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Megachurch Audio Upgrade, Part 1

Jun 3, 2010 12:09 PM, By 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.

The Southland Christian Church in Lexington, Ky., had grown to include live music, and they called Michael Garrison Associates to come back in and upgrade the system they had installed earlier. Michael Garrison, Steve Shewlakow, and Brian Roggow are here to tell us how it went.

Michael, Brian, and Steve, thanks for being with me on the House of Worship AV podcast, and we are talking about the Southland Christian Church and I believe it’s right outside of Lexington, Kentucky.
Michael Garrison: That’s correct.

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Megachurch Audio Upgrade, Part 2
Michael Garrison Associations upgrades megachurch audio....

You got in there and I think you already had a longstanding relationship with the church, but before we get rolling on that, tell me a little bit about Michael Garrison Associates and what you’re all into there.
Garrison: Well, we’ve been in business for about 34 years—little over that, [and have] focused on churches during that entire time. In the early days, it was just acoustics and audio systems, but as we grew and as the need in churches grew, we added lighting and video experts to our team and so we do all of those systems. We focus on the design of buildings. Most of our work, probably three-quarters of it or at least two-thirds of it, is new construction where we’re working with the architect to help the building get designed correctly and optimized as it can be. The other portion of our work would be renovating existing buildings and then some part of it is also just upgrading systems, but churches are who we focus on and want to serve. [Timestamp: 1:55]

Yeah, that can be a big job because the church works with a lot of volunteers and you got to make it fairly bullet proof. What kind of church is Southland Christian? It looks like a pretty big place.
Garrison: It is big. When we first got involved with them back in mid-1998, they were a growing church and they were embarking on their largest building project to date—they’d had several before then. But to answer the question about what kind of church they are: They’re independent, non-denominational, evangelical church. They’ve always been kind of aimed at the more contemporary modern style of both communications, so the pastors have been more casual rather than formal and the worship style of music has been contemporary as well. Right now, they average about 10,000 in attendance each week. Back when we first met them in 1998, I am not sure what it was. But they came to us as a referral from their sister church in Louisville, Ky., Southeast Christian Church, a project that we were working on at the time. And so we were brought in to be a part of this big building project that included a 3,000 seat multipurpose main assembly, and it’s called “multipurpose” because it’s was also intended to be interim. They have plans for a larger auditorium some day, but this was a convertible space where they could do basketball and sports and all of that as well as have their weekend and midweek services, and they wanted it to perform nice for both. [Timestamp: 3:32]

And churches, as a general rule, are not all that acoustically friendly. So how are the acoustics in the sanctuary there?
Garrison: When we were brought in on the design of the room back in ’99 and 2000, what they said is that it was going to be an interim main assembly space, but they wanted it to have really good acoustics so that it wouldn’t inhibit their growth and the ability that future auditorium. So they gave us a charge to come up with good acoustics, as good as it could be when half of the floor is a wood basketball court. But what we were allowed to do and what they paid for was to put in a tective roof deck, which provided overall reverberence reduction, and underneath that roof deck we hung RPG D-baffles is what the product is called. It’s low-frequency control, so that the room wouldn’t be boomy, and then underneath all of that we had RPG diffusor systems Golden Pyramids. The 4ft. square units make an interesting architectural statement in the building but also provided the diffusion we needed to enhance congregational singing. On the walls, budget prevented them from putting the RPG backpanels that we had prescribed, instead we ended up putting in Tectum Finale panels that are a little more durable, they’re less costly, they look good, and they work plenty good enough to control the lateral and front to back reflections. And so the result of the acoustics when the building was completed in 2001, or whenever, they were surprisingly good. We were surprised at how good the rooms sounded, and the church was very happy with it. So the sound system from that initial sound system and the acoustics were very nice and the church was happy with it. [Timestamp: 5:33]

And Brian, what were they doing for speakers in there to start with?
Roggow: The original system installed was a Tannoy Super Dual system; some had Super Dual MIDI components with a combination of a DDS mid-bass and PAS low-mid section, and so it’s a five-way mono system when you get down through the LF and the subs and then there was also a scaled back stereo system that used the Tannoy T300 speakers. And we had started it when the mono system had began to develop a box series we called the MH, which was designed with the Super Dual components. There was two versions called the Senior, which was a four-way box and then there was a Junior which was just a three-way box. So they had three of the four-way boxes installed in the original install. [Timestamp: 6:32]

Garrison: And I might add that those boxes were built for us by Tannoy. [Timestamp: 6:36]

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