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Minnesota Church Celebrates With the Sound of EV

A new EV sound system meets the serious production needs of Celebration Church with tour-quality sound

Minnesota Church Celebrates With the Sound of EV

Jan 4, 2007 2:17 PM

Completed just in time for its annual “Country Christmas” seasonal shows, the new EV sound system at Celebration Church in Lakeville, Minn., would be equally at home on a major rock tour as in a house of worship. The installation reflects the serious production needs of a large church like Celebration. As of writing, more than 18,000 people have attended the Country Christmas shows over a three-week period, hearing the country music themed event loud and clear through a PA that brings tour-quality EV sound to the church’s 1,100-seat theater/sanctuary.

The main PA is comprised of seven Xi-1183 boxes in an LCR configuration, flown above four Xsubs under the stage. Four Xi-1082s provide front fills, four QRx112/75 are onstage monitors, and two ZX1s are used as personal musician’s monitors. The whole system is powered by EV P3000RL remote control DSP amplifiers running Iris-Net software.

The Story Behind the System
Celebration Church was founded 10 years ago and has been in its current facility for four years. The head pastor and founder of Celebration Church is Lowell Lundstrom. Lundstrom was a popular country rock entertainer in the 1950s, and, after becoming a minister in 1957, recorded more than 50 gospel albums. In 2005 Lowell was inducted into the Minnesota Music Hall of Fame. Lowell’s son Lance is head sound engineer at the church.

As one would expect with a leader like Lundstrom, music, concerts, and productions play a major role at the church. However, as is the case with many church projects, inadequate funds prohibited the installation of an appropriate sound system upon construction completion. A high-quality interim system sufficed up until this year’s Christmas season, when Celebration Church took delivery on the EV system it has always wanted. Purchased from leading regional EV dealers Metro Sound and Lighting (St. Paul, Minn.) and installed by top regional design/installers Audio Logic Systems (Bloomington, Minn.), this was a Minnesota project through and through—especially since the church is only a few miles from EV HQ in Burnsville.

“Although we were able to make the old system sound good by most people’s standards,” Lance Lundstrom says, “there was a lot of room for improvement in clarity, and tons of room for improvement in coverage. Because the room functions as a sanctuary most of the time, the uneven pattern of the old system occasionally caused problems, with congregation members concerned about sound levels. If you took three steps away from FOH position, you were listening to something totally different. We looked to Electro-Voice to turn the quality of our sound up to ‘11’ before our annual Christmas show, which drew 18,000 people this year. Our first and primary requirement was that the room be very even. We chose Xi-1183 cabinets in an LCR configuration with four Xsubs and four Xi-1082s as front fills. All the loudspeakers are powered by P3000RL amps running IRIS-Net software to control DSP. We looked into different line array options, but nothing seemed to make sense for the room. We would have been purchasing line array just for the sake of having line array.”

Installation took place at a particularly hectic time of the year, during the weeklong dress rehearsals for the Country Christmas production. The prospect of mixing a sold-out show with 70 cast members and musicians on a new system installed and operational for less than 48 hours must have seemed daunting, but all apprehension was soon laid to rest, as Lundstrom explains. “On the day of the system changeover we had nine hours to get the cabinets in the air and functioning for the final dress rehearsal that night,” he says. “I was expecting to tune the system for the room, EQ it to my taste, and then just do a little tweaking with the mix, which was already sounding pretty good on the old boxes. Wow. As soon as the band started playing, it was apparent that this system was a whole different animal. My mix totally fell apart, and I spent the next three hours in an EQ-ing frenzy! I knew we were on the right track when, at the end of our first show, one of the church’s hardest-to-please parishioners came up to tell me how great it sounded. Not bad for just 72 hours of operation! I’ve mixed on the system solidly for last two weeks, and the difference is really remarkable. The coverage is incredibly smooth, and the clarity is (a) allowing me to mix at lower SPLs when needed, and (b) letting me bring things into the mix which were indistinguishable before.”

The Country Christmas show has now closed for another year, having been a bigger hit than ever. Lundstrom offered some closing thoughts on how the new EV system will change the worship experience at the church for the better: “Over the last weekend of our production we were pleasantly surprised to find that we had no negative comments about sound. Typically we would expect to receive a handful of complaints per show. And that’s not to suggest that quality of sound is measured in complaints; rather, I think, this speaks to the smoothness of the EV system and the ability to deliver what I’m hearing at FOH to the rest of the room. We’re finally getting the chance to deliver a consistent powerful experience to the people who walk through our doors, especially for theatrical and musical productions like ‘Country Christmas’ and our Easter show ‘Beyond the Cross.’

“Church productions usually carry the stigma of being less than professional,” Lundstrom adds, “and rarely would one be mentioned in the same sentence as a show in a downtown theater. We’re looking to shake that reputation and produce relevant shows that rival the largest productions. Our new system is a key component to our success in delivering first-class Christ-centered entertainment. It’s music to my ears when I hear someone question after a show ‘This place is a church?’ I feel fortunate that the leadership in our church sees the value in having quality equipment like our EV system. I wish the same for other churches and congregations. Good sound and music can transform the environment of a church, and it should be something that is strived for and encouraged in a meaningful way. After all, the bible says that we should praise Him with a loud voice!”

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