World Overcomers Outreach Ministries Church in Memphis embodies a synthesis of today’s contemporary Christian megachuch combined with traditional Gospel influences, and has installed an iLive-T mixing system comprising two T112 control surfaces and an iDR-48 MixRack. Director of Sound & Audio for the church, Andre Monie saw the need for a move from analog to digital mixing consoles. "I knew from all my years in the music industry that moving to a digital system would give us more consistent sound quality and make everything more efficient,” he relates. “In addition to Sunday services, we provide sound for a lot of classes, rehearsals and events, and our volunteer staff really needed the right tools to take our presentation to the next level.”
Monie shared his vision with the church elders and was given the mission to explore a digital upgrade. Carl Woodard II, a member of the church’s sound team and owner of MC2 Solutions, was also engaged to help find the most efficient solution. “I went to all the large churches in the Memphis area to see how they were doing things,” says Monie, “They were all using the same console brand, so that was my original plan. But it was Carl who showed us how much more we could do with the Allen & Heath.”
Being familiar with both the needs of the church and the state of the art in digital consoles, MC2 Solutions recommended the Allen & Heath iLive-T Series. “The iLive is the most efficient solution out there,” says Carl Woodard. “It has total flexibility and all the functionality you could ask for, and it’s less expensive than the alternatives. Plus it’s very easy to learn and operate, which is very important with a volunteer staff. I don’t know why anyone would pick anything else.”
World Overcomers utilizes two iLive-T 112 surfaces. The system in the main sanctuary is paired with an iDR-48 MixRack, and handles both front of house and monitor mixing. All audio lines run from the stage to the iDR-48 at FOH in the balcony, where additional inputs on the T-112 control surface are used for line inputs from CD, DVD, and computer audio, plus additional wireless mics. Master gain is set at this console, with trim available at the record desk. An ACE card in the FOH setup sends all the individual inputs to the second T-112 surface in the recording studio via a Cat5 cable.
Sunday services at World Overcomers are all about the music. The sanctuary is a large, fan-shaped auditorium with seating around a 270-degree arc, plus a balcony. Total seating accommodates 3600 worshippers. In addition to the preacher, the stage accommodates a full worship band, a praise team of up to nine vocalists, and an 80-voice choir, all under the leadership of musical director Dimitri Turner. The gospel-based contemporary band includes a drummer, bass, percussionist, and three keyboardists.
“Just about every part of our service has some musical aspect to it,” notes Carl Woodard. “Even during announcements and the sermon, there’s praise being sung softly in the background. Music is an integral part of the worship experience here.”
With a wide array of events and activities utilizing the sound system during the week, the iLive’s ability to save and recall scenes has made every part of the operation more accurate and efficient, reducing Sunday morning sound check to only ten minutes. “It’s all set up so the system pretty much runs itself for activities like Bible study,” says Woodard. “It’s really revolutionized how sound is run at the church.”
Woodard points to the inclusion of drama presentations during Sunday worship as an excellent example of how the new consoles have enhanced worship at World Overcomers. “We actually switch from headworn mics for drama to handheld in mid-service, using the same receiver,” he states. “With the show recall feature, it’s just a matter of pushing a button to get back to our normal settings. It would be a nightmare to attempt any other way.”
The consoles were installed into the existing audio system, and the results were instantly audible. “I didn’t expect to hear such a difference without changing anything else in the system,” reports Monie. “This is a huge sanctuary, seating 3600, and all our problems seemed to disappear when we installed the iLive consoles. We now have the clarity of sound that we always wanted, with much better control. That lets us run the system at a lower volume, but still get full impact. And our feedback problems just disappeared. The congregation noticed it right away.”
The church uses its second console to mix all 64 channels of audio down to stereo, recording it in real time. This is another area in which the change to Allen & Heath reaped audible benefits. “The improvement we’ve had in the signal quality of each channel is amazing, which is a real tribute to Allen & Heath. They make a great preamp, and the EQ is extremely good,” notes Carl Woodard. “We mix, record, duplicate and sell audio of our worship on CD every Sunday. People can literally purchase what they just heard and take it home with them right after services. With the iLive, the quality of those recordings is significantly improved.”
Making the transition from analog to digital was surprisingly easy. “We had a gentleman from Allen & Heath come in to train us one day,” says Andre Monie. “It’s really a lot easier to use than an analog console, once you understand it. Really, if you can recall a scene and use the DCAs, you can operate the iLive. It’s that easy. Our staff went from intimidation to embracing the new technology in no time. There’s no fear factor; everyone on the team wants to be the mixer every week. That says it all.”
Monie concludes, “I really have to thank Carl Woodard for pointing us to the iLive. At first, I was interested because it would save us some money. But it’s actually better than any alternative in terms of sound quality, in terms of being user-friendly, and overall capability. What really surprised me was how much it improved our entire sound system. I would tell anyone, if you’re looking to go digital, go with Allen & Heath. That’s how I truly feel.”