Church Expands With AV
AS A small-but-growing church of 300 members, Tyler Tabernacle in Tyler, TX, faced a few of the common problems plaguing the house of worship market. The classical Pentecostal church used a wide range of music styles including live music to support its worship service, yet had an audio system that couldn't adequately deliver it.
CHALLENGE: Help a small, budget-minded church accommodate rapid expansion by implementing an AV, LAN, and phone system designed to scale larger with growth.
SOLUTION: Pre-plan and pre-wire for future growth, and add additional AV equipment in stages as the budget allows.
AS A small-but-growing church of 300 members, Tyler Tabernacle in Tyler, TX, faced a few of the common problems plaguing the house of worship market. The classical Pentecostal church used a wide range of music styles including live music to support its worship service, yet had an audio system that couldn't adequately deliver it. Worship services could have benefited from video elements, but there was neither budget nor space for a projection system.
Tyler Tabernacle's audio system includes three Meyer Sound CQs for long throw and three Meyer Sound UPA1Ps for shorrt throw. For video, the projection system includes two Sanyo PLC-XP55 LCD projectors and two 10- by 13-foot Da-Lite Perm-Wall screens.
The church knew it needed upgraded AV, so when plans for a larger church began to take shape, Pastor Mike Littlefield contacted Terry Draper of Tyler-based Sound & Video Solutions (SVS) to help draft a plan for growth. Part of that strategy of moving to multimedia worship services also included a fair amount of budgetary and construction planning. New construction and upgraded AV isn't cheap, so the church needed to invest in an AV system that could grow with it, as well as creatively plan for future add-ons that wouldn't break the bank. According to Draper, the AV budget was $150,000 of an overall $2 million budget for the 11-month-long project.
Strategy and planning
Draper, who had a previous relationship working with Tyler Tabernacle, conducted an initial consultation with Littlefield, the church's music minister, Bruce Schaefer, and the church's sound technician, Keith Hopson. During this meeting, Draper determined the church's needs and helped prioritize its wish list. “At this point, I'm looking ahead not six months but five years,” Draper says. “The key is to determine the must-haves versus the wants. It helps the client build a roadmap for growth.”
Tyler Tabernacle's new facility was a prominent step in the growth plan. While the former location was approximately 9,500 square feet with a 3,600-square-foot auditorium, the new church is 26,500 square feet with a 9,000-square-foot auditorium. The church's architecture features a full plenum drop ceiling with 10- to 12-foot walls leading up to the cathedral ceiling. The open sanctuary included a slightly rounded platform at the far wall with built-in choir risers. At the center of the platform are the drums, with vocals situated behind the drum kit. The sanctuary itself is located in the middle of the building, surrounded by a foyer, hallways, and rooms. Draper worked with the architect to include walls with 16 inches on center studs and 6-inch-thick insulation to assist with sound absorption. The insulation kept the walls from flexing, thus reducing the energy level of some difficult frequencies.
To address budget constraints, SVS designed the AV, lighting, phone system, and local area network (LAN) at the same time, and also pulled wires for all current and future AV and IT components.
Because the former facility had problems with uneven coverage from the audio system, Littlefield emphasized the need for quality sound in the new sanctuary without hot spots or dead zones. Designed with live music in mind, Draper's audio system design included three Meyer Sound CQ1s for long throw and three Meyer Sound UPA1Ps for short throw hung as an LCR system over the stage. All cabinets were custom painted by Meyer Sound to match the church's sheet rock. Three EAW UB22i loudspeakers were piggy-backed onto the CQ1s facing the stage for use as choir monitors. Six OAP SM112 floor wedges provide monitors for the pulpit and praise team locations.
When reviewing software packages for your house of worship, the key is to determine need and then research each offering. Some companies bundle add-ons such as Bible translations and video backgrounds into the retail price, while others let customers choose them as à la carte pieces.
The push for churches to become larger worship spaces has not only given rise to the use of AV, but the use of worship software as well. This emerging class of products offers a range of capabilities centered on the ability to display worship lyrics to a catalog of standard hymns. Most are integrated with Microsoft PowerPoint and require a PC with at least 64 MB of RAM, with additional memory or graphics card requirements for video presentations.
- EasyWorship (www.easyworship.com), which Tyler Tabernacle uses, is designed to display lyrics as well as scriptures, videos, and custom alert messages. The full version comes with lyrics to 100 public domain hymns, retails for $399, and is available from the manufacturer's website for download.
- SongShow Plus (www.songshowplus.com) is a database-driven software program that offers the ability to display songs, scripture, sermon notes, slideshows, and digital pictures and videos using unique 3D transitions. The current 5.5 version retails for $499 and supports SongSelect, a 6,000-song database.
