s broadcast system was quite convoluted. It was based on a combination of groups and direct outputs from the Avid Venue D-Show console at FOH, plus a few direct analog splits that fed an analog Midas Heritage mixer. Drums were fed from a premix, as were the brass and half of the vocals. Lead vocals were received individually from a processed direct-out feed. Secondary sources, or sources that aren’t used every day, derived from a split of a split, out of the main splitter. But the biggest drawback prior to adopting the LV1 was that not all the decisions made for the FOH mix translated properly in broadcast. This was both because of the physical sound of instruments in the auditorium, and because each of the church’s mix engineers or mix volunteers had different criteria. Just imagine all the inconsistencies that the former system had. This is why our big LV1 project was born.”

One Mixer Turns to Three

“Our initial idea was to extract unprocessed individual audio channels from the FOH console to a dedicated TV mix in a single eMotion LV1 mixer, but we quickly discovered that interfacing with the existing consoles just wasn’t cost-effective, nor did it provide the flexibility needed or the necessary channel counts. Neither did we want to replace the analog splitter with another one with a third output, or to invest in connectivity for outdated consoles. These were not viable solutions,” Martinez explained.

[ Streaming Audio in Houses of Worship ]

“In the end, we simply replaced our Midas Pro digital console at monitors with an eMotion LV1 mixer and shared its inputs with broadcast. But that was just the start! Eventually, three high-end consoles got replaced with eMotion LV1 mixers: two Midas consoles, one analog and one digital, which reached their limits; and a Yamaha PM1D that was stuck in outdated technology. Those consoles had to be replaced because they couldn’t adapt to our new circumstances and needs.”

Church on the Rock streams live services with Waves eMotion LV1 live mixer

Waves eMotion LV1 setup at Church on the Rock (Image credit: Waves Audio)

Freedom of Movement

“With the Waves eMotion LV1, we are able to have full console control from different locations at the same time,” Martinez said. “This has been absolutely crucial to the church’s TV broadcast, 2D streaming and 360° VR operations. To provide a better online experience, Church on the Rock has content variations that include online hosts who interact with the online campus community and inform them of COTR’s wide variety of activities. Those hosts move around the facilities, depending on where the activities are being held. No matter where you are within Church on the Rock’s facilities, if there is a network connection, all you have to do is assign the specific port to the proper subnet to send and receive audio.”

“One huge advantage of the Waves LV1 is that it’s based on Waves SoundGrid technology, which is an Ethernet network-based system with minimum operator interaction. It does away with all the messy networking challenges, and it eliminates the hassle out of the crew hands,” Martinez explained. “You just assign the network ports and then select, update and enable the devices, assign the clock master, and you’re done. Your network is ready. Church on the Rock already had in place a solid Ethernet network infrastructure that allowed a dedicated network for SoundGrid. This made it easy to implement SoundGrid as the central hub for all the audio connections from anywhere in the buildings. All this has been a big plus for COTR’s Creative Arts team. Now they can generate content without boundaries within the buildings, or anywhere an Ethernet cable can reach. Our network covers two physical campuses across a street, with ten audio working areas. Any corner can be a creative spot!”

Modular Setup

Martinez continued, “Our designed system consists of an audio network that covers two different buildings across a street. It includes three LV1s, one Avid VENUE D-Show, one Pro Tools HDX, two Behringer X32 mixers, one Zilia 3D ambience microphone, and 14 Waves SoundGrid devices (excluding various DAW computers), including four DSPRO StageGrid 4000 stageboxes, three DiGiGrid IOC audio interfaces, one DiGiGrid IOX high-count interface, two DiGiGrid DLI interfaces, two DN32-WSG cards for Behringer, one Waves DMI interface and one DiGiGrid D portable desktop interface. The compact DiGiGrid D interface moves all over both buildings, depending on where the TV hosts are. The latest addition to the system is a 3D immersive audio mixing system that complements a 360° video content destined to COTR VR campus. Virtual reality is the best way to remotely be part of the COTR experience.”

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“This setup is wonderfully modular and expandable,” Martinez said. “As your audio needs evolve, the system can grow, too. Our project is proof: we started with a single LV1 as a simple broadcast mixer, and evolved to an entire audio network that covers two multistory buildings.”

