As the largest congregation in the United States, with an extensive live sound and broadcast schedule, Lakewood Church was overdue for an upgrade to its main mixing console. Located in the former Compaq Center in Houston, Texas, Lakewood’s 16,000-seat Central Campus hosts four English services, two Spanish services and a diverse range of other weekly events. In addition to welcoming more than 43,000 attendees, the church produces a series of broadcasts that are seen by more than 10 million viewers in 100 countries each week. The church’s audio engineers realized that they needed a large-scale mixing console and decided on a Studer by HARMAN Vista X digital console that could be customized to meet their extensive production requirements.

“We started shopping for a new main mixing console a few years back and installed the Vista X about a year ago,” said Brad Duryea, Director of Audio Technologies, Lakewood Church. “Not surprisingly, we have a pretty hefty requirement for I/O count, channel bussing count, feature set and expandability. We looked at all the major brands, and Studer clearly met our needs.”

The Vista X provided Lakewood with control of 800 or more audio DSP channels and more than 5,000 inputs and outputs, while the console’s Studer Vistonics™ user interface and FaderGlow™ technology ensured an intuitive and stress-free operator experience. The console’s Infinity Core was able to deliver plenty of CPU-based processing power, allowing the church to handle large productions with ease.

“With the intensity at which we operate, we really need fast, smooth operation,” said Duryea. “One of the things Studer does better than anyone else is allow us to accomplish complex operations. It doesn’t matter what it is, everything about the Studer console is quick.”

“The console has the I/O counts and channel counts that we need as well as several newer features that are really helpful,” said Duryea. “Dynamic EQ is very important, and we needed it to be integrated into the board. The new Follow Solo feature is excellent for fast monitor work as well.”

Lakewood Church has two onsite broadcast rooms and two editing rooms with all the consoles connected via MADI over fiber. Live sound is routed from the arena to the editing suites for TV, web and/or satellite postproduction and broadcast without any lapses in sound quality.

“When we installed the Studer console, we knew we’d hear a difference in our live sound, but we didn’t expect our broadcast folks to notice the jump in quality like they did,” said Duryea. “Even the musicians were amazed. We have a keyboard player who has a dedicated speaker for an organ, and he started to recognize a ‘noise’ from the rotating cabinet until we realized he was just hearing a whole new level of clarity. It’s all easy, powerful and sounds great!”

Many thanks to Brad Duryea for his insights into Lakewood Church’s mixing console upgrade experience. Are you a system designer, integrator or AV pro who manages a complex mix of live sound and broadcast productions? If so, share your insights in the comments.


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