Why SAW Chose Yamaha to Enhance Worship Experiences in Johannesburg

Stage Audio Works breathes New Life into Johannesburg church
(Image credit: Stage Audio Works)

New Life Church in the affluent suburb of Bryanston, Johannesburg, was established in 1985 and is an important part of the Bryanston community. An impressive building houses a 2000-seat auditorium as well as several seminar rooms, children’s facilities and much more. As part of their ongoing mission to provide the best possible worship experience for their congregation, New Life has recently added live streaming capabilities with a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) based mixing system and upgraded their 15-year-old Yamaha M7CL console—which was state of the art at the time—to a new Yamaha Rivage PM3, all supplied and installed by Stage Audio Works.

Stage Audio Works has developed a strong relationship with New Life Church which dates to 2012 when the company installed the very first d&b V-Series line array system in South Africa into the New Life auditorium. “It was certainly the first V-Series system in SA, but it was actually one of the first anywhere,” recalled SAW’s CTO, Nathan Ihlenfeldt. “The serial numbers are sub-100. We basically specified it off the data sheet, and it’s still doing a fantastic job.” Indeed, thanks to the success of that project and the quality—not just of the systems but the ongoing support—provided by Stage Audio Works, the company has been New Life’s go-to technical resource ever since.

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Stage Audio Works was called back in 2017 to upgrade all the house and stage lighting and then more recently during the COVID-19 pandemic to develop a live streaming solution. “Lots of churches started live streaming during lockdown as way of remaining connected to their congregation,” noted Ihlenfeldt. “After discussion with the church leadership, we opted for a solution built around a DAW, which offers an in-the-box rather than a console-based workflow. A stable, server grade PC was supplied with a PCIe Dante card, with Neumann monitoring and Focusrite Rednet interfacing. Enabled by the Dante network, it fits nicely into their existing infrastructure and is easy to manage, extremely flexible and keeps costs contained. It’s been very successful and is now an integral part of their setup.”

Stage Audio Works breathes New Life into Johannesburg church.

(Image credit: Stage Audio Works)

The most recent development has been the console upgrade to a Yamaha Rivage PM3. New Life’s previous console was an M7CL which had been working non-stop since 2007. “The decision to replace it was a pre-emptive measure rather than a reactionary one,” explained Ihlenfeldt. “It was still going strong after 15 years of solid service—a real testament to the reliability and robustness of Yamaha’s engineering. However, as the musical capacity of the church has evolved, it was time for an update that would allow for future growth.

The stability of the Yamaha platform meant that it was an easy decision to stay with Yamaha, and the PM3 offers everything the church needs to support an extremely high standard of audio. Furthermore, Stage Audio Works was able to reuse certain elements of the previous infrastructure, such as the stage boxes that had been upgraded to digital some time ago, resulting in a cost-efficient and streamlined integration process.

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“It has all worked out very well,” said Ihlenfeldt. “We’ve significantly upgraded New Life’s AV and broadcast capabilities over the years as the church has developed, and we’re proud to have been a part of their journey. Regarding the console, the PM3 offers the same functionality and mixing channels as Yamaha’s flagship, the PM10, but its compact form factor and intuitive control surface makes it a perfect fit for house of worship applications. New Life Church can look forward to another 15 years of reliable sound mixing in a future-proof format.”

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