Megachurch Audio Upgrade, Part 2

Michael Garrison Associations upgrades megachurch audio. 6/16/2010 8:30 AM Eastern

Megachurch Audio Upgrade, Part 2

Jun 16, 2010 12:30 PM, By Bennett Liles

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Megachurch Audio Upgrade, Part 1
Michael Garrison Associates upgrades the speaker system at Southland Christian Church. ...

The Southland Christian Church in Lexington, Ky., had a sound system that needed to grow with the demands of live music, and they called in the original installer Michael Garrison Associates to do a speaker upgrade. Michael Garrison joins us along with Brian Roggow and Steve Shewlakow to tell us how it all happened.

All right, Brian, Steve, and Michael, thanks for being back for part two on the Southland Christian Church sound system upgrade, and we were talking before about the spacing of the speakers and how you dealt with frequency response. Have you noticed any effect on the live mics being used since they’ve updated their services with a lot of live music?
Roggow: Yeah, the VQ system, the speakers, have really extremely good characteristics in regards to gain before feedback. I find it to be exceptional when I consider all the advantages of a line array, which are certainly there for a trapezodial design. They’re far improved over the MH box as far as the amount of gain before feedback that you can achieve and with a device. Although,certainly it’s much, much, much hotter in output so that means the only way that you can use that is if the mannerisms of the characteristics of the wave guides are well-behaved, and they are, so it’s quite amazing how much isolation there is when there really is no magic tricks per se from an array stand point for you to achieve gain before feedback. Their pastor uses a lav and a typical omnidirectional lav--I don’t believe it’s even a cardiod, and he’s fairly soft-spoken. I was there for a Saturday service. Now, I am not saying it is not a challenge for him to get gain. Most lavs are even on line arrays, but it’s very acceptable in a pretty,I would use, hostile but challenging environment--depends whether he’s up on the stage right underneath the arrays. And it has quite desirable good manners in the sense as far as gain before feedback with live microphones. Obviously, handhelds and drums and guitars and things like that are not as challenging, and the extra horsepower of the device is definitely easily used. [Timestamp: 2:37]

Yeah, I think the one thing that the sound people in churches always wish for or hope for or even pray for is that the pastor will decide he wants to go with a headset mic or something. Roggow: Yes.

They have a much easier time of it. Roggow: Yeah, there are some who just aren’t comfortable with those headsets and it makes it more of a challenge for the sound people. [Timestamp: 2:56]

So Steve, where is the sound mixing position? I know even internal church politics gets into that sometimes. What are they using out there and where do they have the FOH mixer?
Shewlakow: Well, the FOH mixer, it’s about 65ft. off the stage, and it’s actually a decent-sized sound booth. It’s right before the break into the gym part of the room. But I believe the size of the booth area is about 20x6 or 7, but it houses the lighting position, a graphics position, along with the FOH position. The console that they have is from the original system. We installed a Allen & Heath ML 5000 console, 48-input, and then they also added a 24-channel ML 5000 sidecar to that. It’s laid out in an L shape and then the sidecar is used for a lot of the secondary inputs and stuff that they have, so tape decks, CD players, and those kinds of devices like that. [Timestamp: 3:54]

Brian, we’ve talked a little bit before about how the style of worship at the Southland Christian Church has evolved. Is there anything you had to do to with the sound system to contend with that?
Roggow: Yeah, they described their style—I think their sound person used the word “more modern rock-oriented”—dual male-female worship leaders with backing vocals. It’s acoustic guitars; it’s a bit more driven than it was when they came online. I think the sense that the loudspeakers themselves now are more of a horn-loaded design, especially and obviously in the mid- and high-frequency response where there’s now a waveguide where there wasn’t before. It is a much more focused sound and more present. It isn’t quite so diffused--one of the characteristics of the MH Super Dual loudspeakers was it was a more lower acoustic in a sense that it didn’t have a waveguide. It sounded very open and very nice, but it didn’t have more of a focused sound that a lot of people are used to hearing in horn-loaded designs or even a line arrays, which you have low crossover points and very, very focused midrange, and so this has those characteristics especially,In the model system, we used the 100-degree devices, the 100-degree conicles, so that’s a little wider and shorter throw, and it doesn’t sound quite as focused in the midrange section. And in the stereo system, in this particular space, we used 60-degree devices. There’s four of them, and they have a very different characteristic. they are very warm, and they have a strong, controlled midrange section to them and so their sound person is--he is able to pick what he wants to put in either system. They both have equal coverage, and I think it works better with this sort of style--the more rock-driven music than perhaps the MH or the Super Dual system did. [Timestamp:5:50]

You’ve also got some VS218DR subwoofers in there. Where did you put those?
Roggow: With the higher degree of output that these speakers can deliver, we certainly needed more VLF to keep up, and so, like Steve mentioned earlier, we beefed up the power amps that were on the existing EAW 528 subs, and we also added a couple of the new VQ series double 18 power 8 dual18 subs, and we actually just placed them in the same location. There’s a large area up above the catwalk center stage, so we basically just flanked the new subwoofers on either side of the existing subwoofer right. [Timestamp: 6:29]

Megachurch Audio Upgrade, Part 2

Jun 16, 2010 12:30 PM, By Bennett Liles

And those are self-powered, as you mentioned. Did you have to isolate the audio on those since they may be getting their power from someplace else, or had you already run the same power to those that mixer and other sound gear was on?
Shewlakow: The entire sound system was on a clean technical ground, and so they had their local electrician actually run an ISOground outlet up to the subwoofer location, and so we had them on the CX system of the audio system. [Timestamp:6:58]

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Megachurch Audio Upgrade, Part 1
Michael Garrison Associates upgrades the speaker system at Southland Christian Church. ...

