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Megachurch Audio Upgrade, Part 2

Jun 16, 2010 12:30 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.

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Megachurch Audio Upgrade, Part 1
Michael Garrison Associates upgrades the speaker system at Southland Christian Church. ...

The Southland Christian Church in Lexington, Ky., had a sound system that needed to grow with the demands of live music, and they called in the original installer Michael Garrison Associates to do a speaker upgrade. Michael Garrison joins us along with Brian Roggow and Steve Shewlakow to tell us how it all happened.

All right, Brian, Steve, and Michael, thanks for being back for part two on the Southland Christian Church sound system upgrade, and we were talking before about the spacing of the speakers and how you dealt with frequency response. Have you noticed any effect on the live mics being used since they’ve updated their services with a lot of live music?
Roggow: Yeah, the VQ system, the speakers, have really extremely good characteristics in regards to gain before feedback. I find it to be exceptional when I consider all the advantages of a line array, which are certainly there for a trapezodial design. They’re far improved over the MH box as far as the amount of gain before feedback that you can achieve and with a device. Although,certainly it’s much, much, much hotter in output so that means the only way that you can use that is if the mannerisms of the characteristics of the wave guides are well-behaved, and they are, so it’s quite amazing how much isolation there is when there really is no magic tricks per se from an array stand point for you to achieve gain before feedback. Their pastor uses a lav and a typical omnidirectional lav--I don’t believe it’s even a cardiod, and he’s fairly soft-spoken. I was there for a Saturday service. Now, I am not saying it is not a challenge for him to get gain. Most lavs are even on line arrays, but it’s very acceptable in a pretty,I would use, hostile but challenging environment--depends whether he’s up on the stage right underneath the arrays. And it has quite desirable good manners in the sense as far as gain before feedback with live microphones. Obviously, handhelds and drums and guitars and things like that are not as challenging, and the extra horsepower of the device is definitely easily used. [Timestamp: 2:37]

Yeah, I think the one thing that the sound people in churches always wish for or hope for or even pray for is that the pastor will decide he wants to go with a headset mic or something. Roggow: Yes.

They have a much easier time of it. Roggow: Yeah, there are some who just aren’t comfortable with those headsets and it makes it more of a challenge for the sound people. [Timestamp: 2:56]

So Steve, where is the sound mixing position? I know even internal church politics gets into that sometimes. What are they using out there and where do they have the FOH mixer?
Shewlakow: Well, the FOH mixer, it’s about 65ft. off the stage, and it’s actually a decent-sized sound booth. It’s right before the break into the gym part of the room. But I believe the size of the booth area is about 20x6 or 7, but it houses the lighting position, a graphics position, along with the FOH position. The console that they have is from the original system. We installed a Allen & Heath ML 5000 console, 48-input, and then they also added a 24-channel ML 5000 sidecar to that. It’s laid out in an L shape and then the sidecar is used for a lot of the secondary inputs and stuff that they have, so tape decks, CD players, and those kinds of devices like that. [Timestamp: 3:54]

Brian, we’ve talked a little bit before about how the style of worship at the Southland Christian Church has evolved. Is there anything you had to do to with the sound system to contend with that?
Roggow: Yeah, they described their style—I think their sound person used the word “more modern rock-oriented”—dual male-female worship leaders with backing vocals. It’s acoustic guitars; it’s a bit more driven than it was when they came online. I think the sense that the loudspeakers themselves now are more of a horn-loaded design, especially and obviously in the mid- and high-frequency response where there’s now a waveguide where there wasn’t before. It is a much more focused sound and more present. It isn’t quite so diffused--one of the characteristics of the MH Super Dual loudspeakers was it was a more lower acoustic in a sense that it didn’t have a waveguide. It sounded very open and very nice, but it didn’t have more of a focused sound that a lot of people are used to hearing in horn-loaded designs or even a line arrays, which you have low crossover points and very, very focused midrange, and so this has those characteristics especially,In the model system, we used the 100-degree devices, the 100-degree conicles, so that’s a little wider and shorter throw, and it doesn’t sound quite as focused in the midrange section. And in the stereo system, in this particular space, we used 60-degree devices. There’s four of them, and they have a very different characteristic. they are very warm, and they have a strong, controlled midrange section to them and so their sound person is--he is able to pick what he wants to put in either system. They both have equal coverage, and I think it works better with this sort of style--the more rock-driven music than perhaps the MH or the Super Dual system did. [Timestamp:5:50]

You’ve also got some VS218DR subwoofers in there. Where did you put those?
Roggow: With the higher degree of output that these speakers can deliver, we certainly needed more VLF to keep up, and so, like Steve mentioned earlier, we beefed up the power amps that were on the existing EAW 528 subs, and we also added a couple of the new VQ series double 18 power 8 dual18 subs, and we actually just placed them in the same location. There’s a large area up above the catwalk center stage, so we basically just flanked the new subwoofers on either side of the existing subwoofer right. [Timestamp: 6:29]

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