Washington State House of Worship Gains Digital Power, Analog Warmth
The technical infrastructure of Eastridge Church, designed to support a contemporary worship style, was recently enhanced with the addition of a Roland Professional M-5000 OHRCA Live Mixing Console.
Eastridge Church is a dynamic congregation anchored in Issaquah, Wash., with additional campuses in nearby West Seattle and not-so-nearby Addis, Ethiopia. “It’s an event-driven church – it’s not the simple church model where everything is weekend, weekend, weekend, and nothing else,” says Steve Reeser, Eastridge Church’s creative director. “This is kind of a hybrid where our senior pastor is driven by community partnerships.”The church hosts events ranging from award shows and breakfasts to Christian music acts. Its main sanctuary, wider than it is deep, can accommodate 1,400 people for a concert or special event. “We service a lot of different types of needs," Reeser continues. Its new Roland M-5000 helps the Eastridge technical team address that diversity of facility usage. The path to the Roland M-5000 console came via the Roland M-48 Live Personal Mixers; the church had moved to the M-48s from another networked headphone system, which Reeser likened to “going from a Ford Focus to a BMW.” New outlook“I’m an old analog guy,” Reeser notes, “so I came kicking and screaming into digital.” That said, he lauded the sound of the M-5000. “This console is definitely one of the warmest digital boards I’ve ever heard,” he says, and he attributes the M-5000s 96 kHz PCM signal path, part of the 24-bit, 128-path OHRCA (Open High Resolution Configurable Architecture) DSP engine, for its sound quality. “Its audio imaging is pretty much untouchable; it has completely changed my whole opinion of using LCR where you’ve got spoken word and you’ve got music," Reeser says. "I’m able to create a great image in the room, even though the sound system we’ve got was misconfigured when it was first put in – this console has made this sound system actually work.” When working on the M-5000 at front-of-house, Reeser says, “Another crucial component was the ability to have an M-48 slave at the board, so that no matter what anybody did to their personal station I could take it over immediately and fix it.” Eastridge runs 10 Roland M-48 personal mixing stations on stage, plus one at FOH so Reeser can monitor each personal mixer on the stage and fix or make adjustments remotely. “I have no problem being able to fix stuff for the musicians. I can fine-tune what that player is looking for, and then they can save it so it’s always the same for them. The relaxation on stage is so much better than with other personal mixers. It’s just been a joy.” He continues, “One of the things that I was really excited about was that it has all the Roland effects onboard. So, you’ve got the DSV3000, you’ve got the SRV, you’ve got all the classic Roland stuff right there.” Future plansTo expand the M-5000’s capabilities even further, Reeser says that Eastridge is looking at adding a Waves SoundGrid card and SoundGrid server, in no small part to facilitate virtual sound check for training. The XI-Dante expansion card for the M-5000 purchase is likely to follow, with Dante planned as the audio distribution hub for the campus. Reeser calls the onboard compression and gating “really nice” and the EQs “user-friendly,” particularly for “somebody who doesn’t really know what they’re doing with EQ.” The path through the console is clean and distortion free and, he notes, “The head room on this thing is just almost unprecedented – I don’t know a way to accurately describe how amazing the head room is.” Even with the complexity of its worship and the variety of facility uses, the Roland Professional M-5000 will anchor the audio infrastructure as Eastridge Church continues to grow and thrive. With the M-5000, “We’ve future-proofed ourselves,” Reeser says. Eastridge is currently using just over 30% of its M-5000’s DSP. “It’s not going to run out of gas anytime soon.”
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