Roland O.H.R.C.A. M-5000 at Work for HumeRidge

HumeRidge Church of Christ in Kearneys Spring, Queensland
HumeRidge Church of Christ in Kearneys Spring, Queensland.

Talk of the Town - Upon release, the M-5000 was the talk of the audio town but since worldwide shipment has begun; it’s now the end users who are singing the praises of the M-5000. Interestingly, the console is proving to be extremely popular in the world of worship, with many churches acquiring the unit for their broad range of audio visual requirements. One such customer is the HumeRidge Church of Christ in Kearneys Spring, Queensland, Australia. The church features a 1500 seat auditorium as well as a smaller 350 seat chapel. Facility and Technical Manager Kent Krause is not only responsible for the day to day maintenance of the building but is also entrusted with overseeing the use of their new Roland M-5000. Kent and his team of volunteer audio engineers provide the mix for a wide range of stage activity from the church's regular Sunday morning service with a congregation of around 750 worshippers to larger audiences for the school musicals, graduation ceremonies and children's concerts which are often booked into the main room.

Prior to acquiring the Roland M-5000, the old mixing desk installed in the church had become unreliable. Buttons were no longer working and the level of support from the brand wasn't what it used to be. It was time for a change and Kent convinced the church business manager that funds needed to be allocated to a reliable, durable and flexible, state of the art mixing desk. Kent began to explore his options.

Flexible Friend - "I'd been looking around at everything similar in the market," he tells me. "The big thing was the flexibility. That was one thing which always stood out comparing it to all of the others. Because we have such a large range of things that come in … for a school musical you use quite a large number of inputs, compared to the next Sunday, you might have quite a large band and running a large number of auxiliaries to the foldback sends on stage. To try to find one console that allowed me to do both easily was very hard. Even though there were some good quality consoles on the market, they were limited in what they could do. Either they were really good to do our front of house but for our foldback mixes they were limited or vice versa. It wasn't easy to find one that could do everything for us."

Kent also decided to partner the console with 3 separate REAC stage boxes, which along with the local console I/O further compliments its flexibility. The stage boxes are an S-2416 which has an S-1608 connected in series to provide 40 analogue inputs and 24 outputs on one part of the stage, while a second S-1608 provides a further 16 inputs and 8 outputs on another. Even this configuration can be easily expanded with the addition of REAC, MADI and DANTE interfaces.

Facility and Technical Manager Kent Krause at the controls of the M-5000 Console.
Facility and Technical Manager Kent Krause at the controls of the M-5000 Console. "The big thing was the flexibility. That was one thing which always stood out comparing it to all of the others."

Kent has been looking after the sound for HumeRidge since the early nineties. He was a telecommunications technician for 25 years and has now been working full time at the church for the last 6 years, so he's been surrounded by technology for most of his working life. On the other hand, his three regular volunteer sound guys have various levels of experience, yet haven't found the M-5000's features to be intimidating at all.

"One of my volunteers works for the local theatre so he is quite good with a number of consoles," Kent explains. "He's been good to help me work out what our default settings are (for the M-5000). For the others, one guy is a carpet layer by trade so he's totally divorced from the technical side. All I did with him was to give him a link to the instruction manual. I sat in with him for a couple of band practices and I let him run with it. For a lesser-experienced user, he has picked it up quite well. I have been really happy with it. That was the thing which concerned me about one of the other consoles I was looking at. I thought it was going to confuse some of the volunteers with the features that it had. I've been really happy that it hasn't meant the days and days of intensive training that it took to get them up to the level that they were with the old consoles. That has been a real blessing for me. At the moment we are setting up for a two day conference that plays a lot of video content. Previously it was extremely difficult for us to adjust the delay for the audio to lip sync it to the video but with this one, with every channel you can set your own delay and it makes it so easy. From the audio side of things, I am quite looking forward to this conference because I know I can fine tune things in a way I have never been able to before."

Church of Christ in Kearneys Spring, Queensland - The church’s 1500 seat auditorium.
The church’s 1500 seat auditorium.

No Pain, Real Gain - In fact, the transition period of switching to a new desk has been relatively painless for Kent and his team. He took receipt of the M-5000 just one week prior to working on a school musical. That was enough time for them to figure out how to use the new console, while at the same time familiarising themselves with a musical they had also never worked on before. Kent believes the biggest factor in allowing such a smooth transition was the logical layout of the M-5000. "It made it easy for me to find all of the everyday features I needed," he says. "There were some features that you don't use every day, that you may have to dig a little deeper to find and use but everything else that I needed was in front of me in a logical place. It wasn't a big stretch for me to learn a new console while I was learning a new musical."

Another pleasing aspect of the M-5000 for Kent is its clarity of sound. Using the desk's straight-out-of-the-box settings at 96 kHz, he's been impressed with the unit's articulation. "It's a nice clean sound," he says. "It has showed up some deficiencies in some of the microphones we were using. The old console didn't have the clarity that this one has. I have changed one of my radio mics because I have worked out that it had a dodgy capsule in it that I couldn't necessarily hear with the old console."

The M-5000’s Graphic EQ Screen
The M-5000’s Graphic EQ Screen.

Endless Possibilities - In the few short months Kent has utilised the M-5000, he's only just begun to discover the unit's endless possibilities. A couple of the features he has just begun to explore are its recording and effects capabilities. "Normally we'd just record the sermons for release onto the website," he states. "However, I have made a few test recordings via the USB stick on the console and multi-tracked to a laptop. Even that first musical we did (after just acquiring the M-5000 a week prior), I had a number of sound effects I had to play. I played them direct from the USB on the console and it made my life so easy. I just thought, I will give this a go and I am so glad I did. It was so much easier than playing an effects track off a laptop. It's great to find those little features that make your life so much easier.

I also find it is great having several User Layers in the M-5000’s Fader Bank section. We can quite easily set them up to suit ourselves for a few different things and switch instantly to them. It saves us searching for channels when we have a high channel count. I love having all of the graphic EQs on board too, which I can bring online in the middle of a show if I need to. It's just easy to drive I guess, which is the big thing. You just sit down and go to work."