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Houses of Worship — October 6, 2005

Oct 6, 2005 11:30 AM


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Houses of Worship Top Story


Marketing to Churches Requires Subtlety, Staying Power

There probably are few, if any, AV integrators and dealers these days who don't realize houses of worship comprise a tremendous growth market for professional-grade AV systems. From modest sound systems in small community churches to state-of-the-art concert sound in 10,000-seat mega-sanctuaries, churches are spending money and demanding the best.

But how do you market to this growing specialty? Word of mouth plays a major role in bringing churches and integrators together—possibly a greater role than in any other niche. But word of mouth can cut two ways.

In addition to sharing recommendations for integrators and dealers who have done great work, church media ministers are increasingly talking to each other through a burgeoning online community. Message boards and discussion forums in settings such as Churchmedia.net, Churchsoundcheck, Prosoundweb, Churchvideovenues, and many more provide plenty of opportunity for gripes as well as praise to make the rounds.

Add to that the scores of personal blogs already blossoming all over the net, and the word-of-mouth machine is in full swing. "Churches are sharing information more effectively today," says Jay Paul of SPL Integrated Solutions in Columbia, Md. "The Internet has enabled everyone to share information and experiences."

Paul points out that many traditional marketing and sales approaches don't work very well in the church arena. "I don't think the hard sell is applicable," he says. Instead, successful selling is based on strong relationships.

These relationships, moreover, can grow over a long period and may take an integrator and a church client through several successive generations of systems and designs.

Contractors and integrators apply different strategies to building these relationships. Educational outreach, for example, is a popular tool. Audio Visual Innovations of Tampa, Fla., includes church-specific content in its "AVI University" programs. Ford Audio Video stages workshops at diverse locations throughout the year. Other companies offer similar opportunities.

Many integrators also join with vendors as exhibitors at trade shows and conferences serving the worship niche. And advertising regularly fills the columns of a growing number of church AV publications.

But how effective is all of this effort when it comes to making contact with the church media minister of project manager who is getting ready to launch an AV project? It's hard to say.

Paul points out that many successful client/integrator relationships start small, often with improvements to a legacy sound system. Establishing a track record for good advice and service can mean the integrator grows along with the church.

Larger projects often involve a professional church AV consultant, Paul says, and integrators should take pains to have good relationships with consultants in their region, as well. Depending in part on the size of the job, churches may opt for a "design-build" or a "design-bid-build" approach to their projects. In the former, one company handles both design and implementation, while the latter structure involves a distinct process of competitive bidding after design and before construction contracts are awarded.

Finding just the right place at which to access this process can be challenging, but can also be the key to success at the upper end of the church market.

With any AV project, no matter what market it is, the integrator needs to provide knowledge, service, support, and a strong relationship. But, Paul reports, in the church market, something extra is needed. "In the church market," he says, "you need to make sure that you are known for the honesty and integrity that you provide over a long-term relationship."


Installation News


Christ Chapel @ Sportstowne's Vista Systems Spyder 353 system.

Vista Systems Spyder Enhances Worship at Christ Chapel

Christ Chapel @ Sportstowne is using a Vista Systems Spyder 353 to enhance worship services and broadcasts from its new large, multipurpose home in Macon, Ga.

Christ Chapel recently bought the 116,000-square-foot sports facility where the Macon Knights arena football team trains. Boasting three indoor basketball/tennis courts, a roller hockey/volleyball arena, and an indoor football/soccer field, the facility is used by Christ Chapel for regular worship services and sports ministries, while remaining available for city and church sports leagues.

Worship services are held in the basketball arena. One entire court has been outfitted with a huge concert rig and a stage with a theatrical-curtain back wall. Two 12'x16' screens are flown off the end of truss at the front corners of the stage; 64 channels of audio are run from the stage to a sound booth on wheels which features a 48-channel audio board, monitor console, and lighting console.

The other two basketball courts are filled with 1,000 stackable chairs for worshippers; another 650 people may be seated on electrically-operated bleachers. The facility's aerobics room has been converted to a nursery, the hockey arena is used for children's ministries, and the sporting goods store has been converted to the youth room.

