Mixing for the masses

AUTHOR: Inavate

Following almost a year of assessing digital mixing consoles, Hatfield Christian Church in Pretoria took delivery of four DiGiCo SD8s earlier this year.

Tadco, DiGiCo’s South African distributor, was approached early in 2008 to quote on the console requirements for Hatfield Christian Church, and during the first discussions it was apparent that the church has some unique requirements.

In addition to its normal Sunday services, it also has a radio and television broadcast arm, Impact Christian Media. The Sunday services are broadcast live via radio to Pretoria and are then packaged for worldwide television broadcast to a potential 42 countries.

A further complication is that three or four times a year, large events are held in the church which use up to 70 channels of mixing at FOH. The normal would be 40 to 45 channels.

As a result, three consoles were required - FOH, monitors and broadcast - all with identical channel layouts to make it easier for the operators to switch between positions.

The initial idea was to supply large format DiGiCo consoles for all three positions to cater for the bigger events. However, this solution took the complete package outside the church’s budget parameters and serious thought was given to a phased approach but, due to Hatfield’s unique situation, this was not feasible as all three mixing positions had to change over at the same time.

For a while, the project stalled and it looked as though it might have to be postponed for another year or two, that is until DiGiCo released the SD8 console.

Tadco’s Philip Kruger, who had been working on the Hatfield project from the beginning, suggested four SD8 consoles. One console each for FOH, monitors and broadcast, with an additional console that could be used for the bigger events and, in between, could act as standby for any of the other three consoles. This also gave the church a digital console to be used for the many outreach events it holds during the year.

In Hatfield Christian Church’s case a single 48 input MaDiRack on stage distributes the input signals to FOH, monitors and broadcasts via an RME MADIBridge on RG-59 coaxial cable – no expensive microphone splitters required. The MaDiRack for the SD8 system is supplied with eight outputs as standard, but for Hatfield Christian Church an additional two eight channel output cards were added giving the system 24 outputs.

During the large format events, the fourth SD8 is put at FOH with its MaDiRack on stage and connected via the installed RG-59 cables. This console’s outputs will be linked to the main FOH console via MADI and will be used to sub-mix the additional inputs.

As part of the install, Tadco also supplied Camco amplifiers to replace the existing line array amplifiers – five Camco Vortex 6 amplifiers now drive the low and mid frequencies and the high end is driven by three CAMCO Vortex 2.6 amplifiers.

With two Nexo S2 sub-bass loudspeakers at each side, driven by two Camco Vortex 6 amplifiers via a NEXO NX-242 Digital Loudspeaker Controller, the installation is complete.

Andi Rodgers, Tadco’s technical director, supervised the technical aspects of the installation.

“The DiGiCo SD8’s are very easy to operate,” said Adrian White, Hatfield Christian Church’s head of Sound. “This is very important to us as we rely heavily on volunteer operators and even with minimal training they grasp the basics very quickly.

“We have had a lot of comments on the huge improvement in sonic quality of the system and I find that I have a lot more headroom to play with. Even the broadcast guys have found that the sound is cleaner, crisper with none of the muddiness they are used to with other systems they’ve used.”