First United Methodist

For First United Methodist, PreSonus StudioLive is the Common Thread

With a history dating back more tha a century, First United Methodist is the largest United Methodist Church in Southern California. Its sprawling San Diego hilltop campus is home to a majestic sanctuary, as well as several other meeting halls, enabling the church to offer a wide range of traditional and contemporary services.

With five different venues and a busy calendar of events, the technical crew at First United Methodist need their equipment to be reliable and easy to use. As Paul Svenson of San Diego-based PS Audio Video explains, the PreSonus StudioLive console is a big part of that equation.

The main sanctuary is First United’s crown jewel — a grand space with high ceilings, sweeping balconies, and soaring glass windows. The traditional service includes a large choir and music from the church’s massive pipe organ. A PreSonus® StudioLive™ 24.4.2 console handles the audio for the sanctuary, with Symetrix processing creating a one-touch setup.

“The service in the sanctuary is not stuffy at all, but it’s probably the most traditional of the services they offer,” Svenson says. “They have a really great choir and terrific music, and their audio needs are primarily to cover the sermons and choir.”

Over in The Cove, a mid-sized meeting hall further up the hill, the church offers a more contemporary Sunday service, with primarily acoustic instruments and singers. The band mixes themselves using a StudioLive 16.4.2, housed onstage in a custom cabinet designed by Svenson’s other company, Sound Case Work. A smaller StudioLive 16.0.2, located in an adjacent equipment closet, is dedicated to more everyday uses.

“Aside from the Sunday worship service, that room is used during the week for a school group,’ says Svenson. “And there are other groups that meet there as well. The 16.0.2 is an ideal console for anyone to work with. The 16.4.2 is specifically for the band. They’ve got it set up the way they want it, they can mix their own moitors from it, and they don’t need an engineer to mix them on Sundays. They can do it all themselves.”

Elsewhere on campus, Linder Hall is a large, multipurpose social hall with a stage and movable walls to divide the space. A StudioLive 16.4.2 handles audio duties for the room. “Linder Hall is probably the most multipurpose of all the spaces on campus, used for everything from dinner events and seminars to concerts and theater presentations,” says Svenson. “The StudioLive is great for that space, because it’s so flexible. It fits the bill no matter what they’re doing in there.”

Adjacent to Linder Hall is Linder Lounge, a smaller and more intimate performance space that seats about 150. Another StudioLive 16.0.2 is being installed at front-of-house position.

Upstairs in the main sanctuary building is Trotter Chapel, a 75-seat room used for more intimate services and ceremonies. This warm and welcoming space houses a small pipe organ lectern, with audio covered by a StudioLive 16.0.2.

Each of the StudioLive consoles is connected to a Mac Mini, enabling live multitracking via Capture. “Anybody can record anything in any room, anytime they want,” says Svenson.

Every venue is outfitted with a Symetrix Jupiter matrix processor. “I’m using the Symetrix for  loudspeaker management, feedback control, and DSP, as well as a simple preset where they can just walk in and push a button and turn on a podium mic, a handheld wireless, or whatever they need,” Svenson explains.

With a largely volunteer technical crew, the StudioLive’s easy-to-use interface has vastly simplified the training process. “My concept at First United Methodist was to standardize the gear in every room,” Svenson explains. “Once they get up to speed on one of these PreSonus desks, they can pretty much run them all.”

“The price point on the StudioLive is perfect,” he adds. “In the past, there weren’t really any affordable options for churches wanting to move up from analog to digital. The StudioLive really fills that niche.”