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Church Sound Profile: Inside The New System At Calvary Chapel Of The High Desert In California
A system professional's first-hand account of meeting design goals in the development of a sound reinforcement system matched to a new youth sanctuary
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church sound profile
A view into the new youth sanctuary at Calvary Chapel of the High Desert, served by a high-level sound reinforcement system by DJL Audio/Video Specialists

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  Church Sound, Applications

Calvary Chapel of the High Desert (CCHD) in Hesperia, California is an energetic, modern church that enjoys immense popularity in the local area. 

With a full rock band, qualified and dedicated audio volunteers and a spirited pastoral staff that expects excellence in all they do, they are serving their community in a real and powerful way. Due to rapid growth, the church decided to add a new Sunday School and youth sanctuary building. 

My systems firm, DJL Audio/Video Specialists of San Dimas, had previously renovated the system in CCHD’s main sanctuary and advised on acoustical treatments, so we were asked to design and install the new sound system for the youth sanctuary.

The new facility was to be a medium-sized, high-ceilinged room of open and generous proportions with a slightly elevated stage, good sightlines, and lots of natural light.

There is a dedicated mixer location in front of the rear wall, with two equipment racks directly behind the operators as they mix. These racks contain all patchbays, FX processors, recorders, A/V interfaces, wireless receivers, and wireless in-ear transmitters. 

All system DSP and amplification is in the stage-right green room, and the system has its own, dedicated, isolated-ground AC service.

System Design Goals
The design goals changed several times during the programming and design process, varying from “just a simple system that won’t cost too much” to a concert-grade system, with effects and patchbays that a pro level touring group would be happy to use. 

Our goal, as a company, was to give the client something they would never find inadequate for all the conceivable uses of this new space, so a simple, small system was not our first choice. 

Perspective of the new youth sanctuary at Calvary Chapel, with the main loudspeaker array and subwoofers flown above the platform. (click to enlarge)

We knew that eventually a touring band would use the room, or the excellent band from the main sanctuary would use the room, and we did not want anyone to be disappointed with the new system. To that end, we wanted to avoid giving them less than they need, but also avoid what our company president, Darryl Lima calls “gold-plating the system.”

What he means by that is adding every gadget, touch panel, automation, and/or the latest half-million dollar mixer or loudspeaker system. What was needed was that level of performance without the very high price it often brings; in other words, a system that would perform like a million bucks but cost a whole lot less.

Start With The Loudspeakers
Any system is only as good as its loudspeakers, so this was the first area we looked at during the design process. We’d heard good things about the new VQ Series from Tannoy, always seeking excellent pattern-control and low distortion as top priorities, and we love these aspects of Tannoy’s line.

We picked up a demo loudspeaker from the testing lab that verifies Tannoy performance specs, and the engineer said, “this is the best loudspeaker we’ve ever measured”.

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