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Houses of Worship

by FOH Staff • in
  • February 2018
  • Installations
• Created: February 20, 2018
FRONT of HOUSE Feb 2018 Installation Showcase - Churches

There is no doubt that transforming a “typical” house of worship setting into high performance venue is no easy task. Part of this stems from the fact that in reality, there are no “typical” spaces used for such purposes. These can range from storefront conversions to elaborate architectural designs, and acoustical characteristics are rarely part of the original plan.

The situation is complicated by the services themselves, which can vary from basic traditional piano and/or organ instrumentation with voices to full-band 110 dB contemporary music. Of course, in some churches, it may be a combination of the two, serving two different congregations. Add to that the common finishes (such as wood, glass, marble and other acoustically reflective materials) used in house of worship construction, and the audio reproduction — particularly in terms of speech intelligibility — becomes a complex issue.

These days, modern technologies go a long way to provide the tools to remedy the situation. This has resulted in environments providing intelligibility, wide bandwidth, superb coverage, controlled dispersion and mix tools that allow the engineer to translate the power of the message to the entire congregation, whether seated near the altar or in the last row.

With that in mind, we present these recent installation projects. Each takes a different approach, proving there are numerous solutions to any audio problem — large or small — for any sanctuary.


Main arrays of two L-Acoustics ARCS Wide and one ARCS Focus flank four center-hung SB18 subs

River City Church, Lafayette, IN

Last year, the First Assembly Community Ministries of Lafayette, IN rebranded itself as River City Church and moved toward a more contemporary, production-oriented worship style.

“The old P.A. was about 20 years old and designed for an era when modern production was not part of the church’s services,” explains River City’s production director Luke Flowers. “Our style has changed a lot and we needed a P.A. that could keep up with a full, contemporary, rock-band kind of service.” River City chose Tumwater, WA-based systems integrator CCI Solutions.

“As usual, budget drove a lot of the decisions about what gear to use,” says CCI’s Mike Sessler. “With the ARCS WiFo system, we didn’t have to compromise the end audio product, even when the budget would seem to demand compromises.”

The goal for the new system was solid, even and coherent coverage in every seat, top to bottom. Flowers describes the room as fairly sizable: “It’s long and not exactly narrow,” he says, noting that the previous system consisted of speakers on sticks sitting on the stage. “Our trim height is only 21 feet, and we had screen situations going on, and other speakers we tried were just in the way.”

The final system includes two hangs of two L-Acoustics ARCS Wide and one ARCS Focus supplemented by four single-18 SB18 subs and a quartet of compact coaxial 5XT as front fills. CCI also installed a 28-fader Allen & Heath dLive S5000 digital console with DM64 MixRack that feeds the three LA4X amplified controllers driving the entire loudspeaker system. There are no wedges onstage, so CCI provided a complement of Shure PSM 300 personal monitor systems.

“We love ARCS WiFo systems; not only do they sound amazing and cover consistently, but they are very compact. The constant curvature approach really works well in a room like this, where low visual impact is important,” says Sessler. “A lot of compact arrays don’t hold up in a room of this size. They just don’t move enough air.”

The subs are also flown. “Hanging SB18s in a horizontal line in the center is a really good solution for this kind of room. The coverage and pattern control is great and helped keep sight lines clear for lighting and video.”

“The L-Acoustics boxes sounded incredible, right out of the box, and after we dialed in all the elements, they just sounded better and better,” Flowers adds. “The articulation at both high and low SPLs remains unchanged — a welcome change compared to many other boxes.

The parishioners evidently agreed. “The most common comment I get is how clear the P.A. sounds,” Flowers concludes. “The clarity of the ARCS WiFo is incredible, but L-Acoustics also delivered in their subs. The coverage and tightness of the SB18s are amazing. A big issue I have with many shows is how messy low-end sometimes gets. But the SB18s are ridiculously tight, so much so that we didn’t do anything to them out of the box.”

Luke Flowers at FOH with River City Church’s Allen & Heath dLive S5000 console.

River City Church

  • Capacity: 1,100
  • Key Components: L-Acoustics ARCS Wide and ARCS Focus speakers
  • Integrator: CCI Solutions



CrossRoad Baptist Church received upgrades of both acoustics and the audio system.

