Audio Engineering Society

Chicago Section

Meeting Review, March 6, 2008

other meeting reports

3/6/08 Meeting Highlights
by Nick Kettman

On March 6, 2008, members of the Chicago AES Section were offered a back-stage glimpse of the audio systems at Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington.  The Willow Creek auditorium extension, which was completed in 2004, houses an extensive audio-visual system which is used during services and musical events held in the 7200-seat auditorium.  A discussion and tour were led by Scott Ragsdale (front-of-house mix engineer), Nathan Miller (monitor engineer), Jeff Pelletier (audio systems engineer), and TC Furlong (consultant and systems engineer).


The auditorium took approximately three years to design and three years to build.  Much of the audio system design and installation was handled by the church staff, members, and other volunteers.  According to Mr. Ragsdale, one of the main design goals was to provide a multi-functional room capable of supporting anything from spoken word to large musical productions.  Despite the large size of the room, the acoustic design provides an intimate setting which promotes congregation participation.  The speaker system within the auditorium is comprised primarily of Meyer loudspeakers arranged in two pairs of vertical arrays, one for speech and one for music.  Forty-five channels of wireless audio (microphones and in-ear monitors) are available on stage, with a total of 175 channels available campus-wide.  A Yamaha PM1D digital console is tied to three separate control surfaces located at the front-of-house mix position, the monitor mix position, and the video production control room.


In addition to the main auditorium, the tour also included a look at various other backstage and support facilities.  These included a broadcast mix room, a live room for recording, a video production room, a set construction area which resides under the main stage, several rehearsal rooms, a green room, and a back-stage “wagon house” which is used for setting up musical groups and equipment.