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Eight Recent House of Worship Projects

Thomas S. Friedman • InstallationsNovember 2021 • November 3, 2021

Sonic upgrades in the house of worship market have been happening at a breathtaking pace. With that in mind, here’s a look at six recent audio installation projects — all focused on providing both musicality and optimal intelligibility of the spoken word.

Auburn AV provided a Renkus-Heinz ICLive X system. PNX212 subwoofers are hidden beneath the platform stairs.

First United Methodist Church, Prattville, AL

As nearly a decade had passed since its last major update, First United Methodist Church (FUMC) spent the past year renovating its century-old sanctuary. “After years of dealing with less-than-perfect sound, we took this opportunity to upgrade our sanctuary’s audio system,” said Jeremy Pyles, director of music ministries. Key to this was a Renkus-Heinz audio system offering both clarity in live performances and crisp intelligibility of the spoken word.

The church previously used a hodge-podge of speakers from the ‘70s to the ‘90s that prevented the space from offering a clean and uniform aesthetic and failed to provide quality sound. For the audio system design/installation, FUMC turned to J.M. Anderson at Auburn AV, the area’s leading audio, video and lighting integrator.

“Acoustically, the sanctuary is very reverberant, with stained glass windows, hard walls, floors and sloped ceilings,” said Anderson. “Our goal was to use a digitally-steerable sound system to point the sound down at the congregation and away from all of the reflective surfaces. The ICLive X system was a perfect fit for this project. It delivers excellent, controllable audio with great coverage from a small footprint. It sounds and looks great — both aspects that are very important here.”

Auburn AV’s team used Renkus-Heinz’ Loudspeaker Recommendation services offered by local manufacturer’s rep Richard Hembree who has 16 years of experience with digitally-steerable arrays to bring the initial design through to a commissioned system.

“In addition to avoiding reflective surfaces, this sanctuary has three distinct audience areas — a high balcony; a deep and low under-balcony; and the wide near-field area between the platform and the balcony,” said Hembree. “The IC-Live X system allows the reinforced sound to focus as needed to evenly cover the congregation with a high level of intelligibility and rich, full-range sound.”

The Auburn AV team installed a left and right array, each with one ICLive LX, one ICLive X and one ICLive XL. The resulting 9.5-inch wide by 100-inch tall array is capable of pattern control below 200 Hz. Two Renkus-Heinz dual 12-inch PNX212 subwoofers round out the low-end.

“We now have a high-intelligibility sound system with minimal interaction between the reinforced audio and the room. The room can remain live and rich for the organ and choir, yet at the same time offer very high speech intelligibility” said Anderson. “Renkus-Heinz has become the go-to system for difficult spaces like this.”

First United Methodist Church

  • Capacity: 1,000
  • Key Components: Renkus-Heinz ICLive X Series
  • Integrator: Auburn AV

Diversified equipped the 600-seat sanctuary with a d&b A-Series rig.

The House, Ft. Worth, TX

Listed as one of the fastest growing churches in the United States in 2019, The House Ft. Worth recently purchased an existing 600-seat facility that had huge potential but a dated look and feel. “Our experience with room shaping allowed us to efficiently assist with plans around a stage renovation and a balcony expansion to maximize the number of seats in the room,” states Nick Geiger of systems integrator Diversified.

d&b A-Series addresses the needs of many mid-size spaces where point source loudspeakers may not provide adequate coverage or SPL, and line array solutions exceed budget or impede sightlines. The ability to set variable splay angles and be hung as a vertical or horizontal array make the A-Series adaptable to a wide range of spaces.

“The room was a good candidate for the A-Series in a vertical deployment because there was great trim space and it wasn’t very deep,” Geiger notes. “d&b’s ArrayCalc software gave us confidence that with three AL90 per side, we could cover from front-to-back without extreme box to box angles and achieve an SPL drop front-to-back of less than 4 dB. It was important for the balcony seating to feel as great as the seating on the floor level, especially in the low-frequency range, so we flew one d&b 21S subwoofer directly behind each array. We supplemented the flown system with four 21S subwoofers under the stage and three 10S boxes to address small coverage gaps close to the stage.” Powering was via three 30D installation amplifiers, and one 10D installation amplifier.

“We first modeled the room in 3D software as part of an overall room shaping and planning exercise,” says Geiger. “That model was able to import into d&b ArrayCalc where a loudspeaker system design could be generated based on the on-site measurements. Within the d&b software, the design was completed; Array Processing was simulated, amplifiers assigned, and a parts list was generated for the proposal.”

