Sometimes every card in the deck appears stacked against the goal of achieving consistently high-quality audio in a fixed install.
However, in the case of John’s Creek, Georgia’s Perimeter Church—where contemporary Christian singer-songwriter Laura Story serves as a worship leader—the audio team was recently able to overcome a host of longstanding room challenges with a new L-Acoustics Kara line arrays.
“This room,” notes Perimeter Church director of Technical Ministry Steve Simmons talking about their sanctuary, “was originally designed to do un-mic’d, orchestral worship—something we have never actually done.” With that vision in mind, the room was designed to be highly reverberant. Furthermore, the room itself is fan shaped and each side is lined with floor-to-ceiling windows.
“The system that was in before was a poorly designed combination of four-way point-source boxes combined with line arrays, plus under-balcony fills, over-balcony fills and down-firing fiberglass horns. In other words, it was a disaster,” he adds. “Anywhere you sat, you were getting hit with about five different audio sources, and that’s before you figure in the room reflections.”
Given a number of years wrangling sound in a room where every seat was a unique audio experience, one of Simmons’ biggest desires when it came time to upgrade was to create a system with as few audio sources as possible for the space. In his search, after looking at 35 different manufacturers and five different speaker technologies, Simmons and his team decided on L-Acoustics’ Kara system.
“When we got through all of the demos, there were only a couple that worked really well in the room and the L-Acoustics was my favorite. Because of the isophasic design, as I walked the room, everywhere I went I heard the same tonality. And that is what we were after—great coverage and sound, and an environment where as many seats as possible sound the same.”
The system as installed consists of 13 Kara per side and four SB18s per side for low end, as well as four SB28s flown in a center cluster. While Simmons reports that the great majority of the seats in the room are covered by that system, there are a pair of video walls that fly out from the stage on either side that were causing some shading issues, which led to the addition of some ARCS WiFo units to fill in behind the video. A small set of front fills take care of “about eight seats” according to Simmons with the bulk of the room—including under the balconies—being handled by the Kara.
As a final step, Simmons and his crew did a shootout between the Kara and another popular box, and he reports that the L-Acoustic entry won “decidedly.”
“The other system seemed to get harsh as it got louder. I felt if we went with that option I would be spending my time grabbing the EQ knob rather than mixing inputs. With the Kara it sounded very similar as it went from soft to loud, allowing me to focus on my mix.”
One aspect of the install that you don’t hear about all the time is that, while the system was purchased from Franklin, Tennessee’s Mankin Media Systems, Perimeter’s audio crew did the bulk of the install work, and the design was largely handled by Simmons along with Jacob Springman of Tradecraft. “He is the finest engineer and system architect I know,” Simmons says. “Whether networking, rigging, doing carpentry, AutoCAD design, engineering or installation, his company is my go to.”
The Kara rig has made everything about the audio experience—and the gig—more pleasant. “We went from a situation with about five sources at every seat to what is effectively a single source, so the gains in intelligibility were great. Plus, the ability to have even coverage in terms of SPL and a consistent tone everywhere in the room has made the Kara rig just a fantastic system to work with,” he adds.