Photo: Brad Roberts, First Baptist’s lead audio engineer, with the new DiGiCo SD7 console at the church’s monitor mix position

The DiGiCo SD7 console installed at Dallas’ First Baptist Church in April 2013 now has a counterpart in monitor world; a second SD7 recently went into its new 3,000-seat worship center giving the prominent Southern Baptist house of worship a consistent audio workflow across all of its live sound hubs. Both SD7 consoles were specified by Idibri, the Dallas-based AV design and consultancy for the church, with integration done through the Dallas office of Clair Solutions.

The two consoles are linked through no less than five DiGiCo SD-Racks—three placed just off stage in a remote location, one underneath the monitor console, and one down in the broadcast mixing studio near video control—as well as a 16-channel Nano-Rack located in the orchestra pit and used to provide extra inputs if needed.

First Baptist Church’s initial SD7 console went in as part of an extensive $130 million renovation of its main downtown location, which was completed two years ago. The church, established in 1868 and now led by Pastor Robert Jeffress, also owns and operates its First Baptist Academy and the KCBI radio station. Jeffress is broadcast on various radio stations across the country and televised worldwide through Pathway to Victory, the church’s broadcast ministry. The Sunday sermons are recorded for this purpose.

“We specified the first SD7 largely because of its high I/O capacity,” says Idibri Senior Consultant Steve Reed. “We’ve had success with the SD7 in other projects, so we also knew it for its reliability and user friendliness. When it came time to install a dedicated monitor console, we naturally went back to the SD7. It’s a large-format console that has the capacity to handle the large number of instrument and vocal inputs coming off of this stage. All of the front-line singers are using in-ear monitors, so they needed a high number of inputs and outputs. The SD7 has them.”

Brad Roberts, First Baptist Church’s lead audio engineer, began his career there just ahead of the arrival of the first SD7 and as the church’s primary monitor mixer he’s happy to see the arrival of the second. “Up until now, there was no monitor world,” he says. “We had been mixing monitors from the SD7 at front-of-house, which, with so many inputs, was complicated.”

Roberts can now easily accommodate the 13 stereo in-ear monitor mixes used by the vocalists as well as the Aviom mixers for the band and orchestra. “We have two complete universes of Aviom systems, and there are over a hundred inputs coming off the stage altogether. The SD7 was the console we chose that could handle that many inputs and outputs.”

Roberts adds that the large number of racks they installed with the consoles was “because we often have touring groups coming in to perform along with our 200-voice choir and orchestra. The extra inputs allow us to patch them into our monitor console and perform with them,” he says.

With the two SD7s in place, the church now has a consistent work surface across both of its mix positions, which means any audio staffer can easily move from one to the other and is instantly familiar with the landscape.

Roberts is also particularly satisfied with how the desks, although highly transparent, still impart a certain musicality to the church’s audio. “I’ll tell you a quick story that shows what I mean,” he says. “Our lead singer can be pretty dynamic. I hear his mix most of the time, and after the new SD7 was installed, I noticed his channel go into the red. But the distortion it produced was actually very warm and analog sounding. I wasn’t expecting that, but I’m very happy to have it.”