CrossRoad Baptist Church, Ames, IA

CrossRoad Baptist Church in Ames, Iowa was, itself, at a crossroads. The sound system it had in its 450-seat sanctuary was old and never offered the intelligibility church members had hoped for. A/V integration firm Communication Innovators (Des Moines, Iowa) properly diagnosed the larger and deeper issues. The church’s new Dante-connected digital system relies on a bank of high-value, high-reliability Ashly Audio nX-Series multi-channel amplifiers with optional Dante I/O.

Eric Bishop of Communication Innovators says the firm was originally brought in look at acoustical treatment solutions for CrossRoad. “The acoustics could be improved, but uneven coverage from the speakers prevented them from getting the kind of intelligibility they desired. We outlined improvements that made logistical and financial sense, given their existing equipment.”

The main element worth keeping was a relatively new Midas M32 digital console. Bishop replaced the analog snake they were using with a Midas digital snake and outfitted the console with a Dante expansion card. The card feeds a BSS Blu-DAN Dante bridge and BSS Blu-Link so that system processing and preset control can be run from a BSS Blu-50 processor. The BSS system’s Dante output feeds the Dante inputs on the Ashly nX amplifiers. “We like to keep things in the digital domain all the way to the multi-mode amps,” Bishop says. “Getting the Dante system configured via the Ashly software was straightforward and fast.

“We went with Ashly because of its value, reliability and Ashly’s optional Dante connectivity and huge variety of channel counts and power ratings meant we could include exact matches for CrossRoad’s new line array and subwoofer system,” Bishop adds. Models selected include Ashly’s nXe3.04 (4 ch, 3 kW/ch), nXe1.54 (4 ch, 1.5 kW/ch), nXe8004 (4 ch, 800 W/ch), nXe4004 (4 ch, 400 W/ch) and an Ashly nXe4002 (2 ch, 400 W/ch).

Two PreSonus WorxAudio X5 compact line arrays cover almost all of the seats, with PreSonus WorxAudio V5 and 12A speakers for center down-fill and balcony delay. A cardioid, end-fire configuration of PreSonus WorxAudio TL218SS and TL118SS subs complete the system. Tony Flammia of PreSonus WorxAudio was onsite to assist with system setup and optimization. Communication Innovators also installed Primacoustic absorptive panels to keep reflections to a minimum, while improving intelligibility.

“We also installed a new Listen Technologies hearing assistance system,” Bishop says. “After it was complete, the pastor noticed that churchgoers weren’t using the new assistance system. He asked congregants what the trouble was and was delighted to learn that the sound reinforcement system was so intelligible that even hearing-impaired congregants could enjoy the service without any hearing assistance.”

Smaart software was employed to confirm component alignment and to verify final system performance.

CrossRoad Baptist Church

  • Capacity: 450
  • Key Components: PreSonus WorxAudio X5 line arrays with TL218SS/TL118SS cardioid subs; Ashly nX-Series amps with Dante I/O
  • Integrator: Communication Innovators


 Austin’s New Life United Pentecostal Church features an RCF line array P.A., DiGiCo SD9 console and Klang:fabrik 3D IEM mixing.

New Life United Pentecostal Church, Austin, TX

There’s a new monitoring system in town, and the New Life United Pentecostal Church in Austin has got it. “The reaction to the Klang:fabrik 3D IEM monitoring systems we installed has been nothing short of amazing — every musician in town wants to try them out,” says Terry Golden, FOH mixer at the church.

Golden has been with New Life Austin through two previous leading-brand IEM systems. One was reliable but had the “sonic quality of a transistor radio,” Golden recalls, while sonically, the other was just an incremental improvement. But when he listened to an online demo of the Klang:fabrik 3D system, he was sold instantly.

The church purchased two Klang:fabrik 3D IEM monitoring systems and two Klang:quelle headphone amps through dealer Heart of Texas Equipment Rentals, Inc. The upgrade also included an RCF audio system, consisting of 15 TTL33-A three-way active line arrays in an L-C-R configuration, with six SUB8004-AS single-18 subwoofers and six ST12-SMA stage wedges.

The Klang:fabrik units are fed signals via MADI from the church’s DiGiCo SD9 digital console. One Klang:fabrik provides eight stereo mixes for use by the four to six musicians on stage during worship services, who use the two Klang:quelle headphone amps connected over a single Dante-networked cable, to create their own individual mixes for each performance.

