United States, June, 2012… Summer camp is a ritual for kids and teens all across the U.S., and LifeWay Christian Resources is a familiar name for many of them. LifeWay hosts a wide range of multi-day summer camps at colleges and retreat centers throughout the nation, from recreation and Bible study for younger kids to workshops and mission-based camps for teens and young adults. As Josh Webb, LifeWay’s resident engineer and tech guru, explains, live music is a big part of the experience.
“There’s a lot of activities during the day, from team building to community service,” says Webb. “Then, in the evenings, there’s music. It’s usually a four- to six-piece band: full drum kit, bass, guitars, keyboards, and of course, vocals.”
For Webb, who coordinates sound and lighting for most of the camps, that means an ongoing routine that keeps him busy through the summer. “We’ll typically rent a facility for a few weeks during the summer, set up audio, lighting, and all that stuff; then we’ll load up the truck and move to another location,” he says.
Needless to say, it’s a big job keeping track of so many locations and crews, and LifeWay recently streamlined the process with the purchase of more than 30 StudioLive™ 24.4.2 digital consoles.
“Previously we had a whole bunch of different analog consoles,” says Webb. “We’d truck in our analog consoles, racks of gear, and cabling, and put it all together. Replacing them all with StudioLive consoles has been great on so many levels.”
The StudioLive’s fully integrated effects have really changed the equation, Webb reports.
“The PreSonus console is pretty much the heart of the audio system for us. We’ve literally got three or four warehouse palettes of compressors, limiters, and other outboard gear that we just don’t need anymore because everything’s built into the desk. It’s really lightened the load for the travel teams and has made setup and teardown a breeze.”
The StudioLive’s ease of use is another major asset. “It’s basically set up like an analog console, even though everything’s digital under the hood,” says Webb. “So the learning curve is almost nonexistent. They don’t have to run through pages and pages of menus – everything is accessible via the Fat Channel.”
Webb says they’ve only just begun to tap into the potential of the StudioLive’s capabilities. “We’ve got MacBooks® or iMacs® with every console, so we can do live recording via Capture™,” he says. “We’re using some of the tracks for a virtual sound check, especially in places where we’ve got multiple performances in the same place. It’s great for training people as well: We can have our newer engineers play back a multitrack recording and experiment with different dynamics and effects without the pressure and risk of doing it during a live show.”
“Eventually we’ll be implementing iPad® control and QMix™ for the monitor mix,” he adds. “This first year, we’re just starting with iPad control for a few teams, just to get our feet wet. Basically, we’re telling our more tech-savvy people that if they already have an iPad, they can go ahead and check out the remote-mixing capability. The information will trickle down to the rest of the teams throughout the summer.”
With so many different crews to coordinate, having everyone on the same console is more than just a convenience, he adds. “It’s a great thing for me, in particular, since I’m the guy who has to troubleshoot the setups. The consistency of knowing that every setup is now using a StudioLive console makes my life that much easier.” Webb is presently putting together a knowledgebase, to enable the entire team of engineers to share notes and get the most out of the StudioLive.
“In the past, we’ve been relatively old school as far as the audio is concerned,” Webb concludes. “But we’ve always tried to push ourselves forward and find ways to do things better, faster, and more efficiently. And the StudioLive consoles have been a huge step forward.”