A Midas XL8 Live Performance System and Klark Teknik DN9696 high resolution audio recorder were at the heart of the Kingsway International Christian Centre’s (KICC) annual London event – the International Gathering of Champions (IGOC) at London’s ExCeL Centre. Attracting a crowd of 12,000 for each of the days, the IGOC was also broadcast live to an estimated 55 million followers in Africa, the Caribbean and Europe.
Led by Pastor Matthew Ashimolowo, the KICC is one of the largest Christian establishments in Europe, and accordingly the IGOC is Europe’s most high-profile Christian conference, delivering dynamic public speaking, gospel singing, a live band and extensive participation from its multinational audience.
FOH engineer Schon Emmanuel, who has worked with the KICC since 2003, knows the importance of getting the sound absolutely right for this event; a challenge which is multiplied in the sterile surroundings of ExCeL. “It requires rock 'n' roll levels, R&B-type production quality, and corporate sensibilities,” says Emmanuel, a first-time XL8 user who used a PRO6 the Croydon Summer Song Gospel Festival. “I needed 86 inputs for the IGOC, so moving from the PRO6 to an XL8 was a logical progression.
“This was a very complex mix using the XL8’s POP groups, VCAs (Variable Control Association groups) and sub groups. Effects were routed to the choir which was broken down to its different sections, with compression, EQ and pitch shift applied from the XL8 across the mixes. I’m a big fan of the multiband compressors and had six of them across the drum kit, keyboard, guitars, choir, Hammond organ and backing vocals. They allowed me the dynamic and frequency control within a very dense mix. I could choose different types of compressors depending on the speaker or the singer; all the compressors act differently based on the source material and I really liked the adaptive and vintage compressors. We were working with some of the biggest gospel musicians and the PA sounded fantastic; the XL8 was a big part of that.”
Emmanuel also used a Klark Teknik DN9696 to record the six shows for a live CD and DVD, and also found it invaluable for virtual sound checking. “We recorded the sound check and then it was literally one mouse click to turn the desk from FOH use to playback,” he says. “It enabled me to have a tweak when nobody was around so I could check gates and compression settings, try different compressors and so on, listening on headphones. You have to be disciplined and not fall into the trap of using everything on the desk, but it allows you to try something else while you still have a reference so you can still take a step back. It helped so much.
“At the end of every show I could play back the session to the band, and we had mirror drives which the client took away. We recorded at 96kHz and 24 bit, some of the best live material I’ve ever heard, and the client was very happy. The combination of the XL8 and DN9696 on a complex show like this was unbeatable.”