The second Klang:fabrik unit is dedicated to the lead vocal and six backup vocalists, through two separate stereo mixes, leaving Golden more than six additional mixes for other applications, such as guest performers. “I barely have to touch monitors anymore,” he says. “The musicians can create exactly the mixes they want on their own using the Klang:app.”

Golden was initially attracted to the Klang:fabrik’s sonic clarity and fidelity — “what goes in is exactly what you get back,” he says—but soon realized that its ease of use was going to be a big selling point to musicians.

Klang:technologies’ innovative 3D personal monitor mixing system lets the user position sources in the mix through a 360-degree soundfield that feels authentically like a three-dimensional stage.

“The idea of psychoacoustically mixing the sounds that surround you is a whole new way of approaching mixing monitors,” says Golden. “The degree of placement and separation is incredible. Put that on top of the clarity of the sound and the ease of use and it’s a truly revolutionary system. It’s changed the way we do monitors and the way I approach front of house.”

The Klang:fabrik system lets artists create their own IEM mixes and place elements in a 360-degree soundfield.

New Life United Pentecostal

  • Key Components: DiGiCo SD9; RCF TTL33-A line arrays; Klang:fabrik 3D IEM system
  • Integrator: Heart Of Texas Equipment Rentals


The 1,000-seat main sanctuary (and companion youth auditorium) at Lawton First Assembly both have new Nexo P.A. systems.

Lawton First Assembly, Lawton, OK

Located in Lawton, OK, Lawton First Assembly has a 10-year history with integrator AGI Professional of Eugene, OR. According to senior pastor Don Barnes, AGI owner Greg Slape “knows the church as well as he knows the technology.” The company was again chosen to specify and install complete audio, video and lighting systems first in the youth auditorium followed by the sanctuary.

The youth auditorium consists of stereo left/right Nexo GEO S1210 arrays, five per side, a Nexo GEO S1230 per side, four PS8 speakers for front fills, four PS10s used as monitor wedges, and two RS18 subs. The center speech array consists of eight Nexo GEO S8s fed from a Yamaha M7CL-48 digital console.

For the 1,000-seat sanctuary, AGI installed a similar audio system, replacing the existing loudspeakers, audio console and infrastructure. The new sanctuary system includes a Yamaha CL5 digital console at front of house with two Rio 3224-D input/output boxes on stage and 12 Shure ULXD wireless mic systems — all on the Dante network.

“Dante is the backbone for the entire audio system,” states Slape. The Nexo system is configured left/right with six per side GEO S12 line array boxes, three NXAMP 4×4 amplifiers, two NXAAMP 4×1 amps, two GEO S1230s speakers used for outfills, five Nexo ID24 speakers used for front fills, five LS18 subs and four PS10 speakers for wedges.

Lawton First Assembly has two Sunday services. Band-driven in a contemporary style, these normally include acoustic drums, bass, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, electronic keys and five or six vocalists.

“The church’s musical and spoken word programming, along with a careful study of the room using the Nexo NS1 modeling tool, determined the product choice,” says Slape. AGI also installed acoustic treatments primarily to the audience rear walls and over the stage.

“The Nexo/Yamaha audio system in the main sanctuary has received many compliments from our congregation about the clarity of the sound and is easier to hear. One of our members is 89 and said, ‘I can hear the words to the songs for the first time!’ Our sound is full, rich, and clear without being distorted, so the message comes through for all to hear clearly.”

The main sanctuary features a Yamaha CL5 console at FOH

Lawton First Assembly

  • Capacity: 1,000
  • Key Components: Nexo GEO S1210 line arrays, RS18 subs; Yamaha CL5 digital console
  • Integrator: AGI Professional


Nisan Stewart, senior pastor of Greater Emmanuel Temple Church in Lynwood, CA, pictured with the church’s Roland M-5000 OHRCA Live Mixing Console.

Greater Emmanuel Temple Church, Lynwood, CA

Nisan Stewart has been preaching all of his life. The son of the founders of the Greater Emmanuel Temple (Lynwood, CA), he is now the church’s senior pastor. Stewart also has a parallel career as a musician — specifically as the drummer in the band for the primetime hit TV series, Dancing with the Stars, for the last six years. Late last year, pastor Stewart oversaw a renovation of the church sanctuary’s sound system. The heart of the project included a Roland M-5000 OHRCA live mixing console to drive the church’s YME Systems Yoga X speaker rig installed about a year ago.

