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Inside Eight Recent House of Worship Projects

Thomas S. Friedman • April 2021Installations • April 2, 2021

While the live event industry has been hit hard by the pandemic, activity on the installation/integration market remains steady, particularly in the house of worship market, as religious organizations prepare for the return of the faithful. With that in mind, we decided to check out some recent new installation and upgrade projects.

 

Seven Rivers Church, Lecanto, FL

The main sanctuary. Left inset: vocalists and musicians can adjust their monitor mixes via the KLANG:app. Right inset: Andrew Starke checks out the Allen & Heath dLive S7000 at FOH. Photo: Summit Integrated Systems

A large and growing congregation in Citrus County, FL, Seven Rivers Church has completed a full sound system upgrade by Louisville, CO-based Summit Integrated Systems. The new system in the 1,000-seat sanctuary consists of an L-Acoustics A15-based P.A., Allen & Heath dLive S7000 FOH console and a KLANG 3D audio system fed via a DiGiCo Orange Box equipped with a DMI-KLANG card, capable of processing up to 64 inputs for 16 immersive in-ear mixes. The L-Acoustics P.A. is has four identical arrays (two mains, two outfill) with three A15 Focus enclosures over one A15 Wide. Flown behind each of the two mains are three L-Acoustics KS28 sub hangs in a (FBF) cardioid configuration.

Front fills are handled by four L-Acoustics X8 compact coaxial loudspeakers. All powering came from three L-Acoustics LA12x and an LA4X amplifier rack. Summit Integrated Systems implemented QSC Q-Sys for system control, distributed audio and also created and a simple-to-use “low-tech” system that bypasses the FOH console, allowing someone to utilize the room for smaller presentations through the existing wireless mics, music and video inputs via a Q-Sys touch panel.

The church was no newcomer to in-ear monitoring, for years using a system that director of worship Adam Hill described as “serviceable” but lacking in sonic quality and functionality. “I wasn’t thrilled with the setup we had. KLANG’s use of the iPad and their idea of immersive sound was interesting, but I was skeptical — I figured it was just glorified stereo. But after a demo of the KLANG:fabrik, I was stunned. It sounded fantastic and its features are incredible. For instance, when one person maxes out their level on their channel, the next step is that the system automatically begins lowering the levels of the other sounds in the mix. I thought that was brilliant. Why hadn’t anyone else ever thought of that? Those kinds of features sealed the deal for me.”

Stage outputs are routed analog to the rack of the Allen & Heath dLive S7000 FOH console and then over a Dante network via a DiGiCo DMI-DANTE 64@96 card from the Orange Box to the console. Signals from the console’s post-EQ direct outs route to the Orange Box and its DMI-KLANG interface, then back to the console and to the IEMs. An Apple Mac mini computer on the network, which also record services using Logic Pro multi-track software, is loaded with the KLANG:app and serves as the house engineer’s point of control.

“The musicians, vocalists, and worship directors on stage have complete control over their own mixes; all I have to do is take a few minutes and update the labels on the channels,” says church technical director Austin Haggerty. “The KLANG system is very intuitive for the musicians to operate, because the iPad interfaces are so easy to use. Operationally, it’s the most hands-off system you could ask for.”

Hill adds that the musicians’ and vocalists’ reactions have been uniformly positive and enthusiastic. “The spatial ambience is what draws the most comments from them,” he says. “It just feels so natural, like you’re not using in-ears at all, and that’s the highest compliment you can pay to a monitoring system.”

Seven Rivers Church

  • Capacity: 1,000
  • Key Components: L-Acoustics A-Series; Allen & Heath dLive S7000; KLANG 3D IEM mixing system
  • Integrator: Summit Integrated Systems

 

12Stone Church, Duluth, GA

Clark installed a Meyer Sound Leopard system

The multi-site 12Stone congregation serving the Atlanta metro area is among the fastest-growing churches in the country. The church’s innovative “12Stone Home” initiative is a creative fusion of remote streaming and in-person worship, with the power and flexibility of a new Meyer Sound Leopard rig.

