House of Hope Believes in Series Five Consoles

Few houses of worship truly exemplify the term “multipurpose” quite to the size and scale of House of Hope
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House of Hope Believes in Series Five Consoles

Aug 17, 2006 8:00 AM

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Few houses of worship truly exemplify the term “multipurpose” quite to the size and scale of House of Hope. With more than 10,000 seats and 200,000 square feet total of floor space, Salem Baptist Church of Chicago’s new $50M worship facility and neighborhood activity center more closely resembles a concert/sports stadium than a traditional church sanctuary.

That impression is further bolstered by the fact that three regulation-sized basketball courts can be revealed when the main seating area is cleared, not to mention that there are two giant 19’x11’ video screens in the venue as well as several dressing rooms and an onsite ticket box window.

And the $1.4M custom-designed sound system, specified by Wrightson, Johnson, Haddon & Williams (WJHW), certainly fits the rock concert bill as well. Installed by Audio Analysts, a company respected for its years of providing touring sound reinforcement for artists like Bruce Springsteen and Shania Twain, as well as installs at other “gigachurches” like Houston’s Lakewood Church and Colorado Springs’ New Life Church, the audio system is helmed by a pair of large-format analog Soundcraft mixing consoles. Front-of-house duties are tackled by a 48-channel Series Five out in the center of the main floor seating area while stage wedge and IEM mixes are accommodated by a 48-channel, 24-bus Series Five monitor positioned just out of the congregation’s view at stage left.

Kirk Denson, technical director and director of audio for House of Hope, and Darius Lawrence, director of audio for Salem Baptist Church of Chicago, both appreciate that the Series Five consoles are every bit as flexible as their new facility.

“My impression of the Series Five is that it’s the Swiss Army Knife of mixing consoles; it has everything we could possibly need on it here at House of Hope,” says Denson. “My first experience with the desk actually came while working as senior audio engineer at The Potter’s House in Dallas, which had used one for a while. I found the warmth and precision of Soundcraft’s parametric EQ to be very nice and really fell in love with the sound of the board there.

“I’m a VCA fan, so I certainly appreciate that the Series Five has a generous 10 VCAs, which allows me to separate instruments and still have an overall band VCA as well. I then mix the band and vocals side-by-side in the VCA section, and it works out great.”

When asked why House of Hope opted for analog desks rather than digital ones, Denson responded, “Not all engineers are familiar with digital desks yet, but just about anyone who can mix can operate the Series Five without a learning curve. Even though it’s a fairly large console with a lot of features, its controls are laid out in a very logical and easy to understand way. So if you’ve run a board before, you can definitely operate this one.”

Salem Baptist Church of Chicago’s House of Hope is pastored by Reverend James Meeks, also currently serving as an Illinois state senator, who has seen the membership of his parish expand from 700 to 25,000 people over the past 15 years. Not only is the new facility the largest worship center in the Chicago area, but the church also reports that it is the second largest indoor arena in the city next to the United Center, home of the Chicago Bulls and Blackhawks.

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