By providing impassioned services produced with high-quality technology, Willow Creek Community Church has become one of the largest and most popular churches in the country. Each week, Willow Creek offers an extensive schedule of worship opportunities across its 820,000-square-foot main campus and hosts tens of thousands of visitors among its eight locations. The church has always benefited from using some of the most advanced technology available to manage the campus’ complex multimedia infrastructure. To effectively control timing signals for its extensive Dante® network, Willow Creek turned to the capabilities of the Model 5401 Dante Master Clock from Studio Technologies, manufacturer of high-quality audio, video, and fiber-optic solutions.
Any large-scale event produced with Dante devices relies heavily on accurate clocking. A properly programmed master clock will ensure all network devices are synchronized to within one microsecond or less, enabling each device to transmit audio with sample accuracy. However, finding an adequate device to handle Willow Creek’s clocking needs proved challenging for Matt Wentz, the church’s audio systems engineer. With the devices Wentz originally had at his disposal, it was difficult to properly sync audio transmissions without experiencing excessive latency delays across the network.
“Though every Dante device can be set up to operate as a master clock, we needed a standalone device capable of handling our expansive Dante network without having issues with latency,” says Wentz. “We had to increase the latency of the devices we were using to five milliseconds in some cases, just to keep our network running properly.”
When Studio Technologies released the Model 5401, the device immediately caught Wentz’s attention. The Model 5401 implements a high-performance IEEE® 1588 precision time protocol (PTP) server capable of providing timing needs of up to hundreds of Dante-compatible devices using audio-over-Ethernet media networking technology. The unit supports both PTP v1 (IEEE 1588-2002) compatibility required by Dante as well as PTP v2 (IEEE 1588-2008) for AES67 applications. Additionally, the device includes a word clock sync output for delivering a timing reference to external devices and a clock input connection for synchronizing with a variety of audio, video, and instrumentation reference signals.
After Wentz reached out to Studio Technologies about the Model 5401, company President Gordon Kapes came to Willow Creek’s main campus to give Wentz an onsite demo. Kapes met with Wentz to demonstrate how the device would interact with Willow Creek’s Dante network.
“Since Willow Creek’s main campus is in our extended neighborhood, I was fortunate to be able to visit their impressive facility and work with Matt to see how the Model 5401 could integrate into their workflow,” says Kapes. “It’s always a privilege to learn directly from our clients and then be able to apply this knowledge to our existing and future products. It can be both exciting and humbling to observe how the top people in our field are continually adopting the latest technologies to achieve their goals.”
Wentz was impressed with how the Model 5401 drastically improved Willow Creek’s latency issues, decreasing the delay to less than half a millisecond and integrating seamlessly with the church’s myriad of devices. “The Model 5401 was a game changer; it’s phenomenal to have a dedicated piece of gear I can trust as our master clock,” explains Wentz. “With the complexities of all the equipment in our main auditorium, it’s been invaluable to have such a great tool going to work in the background without me having to worry about it affecting the production.”
For more information on the Model 5401 Dante Master Clock and other Studio Technologies products, visit www.studio-tech.com.