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Case Study: Idlewild Baptist Church, Florida

Idlewild Baptist Church in Lutz, Florida is the very definition of a mega church. Its 5,000-plus-seat sanctuary could accommodate a Boeing 747 airliner and still leave room for the church’s 210-voice choir and 64-piece orchestra

Creative director Ryan Kindle says the church needed to update its audio infrastructure, to improve acoustical issues such as speech intelligibility in its reverberant main hall, and create a better AV training environment to support its mission of educating the next generation of house-of-worship systems operators.

Blackhawk Audio, near Nashville designed and integrated the technology package — a DiGiCo SD5 console for front of house, an SD12 console for monitors, and an SD5B for the church’s broadcast studio, as well as four SD-Racks, an Orange Box multichannel interface, and a Waves processing bundle.

Kindle says that they were looking for a console that would allow two people to comfortably work and move from right to left to learn the console in a logical fashion. The console also acts as a unified ecosystem, says Kristy Reed, production director and head of audio at the church. “We have four SD-Racks: one is at the stage and is being used as the stage box for the 64-piece orchestra,” she says. “From there, we have a three-way mic split, with close to 200 channels and 54 recessed mic-input stage pockets, to FOH, monitors, and broadcast. That situation is much easier to handle, with all of that now on fiber to the consoles. With the Orange box and the Dante card, we have created a superhighway of on and off ramps to the system.

“Before, we had three consoles, all on mic splits, and each of them had to be patched and then landed in the consoles three different ways,” adds Kindle. “With the SD-Racks and Optocore router, you just plug something in one time and it’s available everywhere. That’s been a life-changer.” Two more SD-Racks are located in the church’s machine room, where they also manage input from 36 channels of Sennheiser 6000 Series wireless microphones and eight channels of Sennheiser G4 in-ear wireless monitors. A fourth SD-Rack is located in the broadcast studio.

Soundwise Reed says, “It was as though a veil had been lifted off the sound in the room. Even the non-technical people notice it.” She adds that the band instantly recognized the 96kHz difference on the first day of rehearsals.

The staff has been using the virtual soundcheck capability to accelerate the training process. And integration with Figure 53’s QLab multimedia playback software has enhanced the church’s theatrical productions.

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