Most artists tend to pursue excellence in either the spiritual or the secular realms. Casting Crowns, however, has managed to stay at the top of their game in both, winning a Grammy Award and a Dove Award for their Contemporary Christian rock music that has successfully crossed the divide since 1999, when the band formed as part of a youth group at First Baptist Church in downtown Daytona Beach, Florida.
Casting Crowns is out on the road again this fall with “The Very Next Thing Tour,” which takes the group to arenas and churches across the Midwest, South and East Coast. The songs may be familiar to millions of listeners—the band’s career sales have exceeded 10 million records—but the sound is now even better thanks to a pair of DiGiCo SD9 consoles the band is using at front of house and monitors for the first time. The consoles were provided by Blackhawk Audio, which is also providing the JBL VerTec PA system and Meyer subwoofers that the band is carrying on tour.
“We’ve had them with us for a couple of months now and the change is incredible,” says Phillip Osborn, Casting Crown’s FOH mixer for the past year and with them for eight more before that as their system technician. “The sound is drastically different, more than I would have expected, and it’s so much better. It’s hard to describe. I’d say that it’s more like hearing a great hi-fi system than a PA system—it sounds that good now through my DiGiCo.”
Osborn, who has also worked with artists like Straight No Chaser and Kutless, says the previous digital consoles the band had been using were fine, but that the DiGiCo SD9s bring something extra to the table. “The SD9 literally adds another dimension to the sound,” he says.
The change was prompted by both a desire to expand the band’s sonic possibilities and by the fact that the nature of its audience means it can play a 35,000-seat arena one night and then be in a 2,000-seat church the next. “I needed a console with a smaller footprint, one that had more flexibility in terms of size and performance,” he explains. The SD9, which has the new Stealth Core 2 update, gave him all of that and more.
“Other consoles force you to work the way they want you to work,” he says. “The SD9 lets me determine what workflow works best for me. I like to have the drums on one fader bank, the guitars on another, the vocals on another and the keyboards on another. I can put anything anywhere, and I can lay out the console to fit my needs, not the other way around.”
Osborn is using the Waves C6 and Bass Rider plug-ins, among others, and loves the way they integrate seamlessly with the console. “But I don’t need much else, because the SD9 has so much great processing onboard,” he says.
Osborn adds that monitor mixer Sam Hewitt is equally happy with his SD9, as is the band. “They’ve also definitely noticed the difference, too,” he says. “Switching was a very good move.”