Communication

About the facility’s monitor system, Martinez said, “At Church on the Rock, we don’t have a dedicated person for monitor mixing. Each musician controls their own mix wirelessly with an iPad running the Waves MyMon personal mixing app, which ‘communicates’ with the LV1. Having the MyMon app was indispensable in the selection of the LV1. The monitor LV1 can be fully mixed and cued from the stage, FOH and broadcast positions, with the latter two having absolute control over the monitor console. The more experienced FOH and broadcast engineers can assist musicians from their own position.”

He added, “The LV1/SoundGrid system allows us to have an elaborate internal communication system through a dedicated matrixing system that receives 15 talkback/communication inputs and distributes to seven destinations throughout both buildings. Before the LV1, there was no way of getting completely rid of the sinful mono IEM mix. Now, every IEM mix is stereo. Any instrument can have its own stereo reverb without complicated routing or mixing procedures. Having the reverb as part of the channel signal flow keeps the proper relation between dry and wet at every monitor mix.”

Waves Plug-Ins

About using Waves plug-ins, Martinez said, “Church of the Rock has always invested in top-notch gear since the analog days, but the results we’ve achieved with the LV1 are unprecedented. The wide selection of plug-ins from the Waves Mercury, Abbey Road, SSL, Dugan Automixer and DTS Neural Surround bundles gives us precise solutions for every need. We use many plug-ins; however, there are what I like to call ‘MVPs’—most valuable plug-ins—that make an especially huge impact on the final result. First, the Waves Playlist Rider plug-in is great for content that alternates between music and speech and has a broad dynamic range. We don’t want people constantly adjusting their volume and getting bothered by level inconsistency. Playlist Rider stabilizes all pre-recorded material, speech microphones and broadcast master output, providing smooth transitions without distraction.”

He continued, “Another situation where Waves plug-ins are life-savers is stage mic bleed. Having many instruments and numerous vocal mics open at the same time can result in a lot of stage bleed that clutters the mix and compromises intelligibility. Waves’ Primary Source Expander (PSE) plug-in eliminates stage bleed, especially when using automatic pitch correction for broadcast. With its sidechaining capabilities, PSE can be placed after a few layers of EQ, saturation and compression and still track properly. We replaced all the filters and EQ that we used to use with the extremely flexible and low-latency F6 Floating-Band Dynamic EQ. With its different slopes, the F6 filters are more adaptable. The dynamic low- and high-shelf bands allow you to expand those frequencies as needed instead of using fixed gain, reducing bleed when a direct source is not present enough. The narrow parametric bands, with a Q of 60, make the F6 perfect for surgical needs. It’s like a crossbreed between a Swiss Army knife and a scalpel.”

He added, “When it comes to reverbs, the OneKnob Wetter and GTR Reverb plug-ins are great for mixing with simplicity and consistency. We need good-sounding, low-latency and CPU-friendly reverbs to insert on a great deal of individual channels. With these two plug-ins, we cover all our bases for channel-inserted reverbs on instruments, and even on vocals in monitoring duties. Another plug-in that deserves special mention is the eMo D5 Dynamics , which is part of the eMotion LV1’s channel strip. It’s a wonderful-sounding dynamics plug-in with extensive side chain capacity—the only plug-in inserted on every single input and output of all three LV1 consoles. It handles beautifully all the heavy lifting in terms of dynamics. The church’s latest plug-in addition has been the Waves Dugan Automixer for auto-balancing multiple talkback mics. We throw at it constantly changing combinations of 15 possible inputs, and it keeps them all totally balanced, automatically. Talkback screamers are welcome since the Dugan will take care of them—easy.”

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“The consistently great sound quality we’ve achieved with the LV1 exceeded our expectations,” Martinez noted. “With Waves’ eMotion LV1 mixer, Waves plug-ins and Waves SoundGrid real-time processing and networking technology, we’ve been able to achieve more polished results, faster and more easily, delivering better broadcast services to Church on the Rock’s online campus community.”

More on Audio in Houses of Worship

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Streaming Audio in Houses of Worship There's no question that the ways people come together to worship have changed dramatically this year. That has also meant a lot of changes to the way services sound—and what they may sound like in the future.

A New Way to Worship During the pandemic, houses of worship often held virtual service, which in turn has meant an increase in requests to systems contractors and integrators to facilitate streaming services.

Getting Started in House of Worship Integration Just Add Power’s Ed Qualls shares best practices to limit project hiccups and help integrators deliver the perfect solution for house of worship customers.

How Audio Helps Houses of Worship Regather with Confidence • The new normal has proven to be particularly challenging for church leaders who are tasked with bringing parishioners together across a variety of locations, whether in-person or attending virtually from home.

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