Christ Chapel's TV ministry, consisting of pastors John Wood and Andy King's sermons from Sunday services, airs locally on Fox, Cox Cable, and CTN Cable. Entire Sunday morning and evening services are streamed live on the Internet; college, youth, and children's ministries will soon stream live on the Web as well.

Spyder is used to display IMAG of the service, various video clips, and song lyrics on the pair of big screens flanking the stage. "Even if you're sitting fourth row center stage, you're watching the screens," says technical director Bryan Nichols. "So many things onscreen are catching your attention with Spyder. Things you can't see if you're just looking at the stage."

The chapel is equipped with an Edirol system loaded with thousands of DV video clips used as high-resolution backgrounds for song lyrics. Additionally, lyrics may be layered over the live camera feeds of singers and musicians. "Spyder enables us to have the lead singer on one screen and the guitar soloist on the other with words of the song layered over both screens," Nichols explains. "Or, with Spyder's five inputs, I can put five different things on each screen. We could have the guitar player, bass player, a singer, and sax player with the lyrics overlaid on one screen, then mirror that combination on the second screen."

With Spyder's Picture In Picture (PIP) function, Nichols can capture Wood in a wide shot while the PIP displays the scripture verses he's reading or the text of his sermon. "We can make the text go full screen so people can read along," says Nichols, "then shrink it back down as the pastor begins to discuss it. We can have a wide shot of the stage across the top half of the screen then use cameras 2 and 3 for PIPs of the lead singer or keyboard player, for example, on the bottom half."

Three-camera feeds are the norm. Two of the Sony digital cameras are manned; the third is mounted to the truss on a robotic arm controlled from the video control room.

Nichols was introduced to Spyder at NAB 2005. "I met with all the big-name manufacturers and nobody could tell me how to do what we wanted to do: stay completely digital so our screens would look beautiful," recalls Nichols. "There were digital cameras and switchers, but no devices that would run to the screen and stay all digital for under $200,000. Until I saw the Spyder."

Nichols admits that he was skeptical of the cost-effective Spyder's wide range of capabilities until he returned to Macon and began reading the Spyder literature he'd brought home. "Vista Systems could configure a system to fit what we needed," he says. "Spyder was easy to use and enabled us to stay all digital."

Ease of use was important for Nichols, who leads a 15-member team of volunteers. "Once you're set up, you just literally push a button," he notes. "Keying is built in for layering words over live video." Vista Systems provided day-long onsite training for Nichols and his team, and they quickly absorbed Spyder's operations. However, "We inadvertently erased all the settings the Saturday night before our first Sunday service with Spyder," Nichols recalls. "But I was able to go back in that night and reprogram it. Nobody's call-in tech support is better than Vista Systems'. They've been superb."

Spyder also integrated well with Christ Chapel's Christie LX55 projectors and Panasonic digital switcher with SDI cards. "Because we run all-digital and have such beautiful images, our 5500-lumen projectors look better and brighter than 10K or 12K models that have analog signals being sent to them," Nichols points out.

Those pristine full-screen images, multiple images, and layered text and graphics are generating "oohs and aahs" from the congregation, Nichols reports. "For the first service's first song, I didn't want to do too much, but that song was really kickin' so I put up four different shots with the lyrics over them and I could hear the 'oohs' from everyone."

"We try to do something different for every service. Spyder enhances the experience; it doesn't distract the worshippers," he emphasizes. "We've just scratched the surface of what Spyder can do. Our congregation will never get tired of it."


Van Metschke, chief audio engineer at Mariners Church in Irvine, Calif., with the ATI Paragon II Production console, which was moved into the new house of worship center in October.

ATI Paragon II Production Console Moves to New Mariners Church

Mariners Church, based in Irvine, Calif., is a go-ahead, multi-denominational Christian church that places a strong emphasis on the quality of its church-going experience and selects the best audio equipment for performance areas. Just more than a year ago, the technical arts department installed a new ATI Paragon II production console for FOH mixing in a 2,300-seat worship center. Now, with the completion of a stunning 3,200-seat auditorium in Mariners Church's new worship center, the 48-channel, eight stereo-group Paragon II has been relocated to handle FOH sound for weekend services and other high-energy events.

