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PODCAST 177-2: New Lights and Sound for Hillcrest Baptist from Lowrance Sound

Show 179, Part 2

SVC Podcast – Show Notes – Show 179-2

In this edition of the SVC Podcast, Contributing Editor Bennett Liles continues his conversation with Carl Lowrance of Lowrance Sound Company in Union City, Tennessee about the lighting and sound installations done for Hillcrest Baptist Church in nearby Dyersburg. In Part 2 Carl details the sound portion of the AV upgrade done for the church with Electro-Voice EVF series loudspeakers, Ashly KLR-5000 series amps and Mystery MFCA1000 floor boxes along with other sound gear.


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This is the SVC Podcast from Sound & Video Contractor Magazine with Carl Lowrance of Lowrance Sound Company. Show notes and equipment links for the podcast are on the web site of Sound & Video Contractor Magazine at

The Hillcrest Baptist Church in Dyersburg, Tennessee had strange colors on the pastor coming through the stained glass windows and their sound system needed an improvement as well. Carl Lowrance of Lowrance Sound Company in Union City, Tennessee is back with us for Part 2 on how this all got fixed. The story is coming up on the SVC Podcast.

The lighting was getting very strange with the sun coming in through the stained glass windows and colorizing things up front that you didn’t want colorized.

Yeah, absolutely, Bennett. Glad to be back. What we had was a house of worship with a very large stained glass window assortment at the rear of the house of worship colored in blue and green. And their architecture being dark-finished wood, stained wood, along the light walls, when the light – ambient light – came in through that window at multiple times a day, especially in the worst case during service, it basically gave this cascade effect of blue and green light across the sanctuary all the way up to and including the platform. [Timestamp: 1:31]

We mentioned this in Part 1 and so the new LED lighting fixed the visual issue, but since they don’t use much power did you need to do any sort of expansion to the electrical system for those?

The beauty of using those elektraLite eyeBall fixtures and their low-current draw with great output is we actually had the church use an in-house electrician, pull two 20-amp circuits for the 12 total fixtures – so that’s a 20-amp circuit per six fixtures. Thanks to that low current draw (1) it was easily accessible for them to install power for us. So we did have two circuits put in, but as opposed to traditional dimming and what have you, the church’s cost to implement such and also utilizing their existing panel layout without drawing woefully more current was extremely cost-effective and simple on their end. So we basically have six eyeBalls, five-in-ones, ganged together through their included IEC power cables that all jump together and feed back to a common 20-amp circuit per six fixtures. [Timestamp: 2:36]

And that problem of light coming in through the stained glass windows must be a more common situation for churches than I thought. Especially if you’re doing video recording.

Absolutely. It’s something we run into quite often, but it’s always location-specific  depending on architecture, the type of stained glass, whether the user decided to tint or put up some type of opaque film to diffuse or eliminate light emanating into the sanctuary. This location is probably one of the more difficult ones we’ve ever run into in that the light actually shines from the rear to the front. In many cases we’ll have light behind the pulpit location, which of course gives us a ton of issues with videography and ensuring good contrast and you can easily make out those on stage. In this case we actually had the inverse. We had great contrast up front, but that cascade of colored stained glass light produced this odd hue across the sanctuary and the pastor. [Timestamp: 3:35]

That was fixed with the new LED lighting but they didn’t call you in just for lighting. They needed a sound system improvement as well.

This was actually a two-part scenario for Hillcrest where the initial was lighting and we followed up with an entire front-end and loudspeaker replacement for the sanctuary sound system. [Timestamp: 3:53]

Okay, what did you do for the speakers in there?

We actually utilized in this space the Electro-Voice EVF line. And aside from selecting that speaker, the biggest issue we ran into in the sanctuary is (1) aesthetics, because there actually is stained glass in the front next to the platform that’s not open to the outside world. They’re actually cabinets with fluorescents in there. We had to maintain viewing angles of such, but the most predominant issues, and they’re all related to what had happened over time. The initial cluster was a multi-box Altec Lansing array comprise of separate components, center-cluster hung, which in the traditional sense of the church years ago worked great. It was an excellent speech system. But somewhere along the way some chandeliers were added right down the middle and what we found upon our initial side survey was one of the biggest issues stemmed from the control booth. The chandeliers, oddly enough, were literally placed between the eyes of our front-of-house operator and the high-frequency drivers covering his location and those surrounding him. So our sound op had basically no high end making it to him, making his ability to mix and equalize extremely difficult. So what we did in electing to use Electro-Voice from our past experience with them, was utilize the EVF series in a three-box hang with two mono clusters; one left and one right of the room. Those two clusters basically bisect the seating plane and also allow us to once again provide high frequencies to our sound operator now that we are working around those chandeliers. [Timestamp: 5:40]

And one of the trickier things in church sound systems is always going to be the choir monitoring.