When Geiger arrived on site for the calibration of the system, he was able to open the same d&b system file in the d&b R1 remote control application and within minutes, deployed settings to the amplifiers and was controlling the system. The church came in shortly after and played music for fun enjoying how great all of the tracks sounded, the amount of punch they had in the low-end and walking around, realized there wasn’t a bad seat in the entire space.”

The House

  • Capacity: 600
  • Key Components: d&b A-Series array
  • Integrator: Diversified

A TW AUDiO ELLA system handles the wide, open sanctuary.

St. Andrew United Methodist Church, Highlands Ranch, CO

While the style of music worship at St. Andrew United Methodist Church changed over the years, the aging sound system had been designed for spoken word sermons, so the church’s leadership began searching for a solution.

However, the new system needed to deliver superb audio quality without requiring any major construction changes to the church itself — a challenge integrator Equalized Productions. Having experienced countless loudspeaker demos over many years, Equalized quickly settled on choice to satisfy every requirement — TW AUDiO’s ELLA.

“The church’s goal was to bring their aging system forward to meet modern worship standards as well as improve on the quality of all aspects of worship production,” explains Mick Whelan of TW AUDiO USA. “Meanwhile, the architectural design of St. Andrew UMC is inspirational, and it was essential that nothing in the sanctuary distract from the impact of that visual experience.”

In addition, there is no acoustic treatment within the sanctuary, meaning the new system had to offer exceptional dispersion control to minimize reflections. The room itself also presented challenges. The worship space is entirely asymmetrical, requiring a design that featured different deployment left to right, yet still sonically matched. Finally, energy from the array needs to be kept away from the large choir is seated beneath the organ pipes, yet is essential that the array cover the congregation members seated just a few yards away. A cardioid line array solution was required.

The system now comprises two hangs of eight cardioid ELLA6 elements per side flown in a L-R configuration which addresses the room’s irregular shape, plus a single M8 for side-fill and a cardioid subwoofer center-hang of one S32i. Power for the system is courtesy of two Powersoft Quattrocanali 8804 Dante + DSP amplifiers.

“The new system is nothing short of amazing — it hits every seat in the church evenly and clearly. The seams between the arrays and the fill speaker are non-existent and the sonic quality of the entire room has jumped drastically, notes Equalized’s Chris Malmgren.

Senior pastor Mark Feldmeir says that “the system has exceeded my highest expectations,” while executive director Lana Banbury adds that within weeks of using the ELLA system, the church “the use of assistive listening devices by the congregation fell to just about zero.”

St. Andrew United Methodist Church

  • Capacity: 900
  • Key Components: TW AUDiO ELLA
  • Integrator: Equalized Productions

The staff, from left: Matthias McCready, Scott Campbell, Matt Beckstrom, Trent Reiff, Michael Rustin, Alan Marshall and Adam Kiesling.

Eagle Brook Church, Ham Lake, MN

With ten locations and online services, Eagle Brook Church hosts more than 25,000 weekly attendees. As part of a renovation that now includes an L-Acoustics A10-based P.A., the newest church installed DiGiCo’s Quantum225 console, paired with the first installation of the new Dante-specific DiGiCo DQ-Rack. The install was handled with assistance from Summit Integrated Systems.

“We had been talking to them about the Quantum225 ever since we heard about it,” says Summit AV’s project manager Cameron Fries. “The Q225 is compact but has all of the features and functionality of the larger Quantum338, flexible routing and function assignment, a great user interface and intuitive operation.”

The church chose a Dante network for Ham Lake’s audio — an ideal match for DiGiCo’s Dante-specific DQ-Rack, which provides all of the robust power of the larger SD-Racks but in a more compact unit, along with the flexibility of the Dante protocol. The 6U DQ-Rack has 48 mic inputs and up to 24 line outputs, and the last four outputs can switched between line outs and stereo AES/EBU outs, for a maximum of eight AES/EBU output channels.

“This new campus is heavily Dante, so it was also smart to move to the DiGiCo DQ-Rack, which keeps it an all-Dante signal infrastructure,” says Eagle Brook audio systems engineer Matt Beckstrom. “For instance, we’re going over Dante right from the DQ-Rack to the in-ear monitors onstage.”

In addition, connection to the Q225 via the console’s DMI-DANTE64@96 card means that all I/Os on the racks can be accessed at both 48 and 96 kHz.