- SundayPlus (www.sundayplus.com) software offers a dual-screen system for previewing an assembled presentation. Using a visual interface, operators can point and click to send images to the projector. Retail prices range from $399 to $599.
- Worship Him (www.worship-him.com) software allows for importing songs from Christian Copyright Licensing International's online lyric service, SongSelect software, or Integrity Worship Software. Worship Him offers automatic song usage tracking as well as automatic data backups. Worship Him retails for $179.95.
During the construction phase of the project, Draper worked with the building contractor to shorten the altar and steps, so he could mount the two Meyer Sound USW2 subwoofers in the front leading-edge of the stage. The contractor built flush-mounted cavities for the subs under the stage, 10 to 12 feet left and right from center. To keep the subs from rattling the stage, the cavity is built about 2 inches off the floor with the weight resting on the concrete floor. The cavities were built totally independent of the platform and then retrofitted into the platform area. “The Meyer Sound speakers are a perfect match for the room,” Draper says. “And the boxes are self-powered, so there was an added cost-savings.”
Worship services are mixed on an Allen & Heath ML-3000 mixing console with processing for the main PA provided by a BSS Soundweb processor. Two dbx DriveRack processors are used for the live floor wedges at the pulpit and remote speakers. QSC CX902 amplifiers power the floor wedges and choir monitors. All rack equipment is housed in five Raxxess 24-space racks with locking doors for additional security.
For ease of use, SVS also installed Juice Goose power sequencers that simplify the process of activating the audio system. With one turn of a key in the audio booth all components automatically turn on in sequence. This sequenced power activation makes it easier for the volunteer staff to get the system running.
As the church has moved to a more sophisticated audio system, the most recent investment was an Aviom A-16I transmitter and seven A-16 personal mixers using Shure E2 earbuds to complete its new in-ear monitoring (IEM) system. IEMs reduce the overall noise coming from the platform. The IEMs are used for the musicians, whose instruments range from a Hammond organ with Leslie speakers to lead, rhythm, and bass guitars, and Roland electronic drums and keyboards. All of the instruments are direct input, so there are no amplifiers onstage. The Leslie speakers are located in a separate, acoustically-controlled room away from the stage to prevent sound leakage.
For years, Littlefield knew that Tyler Tabernacle also needed video. “We wanted to do away with weekly song books,” he says. “AV makes it easier to communicate using lyrics onscreen or PowerPoint slides for sermons.”
The new video projection system includes two Sanyo PLC-XP55 LCD projectors shooting onto two 10- by 13-foot Da-Lite Perm-Wall screens. “The Perm-Wall screens also offered a cost-savings,” Draper says. “We had the church dedicate some wall space and leave them in place, instead of using motorized screens and having to bring in electrical service for it. That cut $2,000 to $3,000 off the budget. The church also wanted a rear of house projector to use as a teleprompter, so we pre-wired for it and had the electrician install an outlet in the proper place.”
With the new video system, the church has experienced an immediate drop in the amount of time needed for administrative announcements before each service. Any announcements are displayed onscreen before the start of service, with feeds to the 20-inch Samsung flat-panel LCD displays in the lobby and nursery areas. Using Easy Worship software, the church can also tailor a scrolling message across the bottom of the screen that can be updated with any relevant information, such as a car's lights left on in the parking lot or to alert a parent to return to the nursery without disrupting the service.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
- Allen & Heathwww.allen-heath.com
- Easy Worshipwww.easyworship.com
- James Lightingwww.jameslighting.biz
- Juice Goosewww.juicegoose.com
- Meyer Soundwww.meyersound.com
The site is also pre-wired for the addition of live video cameras. Draper pulled the Cat5 cable and installed mounting jacks, so when the church adds the cameras, it will be plug-and-play. Cameras in the sanctuary will be used in conjunction with its closed-circuit television system. Littlefield hopes to use the live cameras and additional recording devices to produce DVDs for people who miss the service.
Although lighting was at the bottom of the priority list, the church squeezed in some elements to complement the video system. To keep costs down, Draper designed a simple steel pipe structure that can hold eight lighting fixtures without using truss. Four banks of four MBT Par-64WU canisters serve as the lighting system, which is driven by a James Lighting 916 console.
The LAN system, which SVS designed and installed, rounds out the installation. The system includes more than 20 data connections throughout the facility, along with a broadband router for future use. A 24-station digital telephone system using Samsung DCS handsets with LCD displays is in place, as well as two independent Aiphone intercom systems.
Finally, all conduits in the building lead to a central point that's stubbed for expansion. Tyler Tabernacle sits on enough land for a second, bigger building, so Draper found a way to easily tie in a second building in the future without the need to tear out walls or cut concrete.
Linda Seid Frembes is a freelance writer and PR specialist for the professional AV industry. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.