- Superior Audio Quality, Simplified IP Connectivity and Local Support Made a Compelling Case for Clear-Com -
LIFE, a multi-site church in Auckland, New Zealand, has a sophisticated live audio-visual production set-up that provides its congregation with superior coverage of services, worship-based concerts and conferences. In late 2018, it opened its newest facility, LIFE Central Campus, with an 1800-seat auditorium, a 300-seat Chapel facility and foyer spaces. The extensive facility necessitated a wide-ranging, high-functioning communication system to keep production teams connected, not just around the building but also with the other LIFE campuses.
Riki Willis, Production Project Coordinator, LIFE, said, “The new facility is set up as a typical live production environment, including a vision control room and auditorium FOH. We needed multiple channels of simultaneous communication to support the various job functions, from technical directors and video producers to lighting operators and stage management crew, so a matrix was deemed necessary. We also wanted to be able to live-link audio and video to and from our two other Auckland-based campuses.”
Having evaluated and priced the major market competitors, the LIFE team chose Clear-Com® for a number of compelling reasons, as Willis explains, “I tested the competitors’ latest generation wireless system against FreeSpeak II and felt that FreeSpeak II’s audio quality and noise floor were far superior. We also already owned some Clear-Com LQ® units and partyline equipment, so there was compatibility with existing kit, and there is also more knowledge of the Clear-Com product line in New Zealand, which is helpful when we are hiring or welcoming external teams to the facility.”
The Clear-Com installation includes an Eclipse® HX-Delta matrix frame with E-IPA cards, with FreeSpeak II® IP-enabled transceivers and beltpacks, V-Series Iris intercom panels and LQ Series IP interfaces. The system enables much more granular and direct communications, which has been a huge boon for the team, as has the addition of more focused partylines. The multi-channel, fully integrated wireless system has also provided exceptional flexibility and greater functionality.
“Previously, almost all communications were heard by all parties, which can be distracting to those not affected by the conversation and who need to focus on what is happening in the moment. This meant that sometimes the team would communicate less than needed to avoid creating distractions,” says Willis. “The possibility we now have for multiple groups/partylines is very useful, along with the ability for easy direct conversations, station to station.”
Regular live-link audio and video to the two other remote campuses is now simplified, by linking the remote campus’ 2-wire communications into the matrix via remote LQ-2W units. Willis also praises the longevity of FreeSpeak II beltpacks’ battery life, their solid build and wide roaming ability without losing signal, as well as full integration with the matrix and the flexibility of the ‘profile’ based system. The ability to change and save configurations for an event and then revert to the ‘standard’ setup afterwards is also helpful. Clear-Com’s authorized partner, Gencom Technology, supplied and installed the system.
“Their assistance in working through the design and follow-up support was really appreciated,” says Willis. “The confidence we have in the support available on the ground here with Gencom Technology was a significant factor in our decision.” On the opening weekend of the facility, the LIFE Central Campus hosted the Hillsong Young and Free band for a worship concert, and within a couple of weeks of opening, the church held a Christmas Spectacular show open to the public, with three showings at full capacity. “It was quite a way to start with a new communications system, but everything went very smoothly and has continued to do so ever since,” says Willis.