The main auditorium at 12Stone’s Sugarloaf campus was reconfigured as a hybrid live worship space/video production studio. As Leopard arrays had been installed at four other 12Stone campuses, a new Leopard-based solution was the odds-on favorite.

“For this new ministry, it also gives us extraordinary flexibility,” says production director Taylor Davis. “It makes us very nimble, so we can work in any room configuration. We have enough Leopard elements and subwoofers to change the room to in-the-round with four arrays.”

When the pandemic lockdown hit last summer, the 12Stone production staff worked with systems integrator Clark, headquartered in nearby Alpharetta. “It was critical that the new concept get up and running so church members felt connected,” notes Clark’s Luke Roetman. “We had everything in place inside four weeks.”

“When we had to close down our campuses and push everything online, we reinvented how we do ministry,” says Davis. “We wanted a space more focused on an intimate experience, but once we could come together, we wanted to have the energy of the people gathered in the room.”

“This campus was rebuilt with 12Stone Home in mind,” adds audio director Dennis Frazier, “but we wanted to make sure those who now come in person — about one-third capacity — receive a top-notch experience. It’s an important part of the broadcast for them to react to the teaching with applause or laughter, and our new Leopard system helps ensure they have the best possible listening experience.”

In its current end-on configuration, the system comprises nine Leopard compact line arrays per side, with two 900-LFC low-frequency control elements flown behind each main array. Seven 1100-LFC elements are on the ground with two ULTRA-X40 as sidefills and six UP-4slim as front fills. Clark’s Tom Donohue supervised the system design with final tuning by Clark’s Ed Crippen.

According to Frazier, improvements realized by the new system were noteworthy. “The clarity without harshness is incredible. Also, the low-end is tight and responsive. The 1100-LFCs gave me exactly what I wanted in terms of punch without being overwhelming.”

With the Sugarloaf campus system online, 12Stone has Leopard line array systems at all five larger locations, with two smaller campuses utilizing Meyer Sound point-source systems.

12Stone Church Sugarloaf Campus

  • Capacity: 900
  • Key Components: Meyer Sound Leopard
  • Integrator: Clark

 

Northside Baptist Church, Huntsville, TX

The church has the first TW AUDiO ELLA installation in the U.S.

Seeking a sound system for its new worship space, Northside Baptist Church was confronted with familiar challenges — needing the best possible sound coverage within sanctuary, while balancing musicality with clarity of speech, yet without taking too much from the donation plate.

The solution came in the form of TW AUDiO, which marked its first ELLA installation in the United States, a system that — according to Northside Baptist Church youth pastor Bob Slie — transformed the church’s worship experience. He first experienced ELLA at a technology demo at the 2019 WFX Show, at a time when church leaders were frustrated in their sound system search. Providers either suggested very expensive options or cheap proposals that Slie and his colleagues knew would prove inadequate.

After hearing just four compact ELLA6 boxes accompanied by a single S32 cardioid subwoofer, Slie sought out the TW AUDiO team to discuss the church’s needs. ELLA combines the slim form factor of a column with the flexibility of a line array — plus built-in passive cardioid technology. Each ELLA6 unit combines a custom-designed waveguide with five 1” dome tweeters to reproduce smooth, precise high frequencies, matched with a high performance 6.5” driver.

The installation was supported by local integrator Arrendell Media. Northside Baptist Church now boasts 22 ELLA6 elements supported by six VERA S32i subs, configured in two hangs of eight ELLA6 as the main left/right arrays with two ELLA6 as the center-fill, and another two ELLA6s providing left/right out-fill. Power is delivered by five Powersoft Quattrocanali 8804 Dante + DSP amplifiers using the dedicated TW AUDiO presets. “The Powersoft amps produce pristine sound and are far more controllable than any system I’ve ever worked with,” says Slie.

