Updating the audio system in traditional churches to successfully host a wider variety of worship styles is a problem faced by many systems integrators. It’s a problem that Alcons Audio pro-ribbon systems are well-equipped to solve, as the latest in a number of recent US house of worship (HoW) installations proves.
Since the early 1990s, First Baptist Church in Thomasville, Georgia, has diversified from being a largely traditional HoW to hosting a much wider variety of events and has grown to serve a larger more diverse congregation as well as a variety of worship events and services.
The primary use of the audio system is on Sundays, which begin with a traditional service – featuring the church’s pipe organ, choir, piano and orchestral instruments – followed by a contemporary, praise and worship-style service with modern instrumentation, including drums, electric guitars and keyboards. The church also stages a wide program of special events and performances, including the annual Disciple Now (DNOW) youth weekend, for which the main sanctuary is transformed into a major contemporary music venue.
To accommodate this growing array of needs, the existing center cluster system was proving completely inadequate. A challenge was that the sanctuary is diamond shaped, with the stage, choir stalls, organ and pulpit located in one corner. With the side walls moving outwards from the audio system, this meant that it had to consistently cover considerable width as well as depth.
The church contacted its regular systems integrator, Thomasville-based S&L Integrated Systems. The company specified an Alcons Audio system comprising left and right hangs of six LR14/120 wide dispersion and three LR14/90 ultra-compact line-array modules each, plus two LR14B ultra-compact line-array bass modules. Two BF362mkII high output subwoofers were installed beneath the stage, with the system driven and controlled by three Sentinel10 amplified loudspeaker controllers.
With the LR14/120s ensuring that the full width of the sanctuary enjoyed high quality sound, the LR14/90s made sure that it was also heard at the very back.
Acoustically the space features a lot of flat, hard surfaces. While many of these have had basic acoustic treatment, the exceptional directivity of the Alcons pro-ribbon arrays also ensured that any slapback from either these or the front of the balcony was minimized.
“As well as needing to meet a wide variety of requirements, the system also needed to be aesthetically pleasing to blend in with the architecture of the space,” says S&L Integrated’s Clay Byars.
“This was achieved by the main left-right hangs being supplied in white, to match the décor, with the subs being concealed behind grilles in the front of the stage,” continues S&L Pre-Sales Engineer, Gage Helton. “The subs are buss fed, allowing for more control of the low end.”
While the installation of the system was straightforward, Alcons’ David Rahn worked with the S&L Integrated Systems team on fine-tuning the system.
“The key issue was tuning the system so that the people on the balcony have the same sonic experience as those on the main floor,” says Clay. “The clarity of the pro-ribbon technology is unmatched by any other system and the Sentinel10 amplified loudspeaker controllers deliver an AES3 96kHz, 24bit digital signal to the speakers. In short, that means the sound quality is exceptional. The client has been more than pleased with both the system and installation.”