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Powersoft Amplifiers Enhance Clarity & Control In Two Existing Houston Church Systems
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Brian Victor (left), technical director at Grace Church, and Joe Smart, sales manager at Covenant Communications, with some of the Powersoft amplifiers that have breathed new life into the Grace Church systems.

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  Applications, Worship Audio, Amplifiers, Powersoft

Powersoft amplifiers have breathed new life into the installed sound systems at both campuses of Grace Church in Houston, TX, where Covenant Communications Corporation recently performed an upgrade in response to a request from church leaders.

Covenant Communications installed 18 Powersoft Duecanali and M Series amplifiers outfitted with DSP and Ethernet-based network connectivity after analyzing the house systems at both locations and determining that the loudspeakers were underpowered and would benefit from the addition of system management.

“We were able to convince them that we could take them from good to great by focusing on the re-amplification of their systems, and by adding more control via onboard DSP,” says Joe Smart, sales manager at Covenant Communications, a Houston-based design, installation and consultation firm.

The company, which manages projects worth over $700 million annually, counts the two largest megachurches in the United States — Second Baptist and Lakewood, with a combined weekly attendance of nearly 70,000 people — among their clients.

Covenant Communications replaced the previously installed amplifiers with identical complements of Powersoft amps at the two campuses, which are located in the Houston neighborhoods of Garden Oaks and Humble.

At the Garden Oaks campus, six two-channel Duecanali 3904 DSP+AESOP amplifiers power a flown system of five JBL VRX900 Series line array modules per side, with one balcony delay per side.

A single two-channel Duecanali 5904 DSP+AESOP amp drives a pair of Sound Bridge 7218SWX dual 18-inch subwoofers under the stage. At the Humble campus, six two-channel Duecanali 3904 DSP+AESOP amplifiers drive an LCR configuration comprising four JBL VRX932LA-1 modules per hang.

A single two-channel Duecanali 5904 DSP+AESOP amp provides power to four Sound Bridge 7218SWX subwoofers flown two each side above the stage. Two four-channel M50Q HDSP+ETH amplifiers provide power to the JBL SRX712M stage monitor speakers at each campus.

“Grace Church really had a no-nonsense, trusting approach to coming up with a budget and asking how it could best be managed to get a powerful end result. We thought it would be a fantastic opportunity for all involved to try Powersoft’s products,” says Smart.

“Their system was a little bit underpowered, so we’ve significantly increased the amount of power per speaker, and given them more circuits so that we can apply more gain shading,” he continues. “With all of the control we have now we were able to improve the clarity and the front-to-back coverage with a lot more clean headroom. We have also significantly reduced the rack footprint. The customer is really pleased.”

“Making the change to the Powersoft system has made a tremendous impact on the quality and intelligibility of our sound,” adds Brian Victor, the consultant on the project and now the technical director for all Grace Church campuses. “Hearing the difference in the before and after from the previous installation was a bit like going from SD to HD in video.

“Plus, to get that much output and quality from such a small footprint was truly remarkable. The church was really pleased with the decision to go with Powersoft.”

Smart particularly enjoyed working with Powersoft’s Armonía Pro Audio Suite monitoring and control software. “We liked how the amplifiers instantly showed up on the network and we could just click on them. We didn’t have to build a lot of control panels or anything like that. We could get in there and start tuning the system almost instantly.”

Software control of Powersoft’s Damping Control feature was also noteworthy, he adds. “The difference as we moved that slider around to compensate for the speaker cabling lengths and variances of some of the existing wiring really made those Sound Bridge subs sit up and talk. We just looked at each other and said, ‘Wow.’ What a cool feature.”

Also impressive, continued Smart, was the integrated SmartCard reader/writer on each amplifier, enabling firmware updates and preset storage to be managed via a slot in the front panel. “We updated all the amplifiers safely from the front panel in a matter of minutes without wrecking the network.”

Jerry Chambers of Dimension Point Marketing in Houston was instrumental in guiding Covenant Communications through the Powersoft product line, Smart reports.

“We were able to choose the product mix that would keep us on budget and make the biggest impact. We received fantastic factory support from Ken Blecher, executive vice president at Powersoft, who flew in on short notice to give us training on the Armonía Suite. We were in awe of his depth of knowledge in PA system amplification topologies, and were extremely pleased at Powersoft’s personal involvement in this project.”

The entire experience – his first with a Powersoft installation of this size – was very good, said Smart, not least because of some of the unique technologies incorporated into the products. “In my business it’s great to install a great sounding product, but the only way we really win is if we never have to go and see it again. We want to hear it once and say goodbye! The proof is in the sound and the reliability, and I’ve been super-pleased.”

He concludes, “It’s a premium amplifier but we were able to come in on budget and prove to the customer that it’s absolutely worth it. If you do budget correctly for your amplification the results can be significant, even on an average speaker. We were very pleased with our recommendation of the Powersoft amplifiers.”

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