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Author Topic: Church in DC...Need some upgrade advice  (Read 3678 times)

Austin Hess

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Church in DC...Need some upgrade advice
« on: September 07, 2010, 12:24:57 pm »

I am the Director of Worship at a growing church in Alexandria, VA and I need some help.  We are only 3 years old and going on 600 people a week.  We just moved into a permanent facility from a movie theater and are looking to do some upgrades.  

1.  Current gear:  A&H GL2400 32 channel, 2 Mackie sw2801 subs, 2 Mackie SA1521z mains, Aviom monitor system, Lexicon and Driverack DBX

2.  The room is about 75x75 and the big need right now is to get the speakers of the floor and provide better coverage to the room.  The Mackie mains will go into storage for use at a new campus.  We could continue to use the Mackie subs until we have the funds to upgrade those as well.  

3.  So the big question is, what are some good options to fly to provide the kind of coverage I need?  Budget here is no more than $5k.  I also want to think that we'll be upgrading the subs in the future as well.  We definitely rock it out and typically run in the mid 90s...but want to have the ability to run louder for concerts if needed.

I just need to be steered in the right direction.  Any advice would be awesome.  Thanks so much.  
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Austin Hess

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Re: Church in DC...Need some upgrade advice
« Reply #1 on: September 07, 2010, 01:37:44 pm »

Also, does anyone know of any design/installers in the DC area?
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Tom Young

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Re: Church in DC...Need some upgrade advice
« Reply #2 on: September 07, 2010, 08:25:05 pm »

I've had great experiences with systems I designed with ElectroVoice Zx-series speakers. They are affordable, sound very good, get loud and are easier to fly (suspend) due to their comparatively low weight. The also have a decent assortment of sizes and coverage angles.

Since you have the DSP and subs, I can imagine that an appropriate size system that covers well, plus the required amps, would possibly fit into that budget.

Whether you have enough DSP channels is unknown and will not be known until the system is designed for what is needed as far as coverage.

Along with the electroacoustic design of the system, you need to get a professional rigger or structural engineer to ensure the safety of the suspension system.
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Tom Young, Church Sound section moderator
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Rufus Echols

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Re: Church in DC...Need some upgrade advice
« Reply #3 on: September 10, 2010, 09:47:44 am »

We are using AVISPL of Columbia, MD.  www.avispl.com  There is also RCI Sound of Beltsville, MD, www.rcisound.com, Maryland Sound and Image, Google their name, as well as audio designers.  Just Google av design md or va or dc, and you will come up with a host of them.  Call them first and talk to them and see where they are.  Many of them offer acoustic services as well, which you definitely will need to consider, as you are in a larger space and you don't want to just hang speakers without consider how the room and the furnishings of the room will affect you.  Acoustic modeling will help you there, as well as the services of an acoustician.
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Brad Weber

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Re: Church in DC...Need some upgrade advice
« Reply #4 on: September 10, 2010, 11:26:20 am »

Austin Hess wrote on Tue, 07 September 2010 12:24

We just moved into a permanent facility from a movie theater and are looking to do some upgrades.

A suggestion to look at everything in a 'big picture' perspective.  For example, you may find some other changes allow an opportunity to install some cabling or conduit for future audio and/or video systems.  I see too many churches do things like touch up and paint all their walls just to tear them open a month later to run cable or add a power receptacle or to cover them with acoustical panels.

Austin Hess wrote on Tue, 07 September 2010 12:24

3.  So the big question is, what are some good options to fly to provide the kind of coverage I need?  Budget here is no more than $5k.  I also want to think that we'll be upgrading the subs in the future as well.  We definitely rock it out and typically run in the mid 90s...but want to have the ability to run louder for concerts if needed.

A little hard to say without knowing much about the space (ceiling heights and construction, ceiling access, cable paths, room acoustics, etc.) and how much, if any, of the $5,000 budget may have to go toward conduit, power, boxes, cabling, racks, etc.

There are a number of audio Contractors and Consultants in the DC/Baltimore area.  I will warn you that some of the larger firms may look at a $5,000 project as small for them.  That could mean it gets cranked out quickly or it could mean that it gets relegated to being a low priority for them.