“ELLA is the ideal solution for the space,” reflects TW AUDiO’s Mick Whelan. “The system performance has to be heard to be believed — the coverage is completely uniform throughout the listening area with zero phasing anomalies as you move left to right or front to back. Also, the passive cardioid topology of the ELLA6 and cardioid design of the subwoofer cluster delivers a very quiet stage area.”

But the bottom line is audio performance, notes Slie. “We’ve been so excited for our church members experience the quality of sound we have available now. “I’ve been at this church for over 21 years, full time, and I have never heard our music sound as good as it does through our new TW Audio/Powersoft system.”

Northside Baptist Church

  • Capacity: Approx. 600
  • Key Components: TW AUDiO ELLA; Powersoft Quattrocanali 8804 amps; Allen & Heath Avantis console
  • Integrator: Arrendell Media

 

Austin Stone Church, Austin, TX

Brown Note Productions installed a d&b audiotechnik Y series system.

Austin Stone Church (ASC) offers services at six locations, with a live online broadcast and socially distant Sunday indoor and outdoor services at most locations. Established in 2002, it grew from a small gathering of 10 to nearly 8,000 weekly attendees throughout the sites, including a sixth (Austin Northwest) campus added in 2020.

This new 832-seat contemporary worship campus typically has two services per week. The facility is also outfitted to become the church’s primary broadcast center offering regular Sunday services, and plans are underway to host other events including conferences, performances and special gatherings.

Over the past year, Denver-based integrator Brown Note Productions provided numerous AV updates at the new campus, including a d&b audiotechnik Y series line array system running Array Processing (AP) and E-Series fill speakers. d&b’s ArrayProcessing technology optimizes tonal balance and level distribution over the entire coverage area to provide a consistent listening experience for the congregation, regardless of seating position.

“I always feel confident when mixing on a well-deployed d&b system that what I’m mixing at front of house is being heard and felt in essentially every seat in the venue,” states Austin Stone Church production audio manager Ryan Robertson. On top of that, there is a clarity and sonic signature of d&b that fits perfectly with the style of music we are mixing.”

System highlights include eight Y8 and eight Y12 loudspeakers, three J-SUBs ground subwoofers and two d&b J-INFRAs on the outside of the sub array. Eight E6 speakers handle front fills, and one Y10P and two Y7P provide out fills. System drive is via a 10D and eight 30D amplifiers, along with a DS10 Dante bridge. A DiGiCo S31console with Dante I/O and Focusrite AES interface serves FOH, while a QSC Q-SYS Control system with a d&b plug-in offers complete AV system control and automation, as well as “self-serve” AV modes

“The new d&b system sounds fantastic,” adds Robertson. “The power and clarity of the system really draws you in as a listener. It was fun to see the reactions and smiles on the face of our leadership team as they listened to it for the first time. Their main reaction was how intelligible everything was. They felt like they could actually hear distinctly everything that was happening in the mix.”

Austin Stone Church

  • Capacity: 832
  • Key Components: d&b audiotechnik Y series; DiGiCo S31console
  • Integrator: Brown Note Productions

 

Yeomkwang Church, Geoje, South Korea

The church now has a JBL VT4886 line array and two Soundcraft Vi1000 consoles.

Founded in 1946, Yeomkwang Presbyterian Church is a massive 117,790 square-foot facility consisting of a Vision Center and a main hall. Deciding to upgrade its existing sound system, the church hired TechDataPS Co., Ltd. to design and implement an end-to-end sound system. To meet the client’s requirements and stay within budget, TechDataPS selected JBL speakers, Soundcraft mixers, Crown power amps, dbx processors, and AKG mics.

The P.A. in the main hall is comprised of JBL VT4886 line arrays, compact VT4883 subwoofers and AM7215/64 point-source speakers, and the system provides crystal-clear sound in the main hall. Chosen for its compact design, TechDataPS fitted a VTX M20 as the pastor monitor speaker and a JRX212 as the stage monitor speaker. A CBT50LA-1 speaker was installed to provide highly directional sound for the choir, while an AC18/26 speaker offers upper balcony fill.