"The Paragon II was the console to buy," states Van Metschke, Mariners Church's chief audio engineer and primary sound mixer. "We investigated a lot of analog and digital consoles, and concluded that the ATI Paragon offered outstanding sound quality and excellent value for money. I am looking forward to using the system in our new auditorium, where we have a large multi-element line array to cover a dramatically increased seating area."

"Quite simply," adds Mariners Church's technical director, Ken Robertson, "we purchased the Paragon because of its sonic quality. When Van and I wrestled with the choice of analog or digital consoles for our application, we actually looked at the Yamaha PM1D and the DiGiCo D5. However, we felt we would not benefit from the biggest plus of digital consoles—recall. So, we set our 'Keeping up with the Joneses' hats aside and choose the Paragon II which is, without question, one of the best analog consoles available today. The savings was tens of thousands of dollars better allocated to other equipment."

Music features strongly during gatherings at Mariners Church. Services often include a number of featured vocalists, a medium-sized rhythm section, and a large choir—all of which need to be balanced at the FOH console. Indeed, Metschke considers one of his favorite features on the ATI Paragon II to be its comprehensive dynamics section per channel. "The RMS compressor/limiters and parametric noise gates sound very musical," he explains, "and ensure that we can run a hot mix without worrying about overloading the amps and loudspeaker systems. And it means we did not have to purchase a rack of outboard dynamics units."

To ensure a clean stage layout, the church specified Sennheiser EW300IEM and Shure PSM Series personal monitor systems. For added mobility, wireless microphones include Audio Technica AT-5000 and Shure UC4 models.

Combining Class-A analog processing with digital controlled switching, the ATI Paragon II provides LCR panning, eight stereo sub-groups, eight stereo matrix outputs, two mono and two stereo mix outputs. "Our console is a standard system that is comprised of 48 input strips laid in two banks of 24 on either side of a central control section," Metschke says. Channel strips are available in mono or stereo configurations, routing to eight stereo output groups and controllable via eight stereo VCA channels and eight mute groups. Stereo input channels can be installed in any position within a 48-channel frame, up to a maximum of 24 modules. All signal routing and signal on/off settings are handled by microprocessor-controlled switching. Assignments are held in non-volatile memory and can be stored/reloaded using optional software that provides access to 256 snapshot scenes.

"The console's EQ section is particularly comprehensive," Metschke says. "As well as high- and low-pass filters, mono channels include a fully parametric four-band equalizer with peak/shelve selection on each band, while the stereo channels feature fixed bandwidth and shelving for low and high bands." A channel-insert function allows the return signal to be applied to either the VCA or the EQ input. The insert send jack is always active, outputting either pre/post-EQ signals.

Output routing is handled via a bank of eight multi-function switches at the top of each assignment module—plus the stereo returns. "One mode assigns post-fader signals to any of the eight stereo groups," continues Metschke. "Another accepts level and mute control into the module from any of the eight masters, while the third accepts mute control into the module from any of the eight mute group masters. And routing modes can be selected either locally or globally." Separate mix assignment switches assign post-fader audio to the two mono and two stereo busses. (For stereo modules, the mono mix receives a mono sum of left and right).

"The ATI Paragon II is well-built and reliable," Metschke concludes. "It features an easy-to-learn front panel layout—essential for our untrained volunteer staff—and is a high-end design. It was the only choice."

Regarding Mariners Church's recent expansion, Ken Robertson explains that seating capacity of its existing worship center was restricting growth. "When you reach 80 percent capacity in a space, newcomers feel there is no room for them and they find another church to attend. Your growth slows dramatically."

The solution was to purchase land behind their existing property and build two new buildings. The church's "Imagine 1" campaign initiative secured funds to purchase an additional 26 acres of land adjacent to its original campus. The "Imagine 2" secured an additional $30 million for the new 63,000-square-foot Port Mariners Children's Building, plus the new 81,000-square-foot multi-function worship center. Port Mariners opened officially in late June, and the worship center opened in October.


Product News


Canton Ships Redesigned Ergo Series

Canton has begun shipping its newly redesigned Ergo series of loudspeakers. The line features completely new drivers and crossover networks incorporating technological advancements developed for the recently introduced Vento line, as well as the most significant improvements in the line's cabinet design in more than 20 years. The Ergo line includes a trio of three-way floorstanders, three compact two-way models, a 2 1/2-way center channel, and a dramatically improved 350W powered subwoofer.

