The newest location of Church of the Highlands, a 1,000-seat facility on the former site of Gibson Elementary School in Birmingham, Alabama’s Woodlawn neighborhood, is equipped with a sound reinforcement system headed by L-Acoustics A10 loudspeakers in a project handled by the church sound team using a design from L-Acoustics Soundvision software with support from Backstage Productions, the local AV systems integrator who sold the system, and BJ Shaver, L-Acoustics director of sales, Americas.
“It was a nice collaborative effort by all of us to get this new location the right sound system for its needs,” says Backstage Productions president Brad Brooks, who notes this was the company’s first installation of an A10 system in a church. “We did a demo for them in the space that showed the A10 could handle music at volume without any problem. We’re a concert company and can create that kind of performance environment for them. The A10 can deliver a real concert-type experience but is compact enough not to be a factor for sightlines or be a visual distraction. The A10 packs a lot of punch for its size and offers a stellar price-performance ratio.”
The new system comprises a dozen A10 loudspeakers, including eight A10 Focus enclosures plus four A10 Wide configured in two main hangs of three A10 Focus per side topped with one A10 Wide. A further two outfill hangs have an A10 Focus on top and a Wide on the bottom. There are also seven flown KS21 subwoofers and six short-throw X8 coaxials providing frontfill. All loudspeakers are powered by six LA4X amplified controllers, with an L-Acoustics P1 doing the processing.
The PA send is from a Yamaha CL5 console at front of house through two Q-SYS 510i Cores via Dante, which distributes the PA send to the LA4X amps via AVB through two LS10 network switches, establishing two redundant networks.
“With the continual launching of new campuses, we’ve gained a lot of confidence in our abilities as a team to take the installation process in-house,” says Jay Wood, audio systems engineer for Church of the Highlands. “What really contributed to that, in this case, was the simplicity and compactness of the A10 and the power of the Soundvision software. Sometimes with prediction software, you can get pretty close to what the reality will be, but with Soundvision, the distance between prediction and real life was virtually none at all. I was thrilled with how this installation came together because of A Series and Soundvision.”
Wood adds that he get very specific about what he feels is required in a system, and A10 gave him the specificity he wanted. For instance, he says, the Focus option allowed for the throw needed on the top of the main hangs while the Wide model on the bottom of each feathered the sound out evenly for the front rows. “The A10 has a great physical footprint, so deployment is very simple as far as rigging goes,” he notes. “And the X8 are so good for frontfills. I really wanted a throaty eight-inch driver because a smaller driver never really blends in with the rest of the arrays properly, and that disconnects people in the front rows, who are looking up at the stage, from the rest of the sound. With our new system, everything sounds very consistent throughout the entire room.
“We’re not looking to achieve loud for loud’s sake; we’re looking for great sound and accurate reproduction at any level,” he concludes. “People often buy gear because they like a particular bell or whistle, but the reality is that I’m buying tools to facilitate a distraction-free worship experience for people. There’s no such thing as the specificity of ‘church sound.’ Good sound is good sound. With A10, I can run the system at 95 dBA, and no one will leave because it’s not about how loud it is, it’s about how good it sounds.”