Allen & Heath iLive MixPad for Worship, Part 1

The First Baptist Church of Altamonte Springs Florida had a patchwork of audio gear connected by various people at different times and not really doing the job for them. 2/02/2012 7:13 AM Eastern

Allen & Heath iLive MixPad for Worship, Part 1

Feb 2, 2012 12:13 PM, WIth Bennett Liles

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The First Baptist Church of Altamonte Springs Florida had a patchwork of audio gear connected by various people at different times and not really doing the job for them. The church called Entertainment Arts to upgrade the whole system and John Williams is going to tell us what they did with an iLive mixing system and iPads for the whole band, coming right up on the SVC Podcast.

SVC: John Williams from Entertainment Arts, thanks for being with us on the SVC Podcast. And we’re talking about the First Baptist Church of Altamonte Springs, Florida and a big audio upgrade you did for them but first, tell me about Entertainment Arts.

Well, Entertainment Arts is a fairly small install design firm here in Orlando. We’ve been here for about 20 years, and we’re centrally located right in Orlando, but we work all over the state and, frankly, actually all over the country. We do a little bit of jobs here and there, but we work mostly for HOW. In fact, about 95 [percent] to 98 percent of our business is for houses of worship, and then we do some small restaurants and things like that. [Timestamp: 1:25]

Well, when you specialize in churches, you get to know people in that area and you certainly become familiar with the production requirements of houses of worship. What sort of church is the First Baptist Church of Altamonte Springs and what kind of worship style do they have?

Well, First Baptist Church of Altamonte Springs is a very mixed and diverse group of people, which is great. They are a Southern Baptist Convention Church, but definitely not your typical Southern Baptist Convention. Average congregation age, I think, is 40 below. It’s a younger group, but they do [have] some older congregation. But their focus is to impact children and their families in the greater Altamonte area, but their worship style is very much like more contemporary modern. Not traditional at all. In fact, there’s no piano and no organ, so when you think of most Baptist churches, you think of the traditional choir and things like [that], but this [is] not the direction that First Baptist Church of Altamonte Springs had gone in. So they play more of a modern-type worship. More Hill Song, Free Chapel, Israel Hooten—that’s their worship style. [Timestamp: 2:33]

Yeah, it sounds more challenging on the technical side because you’re dealing with more instruments and more vocals and a lot of live music. So when they called you in, what exactly did they want Entertainment Arts to do for them?

Well, the big deal with the church when we first got involved with them, their system was in a pretty bad state. They had been through many patches and fixes. They came out of being a portable church for a little while and moved into their facility and just implemented all of their portable gear into the facility without really truly installing it, and it was mostly done by the church members and things to make it happen in a short amount of time with no money. But those problems started to creep up when they started having speakers blow because of not having the correct amplifiers and wiring shorting out, and there’s time when the pastor would step on the stage to preach and there would be loud popping noises through the audio system because of bad wiring—just because of inexperience, really of trying to install the system themselves without professionals doing it. So when Entertainment Arts came in, the initial goal was really just to try to fix the system to the point of functionality. They had a SoundCraft 40-channel spirit board and a mixture of two SC amps and some EEW speakers. And Entertainment Arts, what they came in and did initially was just rewire the entire system, went through and made sure all the connections were good, repaired the speakers, made sure the sound board was fairly functional, and then attempted to tune the system with a system processor just to get it functional because, at the time, the church didn’t have a lot of funds to put into the audio system.

After they had made those changes, it allowed the church to start moving forward and recruiting more musicians because before the capability of the system was very limited so they couldn’t recruit a lot of musicians and they could do a lot more stuff in their live worship because they were really restricted on what they could do with their system being that in the state that it was in. So after they had everything repaired, most of the equipment they had was fairly old, so things began to breakdown and the preamps began to die on channels and things like that and they really had a hard time keeping the sound board sounding the same on a week by week basis because the room that they’re in is a multipurpose room, so it gets used for everything in the church. It gets used for youth, and it gets used for children’s ministry, and it gets used for Sunday morning. So the problem they were having was with their analog board is a bunch of different volunteers running it so settings would change very often. And they came to Entertainment Arts, and they knew they wanted to upgrade and they knew they wanted to go to a digital soundboard. So that’s when we chose the Allen & Heath iLive T112 for them. [Timestamp: 5:23]

Allen & Heath iLive MixPad for Worship, Part 1

Feb 2, 2012 12:13 PM, WIth Bennett Liles

And what was the attraction of that board? What features did it have that you wanted to go with for the church?

