The Shepherd’s House Church in Lewisville, TX, was struggling with a patchwork sound reinforcement system in its sanctuary when, in July, thanks to an anonymous donor, the church was able to commission an upgrade, with designer Robert Wirtz recommending QSC KLA Series line arrays consisting of eight KLA12 active cabinets joined by four KS118 active subwoofers.
Wirtz has enjoyed a 30-year career as a recording engineer, a role he still plays at Fort Worth’s Legendary Sound Studio and as proprietor of Ardub Music. He designed the new system following an extensive computer analysis of the room,
“For every system I install, my philosophy is that I want it to sound as good as the nicest theater you’ve ever been in,” says Wirtz. “When a church calls me, I’ll go in and 3-D model the room, put virtual speakers in the model, and so forth. My main attraction to QSC for this application is bang for the buck. I think it’s remarkable what they’re pulling off with their equipment. While many ‘prestige’ brands are off limits to a lot of churches’ budgets, I’m impressed that QSC achieves superior sound quality for a lot less money.
“The building is very much what you’d think of an older church,” he continues. “It’s a big A-frame, with the ceiling about 50 feet at its apex, windows on the sides, no acoustic treatment, and a balcony in the back. For budgetary reasons, they originally wanted to go with a few point-source boxes per side. That would have worked, but we would’ve needed delay speakers to fill the back areas, and every time you add another point-source, you add potential phase issues. With a properly configured array like KLA, the sound is phase-coherent everywhere. I needed the back row of the balcony to have the same experience as the front row in the sanctuary.”
The KLA12 coverage characteristics helped fulfill this need as well as the church’s budget. “Most line arrays I’ve worked with cover 12 to 15 degrees along the Y-axis — which is what translates to front-to-back in the house,” notes Wirtz. “The KLA specs say they cover 18 degrees, but it feels more like 20 or 25. They’re just so forgiving. With one box I can hit three rows of chairs; with two, about eight rows. So, this let me achieve more coverage with fewer boxes per side. That really saved the church money.”
In terms of bass extension, Wirtz had originally drawn the system with QSC KW181 subs. “When I went to buy the gear at Texas retailer Sound Productions, Kris Landrum there recommended the KS118s,” he explains. “I’d had no experience with them before, and could not believe the difference. They’re about the same price but at least twice as powerful. The low end is deeper, and it’s a more articulate sub. The KW181 was always a great workhorse, but the KS118s are a whole other level.”
Associate pastor and audio director Mike Bauman is pleased with the resultof the project: “We have a decent sized band, including a keyboard, bass, drums, violin, viola, flute, wonderful singers, and I’m usually playing acoustic or electric guitar,” he says. “We play contemporary Christian ‘greatest hits’ from the likes of Bethel, Hillsongs, and Chris Tomlin, plus some material I co-write with our keyboard player. Before, people were always telling me that some instrument was too loud or too soft, they couldn’t hear the vocals, something was static-y — I had several unhappy emails every week. With QSC, everything is so much better now. My inbox is full of compliments. The sound is so clean and clear all throughout the sanctuary. Our recordings are better. We’ve only had the system since July, but the difference is so dramatic that it’s like those before-and-after pictures on weight loss commercials. People have literally told me they’re feeling the presence of God because of the music.”