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A Church Audio System for Traditional and Contemporary Services, Part 1

Dec 2, 2010 12:34 PM, With Bennett Liles

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Editor’s note: For your convenience, this transcription of the podcast includes timestamps. If you are listening to the podcast and reading its accompanying transcription, you can use the timestamps to jump to any part of the audio podcast by simply dragging the slider on the podcast to the time indicated in the transcription.

At Arapaho Road Baptist Church in Garland, Texas, they hold a traditional service and a contemporary service, but their technical requirements force them to be held in different rooms. Luke Raymond with Dispersion Design is here to tell us how he used an Aviom system and digital mixer to bring them back together.

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A Church Audio System for Traditional and Contemporary Services, Part 2
Holding a traditional and contemporary service back to back with vastly different sound requirements proved to be a challenge for Arapaho Road Baptist Church in Garland, Texas. ...

SVC: Luke, thanks for being here with me for the SVC podcast with Dispersion Design, and you did the Arapaho Road Baptist Church project in Garland, Texas. Now whereabouts is Dispersion Design and how long have that company been around?
Well, thank you very much for having me. Dispersion Design is based in Carrollton, Texas, which is in north Dallas, and we serve the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Over the years I have done a variety of different jobs relating to audio and video, however, Dispersion Design as a company has only been in existence for the past year, and so we’re relatively new and hoping to fulfill a need in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area as far as smaller churches that can’t afford to pay for the larger contractors and installers that are available. [Timestamp: 1:35]

Well, I would think there’s a big market for those, and you’ve obviously made a big difference for the people at Arapaho Road Baptist Church. How did you originally get with them on this project in the beginning?
I was recommended to them through a mutual contact, and so they approached me and requested that I put in a bid for the project. I think they had at least one other person bidding on it, and so we put together a proposal and we were accepted for the job. [Timestamp: 2:03]

What sort of a church is Arapaho Road Baptist Church? What sort of a service do they have there?
The Arapaho Road runs two services on a Sunday morning. One is a traditional service, which use choir, sometimes a praise team, a piano, and an organist that plays the synthesizer. And then they run a contemporary service that has a typical contemporary worship band with drums, base, acoustic piano keys, acoustic guitar, some electric guitars. They don’t have any choir singing during the contemporary service. And their difficulty was how to try and combine or to run both of these separate services in the same room. It really wasn’t suited for the contemporary service. Prior to that, to us coming in, they were having to run the contemporary service in a different building—actually in their youth gym because the auditorium, the main auditorium, was just not appropriately set up technically and acoustically it was not appropriate as well. So they approached me on a thing that they really needed to revamp—the audio system in their main auditorium, and [they] really wanted to try and fix the room such that they could run both services in that back to backmdash;be able to have a quick turnaround time and be able to have the technical capability that the contemporary service required. [Timestamp: 3:53]

And how are the acoustics there in the sanctuary? Was that a challenge for you?
Yes, the sanctuary has a 46ft. high ceiling at the peak. It was originally built to have a balcony, and the balcony was never installed. With seating of about 700 seats max, [it] makes for a very reverberant space. And there was no acoustic treatment when we came into the room. It had over a 3 second reverberation time. So it just simply: Spoken word was difficult to understand, and you can imagine that a drum kit in that room just became a terrible cacophony. [Timestamp: 4:17]

Yeah, that must be a real trick trying to get the sound environment right for the spoken word and having it work for music at the same time. Most of the time you really can’t get that perfectly suited for both.
That’s right, so the one thing that was apparent with the 3 second reverberation time is that needed to come down considerably. And we knew that we could reduce that quite lot without affecting the sound, probably still improving the sound of the traditional service, while making it much more manageable for the contemporary service with the drum kit. [Timestamp: 4:49]

And I figure the tech set ups being pretty well different between the two services, it must have been a fast six-handed game when you’re trying to do it all in the same place. I can see why you have to split it up and do the services in different places because there might be some days when, well, you might not have a lot of available man power.
The traditional service was using a small Mackie board. They had a limited number of inputs, but they had a tech team that was fairly inexperienced. And the contemporary service was used to having quite a lot more inputs and their technical team was a little bit more experienced, so the contemporary service volunteers were very concerned about moving into the main auditorium hoping that they would have the same capabilities that they were enjoying in the gym with the Logic Console and having multiple aux ends and multiple monitor feeds. So we did a careful analysis of what the different techs set ups were in the two rooms and upgraded the main auditorium to make sure that they had all the capabilities and more that the contemporary service was currently enjoying. [Timestamp: 6:03]

And when you split up the services, the contemporary service was being held in an adjacent building?
The contemporary service was being held in the adjacent youth gym, and they only had about 15 minutes between services. So one of the concerns was creating a situation that could be easily turned around from one service to the next in that short amount time without having to repatch a lot of channels and without having to reconfigure a complicated console. [Timestamp: 6:34]

Do they pretty much know what they needed on the technical side or did they just leave the whole thing up to you?
The people in charge at Arapaho Road came with a few ideas of their own, but they were very open to suggestions, and I found them very easy to work with as far as being able to incorporate what they were interested in and being able to guide them in the direction that we thought was best for them. On the whole, we found that they really were very open minded knowing what their problems were and just wanting to know what we would suggest to fix them. [Timestamp: 7:10]

And it seems that one of the main hardware additions there were the Aviom A16 personal mixers. Why did you go with those?
Aviom, as most people would recognize, is the standard as far church personal monitor systems are concerned. They came into the game very early with a low-cost quality piece of equipment, and so it’s a system that people are very familiar with. Volunteers that come from other churches are often already familiar with and musicians that play at a variety of different churches often are using the Aviom system at their other churches. And so that combined with the price point that worked for the church meant that’s what we recommended. [Timestamp: 8:00]

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