Hillcrest Baptist Church Remains at the Pinnacle of Wireless Audio Technology, Ensuring a Clear Message with Sennheiser
As Church Expands its Facilities and Evolves its Wireless Capabilities to Serve its Over 5,000 Member Congregation, Audio Intelligibility, Flexibility and Reliability are Key
Sennheiser’s G1 wireless technology back in the late 1990’s.Pensacola FL-based Hillcrest Baptist Church has a tremendous growth story, sprouting from a modest ‘shed’ of a structure back in 1955 with just a handful of congregants. Since then, the church’s facilities and membership — along with its audio capabilities — have increased exponentially. Hillcrest was among the first houses of worship to embrace
Now, the church relies on multiple channels of Sennheiser’s G3 wireless series across five different locations, while many of the original G1 units remain in use. These include the primary worship center, the children’s workshop area, the student worship center, the northwest hall (a multi-purpose facility) and within a portable video production setup that has been in use for several years.
While Sennheiser wireless technology plays an critical role in each of these locations, the most important area is the worship center where the message is delivered two times each week to approximately 2,200 parishioners. According to Greg Klimetz, Production Manager of Hillcrest Baptist Church, the most important part of the church service is to have intelligible, high quality audio that never drops out. He says that their Sennheiser wireless equipment has come through time and time again in this regard.
“I personally like the ease of use of all the Sennheiser equipment,” Klimetz says. “Back in the late 1990s, the G1 series was revolutionary and simple to operate. Now, the G3 series is even easier to use.” Ease of use is important to Klimetz given the constantly shifting needs of the space. “Our staging is always changing and our stage is very large — so if we ever have to repatch microphones or reroute audio signals, our wireless systems enable our worship leaders and performers to move around the stage freely, without being hindered.”
Ease of use is also important to Klimetz because it enables him to accomplish more with fewer A/V resources: “It is very easy for our worship leaders to set up the Sennheiser equipment with minimal training. Since they are able to create their own in ear mixes, it allows them to be more independent and means I need fewer volunteers. My workload is considerably smaller because of the Sennheiser wireless technology we have in place,” he observes.
In its primary worship center, Hillcrest has (16) channels of Sennheiser wireless, including (14) channels of ew 100 G1 series units and (2) channels of 2000 series wireless. Additionally, there are (9) channels of IEM G3 units at front of house, in addition to various antenna combiners and splitters. The 2000 series units are used for the pastor and worship leader, who use a lavalier mic and a Sennheiser ew 100 handheld transmitter coupled with an e 965 capsule respectively. The G1 series beltpacks meanwhile are used to facilitate the use of wireless instruments on stage, which include acoustic guitar, mandolin, violin and other instruments. Each of the in ear monitor units are set up so the vocal team can create their own mixes on stage.
The children’s worship area, which was added in 2008, features (12) channels of G3 wireless to carry its youth programming, while the student worship center, which has approximately 200 students in its ministry, has (4) wireless microphone channels and (6) G1 and G3 in ear monitor units. Hillcrest’s north west hall, its multi-purpose facility, has a total of (3) channels Sennheiser G1 and G2 series units. Meanwhile the portable system, which brings an entirely new set of video production capabilities to Hillcrest, features one channel of G3 wireless and (2) channels of ew G3 wireless, along with an ew 100 handheld transmitter as well as a Sennheiser ME 67 shotgun mic.
Having a portable system that is able to deliver pristine audio has been a huge benefit to the congregation, which receives regular video updates each week in the worship center: “We shoot announcement videos each week that are featured in our worship services and we also use video to introduce sermons, capture testimonials and facilitate other communications,” says Klimetz. “I can tell you that we have used Sennheiser wireless on every single one of those videos, whether it has been a lavelier mic under someone’s shirt, or a wireless transmitter / receiver set up with a Sennheiser shotgun mic. This has made it incredibly easy to capture great audio for these video productions.”
Klimetz, who in his previous role was production manager for the contemporary Christian band Big Daddy Weave for seven years, understands the importance of maintaining uncompromising audio quality not only in church facilities but in live touring environments. “When I was the band’s production manager, we used Sennheiser technology from the beginning and the equipment was always extremely reliable. Ironically, many of the original G1 units we were using with Big Daddy Weave were purchased by Hillcrest and are still fully operational. They just don’t break.”