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Heart and Soul

Houses of worship rise with AV

For churches of all sizes, an AV investment is a big deal. Whether it’s a mixer, a line array, or streaming system, it’s both a practical and emotional choice because AV is so integral to communication, mission, and ministry. Here are some recent transformative investments.

World Harvest Church: DiGiCo Quantum338

The well-known ministry World Harvest Church maintains a 122,000 square foot building. It includes a sanctuary that seats over 5,200 people and contains an auditorium, a television studio, a children’s ministry that includes Sunday school for children newborn to sixth grade, the Harvest Preparatory School, the ministry’s administrative offices and more, all on a 57-acre campus in Columbus, Ohio. The church even incorporates Valor Christian College, a co-educational institution located on the property.

But like many churches of any size, World Harvest Church is careful when it comes to AV technology investments. The church’s most recent acquisition—a new DiGiCo Quantum338 console, serving as its monitor mixer— expands its existing DiGiCo infrastructure, which includes an SD8 console mixing front of house and an SD-Rack that has now been upgraded to include 32-bit “Ultimate Stadius” microphone pre-amps. The audio system infrastructure update further involved moving all of the DiGiCo platforms to an Optocore fiber network, handled by Orlando-based Owens Audio Video Design, which also sold the DiGiCo systems, as well as a Nexo PA, when they were installed earlier this year.

“World Harvest Church tends to hang onto their systems and get the most ROI from them as possible, which isn’t unusual,” observes Bob Owens, owner of Owens Audio Video Design. “They’re a longtime customer and a longtime DiGiCo user—we sold and installed the DiGiCo D5 console that they had in the sanctuary for monitors before we sold and installed the SD8 there in 2010. The Q338 is a great choice for them—it takes them light years beyond where the D5 was, with more faders and layers and inputs, but at a very cost-effective price for all that additional capability, plus the Quantum processing, which is a super plus for them.”

The church’s audio team now has 56 32-bit mic preamps to work with, as well as 64 AES and analog outputs at monitors. In addition to the new preamps, the SD-Rack also had new interface cards added, including five analog cards, two AES cards, a Dante card, and an Aviom interface card for the church’s IEMs. “World Harvest Church’s pastor is pretty outspoken,” says Owens. “When he doesn’t like something, he’ll let you know. But when he does, he’s happy to tell you that, too, and he’s noticed how much better and how much the cleaner the sound in the church has been this year.”

“It made a huge difference for us from the very start,” says World Harvest Church Audio Director Joe Cooper. “For starters, the 32-bit mic pres mean we can operate at 96k, which makes a big difference in the quality of the sound and gives us so much more headroom. And now that all of the consoles are on an optical loop, we can use the Q338’’s control sends to move audio around the network easily if, for instance, we want to send audio back to the front-of-house console for playback for training, virtual soundchecks, or to troubleshoot issues. The flexibility is incredible.

“I’ve been using the Spice Rack a lot,” Cooper adds, “particularly the six-band, dynamic, multiband compressor/expander, Chilli 6. I’ve been a big user of Waves in the past, especially the C6, and with Chilli 6, that kind of processing is now better integrated into the console itself,” he says.

The addition of the Q338 and the fiber loop is changing the church’s workflow. In addition to the improvements it’s made for monitoring, Cooper says he plans on extending the network fiber to the church’s Pro Tools-based recording studio, again something the Q338;s control sends will facilitate. And the future holds even more expansion: Cooper says he’s recommended the church invest in a KLANG in-ear monitor mixing system for the stage. “Right now we’re mixing Pro Tools ‘in the box,’ but another Q338 would make a huge difference there, too,” he says. “You never know.”

The House: D&B A-Series

The House is a multi-campus church with locations in Modesto and San Diego, California, along with the newest location in Ft. Worth, Texas. Led by senior pastors, Micah and Lindsey Berteau, along with a high impact staff team, the church is experiencing nothing short of a supernatural move of God in all of their locations, but especially in the short time that they have been gathering in Ft. Worth.

Recently The House Ft. Worth purchased an existing 600-seat facility that had huge potential but an extremely dated look and feel and even more dated worship space. “We were first introduced to the church from another pastor in New York who we were already working with on another project,” states Nick Geiger of systems integrator Diversified who completed the system design and installation. “To say this project was fast-tracked is an understatement. From first conversation to opening Sunday was just over 8 weeks! The building is now unrecognizable from those modest beginnings…fresh, clean, and modern. As part of our scope assisting them with a great sounding worship environment, our experience with room shaping allowed us to efficiently assist with plans around a stage renovation and a balcony expansion to maximize the number of seats in the room.

“We created 3D models for both audio performance prediction and to assist the church’s team develop the overall room with intentionality.”

The Diversified team brought several options to the church for the new loudspeaker system but the d& b A-Series augmented array loudspeaker system quickly rose to the top. “We looked to d&b because of the signature sound and guttural and emotional experience that happens when you have a live band on their systems,” says Geiger, who is also Diversified’s Audio Lead for their faith-based projects. “Of course, budgets are also always a factor in every project – in this case requiring the church to balance performance needs with having just moved into a new facility and the massive renovations already underway.