The new console handles the FOH mix for the 800-seat sanctuary, as well as the mix of the church band’s in-ear monitors via their Roland M-48 Live Personal Mixer system. The M-5000 console serves these multiple functions flawlessly and efficiently.

“I’ve been a fan of Roland products for years,” says Stewart, particularly of Roland’s keyboards. So when he asked the audio staff at DWTS for advice on choosing a new FOH and monitor console, their response resonated with him. “They never hesitated when they said the Roland M-5000,” Stewart recalls. When he looked into the M-5000’s specs, he was impressed. “It could do everything we needed, and then some,” he says, such as configurable dynamics and EQ sections and support for multiple formats, from stereo to surround, as well as managing both FOH and monitor mixing. “The ease of use is incredible,” he says. “I’m a musician, producer and bandleader, but the M-5000 is very intuitive, and I have absolutely no problem navigating it.”

But it was the sound that sealed the deal. “The M-5000 sounds clean and warm — not what you’d expect from a digital console,” he says. Between the sound, the control and service — Roland’s customer service is excellent. I can’t see us having any other console for our church.”

  • Greater Emmanuel Temple Church
  • Capacity: 800
  • Key Components: Roland M-5000 OHRCA digital console, M-48 live personal monitor mixers; YME Systems Yoga X speakers


The church offers both contemporary and traditional services

Church of the Saviour UMC, Cincinnati, OH

Jeffersonville, IN-based integrator SystemMax AVL was originally brought into the Church of the Saviour United Methodist Church as consultants for a needs assessment and design working with local contractors. The company ended up doing an audio upgrade and theatrical lighting installation as well.

“We ended up redesigning and installing the audio system for the worship space which is now doing split services with contemporary Christian worship and electric bands as well as traditional services with organ and choir,” says SystemMax’s Darryl Johnson.

“The room had severe acoustic anomalies, so we brought in an acoustic consultant, Haverstick Designs from Indianapolis, to do room measurements and recommend treatment for the space to bring it within viable parameters, and then we installed a Martin Audio CDD/CSX speaker system with Elation pro lighting.”

“Church of the Saviour is in a modern structure built in the late-80s/early-90s,”adds Max Maxwell, Johnson’s partner. “The worship area had a lot of drywall, and 60 percent of the back wall is glass, with a large stained glass window in the wall behind the platform, all of which created a four- or five-second decay. The glass is particularly challenging, because there isn’t a way to treat that.

“Based on the consultant’s recommendation, we put in ProSoCoustic two-inch wall panels in different lengths and sizes on the side walls, specifically sized to the areas where they were being used,” Maxwell continues. “With the treatments, we were able to get the decay time down to less than two seconds.”

The Martin Audio system included CDD12 and CDD8 speakers in tandem with CSX212 subs. “The way the structure is built,” Johnson points out, “there was no place to ground-stack the subs or build them into the stage, so we flew two left and right, with one of the CDD12’s in the center section of the room that has a higher ceiling,” says Johnson. “Then we flew a CDD12 on the outside right and left of the room, which has a lower ceiling. In the rear of the church, there’s a delay ring of three CDD8’s across the upper and lower portions of the ceiling. Luckily, the space is wide enough to rig all the speakers across the church.”

The overall result? “Phenomenal,” says Maxwell. “We used a matched pair of Earthworks choir microphones, and the CDD speakers clearly reproduced all the clarity and quality those mics offer. The church uses a Roland electronic drum kit and all the drums are perfectly reproduced through the system with significant bass response. And the clarity and articulation for the sermons is critically important. If the pastor speaks and no one understands what she’s saying, we’ve pretty much missed the boat.

“Because of the CDD’s pattern control, wide dispersion and the way the high-frequency drivers function, it was the most appropriate choice for the install and it turned out great,” Maxwell concludes. “Speech intelligibility with the CDD’s is amazing, and when you factor in the CSX subs, music reproduction is everything we could have hoped for. Our client is ecstatic with the system.”

Multiple reflective surfaces within the sanctuary required acoustical treatment

Church of the Saviour UMC

  • Key Components: Martin Audio CDD12 and CDD8 speakers, CSX212 subs
  • Integrator: SystemMax AVL



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