A Sound Solution for an Asymmetrical Sanctuary

Audio specialists GJM for Sound Advice recently installed compact EV XLCi and XLE line arrays at Nampa First Nazarene Church. The largest line array installation in Idaho, the project was a collabora 11/02/2006 3:00 AM Eastern

A Sound Solution for an Asymmetrical Sanctuary

Nov 2, 2006 8:00 AM

House of worship audio specialist GJM for Sound Advice of Placerville, Calif., recently completed an installation of compact EV XLCi and XLE line arrays at Nampa First Nazarene Church in Nampa, Idaho, all powered by EV P3000RL amplifiers running IRIS-Net software. Klark Teknik Square One Graphics and Dynamics, an EV monitor rig, and a full complement of EV wired and wireless microphones complete the picture. The largest line array installation in Idaho, the project was a collaborative effort between GJM and EV reps Progressive Audio Sales and EV Tech Support, all of whom joined forces in perfecting a sound solution for this challenging, highly asymmetrical space.

“This was an extreme case of architecture vs. acoustics, but it all worked out superbly,” Greg Mace of GJM reports. “First off, we worked with Skip Godwin of PA Sales on the system design, having carefully explained the advantages of line array to the customer. Robert Deyarmond at EV then determined vertical coverage and rigging height using EV LAPS software, and horizontal coverage and array spacing using EASE modeling. This was all straightforward enough, but then it was time to account for discrepancies between the room’s characteristics on paper and in practical application, so we spent a couple of days measuring the room with hands-on attention to detail.

“This sanctuary space is utterly asymmetrical. The center of the stage is off-center in relation to the center of the seating area, and both are off-center relative to the center of the room itself! This means there isn’t a ‘center’ from which to plot a traditional system design. We got the plumb bob lasers out, we made calls to double check the EASE data, and we made a ton of chalk marks on the floor. Finally we shot the room with lasers, and then got out two pieces of string. After using a balance of high-tech software and simple geometry, we did a sweep of the room from front to back with the string, and where the two crossed was our center. As additional insurance, each main array grid features a custom rotateable yoke, allowing for easy, non-sheetrock-invasive aiming adjustments.”

After leaving no stone unturned in finding the elusive center of the space, that too needed to be evenly covered with audio. A central array of EV XLE181 very-compact line array boxes was specified to fill in the 50ft. field in front of mix position. Both the main arrays cross at mix position but, due to the irregular shape of the room, the right array is about 3dB louder. The very-compact XLE array counterbalances this effect nicely, all while acting as a fill for the front rows.

Mace says, “There’s about 8ft. of difference between the center hang and the left and right clusters. When you see the arrays, you immediately think ‘these aren’t straight, this won’t work’, but it works really well—it’s an optical illusion unlike any I’ve encountered in many years of working in houses of worship. The fact it sounds so good now is a testimony to the versatility of the XLC and the sonic precision it affords, even in tricky spaces like this.

“Once they heard it, the church wished they’d made the switch years ago,” Mace says. “A critical part of this process was explaining that line arrays aren’t just for rock music tours—sure, they work great for that, but all that moving air and headroom can be dedicated to precise, full room coverage and, most importantly, the warm vocal reproduction they’d been missing in their old system, which was comprised of little boxes driven to distortion just to get separation to the corners of the room.

“Communicating how and why a line array’s large size and numerous drivers can actually allow it to sound more intimate and not so ‘loud’ takes patient explanation, rather than the hard sell approach," Mace adds. "After all, seeing a line array rig for the first time can be quite intimidating to the uninitiated. The church felt that the EV product was better represented by its people than the other options they looked at, and they were extremely happy with their decision when they heard it for the first time.”

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