"The Ergo line has long represented the most conservative aspects of Canton's design philosophy," remarks Canton's head designer Frank Göbl. "This marks the most significant evolution the line has seen in the past 20 years, incorporating the lessons learned and new techniques we have developed over the past decade in all aspects of loudspeaker design. The result is the embodiment of classic Ergo sensibilities—just better."

All of the full-range models in the Ergo line employ the newest evolution of the company's highly regarded ADT-25 aluminum-manganese dome tweeter. The most significant change to the driver from previous versions is the new flared transmission front plate, which delivers improved high-frequency dispersion and off-axis linearity, and increases driver efficiency by 2dB to 3dB overall. As with the earlier tweeters in the Ergo line, the revised ADT-25 employs Canton's signature one-piece aluminum-manganese dome and voice coil former. This arrangement provides superior high-frequency performance and heat dissipation when compared to conventional two-piece designs. Additionally, the driver features an improved surround design that leads to reduced distortion and less susceptibility to break-up modes. The end result of all of these refinements is to extend the tweeter's effective operating range all the way out to 40kHz while simultaneously decreasing distortion.

All of the bass and midrange drivers in the Ergo line feature extremely stiff and lightweight black anodized aluminum cones for optimum response characteristics. The drivers are the same as those developed for the Vento series, including redesigned motor systems, newly developed sinusoidal surrounds, and improved spiders. These refinements led to a 60 percent to 100 percent increase in excursion capabilities, and a 6dB to 9dB increase in deep bass output for all Ergo bass and midrange cone drivers.

The new Ergo line also incorporates the most significant change in cabinet design the line has seen in more than two decades. The front baffle of all the models now incorporates a gentle curve across the face of the speaker. This design not only enhances the appearance of the series; it also dramatically reduces deleterious edge effects for improved off-axis dispersion characteristics and linear frequency response. Additionally, the floorstanding models in the line now incorporate an additional bottom plate that improves isolation from the floor. The increased structural support of both the baffle and the bottom plate also serves to further reduce cabinet resonance.

Lastly, the three floorstanding models in the Ergo line each employ Canton's exclusive Displacement Control (DC) technology, which uses a proprietary high-pass filter to prevent signals below the audible frequency range from interfering with the bass driver. In conventional speakers, these signals can generate high levels of unwanted harmonic distortion in the audible lower bass range, causing a muffled or "blatty" tonal quality. DC technology allows the speakers to provide clear, linear bass reproduction at much lower frequencies than could otherwise be attained.

All of the models in the Ergo line are currently available in the company's stunning silver lacquer finish, or in real-wood veneers of beech, cherry, or black ash. Grilles are made of acoustically transparent perforated metal in either black or silver, depending on cabinet finish.


JVC's 16:9, 40in. monitor, the GM-H40L1G.

Super-slim and Highly Efficient Professional LCD Display Monitors Launched

A highlight for JVC at IBC2005 is the launch of three new professional LCD TFT monitors—the widescreen (16:9) 40in. monitor, the GM-H40L1G, and the 4:3-sized 19in. and 17in. monitors, the GD-19L1 and 17L1. JVC also showed its range of high-definition DT-V monitors and its vast array of selectable input cards.

Commenting on the IBC launch, Gustav Emrich, product manager at JVC Professional Europe states, "No longer used only for display purposes, flat-panel LCD screens now must be versatile enough to integrate with a wide range of equipment and to be mountable in a variety of positions and locations, especially where space is limited. Security in public areas and longevity are also key factors when selecting the right model. The new 19in. and 17in. models are ideal for diverse monitoring applications, and the 40in. GM-H40L1G LCD monitor is designed to meet the video format demands and needs of today's professional integrators and installers."

The 40in. LCD model has a self-diagnostic LED indicator and an Eco-Sensor, which automatically tracks the ambient light level and so adjusts the screen's brightness to reduce excessive luminance. It has a security lock for theft prevention in public areas. Enhanced features include high-speed input switching, digital zoom, and picture-in-picture and picture-by-picture dual display modes. All JVC's LCD monitors have VESA-compliant wall mounting templates.