The big attractions on the T112 were the amount of functionality you had with the board, the features that you had with it, digital snake, moving faders, scene recall, a lot of buses, the racks you could configure so you could get different fixed format racks for them so you could do a 16x8—16 inputs, eight outputs, or you could go up to a 32x24 or 48x32. So you have a lot of options now, and that’s really what attracted them was the features for the price and the price is very reasonable on the iLive T112. So they were looking at taking out a lot of their outboard gear system processor and a effects processors, EQs—all that kind of stuff just to replace it with one unit and then on top of that to be able to have a digital snake and to cut out their 100ft. of audio snake that they had in the building. [Timestamp: 6:20]

Well, that would make sense because they had had so many wiring problems and so many separate pieces of equipment externally connected and it cut out a lot of that interconnection stuff. It’s got the mixRack. Where did you locate the mixRack?

The mix rack is located at the stage just for easy patching and that kind of thing.

And you decided to go with the Dante option card in the iLive mixer?

That’s correct, and that initially wasn’t done at first because the board was upgraded prior to the release of Dante, but being that with Entertainment Arts and stuff fairly connected with Allen & Heath and we speak with the representatives there a lot and we knew that this option was coming, so that was presented to the church as, “Hey, this is going to be an option down the road; it’s not available right now, but it is something that’s going to be available.” So when the Dante card was initially announced, I believe it was at NAMM 2010. When Dante was announced, the church jumped right on it. They knew it wasn’t going to be released for a while, but they decided they were going to go ahead and purchase it anyways not knowing that when it was going to come out or what the difficulties would be of integrating it to the system. They knew the capabilities were great and the price was just right for them to add it to their iLive system. [Timestamp: 7:35]

And it sounds like one of the best things on that with churches that use a lot of live music is that the band members eventually got into doing their own individual stereo monitor mixes?

Yes, what happened was the church has a few different issues with the building. It wasn’t designed acoustically like most churches are to handle bands and all that kind of stuff, so they had the challenge of a lot of stage volume at first so there was a lot of floor monitors. They knew they needed to quiet it down. They knew they wanted to give the guy at FOH a lot of control over the sound, and with a lot of floor monitors and amplifiers and those kind of things, you can’t really do that. So they knew they wanted to go [with] in-ear monitors. They were stuck on choosing between a Hear Back system or an Aviom system or just an in-ear monitor system. With the iLive, the great thing is you get access to 32 different buses, and you can tell the console what you want those buses to do, whether you want them to be mono, aux, or a stereo delivery or a matrix or group. You can pretty much set the board up the way you want to. So they decided to go with wireless in-ear monitor systems, and they also knew that Allen & Heath was coming with an iPad app that would allow you to mix your own monitors from the iPad. [Timestamp: 8:52]

Yeah, they call that Mixpad?

Mixpad is the app, yes.

OK, when did that become available for the iPad and what can you do with that?

Mixpad became available for the iPad earlier this year, and it really allows you to access almost everything on the iLive. There’s a few things it doesn’t let you access like scene recall, and it doesn’t allow you access the actual specs processors on the board, but everything else it lets you access to. So you can have access to the main mix and that includes every parameter on each channel so you can have access to parametric EQ, on an input channel delay, all those kind of processors and you have access to all the output channels, graphic EQ—pretty much every parameter on the board. The other thing it allows you to do is it allows you to actually have access to send on each fader so you can actually mix into your auxes from the iPad with a simple double tap on a channel you’re actually mixing into any other bus from that channel. So you’re sending from that fader to any bus. So the Mixpad app allows you to do a lot. You can change channel names and colors and all that kind of stuff. [Timestamp: 10:02]

Yeah and being able to just walk around and do that from anywhere in the house to see how it sounds everywhere.

That’s correct. Yeah a lot of the problems the church had at first was their soundboard was located upstairs and anybody who mixes audio knows that that’s not really the best place to mix from—upstairs out of the splay of the speakers for the room. So the Mixpad app, for a lot of churches, allows them to come out of the booth and walk the room and be able to mix from downstairs. In fact, I know a lot of churches now that are using the Mixpad app that we’ve installed—the iLive for that; [they] are sitting in the congregation during service mixing and not a lot of people notice what they’re doing because a lot of people bring iPads to church now because they’re loaded with the Bible and everything else that you can get on them. So a lot of audio engineers are sitting down in the services now mixing from downstairs if they’re not able to move their sound booth downstairs. [Timestamp: 10:57]

So did you train the people there on that? What was the learning curve like for them on the Mixpad app?

The learning curve is not that big on the Mixpad app. It really comes from experience from running the actual sound board first and yeah, we do train all of our customers on how to use the iLive system and then the Mixpad really becomes second nature to that. A lot of the features and accessibility on the Mixpad are the same to match with the surface—the iLive T112 surface or any, actually, iLive T surface. So it’s made to interface very much like the board does so that there’s not a huge learning curve with the Mixpad app. [Timestamp: 11:34]

OK, well, it sounds like that was a really good thing for them to have in that situation. I would think that any church with a lot of live music would benefit from that and John, thanks for being here for Part 1 to kind of get us into this and in Part 2 we’ll talk more about Mixpad and some of other things they’re doing on wireless monitoring but thanks for telling us about it.

Absolutely, thank you very much.

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