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Yamaha Commercial Audio Helps ABC “Makeover” New Orleans Church

Yamaha Commercial Audio Systems, along with Church Interiors Audio and Video of High Point, N.C., recently helped bring back a New Orleans-area church from the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina.

Yamaha Commercial Audio Helps ABC “Makeover” New Orleans Church

Apr 20, 2006 8:00 AM

Before: Renovations underway at First Emanuel.

Yamaha Commercial Audio Systems, along with Church Interiors Audio and Video of High Point, N.C., recently helped bring back a New Orleans-area church from the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina by donating a selection of professional sound reinforcement equipment and accessories as part of ABC-TV’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.

According to Dan Wood, president of Church Interiors Audio and Video, the recently minted division of the 25-year-old church furnishings and renovations company was selected from a pool of applicants as subcontractors, donating time and materials for the church’s audio systems, with gear supplied by Yamaha, Shure, H.S.A. and Rapco.

After: The renovated interior.

Thanks to the show, and to the efforts of contractors, subcontractors, and more than 300 volunteers, the 120-year-old First Emanuel Baptist Church now has received new flooring, a new church bell, and a new sanctuary sound system, in addition to other repairs.

The prime time inspirational makeover show gives a deserving family with a compelling story a complete home renovation in a one-week period of time. The New Orleans segment, which aired on April 6 on the ABC Television Network, is part of a four-part special, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition—After the Storm, which follows the show’s design team and special guests as they visit four of the Gulf Coast states hardest hit by last year’s hurricane season—Louisiana, Texas, Florida, and Mississippi.

Although First Emanuel’s brick exterior and stained glass windows survived the hurricane, high winds severely damaged roofs, causing water to seep into the chapel, gym, and sanctuary, ruining ceilings, floors, and furnishings. DonahueFavret Contractors Inc. of Mandeville, LA joined with Extreme Makeover: Home Edition to renovate First Emanuel as general contractor, while subcontractors were chosen from requests and by referrals.

Wood traveled to New Orleans on Feb. 18 with fellow Church Interiors employee Todd Lineberry for what became a four-day “installation marathon.” Upon arrival, he and Lineberry met with local Church Interiors Audio and Video representative Rick Freeman and toured the site, made necessary adjustments, and coordinated with show production and other trades for access to scaffolding and conduit. The team was assisted by New Orleans-based Church Interiors employees Chuck Wicker and Chris Frazier, along with volunteers from their partner manufacturers. Wire pulls and rigging points for the PA cluster and choir monitors and, demolition of an existing sound room, were completed on the first day.

Joe Lopez, Yamaha Commercial Audio Systems (center) holds a training session on the Yamaha M7CL with First Emanuel’s AV staff.

The First Emanuel sanctuary system now includes a Yamaha M7CL digital mixing console, and several models from the Yamaha Installation Series loudspeaker line for the house PA, choir speakers, and monitors system, driven and processed with Yamaha PC4801N and PC9501N amplifiers and a DME24N digital mixing engine. Rapco supplied custom floor boxes, panels, and cabling, while H.S.A. provided custom wooden racks and component housing.

“We had originally planned on using a three-box rig with two 60 by 40s on the bottom, plus a 90 by 40 to carry the balcony,” says Wood, “but when we actually saw the space, the room was only about 45ft. from the back of the chancel area to the wraparound balcony, so a third box would have been overkill. We ended up doing a 30-degree splay, with the bottom of the cluster about 28ft. off the floor, and the coverage was more than sufficient.” Under-balcony support was also deemed unnecessary, since the few rows of seats were well covered by the house PA.

First Emanuel’s classic Southern Gospel choir, band, and pulpit are thoroughly covered by more than a dozen Shure wired and wireless mics. All house and monitor feeds are routed from M7CL, with auxes set for the choir mix and plus and floor mixes for the pastor and band. A Yamaha AW16G digital audio workstation and model MSP10 Studio monitors also share the FOH position, ready to record services.

Wood explains that gear choices helped to make the installation smooth. “When I first heard the Yamaha IS Series, I thought they were great,” he says. “They’re definitely one of the most contractor-friendly boxes available in that they are literally ready to go right out of the package. The speakers can be arrayed nicely, you don’t have to select between a SPEAKON on-barrier strip, and since all the hardware is included, all that has to be ordered is the rigging.

“We also knew that the DME24N had plenty of processing power and [we] are using it for speaker processing, system EQ, and crossover,” he adds. “The initial programming was completed before we went to New Orleans, but we did do some fine tuning. The room required some adjustments at around 200Hz and some smoothing out around 630Hz, and we do have hard limiters on everything since many of the operators are volunteers. A few effects are being sourced from the M7CL, so there was no need for an outboard rack.”

So far, around 300 of the 1,200 members of First Emanuel have returned to New Orleans since Katrina, while an additional 200 currently live in Baton Rouge, La., where Rev. Charles Southall III has been leading Sunday services for displaced worshippers.

“This was not merely great exposure for a relatively new company or just a ‘good deed,’” says Wood. “These improvements will give the church a stronger base for its worship community, along with its many neighborhood outreach programs in New Orleans.” First Emanuel operates a soup kitchen for the homeless, a daycare center for infants and toddlers, and a gymnasium for young people.

“Obviously, prime time network television is a great vehicle to expose products to potential customers,” says Dan Craik, product manager for Yamaha Commercial Audio, who, along with district manager Chris Taylor, worked with Wood to help provide the First Emanuel system. “But this was different from the usual installation in that the goal was not to sell product, but to provide a quality system to a deserving group of people.” Yamaha is providing special training with the First Emanuel staff on the new gear.

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