The Memorial Drive Presbyterian Church has been among the Houston area’s largest houses of worship for over 60 years. However, through most of that time, it was also a very analog institution, with a pair of analog consoles used for front-of-house mixing and to route audio to congregation overflow and post-production areas. As of this year, however, Memorial Drive Presbyterian Church has entered its own digital age, with the acquisition of two Studer digital consoles, purchased through Guitar Center Professional  (GC Pro), the business-to-business (B2B) division of Guitar Center providing highly customized service for professional accounts.
GC Pro managed the sale of a Studer Vista 1 desk, which was installed earlier this year, used to route audio to a number of locations around the church campus. A Studer Vista V console intended as the church’s new FOH console was also installed and commissioned at the beginning of the summer. GC Pro’s Houston-based team of account managers and sales associates handled both transactions. “I knew what I wanted for this,” says Lennon Allison, AV Production & Design Engineer at Memorial Drive Presbyterian Church, of the church’s transition to digital audio technology. “I spent a lot of time researching and even taking training on a number of consoles, to make sure I found exactly the right one for us. Acquisition of equipment is a part of my job, and GC pro is my first choice when it comes to price point and ease of transaction.” Allison had worked in the past with GC Pro Account Manager Troy Hanchett, including the purchase of the church’s Avid Pro Tools HD and
Control 24 control surface for the church’s post-production department.
While he had done his homework, Allison still depended upon GC Pro to make sure he got expert help in managing the transition to digital for the church’s key audio platforms. “Troy set up the conference calls between me and Studer, which made sure that we have everything planned out ahead of time,” he recalls. “He’s had a great working relationship with the church even before I took this position three years ago, so he knows our facility and its needs. We really depend on that.”
The first console has already made an impact on the church’s media operations. The audio is always split three ways – to FOH, a broadcast stream and Pro Tools. The church’s “tricaster” stream, which is always uploaded to the church’s website and for a campus-wide broadcast, generally sync’ed the “broadcast” video with the Pro
Tools audio – in the past, processed with dynamics and EQ. “But now with the Vista 1,” notes Allison, “the audio being sent to the tricaster is so pristine that we no longer need to do any post-production of audio before posting the video, which means no post-production of audio required at all.” Another issue was inconsistent volume for a video-over-Ethernet signal, which goes straight to TVs in the church’s overflow area “But now, the Vista 1’s accurate metering and exceptional dynamics has made our levels consistent and tackled the problem of music vs. spoken word volume differences,” adds Allison.
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