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Frutigen Free Church Upgrades With HARMAN’s Soundcraft Vi1™

FRUTIGEN, Switzerland – The FMG ‘Ekklesia Movement’ free church in Frutigen, Switzerland has updated its technical infrastructure with the purchase of a Soundcraft Vi1 digital desk.

With a strong emphasis on youth work, the church is no stranger to Soundcraft’s signature sound and design ergonomic, as head technician Micha Grimm explains.

“In the year 2000, we bought some new equipment, largely for modern youth services, including a Soundcraft Ghost 32,” he said. “I purchased this because having worked with a Ghost as sound engineer on different youth choir tours, I was completely satisfied with the EQ’s and the possibilities offered by the Mix B input path.”

More than a decade later, it was time for an upgrade. After contacting Soundcraft’s Swiss distributor, Dr. W.A. Günther, they were persuaded that the time was right to step into the digital age. But first they wanted to evaluate a number of different market-leading brands, including Soundcraft’s new Si1 and Si Compact 32 platforms (alongside the Vi1).

After considering several key factors such as size, usability, price and flexibility, they constructed a short list and arranged an assessment day with all their engineers present.

“There were merits in all three desks that we reviewed,” admitted Grimm, “but all our engineers were excited by the easy way of working on Soundcraft’s Vistonics™ surface. Even our most critical analogue technicians were happy with the Vi1. There was never an instance in which anyone was unclear about the actual layer or function of the desk and almost every function could be carried out without reading a manual. After just an explanation of the overall concept, everybody was pushing to get on it.”

By the evening they had reached a unanimous decision. “It was the surface and Vistonics interface—along with the Soundcraft FaderGlow™ concept [which illuminates the fader slots, according to function, with clearly-defined colours]—that won it for us,” said Grimm.

Grimm added that technical issues were also taken into consideration. “We have read comments in many trade magazines and on forums about the quality of the sound, which enhanced our preference for the Vi1.” But the main attribute was the analogue way of working since their sound engineers, in most cases, are non-professional.

The activity takes place in two halls—the larger, used for special events, generally accommodating between 700-1000 people, and the smaller regularly packing in 500. Every second weekend, the volunteer mixing engineers take charge of a major event in the larger hall, integrating service, worship and concerts with popular bands. “Confronted with this, the last thing they needed was a super-complicated desk,” said Grimm.

Supplied by local Frutigen-based dealer, tonwerkstatt GmbH the Vi1 was installed on a Saturday and immediately went ‘live’ with it for the Sunday morning church service.

“It was a complete success,” Grimm reported. “A quick soundcheck, a perfect and smooth mixing job during the service – and people were coming up to me with a glow in their eyes, asking, “What have you done with the sound? It was outstanding!”

And all this without the technicians at FMG Frutigen opening the handbook!

HARMAN ( designs, manufactures and markets a wide range of audio and infotainment solutions for the automotive, consumer and professional markets — supported by 15 leading brands, including AKG, Harman Kardon, Infinity, JBL, Lexicon and Mark Levinson. The Company is admired by audiophiles across multiple generations and supports leading professional entertainers and the venues where they perform. More than 25 million automobiles on the road today are equipped with HARMAN audio and infotainment systems. HARMAN has a workforce of about 12,500 people across the Americas, Europe and Asia, and reported net sales of $4.0 billion for twelve months ending September 30, 2011.