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ProCo Momentum Takes The Stage in Singapore (1/28/10)

-- from article published in Worship AVL Magazine --

 Faith Community Baptist Church (FCBC) is a leading megachurch in Singapore. Founded in 1986, the church boasts of a sizeable following, with its congregation attending the English, Mandarin and Hokkien/Cantonese Services held at The MAX Pavilion at Singapore Expo, and its own premises located at TOUCHCENTRE and at TOUCH Community Theatre.

Every week, the service features a dynamic and exciting worship experience that plays a crucial part in communicating messages to the congregation. To support and maximise this experience, a full scale production is needed, with a host of logistics put into place to properly cater for these assembled worshippers.

Given the weekly nature of this assembly at the MAX Pavilion, the live set up on stage is portable and requires setting up and dismantling after use. This is hardly the ideal scenario for Reverend John Koh and his band director Mr Sharul B. Mahnoh, but they have become old hands at the rock and roll style load in and load out of stage equipment.  Their heavy Saturday night commitments (supporting the worship services), however, leaves them short on time and energy come 7:00am on Sunday morning at the MAX Pavilion, when they are required to set up the stage equipment for the 9.45am service.

Ultimately, the old but faithful analog studio line routing of multicore cables was earmarked for an upgrade. “It had always been reliable and served us well for almost ten years, but we felt that in the digital age, we could source something more practical for monitoring the musicians on stage,” offered Reverend Koh. “We approached Coda Audio Services here in Singapore to explore the ProCo Momentum system as a solution.” The ProCo Momentum is a digital snake system, it converts the analogue audio to a digital signal that can carry up to 256 channels over CAT6 data cable, but with added flexibility and expandability; allowing for personal monitor mixing and distributed audio systems.

 “Phil explained that they had yet to sell a system, configured for our requirements in Singapore, so were kind of beta testing this equipment as no one had used it before. This didn’t really faze us but to others it could have been a little daunting, when you don’t have a reference.” The bold decision to embrace the new technology without a track record locally paid off following a brief trial period. “Not only did it look neat and tidy on stage, but it hardly took any time to set up as we were simply connecting the data cables to the musicians’ positions and back to the input channels rack, which is fed from the Midas Heritage 3000 monitor console,” Reverend Koh continued.

“We’d used the Furman as a 32-channel system in a dual 16-channel configuration, the production used to take us over two hours to set up each Sunday morning and now it only takes us twenty minutes,” added Band Technician Francis Lai.

The Momentum mo8me is the DSP based mix engine component of ProCo’s digital snake system. It utilizes 32 network inputs with 3 band EQ and high pass filter. Output mixes can be mono or stereo and include 3 band EQ and panning control and are controlled wirelessly with the portable battery operated handheld MRC tweaks used by each musician and worship leader on stage for their own personal monitor mixing. Each MRC tweak comes with a save and recall facility for 16 presets per mix, multiple MRC tweak units can be used at one time, each of which has a programmable I.D. and lock out functions, and are grouped to a specific Momentum mo8me mix engine, where its analogue outputs (configured for either 8 mono mixes or 4 stereo mixes) are connected to wireless IEM transmitter or hardwired IEM packs.

The technology associated with the Momentum was of course all standard IT based Gigabit Ethernet and all components are Power Over Ethernet (PoE) 802.3af compliant, which offers great benefit as a redundant power source or for use in situations where power outlet is unavailable. “There are many Gigabit switches, but we soon discovered that not all switches are made the same,” offered Coda’s Phil Murphy. “It took us some time to understand how best to programme the Gigabit switches to perform at its best for our application.”

Having taken such a leap of faith on behalf of the performing musicians, Reverend Koh and his team were anxious for their feedback. “Initially, they were finding it difficult to adjust when everyone was playing, but once we’d solved the switches and IT related problems, we knew we had made a very smart decision converting to digital. It sounds a lot cleaner with digital and after some practising everyone began to trust the system. By being able to control their own mix on stage via the sixteen MRC tweaks each musician and worship leader feels a lot more confident on stage in the knowledge that they don’t have to get the monitor engineer’s attention should they need to change their mix during a performance. You cannot communicate when you’re playing, so self monitoring is great progress, especially with a talk-back system. With the changes of musicians on stage during a service, pre-sets really help as well.” The Momentum software has been installed into a laptop, allowing Reverend Koh’s engineers to monitor all 16 mixes. If necessary, adjustments can be made to each individual mix live.

“In such a dynamic live environment as we have at FCBC, the Momentum really gives us a lot more power,” analyses Reverend Koh. “There are so many great features about this 32-channel digital snake that save us so much valuable time setting up, together with individual musician control and the reliability of each performance that I simply couldn’t go back to using an analogue system. Furthermore, with the simplicity of the data cable, we have added flexibility and expandability on stage to the point that we’re constantly discovering new features as we experiment. Just as the spoken word delivered from the sermons on stage is crystal clear, so too are the musicians’ individual mixes.”