“Lastly, timely delivery was critical due to the lighting fast turnaround that the project required.”

d&b A-Series addresses the needs of many mid-size spaces where point source loudspeakers may not provide adequate coverage or SPL, and line array solutions exceed budget or impede sightlines. The ability to set variable splay angles and be hung as a vertical or horizontal array make A-Series quite adaptable to a wide range of spaces.

“The room was a good candidate for the A-Series in a vertical deployment because there was great trim space and it wasn’t very deep,” Geiger notes. “d&b’s ArrayCalc software gave us confidence that with three boxes per side, we could cover from front to back without extreme box to box angles and achieve an SPL drop front to back of less than 4db. Because it was important for the balcony seating to feel as great as seating on the floor level, especially in the low frequency range, we flew one d&b 21S subwoofer directly behind each array. We supplemented the flown system with 21S subwoofers under the stage and three 10S boxes as center and outfills to address small coverage gaps close to the stage.”

World Outreach Church: L-Acoustics K3I

Since its very first service on Easter Sunday in 1980, Murfreesboro’s World Outreach Church (WOC) has steadily grown into the full scope of its name. Not only does the Christian house of worship welcome nearly 7,000 regional visitors to its central Tennessee campus for three services each week, but it also averages another 5,000 attending around the globe via live streaming. To ensure that both the message and music delivered 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.

Although the church’s current worship space is only ten years old, the sanctuary’s original sound system was never quite ideal. “The room had some troublesome reflections and their point-source boxes just couldn’t provide the coverage they needed while avoiding putting energy where they didn’t want it,” says Clair Global Systems Designer Joe Anderson. “There wasn’t a cohesive experience across the listening field, which is why we wanted to suggest a line array solution with adjustable horizontal coverage, as it would give us better control and eliminate the need for delay speakers for the upper seating areas.”

After exploring various loudspeaker manufacturers’ design software platforms—including Soundvision—Anderson says that he and Clair Global Regional VP Dan Heins concluded that L-Acoustics would be the right choice for the project. “Soundvision is one of the best prediction software solutions I’ve used,” he says. “It’s easy to use but still allows for very granular detail. Soundvision was also a very helpful sales tool as we were able to sit with the client and show them exactly what different options would accomplish in their space.”

Anderson initially considered A15i and Kara IIi loudspeaker designs but ultimately specified L-Acoustics’ newest enclosure for the project: “K3i was truly the perfect enclosure for World Outreach. It has the physical footprint of a typical double 10-inch line array but gives us the punch and performance of a double 12-inch, which is really what their worship space required. K3i is also super versatile; it had the tonality needed to reproduce classical and orchestral music, but also enough impact to make the audience 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 centered under the stage, while six compact X4i, discreetly mounted into the stage steps, serve as frontfills. The subs and X4i are all powered by three LA4X.

According to World Outreach Church Production Manager Nic Smith, the triple array arrangement is intentionally not set up as a traditional LCR design. “Based on a recommendation from L-Acoustics House of Worship Application Manager 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 is a simple thing but makes a big difference.”

Also making a “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.

“The system provides great speech intelligibility across the entire seating area,” Smith says. “And because the system is so smooth, the audio team can run it at pretty much whatever volume they like without harshness or fatigue. Previously, the church had to do some processing on the Pastor’s mic to get the gain-before-feedback needed. After we were done tuning the new system, we had Pastor Allen Jackson stand on the stage and talk, and with absolutely no console processing, it still sounded great. They now just use a bit of light EQ and com-“The system provides great speech intelligibility across the entire seating area,” Smith says. “And because the system is so smooth, the audio team can run it at pretty much whatever volume they like without harshness or fatigue. Previously, the church had to do some processing on the Pastor’s mic to get the gain-before feedback needed. After we were done tuning the new system, we had Pastor Allen Jackson stand on the stage and talk, and with absolutely no console processing, it still sounded great. They now just use a bit of light EQ and compression for him, and that’s it.”

Although a number of touring sound companies have adopted the L-Acoustics K3 enclosure since its debut in October 2020, 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 and gave them exactly what they needed,” Anderson notes.

WOC Assistant Technical Coordinator and Audio Engineer Blake Carman wholeheartedly agrees: “Our new L-Acoustics system has given us so much more clarity and intelligibility. Every word that is spoken or sung, every instrument, and every other detail is reproduced so well by the new K3i arrays. The design and implementation of this system exceeded our expectations and continues to impress me more every week that I mix on it.”

“Staff members have told me that they hear details they’ve never heard before,” Smith says, “and several longtime attenders who always sit on the far edge of the sanctuary have commented on how they can hear everything much better, especially the Pastor’s sermons. We’re loving the warmth and intimacy we’re now hearing with K3i.”

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