With 14 campuses in and around the city of Chicago and 25 weekend worship services each Sunday, New Life Community Church is one very active non-denominational Christian church.
Until recently, their Midway Campus sanctuary faced a number of speech intelligibility and related challenges with their sound reinforcement system. The situation is now resolved—thanks in large part to the new sound system consisting of Variant Series installation line array loudspeakers from D.A.S. Audio.
West Chester, OH-based Troubadour Solutions, an A/V design / build firm with a focus on churches and associated Christian venues, was contracted to design and install the new sound reinforcement setup at the church’s Midway Campus. Dr. Scott Weaver, owner and chief designer of Troubadour Solutions, discussed the challenges of the project and his reasons for deploying fourteen D.A.S. Audio Variant loudspeakers.
“The Midway Campus sanctuary is a very challenging space,” Dr. Weaver explained. “This is a very wide, but shallow room. The sanctuary measures roughly 130 feet wide by 82 feet deep—with a 22-foot ceiling. The space uses moveable seating for approximately 700 worshippers. While there is some acoustical treatment on the walls as well as some baffles in the ceiling area, this is a rather live environment due to the ceramic tile floor.”
Dr. Weaver continued, “The stage / altar area is positioned along the width of the room and, hence, the loudspeaker system needed to provide broad horizontal coverage, but with very controlled throw so as to minimize the chance of acoustic reflections coming off the rear wall. After evaluating a number of systems, we determined that D.A.S. Audio’s Variant 25A powered mid-high line array elements were the right tool for the job.”
The loudspeaker arrangement in the Midway Campus sanctuary consists of three—left, center, right—loudspeaker line arrays, each with four Variant 25A elements, though the left hang is slightly different as explained momentarily. The loudspeaker arrays are spaced fairly far apart to ensure coverage throughout the very wide space. Each loudspeaker cluster is flown at maximum height. “The Variant enclosures enabled us to control the relatively short throw characteristics so as to avoid reflections off the rear wall while providing a very controllable splay,” Dr. Weaver said. “The rigging hardware presents a very refined, clean appearance that is ideal for any permanent installation.”
Due to the location of the FOH mix position, which is located in the rear left (as one faces the altar) and up high, very close to the ceiling, the loudspeaker cluster on the left is augmented by two additional Variant 25A enclosures—one functional and one that serves as a visual ‘filler.’ “The mix position is in a rather awkward location,” Dr. Weaver reports, “and this situation was compounded by the fact that there is a false ceiling area that serves as the platform for the sound booth. In order to effectively reach the FOH mix position, we placed the dummy enclosure above the four primary enclosures of the left array and then positioned the remaining functional enclosure on the very top—aimed directly at FOH. This was the only way we could provide suitable coverage for the mix engineer. The non-functional enclosure eliminates the visual distraction of having a ‘hole’ in the loudspeaker cluster.”
The Midway Campus loudspeaker installation took place in early February and was placed into service immediately afterward. Since that time, Dr. Weaver reports the new setup is receiving rave reviews. “The customer is very pleased with the look and the sound of the Variants,” Dr. Weaver says. “This system—with its excellent speech intelligibility and music reproduction characteristics—is ideal for the contemporary worship services that take place here. In addition to first-rate sound quality, this system presents a streamlined visual appearance. Carlos Henao, D.A.S. Audio’s U.S. Accounts Manager, was a tremendous help on this project, as it was his idea to use the blank, non-functional enclosure as a means of keeping the system’s visual appearance in tact. After the opening weekend, I received a text message from the church’s director that said it all… ‘Thank you, thank you, thank you.’ You couldn’t ask for a better compliment than that!”