From Snakes to Switches: Willow Creek Community Church Gets Audio Upgrade

Willow Creek Church went through an extreme audio networking makeover in 2013 where they added a Dante backbone to their ministry.

From Snakes to Switches: Willow Creek Community Church Gets Audio Networking Upgrade

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From Snakes to Switches: Willow Creek Community Church Gets Audio Networking Upgrade

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Willow Creek Community Church has been around for 35-plus years. What was once just a thought in a college classroom now plays host to over 20,000 people across six venues across the state of Illinois.

It didn’t just happen overnight. In 1972, a Trinity College student, Bill Hybels was only 20-years-old when his professor, Dr. Gilbert Bilezikian, described the first church in Acts 2.

In 1975, Hybels launched the first Willow Creek church service, where it quickly outgrew their space at the theater in which they were located. Hybels and his friends purchased a plot of land in 1977 in South Barrington, IL and construction began on what is now the site of the central campus today.

In February of 1981, the church met for the first time in its new home.

After 30-plus years, the Chapel at Willow Creek got its upgrade in 2013 – a full overhaul of the entire space. Project Manager Matt Wentz said it was the perfect time for that upgrade to be done because the analogue desk was dying and about half of those channels were dead.

“It was perfect timing to explore this new digital audio in these venues to get us up to speed,” Wentz said.

In the Lakeside venue and Activity Center, two Yamaha M7’s equipped the rooms alongside monitor desks and a whirldwind snake that was doing the analogue split for the monitors in FOH.

Before the Main Auditorium went under for the upgrade, analogue copper snakes were running from front of house (FOH) to the stage and vice versa. Wentz said the old BSS sound web was doing the distribution to the PA, but it started to have major issues. “All of a sudden, we’d lose about half the room,” Wentz said. “The PA would just stop working because the connectors were going bad.”

The PA was the main reason for the upgrade and Wentz called the need for new audio networking equipment mission-critical.

The PA, speakers, BSS system and delay ring were all replaced with the Dante Backbone, which consisted of four Cisco SG300-10 switches, four Cisco SG300-28 switches, two Cisco SG300-10SFP fiber switchers, an AuviTran AVBx7 toolbox and a 970 from Sound Devices.

The AuviTran AVBx7 toolbox helps interconnect all six of the venues, making it easy to rout between buildings if needed. “I can see them all coming through this router,” Wentz said. “If we need to, we can rout between the venues through that.”


More About Lauren Campbell
Lauren Campbell is site editor of WorshipTechDecisions.com.
Get in Touch: lcampbell@ehpub.com    More by Lauren Campbell

Latest Resource

Worship Facilities Magazine, March-April 2018
The March-April 2018 issue of Worship Facilities Magazine offers articles about how to prepare, prevent and respond to church violence, a look into what church management software can do for your church community, and a piece on how a once popular nightclub venue was transitioned to become Shoreline Church's new home.


Article Topics

Media · Slideshows · Big Feature · Products · Projects · Case Study · Technology · Audio · Audio Networking · Cisco · Dante · Magazine Archive · Sound Devices · Upgrade · All Topics

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