A new worship santuary for Passion City Church (PCC) in Cumberland, GA offers a unique layout that’s designed to provide all congregants with an optimal visual vantage point, but it presents a sound reinforcement challenge that system integrator Diversified met in utilizing L-Acoustics components.
PCC was started in Atlanta in 2008 through small gatherings in homes around the city. Public gatherings began in 2009, and the first permanent location opened at 515 Garson Drive shortly after that. The church’s priority on creating highly participatory and high energy worship environments extends to the church’s second location in the Atlanta suburb of Cumberland, where it recently opened a new facility with a 1,400-seat auditorium presenting a 180-degree seating spread between the main floor and balcony.
“What PCC is known for is its live worship experience, which is extremely high energy, and they are also one of the most particular clients that we’ve ever worked with when it comes to the quality of their sound,” says Tim Corder, Director of Strategic Accounts, House of Worship at New Jersey-based Diversified, which the church has worked with at its two Atlanta metro locations. “They told us that this new location had to be, quote, ‘the best-sounding room in the Southeast, if not one of the best in the entire country.’ But that’s quite a challenge when the furthest seat is only 60 feet away from downstage center in a very wide, fan-shaped auditorium, plus one that’s over 40 feet in height. And if you want to stay true to the adage that ‘the best sound comes from the least number of sources,’ then this was truly the perfect storm for a PA system.”
Using Soundvision acoustical modeling software, this sonic situation was addressed with a combination of L-Acoustics loudspeakers, with the K2 at its core. The main arrays are left and right hangs of eight K2 plus two Kara downfills. To either side of that are left and right outfill arrays comprising five A15 Focus over one A15 Wide each, while a flown centerfill consists of one A15 Focus over one A15 Wide.
A subwoofer array has eight KS28 spread out in a linear arc under the stage, which itself is lined with six short-throw X8 coaxials spread out across the stage lip. The system is rounded out with one A15 Wide per side, flown vertically, as far outfills and the entire setup is powered by eight LA12X and seven LA4X amplified controllers.
There’s also an L-Acoustics P1 processor installed, which combines an EQ station with delay and dynamics processing and a multi-mic acoustic measurement platform with offline delay finder and EQ modelization. The PA system is driven by the bridging of AVB, AES/EBU and analog audio with time-aligned redundant signal distribution AVB between the P1 and the amplified controllers.
“P1 is there first and foremost because their room-use model for the space means they regularly bring in guest consoles,” Corder explains. “P1 makes that really simple to accomplish. AVB is being used as the primary transport to the amplified controllers because there is an audible improvement in K2 using AVB plus P1 versus AES into the amplifiers directly.”
The PA system still complies with the “least number of sources” equation, he adds. “Together with Passion we chose the compact K2 as the heart of the system because of its ability to move air—those big drivers are able to give us a true arena-like experience that won’t come from smaller boxes,” he explains. “Initially, we explored using three hangs of K2 to achieve the coverage needed in the room, but given the church’s experience in arenas with left/right arrays and out fills, the introduction of the A15 loudspeaker during the project construction allowed for us to hang A15 alongside K2 for a stereo system with a distinct center image that is very consistent left to right and top to bottom.
“It’s really unique to be able to have enclosures and arrays of this size so close to the listeners—it’s almost a near-field type of experience that’s larger than life. It’s really intense in a great way and the sound is right there in front of you. Being able to put Kara under K2 at the bottom of the arrays helped tremendously with trim height and with the budget.”
A center fill was its own kind of challenge, one that the new A Series loudspeakers helped solve. “In an arena, front fills are typically up high enough to be effective for the first few rows,” Corder explains. “But in a church, the stage is always lower, which reduces the effectiveness of frontfills. Also, in a typical left-right design you wind up with a missing slice in the center that can be as deep as three or four rows. We’ve had great success adding a small centerfill that just lifts the high frequencies in those first few rows, and the A Series fit that role perfectly. It’s been a fabulous addition for us—it picks right up right in front of the stage, does not affect gain-before-feedback onstage, and lifts the experience for those first few rows in a very natural way.”
PCC Lead Audio Engineer Stephen Bailey, a tour-sound veteran who has encountered many L-Acoustics systems in the past, says of the room’s new rig: “I really like the way L-Acoustics sounds, and the system we have now at our Cumberland location is a great tool for addressing this challenging acoustical space.”