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Seven Recent House of Worship Projects

Thomas S. Friedman • InstallationsSeptember 2021 • September 10, 2021

World Outreach Church, Murfreesboro, TN

The pandemic may have slowed the audio industry down, but sonic upgrades in the house of worship market have been happening at a breathtaking pace. Here’s a look at seven recent projects — all focused to provide both musicality and optimal intelligibility of the spoken word.

Pro Sound provided a new Meyer Leopard system for Discovery Church. Photo: Discovery Church

Discovery Church, Orlando FL

When Orlando’s Discovery Church built its new main broadcast campus, the goal was to accommodate in-person worship as well as streaming services and special events. A critical element was upgrading its aging point source speakers with a Meyer Sound Leopard line array rig. “We wanted a system with higher output and greater intelligibility, but also rider-friendly to be ready for high-profile special events,” says Zack Howes, technical director at the new Sand Lake campus.

Orlando-based Pro Sound, a Solotech Company, brought in a temporary Leopard system for the church’s “A Night of Worship.” “It’s an event we have twice a year where we pull out the stops beyond our regular Sunday services,” says Howes. “The result was awesome. Leopard blew away what we had in that space.”

Designed by Pro Sound, the new custom-tailored system is anchored by L/R hangs of Leopard line arrays with UPM-1XPs as front fills and ULTRA-X42s to cover side seating. Lows are bolstered by 900-LFC subs — six flown as a cardioid center array and two on the floor. The clarity of the system has boosted intelligibility to the point where services can be run 5 to 6 dB quieter than with the old system. But when it’s time for special youth events, the system has ample reserves.

Good relationships with neighbors also are important, and Howes is impressed with the effectiveness of the cardioid subwoofer array. “It not only keeps energy off the stage, but it also greatly reduces energy hitting the rear wall. We have an apartment building only about 100 feet behind that wall, but I have yet to hear of one complaint.”

The front-end of the reinforcement system revolves around DiGiCo SD12 digital consoles, one each for broadcast, FOH and monitors, all linked by an Optocore fiber optic backbone.

Discovery Church Sand Lake

  • Capacity: 1,350
  • Key Components: Meyer Leopard line array; DiGiCo SD12 consoles
  • Integrator: Pro Sound

TBCo installed a KSL rig from d&b audiotechnik.

The Belonging Co, Nashville, TN

The Belonging Co (TBCo) formed in 2014 as an outreach to the Nashville music community, meeting in basements and then rented facilities around the city to provide ministry for those who were normally traveling every weekend.

Services are musically dynamic with high overall energy. Thanks to its DNA of worship and music, the congregation (mostly musicians, producers and others who make their living in professional music) has high expectations regarding audio. During its rental facility years, TBCo purchased a d&b audiotechnik J-Series system.

“In Nashville, where many people are part of the music industry, good sound in church is more than a luxury,” states pastor Henry Seeley. “I’ve been a fan of d&b speakers for a long time, so I asked my team to approach Diversified about a system for our new church building. We decided on a KSL rig and could not be happier. The punch and clarity of these boxes and the consistency throughout the room deliver an unparalleled experience.”

A major audio challenge in the 1,470-seat sanctuary was the stage, located along the long wall of the rectangle-shaped room, leading to a deep and wide seating area. “We knew that the space would require more than two arrays to cover evenly,” states Tim Corder of Diversified, who provided the production technology design and integration. “Because the horizontal listening field was so much larger than the previous spaces and we had such limitations in vertical trim [due to sightlines of the large video screens], we were felt KSL would do a better job than the older J-Series. The results of the demo blew everyone away; impact and pattern control created a stunning result with the KSL system head and shoulders above the rest.”

The Diversified team partnered with Haverstick Designs on the room’s acoustic performance design, and Diversified system engineers Chris Clark and Nick Geiger were instrumental in the P.A. calibration and commissioning, using d&b’s ArrayCalc and R1 software.

