When Cartersville Baptist Church, Cartersville, GA moved into a new church building last April, they brought along the mixing console and wireless microphones used in their previous facility. It didn't take long for the church to realize those components should have been left behind, since the new building included a brand new, state-of-the-art sound system.

The church's newly hired technical ministries director, Tony Serna, set out to find a solution. "My first job was to get the audio system completed, and my initial reaction was to go with what I knew," says Serna, who has a background in music theatre production.

The more he talked to colleagues who had participated in product shootouts, though, two names kept popping up; ones he hadn't originally considered: InnovaSON for the console, and Sennheiser for the wireless microphones.

As he studied the options, it became clear that both brands, each distributed by Sennheiser Electronics Corporation, offered the elusive mix of quality, affordability, and user-friendliness the church needed to meet its contemporary worship needs. Working with Florida-based audio dealer David McKenna of Mega Pro Audio, Serna settled on the InnovaSON Compact Sy40 digital mixing console. Designed for the budgets and technical needs of users with medium-size live music applications, the Sy40 ended up being the perfect fit.

"We've ended up using almost all of its capabilities–32 inputs and 16 outputs–because we incorporate both drama productions and extensive live music with instruments and vocalists into our services. We have a fairly full stage Sunday morning, and we need to be able to integrate everything from a rhythm section to a vocalist to a full band."

With such a varied slate of stage activities taking place on Sunday, as well as other times during the week, the church needed a mixing console that would make life easier for the production staff. "One of the things we like about it is its ability to do full recall," he says. "With a veritable performing arts stage that's changing on a regular basis we needed a flexible console. The recall capability is nice because we'll rehearse different elements of the Sunday service through the week and do other things as well in the auditorium. So we have to be able to make a lot of changes in mix settings very quickly but bring things all back together for Sunday."

The Sy40's ease of setup was important given the narrow window he had to get the console up and running at one of the busiest times of the year–the winter holidays. "We basically installed it between rehearsals for the Christmas production schedule," he says. "It looks like a more intimidating desk than it really is. Integrating it turned out to be easier than we anticipated, even with our staff of volunteers."

A complement of Sennheiser wireless microphones turned out to be another pleasant surprise for the church. Having worked primarily with Sennheiser's major competitor for past jobs, Serna was initially reluctant to switch to four handheld and eight bodypack units in the Sennheiser Evolution G2 100 Series.

"When I first saw the bodypack units, what struck me was the size. They're smaller than the ones I've used in the past, but they looked very rugged," Serna says. "In fact, the G2 system looked like a pretty bomb-proof system, and that's so important when they're subjected to high temperatures and humidity during rigorous stage performances."

The eight bodypack units, which are paired with a complement of both headset and lapel microphones, have withstood the abuse and produced a sound quality that rivals that of any competitor, Serna says. The handheld units, which consist of a Sennheiser 152 capsule on a G2 transmitter body, have also proven their mettle.

"We had a choice of three capsules and went with the higher end one," he says. "That was one of the attractive things about the Sennheiser package–we could pair a high-end capsule with a mid-end transmitter that met our budget needs."

Serna is so impressed with both the Sennheiser mikes and the Sy40 console that he plans to add more to the church's audio equipment inventory. Another InnovaSON console is slated for use in a broadcast booth, while more wireless mikes are being eyed for a children's theatre and a youth theatre. "They'll get even more abuse in those environments, but we feel confident Sennheiser wireless will hold up."

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