Thomas Road Baptist Church, begun in 1956 by a group of 35 worshipers and since grown to more than 24,000 members, was also the foundation 15 years later for Liberty University, today the largest evangelical Christian university in the world and the largest private non-profit university in the United States.
Both have made extensive use of media technology as part of their evangelical and educational missions, and now both are in the process of replacing their entire complement of main audio mixing consoles with DiGiCo SD-Series desks.
At Liberty University, the college's newly expanded School of Music, which merged Liberty's Department of Music and Humanities and the Department of Worship and Music Studies into a large university music school into a new building, has installed a DiGiCo SD5 and SD10 for front of house and monitor mixing in the building's performance hall, and a DiGiCo SD11 in the department's mixing lab, where students are taught to mix on a professional console.
Thomas Road Baptist Church's 6,000-seat sanctuary.
At Thomas Road Baptist Church, two DiGiCo SD10 consoles now serve as the front of house and monitor mix platforms in the 6,000-seat sanctuary, which opened in 2016. All of these new DiGiCo SD-Series consoles were purchased and installed over the last 18 months through Pro Sound & Video of Pensacola, Florida.
In addition, two DiGiCo SD10 mixers were also recently delivered for Liberty University's Event Production department, where they will be available for Convocation, North America's largest weekly gathering of Christian students, and for deployment for a wide range of applications across the university's event venues.
The new DiGiCo SD-Series consoles replace another brand's consoles previously used for front of house and monitor mixing in the school's and church's various venues. It was time, says Michael Gerringer, AV architect/manager, Event Support, Large Venues, Content Delivery, with Liberty University's Infrastructure Media Operations, for a sweeping change.
"We needed to become more road ready, more rider ready, to meet the needs of contemporary music performances," he explains. "Also, we wanted to be able to run Waves plugins in an integrated digital-audio environment. This would enable us to streamline our workflows at the University and Church and integrate with other systems connecting over Dante."
Liberty University School of Music's performance hall
Gerringer cited benefits that come with DiGiCo's SD consoles, such as the high degree of flexibility when it comes to configuring the consoles' work surfaces and I/O matrixes.
"Routing is incredibly easy, and we can set it up so that we have the input channel and the output wherever it's most convenient for each user," he says. And the SD consoles offer virtual soundcheck functionality that goes beyond live performances, allowing users to tweak live recordings that will add to the school's and the church's inventory of media content and training possibilities.
In particular, the SD11 serves a very foundational function, as the teaching platform that will introduce Liberty University media-arts technology students, many of whom will go on to develop their skills further in the church's venues and the Event Production department, to a real-world mixing environment.
The DiGiCo consoles represent a true inflection point for Liberty University's audio technology evolution, as well as a personal one. "The SD console has changed how I mix," says Gerringer, who also mixes front of house at Thomas Road Baptist Church. "The SD sound is cleaner and clearer. I'm not spending time fixing the soundwhat I put in is what comes out. It's incredibly transparent sounding. It's a game changer for us."