Each left/right main array has seven KSL boxes — two 80° horizontal boxes on top with five 120° boxes below. A single Y7P point-source center fill covers the first few rows between the two main arrays. The horizontal coverage to the 160-degree mark in the front of the room is wrapped by 24S-D point source out fills, with a single Y10P in each rear corner. Front fills around the perimeter of the stage are 10S-Ds with six SL-SUBs under the stage. The church’s existing J-Series rig has been repurposed for the youth room, continuing to provide a rich and impactful experience for the next generation.

In addition to the KSL system, other notable audio components include: DiGiCo SD10 consoles, Avid Pro Tools-based broadcast mix system, Shure Axient Digital wireless mics, Sennheiser wireless IEMs, QSC Q-Sys system control and Riedel Artist matrix and Bolero wireless intercoms.

The Belonging Co

  • Capacity: 1,470
  • Key Components: d&b KSL line array; DiGiCo SD10 consoles
  • Integrator: Diversified

World Outreach Church is the first house of worship to install an L-Acoustics K3i system.

World Outreach Church, Murfreesboro, TN

Murfreesboro’s World Outreach Church (WOC) has steadily grown since 1980, with nearly 7,000 churchgoers each week and another 5,000 via live streaming. To ensure that the message and music in the church’s 2,800-seat Three Crosses Sanctuary are heard with maximum clarity, WOC turned to Clair Global Integration to install the world’s first L-Acoustics K3i loudspeaker system in a house of worship.

The sanctuary’s original sound system was lacking. “The room had some troublesome reflections and their point-source boxes couldn’t provide the coverage they needed,” says Clair Global Systems designer Joe Anderson. “There wasn’t a cohesive experience across the listening field. We suggested a line array solution with adjustable horizontal coverage, for better control and to eliminate the need for delay speakers for the upper seating.”

Anderson spec’d L-Acoustics’ new K3i enclosures. “K3i was perfect for World Outreach. It has the physical footprint of a typical double 10-inch line array, but has the punch and performance of a double 12-inch, which is what the worship space required. K3i is also super-versatile, with the tonality to reproduce classical and orchestral music, but enough impact to make listeners feel those high-energy contemporary worship moments.”

Installed in June, WOC’s new system now features three arrays, each comprising eight K3i, all powered by six LA12X amplified controllers. Two stacks of four KS21i subs in a cardioid configuration reside on stage, with two more under the stage, while six compact X4i, discreetly mounted into the stage steps, serve as front fills.

According to WOC’s Nic Smith, the triple array arrangement is not set up as a traditional LCR design. “Based on a recommendation from L-Acoustics’ Josh Maichele, we’re running the three-hang K3i system in a Left-Right-Left configuration rather than a Left-Center-Right,” he describes. “Because our room is so wide, this actually helps us give a stereo image to the entire room and allows us to utilize panning without losing a vocal or instrument to one side or the other. It’s simple but makes a big difference.”

Another “big difference” is the full-range performance of the new arrays. “K3i’s low-end is very impressive,” Smith says. “After Josh time-aligned and tuned everything, he first unmuted just the main hangs and I was so surprised that I had to ask for confirmation that the subs were actually off. He then brought in the KS21, and you could really feel the ultra low-end.”

WOC marks the first official installation of the new fixed-install K3i version, sans K3’s touring-specific rigging. “We were happy to be the first integrator to install the new K3i but more excited that it was clearly the right tool for the World Outreach,” Anderson notes. “We knew the sound quality was going to be great. The system provides great speech intelligibility across the entire seating area and K3i didn’t disappoint.”

World Outreach Church

  • Capacity: 2,800
  • Key Components: L-Acoustics K3i array rig
  • Integrator: Clair Global Integration

SS&S provided a DAS Audio Vantec system for Oakland Baptist Church’s new youth facility.

Oakland Baptist Church, Corinth, MS

Oakland Baptist recently selected a DAS Audio sound system as part of its new youth facility, with integrator Sutherland Sight and Sound (SS&S) of Florence, AL, handling the project. After consulting with church leaders, SS&S’s Michael Embry spec’d DAS Vantec-20A Active Curved Source Line Array enclosures and Vantec-218A powered subwoofers.