I would be wary of audio Contractors offering acoustics services.  There are some Contractors that have qualified acousticians on staff and can do a great job, but there are also some whose 'acoustical services' are offering to sell you acoustical panels or similar products, perhaps based on a single quick, rather generic calculation (if that).  All may intend well but in some cases what is recommended may not be the most acoustically or cost effective approach for the specific application.
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Brad Weber
muse Audio Video
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Rufus Echols

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Re: Church in DC...Need some upgrade advice
« Reply #5 on: September 13, 2010, 08:38:52 am »

"I would be wary of audio Contractors offering acoustics services. There are some Contractors that have qualified acousticians on staff and can do a great job, but there are also some whose 'acoustical services' are offering to sell you acoustical panels or similar products, perhaps based on a single quick, rather generic calculation (if that). All may intend well but in some cases what is recommended may not be the most acoustically or cost effective approach for the specific application. "

Brad, I can give eye witness testimony to this fact.  You are dead on point.  One company we interviewed for the contract told us that they provide acoustical services including modeling of the space.  After pressing them in several meetings, we finally insisted on a conversation and explanation of their acoustical services.  Turns out, they didn't do them, they only recommended us to a company who takes the room's dimensions and does modeling of that, then comes up with panels for you to install based on that.  No consideration of the space with the system installed, the materials used in construction, or what the space was actually being used for, and the furnishings in the space.  We then decided that regardless of what company we used, we would hire an independent acoustician.
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Austin Hess

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Re: Church in DC...Need some upgrade advice
« Reply #6 on: September 15, 2010, 02:12:02 pm »

RCI came out to check out the place.  I did gather that it was a small job for them.

Are there any smaller designers in DC that anybody knows of?
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Brad Weber

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Re: Church in DC...Need some upgrade advice
« Reply #7 on: September 20, 2010, 07:59:05 am »

Many audio contractors provide acoustical services by sending the room dimensions and a description of the existing finishes to an acoustical product manufacturer who then offers their recommendations based on their products.  The advantages to this approach are that the 'consulting' service is low cost, if not free, and what is recommended typically will indeed be beneficial.  Typical disadvantages include being limited to one manufacturer's products and working off a less than complete understanding of the existing conditions and goals.

Another potential issue noted by several attendees at the Syn Aud Con Workshop last week is that many worship spaces seem to have excessive background noise levels and the acoustical consulting offered often does not encompass aspects such as mechanical system noise control and interior or exterior noise sound isolation.  ASHRAE currently recommends an ambient noise level of RC(N)25-35 for worship spaces with music, that's comparable to probably an NC 20-30, however people seem to routinely encounter worship spaces with ambient noise levels 20 to 30dB above that.  Those higher ambient noise levels negatively affect intelligibility, perceived loudness and so on for the audio system and this problem is not going to be fixed by adding acoustical panels on the walls.

So various approaches to acoustical consulting have different advantages and disadvantages, what is important is to understand what you are getting and that what is being offered is appropriate for your situation.
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Brad Weber
muse Audio Video
www.museav.com

Simon Coffin

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Re: Church in DC...Need some upgrade advice
« Reply #8 on: September 24, 2010, 09:39:32 am »

Hi Austin,

As others have said, a qualified contractor will be able to recommend and install a system that meets your needs.  Getting ideas and opinions here is certainly helpful and will give you a better foundation with which to make a decision, but it does not replace the experience and resources of a professional installer.

Way back in the early '80s I worked for Baltimore Sound Engineering. (www.bseonline.com) and am still friends with some of the guys there.

Give Dave Soul a call and see what he thinks.

Ciao
Simon
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Lee Buckalew

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Re: Church in DC...Need some upgrade advice
« Reply #9 on: September 24, 2010, 10:55:38 am »

I will second the importance of a low noise floor in the space.  I would say that nearly all church (and many theatre) spaces that I am in have excessively high noise floors.  This limits the ability of music to have much emotional impact because it limits the possible dynamic range, it all has to be loud.
It requires a much larger sound system (in continuous SPL capability terms) if you want to achieve the same results, even for speech.
It also causes fatigue in the listeners (for both music and speech) which means that they "tune out" while listening.  Certainly not what churches want.

While HVAC is often the noise culprit don't overlook theatrical lights (especially those with fans or motors), Light ballasts, mechanical noise from elevators, etc. and exterior noise such as traffic, wind or rain.  Some of these won't show up all the time.  Be sure that a system spec includes acceptable noise levels in the space and that it is tested in every operating mode before signing off.  Heating may sound different than cooling for instance.  Replacing an HVAC unit in an existing building can create problems where none existed before.

His,
Lee Buckalew
Pro Sound Advice, Inc.
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Re: Church in DC...Need some upgrade advice
« Reply #9 on: September 24, 2010, 10:55:38 am »


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