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Crosswalk Community Church Upgrades Sound System with Yamaha EtherSound Solution

May, 2009

Yamaha M7CL Digital Console, DME64, and ADK LYVE Tracker Installed.

BUENA PARK, Calif. — Onyx Engineering of Chesapeake, Virginia, recently completed the installation of a Yamaha digital Ethersound-based audio solution for the 750–seat Crosswalk Community Church, located in Williamsburg, VA. The system is comprised of two Yamaha M7CL digital audio consoles, a DME64n digital mix engine for DSP and loudspeaker management, NAI–48–ES network interface, AD–8HR remote preamps, A824 digital to analog converters, EtherSound Network snake, and an ADK LYVE Tracker 64-track digital recorder.

When Crosswalk Community Church moved into its new facility, originally a music theater, the existing sound system was approximately nine years old, collecting layers of dust and not maintained during the last three years it remained idle. The age of the equipment along with the lack of maintenance led to drop outs in the right output fader on the front of house console usually during a service. "After two years of working around problems, it became apparent that we would have to upgrade the sound system sooner than we had anticipated," states Mark Madeira, Technical Lead for Sound, Crosswalk Community Church.

Senior Pastor Mark Morrow gave the approval to find a local sound engineering company to assist with installing a new system, and a team consisting of a church advisor and both technical and non–technical members was established to oversee the project. Meetings to discuss plans took place, and tours of the facility given with various contractors. After team review of the professional proposals submitted with the Pastor and church advisors, Onyx Engineering was awarded the project. "The solution they presented was an easy to use system, and they were willing to work with us to stay within our budget," adds Madeira.

"Crosswalk Community was well prepared to enter the digital audio domain, at least initially from the stand point of a mix console," states Jim Auer, CTS–Design Engineer for Onyx Engineering, Inc. "But, the system as a whole was in need of a major overhaul, one that would not benefit from simply adding a digital front of house desk. The church had miles of unidentifiable analog cable running between front of house and monitor mix positions, to a separate recording room, without any line drawings to reference. My first thought was that the time and energy necessary to figure out the analog infrastructure already in place would have depleted most of their budget before a console was even delivered."

"Since the church does not support a fulltime audio engineer, the new system was designed around Yamaha M7CL digital consoles because they really fit the need," says Auer. "An overly sophisticated console would be both cost prohibitive and overly complicated." With only 40 inputs needed at both the front of house and monitor positions, the Yamaha M7CL–48 provided the perfect blend of performance and user–friendly interaction. Installing the M7CL consoles allowed Onyx to offset labor expenses and improve the overall system by replacing the existing analog snake with an EtherSound solution consisting of a Yamaha NAI48–ES and six Yamaha AD8HR remote preamps, taking their entire audio path off of an analog infrastructure and onto a networked digital backbone.

Like most churches, Crosswalk wanted to reuse as much of their existing system as possible; the existing design was made up of reputable amplification and speaker system that were in fairly good shape, so there was something solid that could be salvaged. Unfortunately, the majority of their system's front end was in need of replacement as their existing loudspeaker DSP had taken a dive (and no longer supported by the manufacturer), and the right side of the system would shut off if touching the top of the console.

Antiquated wireless systems and dynamic signal processing were just some of the trailing issues that brought reality to the forefront of what needed to become priority. "The church had also come to me with a significant wish list, one that included what could be done to help them include multiple wireless microphone systems such as in–ear monitoring for the worship team leaders and Aviom personal monitor mixers for the rest of the band, all reasonable components common for the contemporary style of worship and drama that the church has become recognized for," adds Auer.

"We were tasked with upgrading the entire infrastructure between the actual microphone inputs and the dedicated speaker processors," states Jeff Hathaway, Systems Engineer for Onyx Engineering. Onyx had a two–week window to complete the required work while keeping the system functional for scheduled events and regular Sunday services. "With the most significant amount of work consisting of the conversion from and analog to digital snake system and the addition of input patch bays, we elected to provide Crosswalk with a temporary snake solution from our staging/production department to maintain system functionality," says Hathaway.

A Yamaha DME64n is used to handle signal processing and routing; a 16–channel Aviom card was installed for personal control of some of the inputs in the monitors, and the ADK Live Tracker with EtherSound card is used for 64–channel digital recording. In the past, the church tried recording multi–track events live, sub–mixing them onto older, 8–track digital recorders synced together through yet another analog console. "With ADKs LYVE Tracker, the church is now able to record services and/or performances live (up 48 tracks) and playback and/or re–mix as necessary back through their digital console without the need of an additional mix desk or operator isolated in another room," notes Auer.

"The M7CL is very straight-forward and easy to use with all of the 48 faders on the surface, and the "Centralogic" section makes navigating and adjusting the console very easy," adds Madeira. "It looks and feels more like an analog console than a digital console and it didn’t take long to become comfortable using the console; all told, in as little as 10 minutes, we were well on our way. The feature set of the M7CL is extensive and provides everything needed for any mix, the compressors are very smooth and easy to set up, and the effects are some of the best I’ve heard. The ability to store and recall scenes on the M7CL has made changing from a traditional first service to a contemporary second service easy and fast. We have approximately 45 minutes to change the set up between services and had been spending 10 to 15 minutes of that time reconfiguring the two analog consoles. Not having a lot of time between services has always made the transition between the two very tense and stressful. Where we once were barely able to get a sound check in, much less run through an actual song, now we can be up, sound checked, and run through the majority of songs with time to spare. The new system has made the transition flow that much smoother. It’s two pushes of a button on each console and they’re reconfigured for the next service. And, the ability to remotely control our monitor console when we dont have a second volunteer is a real plus."

The ADK LYVE Tracker recorder has become an invaluable training tool for the Crosswalk team, and their musicians appreciate that now they can listen to their performance enabling them to make changes and improvements when necessary.

"The new sound system at Crosswalk has drastically improved the experience for me as a drummer, choir member, and as a general member of the congregation," states Scott Venable, drummer for the Crosswalk band. "Having two reliable consoles has made it much easier for us to get a reliable monitor mix on stage and a quality mix for the house enhancing the worship experience for everyone. In the past, it was evident that our sound system was a detriment to our worship congregation and frustrating the musicians on stage. That is now no longer the case and we have a system that truly contributes to the overall service rather than detracts from it."

Madeira says he would be remiss if he didn’t give accolades to Crosswalk’s friends at Onyx Engineering. "Jim Auer with his insight, knowledge, and wisdom was able to steer us in the right direction and make things happen, keeping the project on track and affordable; Jeff Hathaway made sure the system was installed, configured and working, and his support during and after the install has been fantastic; and Bill Disney who is very knowledgeable about the Yamaha M7CL did an excellent job of training our team and making sure that we understood the console’s features."

"I know there’s always room for improvement and a system may not please everyone, but I can honestly say that I am truly happy with the set up we have now and where I once used to dread having to fight the sound system, I look forward to playing, singing, and worshiping our Savior, Christ Jesus."

For more information on Crosswalk Community Church, telephone 757-258-2825.

For more information on Onyx Engineering, telephone 757 233-0346 or visit www.onyxeng.com.

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