“The youth facility measures 60 by 62 feet,” Embry reports. “The stage area is 20 feet long by 27 feet wide and faces into the width of the room. Seating capacity is roughly 300 people, and the seats are moveable — making it easier to adapt the space to different event requirements, as it’s frequently used for gatherings and special events in addition to the weekly church services.”

The new system includes six Vantec-20A line arrays — with three in each of the right/left hangs suspended over the front edge of the stage area. A pair of Vantec-218A powered subs offer LF support.

“Sound quality was the most important requisite and the Vantec-20A provides a high level of speech intelligibility and solid music reproduction capabilities — all from a compact form factor that never distracts the audience’s attention. I was also impressed with the system’s easy wireless control for gain shading, along with the quick and clean linear response that results in a very natural sound utilizing FIR filters,” says Embry.

“We had planned on using a few fill speakers as part of the system,” he added. “However, after we tuned the room, we found that the position of the flown clusters in the layout of the room made this unnecessary. The Vantec-20A’s dispersion provided all the coverage that was necessary.”

According to the church’s technician Clay Hughes, “the audio quality is first-rate, no matter where you’re seated in the room. The spoken word is remarkably clear, which enables the congregation to fully grasp the nature of the sermon. Likewise, the system’s ability to reproduce music is equally impressive, which makes services more engaging and meaningful.”

Oakland Baptist Church

  • Capacity: 300
  • Key Components: DAS Audio Vantec Series
  • Integrator: Sutherland Sight and Sound

The mega-church added three DiGiCo Quantum7 consoles in its flagship campus.

Prestonwood Baptist Church, Plano, TX

In Texas, everything is bigger, including houses of worship such as Prestonwood Baptist Church. It’s one of the largest churches in America, with a weekly attendance of around 17,000. So when the church needed to revitalize its audio mixing, routing and management, DiGiCo was the choice, due to its flexible and adaptable workflow, high I/O handling and excellent sonic quality.

Working closely with integrator Paragon 360, the church installed three DiGiCo Quantum7 consoles in its 7,000-seat main campus auditorium in Plano, TX, used for FOH, monitors and broadcast, and one more Q7 at its newer 1,500-seat Prosper, TX campus.

“We have a big service, a full choir and orchestra, and lots of inputs, so we needed a big input count, and with auxes and submixes we’re pushing 48 outputs,” says Prestonwood’s lead audio engineer Mike Smith. “The monitor desk runs over 50 outputs and we’re running close to 200 inputs. We’ve multed all 15 vocal channels and split them into two channels, which allow us to have separate mixes.”

And come Christmas, the production becomes even larger. “We do a really big Christmas program every year called Gift of Christmas,” Smith explains. “It’s like a ticketed, Broadway-level event. It’s massive; we have a full percussion rig and a whole rhythm section with drums, two guitar players and full tracks. Fortunately, the console can handle a boatload of inputs and outputs to accomplish what we need. You can make the console do whatever you want. The macros are super-powerful and the Waves integration is very helpful.”

Mark Coble, lead audio designer at Paragon 360, says he was aware of the church’s production needs. “They are very tech savvy, more so than many churches, and have very sophisticated requirements,” he says, pointing to their needs for very high channel counts and extreme reliability. “As important as functionality like processing and flexible routing are, the need for seamless backup in the event of a failure was just as important, and the Quantum7 fulfills all of those requirements. It’s one of the few dual-engine consoles on the market — if one engine were ever to fail, the other takes over immediately and seamlessly.”

Prestonwood Baptist Church

  • Capacity: 7,000
  • Key Components: DiGiCo Quantum7 Consoles
  • Integrator: Paragon 360

High up, downward-firing E-V EVF series speakers provide nearly invisible coverage.

