In late January 2013 at the Pheasant Run Convention Center in St. Charles, Ill., Willow Creek Community Church hosted Blast 13, a youth group retreat for approximately 1,400 produced by the Willow Creek Student Impact Ministry, with audio support by TC Furlong in Chicago.
One Yamaha CL5 digital audio console accompanied by two Rio3224-D input/output racks were used at front of house with a CL1 selected for monitor mixing, along with two ProPlex Gigabit switches for network redundancy. "Network redundancy was important because of the high-profile nature of the event," states Chris Wintz, rental manager with TC Furlong. "The crew at Willow Creek likes to have backup/redundant systems whenever possible."
Wintz adds that since the CL5 was specified as the front-of-house console by the Willow Creek team following a demoand since the team was challenged with keeping the monitor mix area to a small footprint while still providing ample mix busesthe CL1 was a "one-stop solution." "In the 13 years [we] have collaborated with the Willow Creek team, this was one of the most streamlined solutions we've put together," he says.
"We decided on the CL system for a number of reasons," says Nathan Miller, systems designer and engineer with Chicago's Miller Audio Services, audio contractor for the event. "One factor was the ability to use the Premium Rack Portico plug-ins. We used the Portico 5033 EQ and 5043 Compression on the lead vocals at both front of house and monitors. We also used the U-76 plug-in at front of house across the drum bus, as well as the Opt-2A plug-in to add a mastered sound to the IEM mix busses at monitors. The other major factor was the overall efficiency of the setup and strike. Switching to a digital snake really helped make the overall load in/load out easier. Not only were the FOH/MON runs much cleaner, but the split was much cleaner and easier to troubleshoot."
Miller reports that the CL5s were easy to operate by event engineers Stephen Kendeigh and Ryan Pribyl, due to console familiarity since the pair use Yamaha consoles for regular youth services. "Blast 2013 represented a major step forward, not only in our audio system architecture, but in the overall sound quality of the event," states Troy Bartholomew, technical director for the ministry who oversaw production for the event. "Nathan's [Miller's] choice of the CL Series streamlined our setup [and gave] us more features and flexibility than we have had in past events. Also, Ryan and Stephen's ability to utilize the fantastic new features really elevated the audio experience for all of our students. Throughout the weekend, I received a lot of positive feedback from industry veterans, audio contractors, and Willow production staff who were able to come in and listen to the system."