Saddleback Church is the seventh-largest church in the US, with headquarters in Lake Forest, California and nine regional and four international campuses. For its recent 35th anniversary celebration, the church wanted to get all the campuses together to commemorate this major milestone.
Although accustomed to thinking big, with the expectation of more than 20,000 people attending, Saddleback Church had to think even bigger – as in holding the event in Angel Stadium of Anaheim with a sound system including more than 150 Harman JBL VTX and VERTEC line array loudspeakers and 112 Crown I-Tech HD Series amplifiers.
Brentwood, Tennessee sound contractor CTS Audio handled the audio system design and installation, which involved constructing two 40-foot tall truss towers at first base and third base on the baseball diamond. As if to underscore the daunting logistics of the event, the motto “The Church That Dared” was emblazoned across the infield.
“With the start of the baseball season just a few weeks after, there was no way the stadium would allow us to bring a 50-ton crane onto the field. So we had to scrap our original plan and design and build custom towers,” said Mike Taylor, vice president of CTS. Since CTS could not use a crane in the construction, the towers had to be made of aluminum rather than steel.
However, even with designing the towers to be as large as they were, they could only hold so much weight, which meant CTS had to revise their plans, which originally included JBL VTX Series V25 line arrays, yet again. “With the weight limitation we couldn’t get enough V25s set up for stadium-wide coverage.” That’s when lead engineers Brooks Abbott and Jon Schwarz turned to the JBL Line Array Calculator software to determine if the VTX V20 smaller-format line array loudspeaker would work.
“We figured out that we could hang them 20 deep and would get excellent pattern control. The V20 provides 105-degree coverage so we were able to cover the stadium really well with just two main hangs per side, plus a small rear fill for the outfield.” A total of 96 V20 line arrays were complemented by 16 JBL VERTEC VT4881ADP arrays used as Lo/Mid-frequency loudspeakers and 40 VTX S28 dual-18-inch suspendable subwoofers – 20 per side, located between the main loudspeakers.
Abbott noted that the tallest seat in the venue is 115 feet high. “No other PA would have been able to provide the up-fill that the V20 was able to deliver at that height.” CTS placed a total of 20 of the V20 speakers tilted 12 to 13 degrees upward. “We achieved true coverage for the entire stadium by arranging the clusters in this manner.”
A total of 118 Crown I-Tech 12000HD amplifiers powered the loudspeakers. “The high power output and the ability to optimize the amps with the JBL boxes made them an easy choice for us,” Taylor said. The amplifiers feature a host of DSP sound-tailoring capabilities including V5 preset tuning support for VTX and VERTEC line arrays. A BSS Audio Soundweb London BLU-806 Signal Processor with BLU-link and Dante and BLU-32 I/O Expander with were employed as networked audio interfaces.
“We have been using JBL HiQnet Performance Manager software on all of our setups including this one,” Abbott pointed out. “It’s great because it allows us to set up an entire rig in the shop and then get onsite and everything is already configured, which saves us a lot of time.”
Certainly, time was of the essence for the Saddleback Church event. “Every second counted from the moment we started load-in. We had to build the entire system in one day. One day.” The load-in began on Friday – and CTS had to be ready for a sound check at 5:30 am Saturday.
They couldn’t take it any easier once the event started. “Because so many different campuses and groups of people were involved, there were a lot of different performances and many people moving around,” said Abbott. The front of house engineer, Jon Schwarz and monitor engineer, Joey Eaker, had to mix more than 96 inputs and more than 70 channels of wireless and 70 different mixes. “We had to make sure that everyone in the crowd could hear and see their church being represented.”
The angels must have been smiling on Taylor and his crew. “Overall it turned out to be a great event thanks to the ingenuity of our CTS team and the power and performance of the V20 boxes paired with the Crown I-Tech HD amps. With every tour sound installation it becomes more and more apparent to me that this combination can handle anything, and handle it better than any system we’ve ever used before.”