The Buzz: Installation Spotlight: The Way International, New Knoxville, Ohio
Jan 1, 2007 12:00 PM,
By Charles Conte
The Digital Way
The Way International’s recording studio engineer, Roger Kuntz, researched alternatives to analog consoles, including the Yamaha DM2000.
Tucked away within the heart of America’s farmland, near the village of New Knoxville in northwestern Ohio, is The Way International, a worldwide, nondenominational biblical research, teaching, and fellowship ministry. Since 1942, the ministry has provided research for the study and practical application of the Bible.
Befitting its global focus, for 21 years The Way International has produced video and audiotapes of services recorded in its Victor Paul Wierwille Prevailing Word Auditorium. These are distributed to subscribers around the world. Within the auditorium, the 1,500-seat Teaching Center has full facilities for worship as well as musical and dramatic presentations.
For the benefit of live participants, the ministry has long employed sound reinforcement. In 1985, The Way engaged acoustic consultants JaffeHolden (Norwalk, Conn., and Santa Monica, Calif.) for acoustic and sound reinforcement design for the facility. The configuration that JaffeHolden created still exists. The original FOH loudspeaker system for the Teaching Center — consisting of Renkus-Heinz highs, Altec Lansing mids and lows, and Cerwin-Vega subs — remains as it was.
However, the original Soundcraft 800B analog consoles in the Teaching Center, also dating back to 1985, were due for an update. Last year, a demo of the Yamaha PM5D convinced the audio engineers that this console would work for monitors and front-of-house sound, but they were undecided about its use for recording. “After much consideration,” says audio coordinator Carey Williams, “they saw the benefit of all three positions having the same console. Each audio engineer would know how the console is managed and could step in and operate the different positions.”
New digital consoles at four audio positions replace existing analog desks. All are from Yamaha: a PM5D for FOH, a PM5D for monitors in the Teaching Center, a PM5D for recording in the hall, and a DM2000 in a separate recording studio.
The engineer in the recording studio, Roger Kuntz, was actually the first to investigate the digital alternative. In October 2003, he contacted Chip Allen of ICB Audio & Video in Cincinnati (learn more about Allen’s perspective on media in houses of worship in the “Church Media Roundtable” feature on p. 26 of this issue), who set up a demo of the Yamaha DM2000. Impressed with the console’s versatility, Kuntz learned digital recording. Kuntz uses a Fairlight Dream Satellite 24-track DAW for recording and editing, and Steinberg WaveLab 6with the Waves mastering and restoration bundle for sweetening and pre-mastering.
After that was the integration of the three PM5D consoles. The monitor console was the first to be installed in February of 2005, followed by front of house, and finally by the PM5D recording console for the auditorium in July of 2006.
Monitor engineer David Green enjoys the benefits of storing a scene per song within the digital console. For those making the transition to digital, Green says, “Allow plenty of time to integrate the new console into the sound system and to work with the performers.” He recommends understanding how the input and output patch library functions on each scene.
“As our ministry band is rehearsing to perform a song, I can take time to dial in my levels and effects, and then store the scene on the PM5D,” says recording engineer Scott Froelich. “Then, when it’s show time, I have a smile on my face instead of beads of sweat on my brow.” House engineer Mark Richards says the Yamaha digital sound is so much cleaner, crisper, and properly produced, and he reinforces the notion that the digital learning curve is worth the effort.
Next up for The Way is the completion of its video systems upgrade. The front end of its video chain consists of three Philips/BTS LDK-10 and one BTS LDK-10P studio-configured cameras; a Grass Valley 1200 digital switcher for live switching, fed by SDI camera outputs; and Digital Betacam tape machines, fed by SDI camera outputs, for isolated recording of each camera to be used in post. Two live-switched program copies are recorded onto Doremi Labs V1d hard drive recorders.
Using the Digital Betacam machines as sources, editing is done onto the Doremi hard drive recorders via a Grass Valley 141 linear editor. “We have a working interface between our recording studio DM2000 and video post so we can sweeten audio for video and record the files back to our master recorders,” Williams says.