First Presbyterian Church, Alton, IL

With a rich history dating back 189 years, First Presbyterian Church is a classic design featuring a large pipe organ and a vaulted ceiling with a 33 ft. peak. To bring its 30-year old sound system up to contemporary standards, the church brought in integrators Output Unlimited.

“It’s a challenging room, both acoustically, and because of the need to respect the architecture,” notes Output Unlimited’s Tracy Bodenbach. “The goal was to provide a high degree of speech intelligibility for in-person and web-streaming audiences, with good all-around sound quality for choirs and pre-recorded music used for weddings and other events.” Output Unlimited proposed a point-source solution utilizing the existing loudspeaker placement, thus preserving the architecture while controlling costs. The installation can be heard clearly but hardly seen, nested above the church’s arched timber beams.

Two EVF-1122D/94 12” speakers cover the entire nave, mounted along the apex of the ceiling and aimed at downward angles of 45° (front) and 55° (rear). The rear EVF is delayed to cover the back half of room. Each EVF is bi-amped by a Dynacord C3600FDi DSP power amp with onboard FIR-Drive presets for EV speaker optimization. Two choir chancels face each other on either side of the altar, with each side is covered by an EVC-1082-96 compact 8” speaker, powered by a Dynacord C2800FDi DSP amplifier, so choir members hear a direct feed of the services and sing along to pre-recorded audio tracks.

‘The main requirement of the system was to reinforce voice and pipe organ, so there was no need for subwoofers,” adds Bodenbach. “This was much more about selecting the right dispersion pattern from the EVF boxes, for maximum intelligibility and full coverage to the seating area. We also did a complete tuning of the room, which really confirmed how transparent and musical these speakers are.”

First Presbyterian Church

  • Capacity: 400
  • Key Components: Electro-Voice EVF/EVC series
  • Integrator: Output Unlimited

Renkus-Heinz Iconyx IC32-RN beam-steering arrays on each column at the side of the stage, blend in perfectly with the church color.

Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, Mobile, AL

The Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception had long struggled with inadequate sound system performance due to the cathedral’s high curved ceilings, stained-glass windows, wooden pews and other acoustical challenges. A sound system upgrade was needed, but to preserve the beauty and historical nature of the cathedral’s large sanctuary, the ministry leadership decided against acoustic treatment, instead opting for Renkus-Heinz Iconyx column arrays.

The sanctuary was plagued by acoustic shadowing due to the building’s columns, with sound sources out of the sightline of the congregation, which reduced effective coverage. The previous sound system over-compensated with pairs of relatively short column arrays on each of the pillars — 18 in total. This resolved the acoustic shadowing; however, each array was too short to effectively control the lower/mid frequencies and delivered unwanted energy into the highly reverberant space, resulting in a harsh, unintelligible sound for many congregants.

The church reached out to Modern Sound and Communication owner Joe Fulton and Griffith Sales Associates’ Richard Hembree to discuss the challenges of the space and collaborate on a solution. As the top intelligibility challenge had previously been spoken word, a Renkus-Heinz Iconyx system let Fulton and the team address the acoustic issues that troubled the sanctuary. “We held a live demonstration of our proposed system for the ministry team and key leaders and everyone was very impressed,” said Hembree.

Longer column arrays provide pattern control reaching to lower frequencies, and as such, the team specified and installed a pair of Iconyx IC32-RN beam-steering arrays for the front of the nave. The arrays are supported by two SA112-RN subwoofers on the far left and right. The altar area is covered by a pair of Renkus-Heinz DC12/2 steerable arrays that are time-aligned with the mains for a seamless transition.

Additionally, “the new speakers’ color is a perfect match, so they virtually disappear — creating an architecturally pleasing installation,” says Modern Sound’s Doug Brazeal. “With the greatly improved aesthetics and sound coverage, everyone is very happy.”

Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception

  • Capacity: 400
  • Key Components: Renkus-Heinz Iconyx system
  • Integrator: Modern Sound and Communication, Griffith Sales Associates

 

 

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