Oh, yes. The church has an interesting choir loft in that it’s only about 10-foot deep. It’s at least about 20-foot wide, but their ceiling is extremely tall. Previously the old cluster used a single down-firing horn with a woofer, which actually went a little beyond the choir. It caused some reflections and was a little much for the SPL the choir needed. They were actually getting a lot of stage volume. Likewise, since they had tiered seating, floor monitors or traditional floor wedges just really wouldn’t provide the coverage given they didn’t have a splayed seating arrangement. Nor was the inclination appropriate for such. So to combat this, we implemented a trick we’ve used for a few years in these cases where we actually use some Electro-Voice ZX1 install white models mounted on the sidewalls of the choir loft shooting in. This allowed us to place a speaker at a common point over each half of the choir where SPL and coverage was almost equivalent within 3 dB to each listener. And then in conjunction with that mix, we have a center choir floor box with a black Electro-Voice ZX190 that allows us to use that separate mix for either a center choir fill in case they have soloists that are standing in the aisle-way, or to be turned around and used as a music minister, pastor or band or contemporary band member monitor mix. [Timestamp: 7:15]

Live music to whatever degree it’s used always makes things much more challenging for the monitoring. Do you have a separate monitor mix for the pulpit area?

Yes. They actually initially had two mixes, one being the overhead choir mix and then a front monitor mix for the pulpit. What we transitioned to was our side-mounted choir monitor mix, the center choir floor mix, and then the platform mix remained, but we actually added some Mystery Electronics FMCA 1000 floor boxes at a couple of strategic locations with literally probably the shortest monitor cords I’ve ever made – about two foot going to a couple of ZX190’s there as well. And the intention, as part of the more contemporary scenario in the church, is to clean up the platform and make it look aesthetically pleasing. So by placing our FMCA 1000 boxes at strategic locations picked by the church for their use using short cords and the ZX1’s, we’re able to provide an excellent-sounding, very high SPL monitor that to the naked eye was very hidden, no cables were present any longer. And at that point we had met both of our goals: aesthetically pleasing, great sound and coverage, and also very compact and small arrangement. [Timestamp: 8:35]

That’s incredible the way you came in and did all of this. How long did you have to get it all done?

This was one of those lovely week-long jobs. We came in on a Monday and me and the guys and Mark, our president and owner, actually finished out that Saturday.

I guess a lot of that or a significant part of it was running cable.

Yes. Believe it or not, of all things a lot of these churches of this vintage, that’s 70’s-80’s glulam beam, peaked room sanctuary traditionally always have their air ducts run down the left and right of the sanctuary with access hatches. So over the years we’ve learned and followed actually the same path as the previous installer; that air duct chase is a way to get our cabling in. In all honesty we probably were able to run our speaker cabling within a lesser time table it took to load in all the gear. [Timestamp: 9:23]

And you have Ashly amps running everything?

Yes. In order to keep costs down as much as possible for the customer, we utilized new Ashly KLR5000’s on the subwoofers and house system, and then reused three of their old Crown Macro series amplifiers for monitors, their 70-volt system, and other ancillary speaker circuits. [Timestamp: 9:44]

I wouldn’t think you could get all of that done in a week’s time with both lighting and sound but you got in there and did it.

Yes. And there’s a lot of that that really does come back to pre-job planning and engineering, but too – and I’ll toot their horn a little bit – Polar Focus actually supplied us with some custom bracketry to affix to the glulam beams which literally made hanging the arrays a single drill scenario. Very quick and efficient, very easy to manipulate and mount into place. And in doing such, without the traditional methods of either part affixation, aerial cable chain, what have you, it gave us a platform to mount to rapidly using a lift and really expedited our timetable. [Timestamp: 10:31]

I know it’s got to be fun when you get all of that in and tested and you get to see the people use it and experience the improvement from it. It all comes down to how prepared you are when you go in.

Oh, yeah.

Good talking about this one. It’s Carl Lowrance from Lowrance Sound Company in Union City, Tennessee and the Hillcrest Baptist Church lighting and sound. It looks like they called the right guys. Thanks for being with us.

Absolutely, Bennett. Glad to talk to you and would love to do it again sometime.

Thanks joining us on the SVC Podcast with Carl Lowrance. Show notes and equipment links are on the website of Sound & Video Contractor Magazine at Be right back here next week for the SVC Podcast.

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