JVC's super-slim 40in. LCD is designed for space-limited installations The GM-H40L1G monitor measures only 4.92in. (123mm) in depth and is specially designed with a silent, thermostatically controlled, variable-speed cooling fan that delivers optimal performance. It has a native resolution of 1366x768 pixels and brightness of 500cd/m2. Images can be viewed at 170 degrees. Flush-mounting enhances the use of space in restricted environments, such as OB vans, production and editing suites and broadcast studios. Because it was designed specially to have all its air vents on the side panels, the monitor requires no air gap at its rear. Thus it can be mounted flush against the wall or ceiling. The standard fan operation is designed to handle ceiling or other horizontal installations.

The side air vents and the thermostatically controlled fan also mean that two units can be installed back-to-back. The bezel is detachable and can be customised to match its surroundings or smoothly fit into a system. Replacing the bezel is also a possibility for units used in busy traffic and public venues where they may become marked or scratched. The monitor comes with two in-built audio speakers.

Having an impressive array of standard inputs and external controls, the GM-H40L1G monitor is compatible with a number of signal formats including composite, Y/C, RGB analog signals, and DVI-D RGB, SDI, HD SDI or HDMI formats, enabling it to display images captured at a resolution of up to 1920x1080. Monitor control is by a variety of external control terminals such as the widely used RS-232C and RS-485. Where longer cable lengths are required, Make- and Trigger-type remote controls are available, as is RJ-45 for LAN control.


Nexus Audio Systems C-6 Multi-Zone AV Controller Brings Award-Winning Technology to Installers

Nexus Audio Systems, a leader in audio/video distribution systems, brings the C-6 multi-zone AV controller's award-winning technologies to installers. The C-6, which came home from the recent CEDIA show with a RESI Award for "Best A/V Controller/Receiver," supports six independently operated zones, as well as five audio/video source components, in addition to a built-in AM/FM tuner module.

"The greatest feature of the C-6 is its 'Phantom Control' technology," explains Victor Berry, founder and president of Nexus Audio Systems. "The C-6 requires no special control wiring by integrating easily onto the same four wires used to drive the speakers. This makes the C-6 the perfect choice for any installation. With new or existing construction, the C-6 provides the greatest flexibility, ease of operation, and simplicity of installation of any multi-room product on the market today."

The C-6 system is expandable to 18 zones using the X-1 and X-2 expansion controllers. The K-8 and K-22 keypads provide simple, intuitive control. Both models control zone power, source selection, source control, volume, treble, and bass. With an easy-to-read backlit LCD that also conveniently displays the tuner frequencies, there is never any question to the user of system status, the source selected, or volume. The K-22 provides the additional flexibility of direct tuning, disc and track selection. In Group Mode, the K-22 keypad can scroll and display configurable zone names to aid in setting up groups for temporary 'Party Mode' configurations. Both keypads feature an Infrared receiver that can be used with the R-1 handheld remote for additional flexibility and armchair control.

C-6 System Overview:

  • Six independent zones (up to 18 using the X-1 and X-2 expansion controllers)
  • 40W per zone; 20W/channel (20Hz to 20KHz) at 0.1 percent THD all zones driven
  • Five AV source inputs
  • Automatic power management of common source components
  • Built in AM/FM tuner (with 10 presets) in addition to the five AV inputs
  • Audio and video inputs for whole-house paging
  • Doorbell or telephone mute function
  • Custom zone and source naming
  • Zone grouping and sharing
  • High current toroidial power supply
  • Infrared learning microprocessor with six 3.5mm output jacks
  • 12VDC trigger out at 100mA
  • "Phantom Control" over existing or newly installed four-conductor speaker wire
  • RS-232 serial port
  • "Feature Port" for future control capability
  • Dimensions: 17" Wx3 7/8" Hx14" D (including feet and connections)
  • 120 VAC 650W
  • Comprehensive five-year parts and labor warranty.

"Engineered for the future, the C-6 includes a RS-232 serial port and a 'Feature' port for future product control," adds Berry. "This means that your system can easily integrate into other home automation systems. The Nexus C-6 allows for interconnection to a paging system and also provides a mute function that integrates with your doorbell or telephone system to ensure you will not miss that important call or visitor."

For more information on the Nexus C-6 multi-zone AV controller, please visit www.nexusaudiosystems.com or call toll-free at (866) 303-2629.





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