Beckstrom notes while much about the Q225 is immediately familiar, the added power of Quantum processing is very welcome. He adds that familiarity with DiGiCo systems made installing the Q225 themselves with minimal assistance from Summit was a simple and straightforward process. “That kind of simplicity is especially important for churches, which are always budget-conscious, no matter how big they are,” he says.

  • Eagle Brook Church
  • Key Components: DiGiCo Quantum225, L-Acoustics A10
  • Integrator: Summit Integrated Systems

Two E-V X12i-128 subs flown above the congregation adds to the fullness of the sound.

King of Kings Church, Woodbury, MN

When King of Kings Lutheran Church decided to upgrade its sound system, their goal was to eliminate uneven coverage while improving clarity and fidelity for contemporary and traditional services. They consulted Saint Paul-based integrator Collins Electrical Construction, who suggested a streamlined, high-performance solution, with Electro-Voice speakers and Dynacord powering and processing.

“Electro-Voice has become my go-to brand for larger spaces like churches,” says Collins project manager Shawn Withrow. “It was just a matter of finding the right system to fit the space, which turned out to be EVA line arrays.”

“With our previous system, the ability to understand the words varied depending on where you were sitting,” explains Chris Vorrie, King of Kings director of worship arts. “We needed consistent, highly intelligible sound throughout the nave.”

Withrow added that “a system demo, incorporating the latest electronics from Dynacord. “The demo made King of Kings comfortable with the EVA system, and it’s also why they decided to upgrade to flown dual-18” subwoofers.”

Electro-Voice and Dynacord’s in-house system design crew assisted the Collins team in finalizing the deployment details, using EASE mapping software in combination with Dynacord SONICUE Sound System Software to ensure even coverage throughout the sanctuary. Local company Twin Cities Sound was engaged to hang the loudspeakers.

The right and left hangs in the primary system each consist of two 90° horizontal EVA-2082S cabinets atop two 120° models, ensuring even coverage throughout the main seating area. EVA cabinets have two fixed-splay loudspeaker modules, which means that each hang comprises a total of eight line-array elements. Splay angles are determined by the specific choice of models. The cabinets are mechanically connected with simple rigging plates, which are completely hidden by cosmetic panels for a clean and elegant look. Newly-released DSP settings further enhance the main EVA system’s acoustical performance, and a new hybrid limiter scheme maximizes system output.

To cover the side seating areas and choir loft, one Electro-Voice EVF-1122S is angled to each side, and two X12i-128 subs are flown above the congregation. Two Dynacord DSP amps power the system; an IPX20:4 (20,000W via its four channels) to the arrays and subs; and a single C2800FDi supplies the EVFs.

“We really love the sound of the new system,” adds Chris Vorrie. “Musically, everything is enhanced and both the spoken word and lyrics are much easier to understand, no matter where you sit.”

King of Kings Church

  • Capacity: 900
  • Key Components: E-V EVA line arrays; Dynacord amplifiers
  • Integrator: Collins Electrical Construction

After installing a smaller EAW Anna ADAPTive system in its East campus, Abundant Church opted for an Anya rig for its larger West sanctuary.

Abundant Church, El Paso, TX

When Michael Garrison Associates (MGA) was contracted to upgrade the system for Abundant Church’s 3,600-seat main auditorium at its East Campus (AC-East) in El Paso, president/owner Michael Garrison and his team turned to Eastern Acoustic Works.

In 2017, MGA teamed with Abundant to develop plans for a satellite “A-C West” campus on the west side of El Paso, featuring an EAW ADAPTive system with 26 Anna main modules and eight Otto subs for the 1,800-seat main auditorium.

After having heard the outstanding performance of AC-West’s Anna/Otto system, Abundant asked MGA to design a replacement EAW ADAPTive system for its 14-year-old AC-East system. This larger room required the coverage and “horsepower” provided by EAW’s flagship Anya line array and Otto subwoofers. The design includes 29 Anya speakers and eight Otto subs. The center main array has nine Anyas and the eight Ottos, with 10 Anyas used for the left and right main arrays, respectively.

EAW’s Anya is a complete, self-contained, high-power system that adapts all performance parameters electronically. Columns of Anya modules hang straight, without any vertical splay and Resolution 2 software adapts total system performance to produce an asymmetrical output that delivers coherent, full-frequency response across the entire coverage area defined by the user.

