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Digidesign VENUE System Brings Shades Mountain Baptist Church to the Cutting Edge

Daly City, CA — Anyone who claims things move slowly in the South hasn‘t been to Birmingham, Alabama‘s Shades Mountain Baptist Church. The church‘s 20-year-old sanctuary is at the forefront of technology with a state-of-the-art production system based around a 96-input Digidesign® VENUE D-Show® live sound console and Pro Tools|HD® system.

The 3,000-seat sanctuary recently underwent an extensive audio makeover, with the church replacing its aging analog console with the D-Show and adding a powerful Meyer Sound PA system. Rob Searcy, the church‘s director of technical services, explains that their long-term goals for the new system include podcasting, web streaming, and full CD production.

“We‘ve got another Pro Tools|HD system in our post-production room downstairs with a [Digidesign] C|24 control surface,” he says. “We typically capture the entire Sunday service, running 74 inputs. We take the Glyph drives downstairs, and do post production and sweetening.”

Rick Shimer of Blackhawk Audio, the company behind the church‘s system design, admires the church‘s progressive direction: “These guys have really gone the extra mile to put together a system that gives them great sound, the best production tools, and the ability to create the best worship experience possible.”

And the system has greatly rewarded the church and its congregation with dramatic improvements to the sound and workflow. “Evaluating our recordings throughout the year gives us the opportunity to really refine things,” Searcy explains. “We can try out different plug-ins for different songs, and really get the best out of our recordings. That, in turn, helps us be more cognizant of our live performance, which helps us to better connect with our congregation.”

The system‘s FOH Rack is loaded with additional DSP Mix Engine cards for added processing power, and an assortment of VENUEPack plug-ins. “The plug-ins are just amazing,” says Searcy. “The more I play with them, the more impressed I am. Reverb One, ReVibe, and the Line 6 echo [Echo Farm] get a lot of use.” Searcy also says he‘s a big fan of Digidesign‘s Smack!™ dynamics plug-in. “I put that on a lead vocal, and it just really punches through the mix.”

Searcy says the new VENUE system also offers a dimension of flexibility in the church‘s services. “One of the coolest things is being able to take tracks from a previous session and, feeding a click track to the band, use those tracks to supplement a live performance.”

“Another important advantage for me is the training perspective,” Searcy continues. “Most of our staff are volunteers, and the ability to use VENUE‘s Virtual Soundcheck to train them on a previously recorded session, rather thaduring the stress of a live service, is just priceless.”

Searcy admits to some initial trepidation in going with a VENUE system. “We debated for some time about the decision,” he reflects. “I cut my teeth on a [Yamaha] PM1D, and I originally thought that would be the way to go. But the more I looked at the potential behind this system, the more it made sense. And the bottom line is the board sounds great; it‘s really changed my mind about digital consoles. Now when I get on a different desk, I wish I had my VENUE. The sound, the user interface — so much about it makes sense. I was almost a bit mad at myself for not looking into it sooner.”

For more on Shades Mountain Baptist Church, visit


Digidesign‘s VENUE live sound environment is revolutionizing the art and profession of live sound mixing with studio-quality sound, TDM plug-in effects processing, and direct connectivity to industry-standard Pro Tools® recording and playback systems. For more information about the VENUE line of products, visit

About Digidesign

Digidesign is a worldwide leading manufacturer of digital audio production systems and the winner of the 2001 Technical Grammy® Award and 2003 Oscar® statuette representing the Academy Scientific and Technical Award for the design, development, and implementation of the Pro Tools® digital audio workstation. Digidesign provides the professional music, film, video, multimedia, and radio broadcast industries with tools for digital recording, MIDI sequencing, editing, signal processing, and surround mixing. Digidesign products are marketed in more than 40 countries worldwide through a distribution network of value-added dealers, distributors, and OEM relationships. Digidesign is a part of Avid Technology, Inc. For more information, visit

About Avid Technology, Inc.

Avid (Nasdaq: AVID) is a worldwide leader in tools for film, video, audio, 3D animation, gaming and broadcast professionals – as well as for home audio and video enthusiasts. Avid professional and consumer brands include Avid, Digidesign, M-Audio, Pinnacle Systems, Sibelius, Softimage and Sundance Digital. The vast majority of primetime television shows, feature films, commercials and chart-topping music hits are made using one or more Avid products. Whether used by seasoned professionals or beginning students, Avid‘s products and services enable customers to work more efficiently, productively and creatively. Avid received an Oscar statuette representing the 1998 Scientific and Technical Award for the concept, design, and engineering of the Avid® Film Composer® system for motion picture editing. For more information about the company‘s Oscar, Grammy and Emmy® award-winning products and services, visit