Jan 18, 2012 1:07 PM, By Carolyn Heinze
5 line array challenges
The Big, Wide Bouncy Rectangle
Serving worshippers of all ages, the First Baptist Church in Orillia, Ontario, Canada, offers both conventional and contemporary-style worship services. This means clarity and horsepower matter equally in a space that was challenging to say the least.
Godfried van Rooij, chief design engineer and co-owner of nearby Collingwood, Ontario-based CHS Productions, explains that one of the biggest challenges was the configuration of the sanctuary itself. “Since the auditorium is very wide and the seating wraps around part of the front platform, sound dispersion becomes a very critical issue,” he says. A reflective rear wall in combination with mezzanine seating added to the equation.
Rooij notes that if CHS had opted for a traditional speaker system, multiple clusters would have been required in order to achieve enough coverage up front, with extra units to cover the mezzanine. He added that this design would have also resulted in slapback echo due to the reflections coming from the rear wall. There was also the issue of ceiling height: Because the roof is quite high, some of the clusters would have needed to be suspended low in order to provide any kind of coverage. Apart from this scenario being not very aesthetically desirable, multiple clusters would result in less sound clarity even when the delays were set properly. “This is because the delay can only be correct for a small area where the clusters overlap,” he says.
The implementation of a line array system enabled all sound to come from one point source, Rooij explains. “In this case, a Renkus-Heinz PNX series line array was used because of its very wide dispersion of 150 degrees and its very narrow controlled vertical dispersion of 7 degrees,” he says. The main cluster—comprised of three loudspeakers—is flown behind the video screen and a smaller array of two loudspeakers hangs behind the projector. Amplification is provided by Crest CA series amps, and processing is achieved through a Rane RMP26z. “Since two arrays were used, they could be aimed so that the sound was focused only on the seating areas, from the front row to the back wall, and to the mezzanine, hence avoiding slapback echo from the rear wall,” he says.
For Rooij, line array loudspeaker systems are literally a godsend for the house of worship market. “Church auditoriums very often can be an acoustical challenge,” he says. “A well-designed and installed line array will provide a good solution for years to come.”
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