Location: Norfolk, Virginia
TMS Scope: Designing a new loudspeaker system for their existing 1200-seat auditorium.
Project: Sound System Upgrade
Volunteer Tech Director and fellow ChurchSoundcheck member Drew Stapp originally contacted me in 2011 to discuss the possibility of hiring me to design an overhaul of the sound system in their existing sanctuary. I love working with a tech volunteer who knows his stuff. Drew not only plays trombone in one of the Navy bands, he also teaches the live sound reinforcement class for the Armed Forces School of Music to musicians in the Navy, Marines, and Army. How cool is that!?!
That original conversation didnt get very far, but Drew contacted me again in the Fall of 2012, introduced me to Worship Pastor Patrick Willis, and within a couple of weeks I found myself starting to build an acoustical model of their sanctuary.
Choosing the right loudspeaker system for their room proved interesting. The room is basically fan-shaped, with a main floor flanked by steeply raked side "wing" seating areas. The balcony wraps across the back, with deep underbalcony seating below it. The production booth runs across the center front edge of the balcony. There are a lot of steps to navigate on the way up to that balcony mix position, and lets just say that I lost a few pounds during my commissioning week.
The model was easy to build. Covering the main floor seating, underbalcony, and side wing seating was easy. Finding a system that would also properly cover their balcony seats, with high quality, within their budget window really took some effort. I could have easily covered the balcony seating from a delay ring. There was even a really nice catwalk area to work from directly over the platform. Unfortunately when the room was built, someone decided that including catwalks out over the audience seating area was going to cost too much, so they got dropped from the project. In other words, creating fly points to hang a delay ring would have required the installers to use jet packs, and we decided that wasn't going to happen. So I had to cover the balcony from the main loudspeaker arrays flown over the front edge of the platform.
We had originally ruled out using any type of line array because of the cost. But I kept coming back to the Bose RoomMatch loudspeaker system what they call a progressive directivity array as really the best possible solution to cover the entire room properly. So I went back to the church to see if maybe they could raise the budget a bit. Patrick brought up the request, his pastor was in agreement, and the church board agreed as well. Ultimately we were able to install a Bose RoomMatch system comprising three arrays of 4-modules each, supported by four subwoofers flown in a cardioid arrangement, five underbalcony speakers, plus Bose amps and DSP, as well as a brand new Allen & Heath GLD-112 console with one AR2412 and two AR84 preamp boxes. This system sounds gorgeous.
The installation was masterfully done by Communications Specialists, Inc. out of Mechanicsville, Virginia, led by Jack Tuck, Tom Wright, David Bragassa and Kirk Bowling. As it turned out, production models of the just-released Bose RMU208s that I chose for the underbalcony speakers were not ready to ship in time for the initial installation. Those arrived a few weeks later, and I was able to return to the church once those were installed to finish voicing the loudspeaker system with those in place.
Their first service took place on September 8, 2013. We later heard a report from Patrick that some of their senior members were overjoyed, even brought to tears with their newfound ability to hear and understand the sound of their pastor and the singing! What a blessing it is to hear such reports.
Worship Center Equipment
• Main Loudspeakers: Bose RoomMatch
• Flown Subwoofers: Bose RoomMatch
• DSP: Bose ControlSpace
• Console: Allen & Heath GLD-112
• Power Amps: Bose PowerMatch
I felt a little sorry for Drew. The Navy transferred him to Memphis just before this installation was completed. He gave his all in the tech ministry of Tab Church for several years, and of course was the reason that I got to design their new system. As it turned out, he was able to come back during my commissioning week and got to spend a short amount of time mixing on this amazing sound system. And he did leave the system in the capable hands of Eric Young. Still, I know Drew would have enjoyed the opportunity to mix on the system that he had envisioned for a very long time.