Abundant Church

  • Capacity: 3,600
  • Key Components: EAW Anya line arrays; Otto subs
  • Integrator: Michael Garrison Associates

Anton Bezhuidenhout at Waves’ eMotion LV1 mixer

Unite180 Church, Pretoria, South Africa

Pretoria’s Unite180 Church selected Waves’ eMotion LV1 Live mixer and Waves plug-ins to mix and live stream the church’s services. “During Covid-19, as Sunday services were halted, the church decided to shift its focus toward creating a better online streaming experience for members,” says church audio engineer Liezel Coetzer. “Unite180 purchased the 64-stereo-channel version of the Waves eMotion LV1 mixer to control the sound with pinpoint precision and run Waves plug-ins from within the mixer itself. The LV1 is also very easy to use, which has been extremely helpful as we have been training new engineers on a weekly basis.”

Unite180’s setup consists of a DiGiCo SD12 console for live mixing, which is connected to a Waves eMotion LV1 mixer via MADI. The operators have two Icon Platform M controllers for the LV1, which they use in conjunction with a touch screen for seamless page switching.

“The ability to integrate Waves plugins within the LV1 mixer allows us to solve a wide array of live broadcast issues,” notes Anton Bezhuidenhout, another church engineer. “This has been a great advantage. The fact that everything is digital, and that we can save presets for the processing of entire individual channels, makes the whole system very simple to use. Also, the saturation from some of Waves’ analog-style plug-ins gives the entire mix a pleasant warmth and a great treatment of the low-end. The ability to use studio-grade mastering techniques on a live mix definitely gives us an edge.”

Among the frequently used Waves plug-ins include: the Waves eMo D5 (part of the LV1’s channel strip, it offers dynamics, gating, de-essing, dynamics); the H-Delay Hybrid Delay and H-Reverb Hybrid Reverb; and the CLA-76 comp/Limiter.

“On the master bus, we always insert the SSL G-Master Buss Compressor, adds engineer Joshua Oosthuizen. “It colors the whole mix and pulls out all the reverbs and effects into the foreground, while controlling and peaking transients at the same time. This plug-in is a must for gluing your mix together, and to add punch and midrange to the drum kit, we use the Waves API 2500 compressor on our drum bus.”

“Thanks to the LV1, we couldn’t be happier with the high audio quality of our streams, and how easy it is to achieve that result,” concluded Coetzer.

  • Unite180 Church
  • Key Components: Waves eMotion LV1 Live
  • Integrator: In-house

An Alcons LCR system was the right solution for Hope Church. Photo by Sidney Seiber

Hope Church, Simpsonville, SC

Created in 2015 by the merger of two churches, worship at South Carolina’s Hope Church ranges from high-energy music to spoken word sermons. A recent enlargement of its Simpsonville campus — now at 700 seats — provided the opportunity to upgrade its audio system. An Alcons Audio pro-ribbon system provided the perfect blend of power and clarity.

With the expansion of the room’s depth by around 70-feet and added gallery seating at the back, the existing audio system was not adequate to cover the larger space, so the church contacted AVL Solutions (AVLS), based in nearby Greenville, for help.

According to Chris Craine, AVLS designer/director of sales, “a challenge for the sound design was the pitched roof, which ranges from 15 feet at the sides to more than 18 feet in the center. We discussed the benefits of Alcons Audio’s pro-ribbon audio technology with the client and, having worked with them before, they were happy to trust our recommendation.”

AVLS installed L-C-R arrays of two single Alcons 12-inch RR12 point-source array modules at each side and four in the center, to provide the congregation with a full stereo image. Three horizontally-mounted VR12 mid-size 12-inch monitors were suspended from the building’s main overhead beam to cover the new gallery seating, with three SR9 ultra-compact, double 5-inch speakers for altar lip fills. The church’s existing subwoofers were tied into the new system, with Alcons Sentinel10 and Sentinel3 amplified speaker controllers providing the power and system management.

“This was the first time we had installed RR12s and the deployment was extremely easy. We simulated the system through EASE and it performed exactly as expected” says Craine.

“We considered both distributed and line array approaches. The hybrid approach suggested by AVLS, working with our existing subs, turned out to be a winning combination. And there is no shortage of power from the Sentinel amplified loudspeaker controllers,” adds Hope Church technical advisor Trey Moran.

“We are very happy with the result. Our front of house engineer is covered by the main array to feel connected with the room, while just one row behind is evenly covered via the VR12 delays. The control is amazing and the intelligibility of the pro-ribbon is just what we needed. We are excited to consider Alcons and AVLS as the preferred choice for our future campus locations.”

Hope Church

  • Capacity: 700
  • Key Components: Alcons RR12, VR12, SR9
  • Integrator: AVL Solutions

 

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