Soundcraft Vi1000 consoles and Vi Stageboxes are routed to FOH via redundant analog and digital AES/EBU connections. Powering is via Crown IT4x3500HDS, DCi 2|600N and DCi 8|300N amplifiers, networked using BSS BLU Link technology over AES. TechDataPS provided dbx PMC16 personal monitor systems, enabling performers to create their own custom monitor mixes using up to 16 channels of audio. The system is powered by Crown IT4x3500HD and DCi 2|600N amplifiers via BLU Link integration.

“Unique places of worship like Yeomkwang Church require a powerful, dynamic audio solution, allowing sermons and performances to resonate with visitors,” says Amar Subash of Harman Professional Solutions, APAC. “We would like to thank our partner TechDataPS for meeting the client’s unique requirements and delivering clear, intelligible sound for worship experiences.”

Yeomkwang Church

Key Components: JBL VT4886 and VT4883 speakers; Soundcraft Vi1000 consoles

Integrator: TechDataPS Co., Ltd.

 

Southwood Presbyterian Church, Huntsville, AL

The center-hung EAW Anna cluster avoids blocking the large stained class window.

Southwood Presbyterian Church was originally designed for spoken word, a choir and a pipe organ with natural reverberation in mind. The result was a beautiful 50-foot vaulted ceiling with an untreated tongue-and-groove wood finish. Over the past 20 years, Southwood’s service evolved to include a live band, and while the sanctuary was acoustically treated to reduce the natural reverberation, the live audio system was not updated to fit this new worship style.

Integrator Verta Technologies was recently tasked with upgrading the sound system at Southwood. Verta’s managing partner Christian Tuttle selected four Anna 3-way full-range ADAPTive array modules, two MKD1064 2-way full range loudspeakers, two SB825 dual-drive subwoofers and a UXA4410 Greybox-enabled amplifier.

As part of the audio design, the Verta team had to make sure the audio system didn’t block the large stained-glass window located high above center stage. “It was also crucial that the acoustic energy was steered away from the vaulted wood ceiling,” adds Tuttle. “We chose EAW’s ADAPTive System, and specifically the Anna array, to solve these challenges. With its ability to steer the vertical coverage, the Anna cabinets were hung high enough to avoid blocking the stain glass window while still covering every seat.”

Another issue was staying within the weight restrictions of the sanctuary’s wooden beams. Working closely with Fuqua and Partners Architects, an engineering firm specializing in wood beam design, and the beams’ manufacturer, the group engineered an accurate loading capacity.

“The Anna cabinets require fewer boxes than a traditional line-array, making the overall hang lighter and easier to manage,” says Tuttle. “EAW was the perfect solution for this project; the results exceeded our expectations.”

“Our audio is dramatically improved,” says Southwood music director James Parker. “The coverage is consistent across the room and the problem frequencies have been managed extremely well. The most consistent complements we’ve received have pointed out the dramatic difference in clarity. People can hear a much more accurate snapshot of what is happening on stage. We could not be happier with the upgrade.”

Southwood Presbyterian Church

  • Key Components: EAW Anna line arrays
  • Integrator: Verta Technologies

 

River City Christian Church, Rancho Cordoba, CA

The church installed Martin Audio’s Wavefront Precision system. Photo by Marisa Morton

River City Christian Church in this suburb of Sacramento, CA, now has a Martin Audio Wavefront Precision (WPS) P.A. system from Sacramento Production Services. Due to an attendance surge prior to Covid-19, the church had been faced with the need to expand its facilities. A decision was made to move from all flat seating to stadium-style arena seating, which would expand capacity from 850 to around 1,200.

Brian Webber, the church’s director of technology, heard a demo “that blew me away,” he says. “I was super impressed with the smooth, rich sound. It was a no-brainer.” However, he recognized the church’s acoustics would be a challenge. “But it’s great to put the audio only where it needs to be and away from where you don’t want it. You really can’t hear anything behind the P.A. — no slapback, and all the energy is focused to the seating areas. Other than notching out a couple of frequencies, we basically ran the system straight out of the box.”