Well, that’s an advantage in permanent installation—you don’t always have in temporary setups that you can get in there and control the power source for everything and not have to isolate audio sources. What’s the source on the mixer that feeds the subwoofers?
Shewlakow: The subwoofers are, on and off, splits off the Allen & Heath, and we’re going through the sound web processing, so there’s an output on the sound web that is zooming second to the crossover for the overall subwoofers system. Along with the new two Tannoy subwoofers there was also the existing EAW subwoofers, and so they’re all getting the same signal. We were able to tweak the two Tannoy independently a little bit with the built-in DSP that was on the subwoofers themselves. [Timestamp: 7:39]

And I know that one of the tricky parts of this is where the church is in use every Sunday and probably during the week as well, what sort of time line did you have on this? I mean how did you manage to schedule around church the events to get in there and do this?
Shewlakow: Well, that was definitely a concern when were starting to sink through the installation schedule of this. In fact, we had given ourselves a little extra time for the install not knowing how easy it was going to be to get the new subwoofers up into location and stuff like that and getting some of the old boxes down. And so when were talking with the church for scheduling, they had a block of time that was clear during the week.Hhowever, at night, they had a few little odds and ends,rehearsals, and stuff like that, and so we ended up working mostly during the days and a few evenings in there. We actually finished with about a day extra of time, and so it took us about two and a half days to actually install the new loudspeakers and do any wiring changes that we had to do and then to give enough time for Brian to come in and do the tune. [Timestamp: 8:42]

How did you attack the problem of coverage way in the back? Did you already have a time delay in place for that?
Roggow: Yeah, that was already in place. There was a secondary array that hangs out over the bleacher section of existing smaller Tannoy series devices that hang--there was actually a midsection zone or a zone one that flanks most of the delay section. There was also a couple of little ones that are in the back to catch the back corners, and so all that stayed in place. Actually I did have to, obviously, with the increased capabilities of the system, I would of had to change the output to those devices and delay times changed a bit, but they’re keeping up pretty good. If they were into concert level things, where they were really asking for levels of 110 or beyond, they would probably need to have something a little bit bigger, but I think for their normal services, they’re certainly, certainly fine. And not to mention that the Q series of especially the stereo boxes barely need any. I think they’re hardly even using the delay speakers, they’re so focused and much more directional they nearly reach—well, they do, you’ve got a quite a bit of good response all the way to the back. [Timestamp: 9:49]

Well, of course, churches, by the basic nature of what they do, present a challenge. They’ve got speech, live music, some are getting into even audience participation, so making the sound system right for all those things is a challenge you are going to have. So what’s been the reaction from congregation Michael? Have you gotten some feedback from them by now?
Garrison: Well, we always do ask for that feedback because we want to know when we are doing a good job, and if we need to improve on things. And so I’ve talked with a number of the guys there and what they’ve all said is that there’s just been 100 percent positive reaction from everybody. They broke it down into groups: the congregation, of course, wasn’t aware that any of this was going on, and they said it was very rewarding for of all those in leadership who planned all of this to hear people saying, “What did you do to the sound? It’s much clearer. I can here everything.” So from the normal person attending the church:a very positive response. They’ve also said that the performers, musicians, and the technical people have been very impressed with the new Tannoy box. Though they were very happy, and they kept saying this, they were never dissatisfied with their old system. They actually liked it. They say the quality of the vocal clarity is just greatly improved, and they’re particularly happy with the stereo, which is interesting to us. Brian mentioned, we used the VQ100 boxes for the exploded mono cluster, where we used the VQ60 boxes for the stereo. And just about everybody that I have talked with there has focused in on how the stereo is now so definable, the image is so much clearer than it used to be throughout the room. So they really, really liked that part. And the church leadership, the financial leadership people, expressed surprise that such a significant improvement could be made for such a relatively small investment. So, from MGA’s prospective, we really feel like we were very blessed to hit a homerun, which we couldn’t have done without Tannoy making this product. [Timestamp: 12:06]

Well, the clients will always come to you quickly with negative reviews, but when they come right out with positive comments, you know you’ve made an impression. Each church and its congregation has its own personality and style, and it’s always a challenge to craft and tweak a system to suit that specific acoustic environment and the style of worship. And so Michael, Brian and Steve, thanks for being here. The Southland Christian Church speaker upgrade from Michael Garrison Associates in Fresno, Calif.. Thanks for being here to give us the details.
Garrison: Thanks.
Roggow: Thanks for having us.

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