The design features eight WPS elements a side, in two hangs spread 40 feet apart — trimmed to avoid obstructing sightlines to the new LED video display. Five Martin Audio SXC118 subwoofers are placed in an arc across the front, powered by six channels of process-controlled Martin Audio iKON iK42 amplifiers, and optimized using Martin Audio’s proprietary sub array calculator as well as EASE prediction software. The subs were chosen for their size and ability to utilize a cardioid pattern to send more of the bass to the listening areas and have a high rejection to the rear of the speaker, thus eliminating low frequency information onto the stage.

Martin Audio’s proprietary DISPLAY software modeled the room, with optimizations carried out by Sacramento Production Services’ Keith Wackford, who noted: “We achieved total feedback rejection, despite the PA being quite a bit upstage thanks to the Hard Avoid functions of Wavefront Precision. You couldn’t have got away with any other rig.”

Summing up, Wackford added, “From front to back and left to right, the coverage at every seat is amazing. Furthermore, there’s nothing harsh about the sound — it’s easy to listen to for hours, it’s smooth and you don’t get fatigued.”

River City Christian Church

  • Capacity: 1,200
  • Key Components: Martin Audio Wavefront Precision
  • Integrator: Sacramento Production Services

 

The Potter’s House, Dallas, TX

Production manager and FOH engineer William B. Barnett at one of the church’s SSL Live L550 consoles.

The Potter’s House in Dallas is the home base of the church’s founder, televangelist Bishop T.D. Jakes and his 30,000-strong congregation. Recently, the church upgraded the audio system with three Dante-networked Solid State Logic Live L550 digital mixing consoles at FOH, monitors and the church’s broadcast center.

“As our ministry has grown over the years, we have 160 or 170 inputs at times, and we were starting to run into input challenges,” says production manager and FOH engineer William B. Barnett. “We decided we wanted a console that could do a little more, that sounds amazing and has more inputs.”

The three SSL Live L550 desks offer a noticeable improvement both in operational capabilities and in the system’s sound quality compared to the previous consoles, says Barnett. “If you need a bunch of plug-ins to make your console sound decent, that’s an issue.” Before purchasing the three L550s, “we were able to install the SSL in the main sanctuary and A/B it with our previous console. Out of the box, with no EQ, no insert, no anything — just running a CD through it, the difference was night and day. And when we put an SM58 microphone through it and voiced it, the transparency of the mic preamps was absolutely incredible,” says Barnett.

As for monitors, Barnett says “we’re using SSL’s proprietary TaCo system.” The SSL Live TaCo (Tablet Control) mix app provides wireless tablet control of SSL Live consoles from iPad and Android devices. “Each musician has a tablet and mixes themselves with TaCo.”

According to audio supervisor and broadcast engineer Gerard Hairston, who operates the L550 in the church’s sophisticated TV broadcast center, “we currently just broadcast to the web, although we do a lot of different stuff, so even though the console has a lot of ins and outs, we’ve almost maxed it out. But this console will pretty much do anything we want to do.”

Hairston also oversees the facility-wide audio signal distribution. While the Dante network offers greater flexibility than the previous tie line system, the production team was skeptical at first, he admits. “But it’s been rock solid.” The team is planning to add a couple of SSL Net I/O MADI Bridge units to integrate with the video department’s Dante channels and to connect to two other venues at the church’s Dallas campus. “One of our main reasons for going Dante was so we could easily tie into our other venues,” reports Barnett.

Ultimately, though, it’s the flexibility of the SSL Live console and the way that it can be programmed to suit each operator’s workflow that the team at The Potter’s House most value, says Barnett. “I have yet to find a situation that this console is not able to handle.”

The Potter’s House

  • Capacity: 8,000
  • Key Components: Solid State Logic Live L550 consoles
  • Integrator: Solid State Logic

 

 

 

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