Fit For The King
It looks for all the world like a textbook contemporary house of worship install: LED screen backdrop, well-spec’ed lighting rig on a bar, wireless mics, wireless in-ear monitoring, and a sizeable line array loudspeaker system with ground-stacked subs. That said, Kings Baptist Church is far from cookie cutter.
Rodney Bates, heads INTLX Productions, in Adelaide and has years of experience fitting out churches and theatres. He met with the Kings Baptist leadership and heard the brief: “They were after a multipurpose venue that functions as a contemporary church but it’s also attached to Kings Baptist School, so the space would also accommodate school productions, assemblies and more.”
Kings Baptist was humble enough to acknowledge they had no idea what an audiovisual fit out might look like to realise their ambitions, and Rodney was grateful that INTLX Productions was brought in early enough to have some input into architectural tweaks to have, for example, a structural beam available from which to hang a lighting bar.
There was one thing though, and the Kings Baptist leadership was absolutely adamant: audio coverage needed to be completely consistent across every seat in the house.
“Once I understood that consistent coverage was their prime objective,” recalls Rodney. “I asked them to take another look at the venue’s acoustic design. Once we got the balance right and we got the acoustic treatments in place, then we could justify investing in a high-quality loudspeaker system. My golden rule is that I can put the best PA in the worst room and it’s still going to sound horrible. Whereas I can put an average PA into a great room and I can make it sound good.
“And I’d caution others: if you see that an ‘acoustic engineer’ has been engaged on a building project, then don’t assume the venue acoustics have been considered. For builders and architects, acoustic engineering is invariably about stopping sound escaping the building and not how sound behaves inside the venue. Getting the acoustics of a space right is a very different discipline.”
Spec’ing & Tendering
Rodney was leaning towards an Adamson system but he was keen to do his due diligence.
He invited a number of suppliers to suggest an appropriate system including L-Acoustics, Community and Martin Audio pitches.
An Adamson IS7-based rig won the day. The purchase went through Adelaide Sound Hire, which is an Adamson rental partner, headed by the ever-helpful Pete Morris.
“It wasn’t the cheapest system but it was the best system in that space,” confirmed Rodney. “I was able to get five enclosures a side into the venue. And based on all of the acoustic planning and plotting, the Adamson system was going to give me less than three decibels difference from the front row to back row and completely consistent coverage horizontally right across the width of the venue. That was the modelling and in reality that’s been proven. The coverage is exemplary.”
Rodney Bates has a highly-developed philosophy towards matching the right PA to a venue.
“In my mind, the PA always has to be designed as part of the building. You don’t necessarily spec a PA to meet the day-to-day tasks it needs to undertake or the number of people it needs to cover. You spec a PA for the volume of air inside the venue.
“You might have a pair of speakers on sticks that are loud enough to theoretically cover the seating area. But if they can’t move the air inside the room properly, inevitably you get deficiencies — the PA will sound different in different places.
“This is why I urge new clients to design the PA into the building. Think of the PA in the same way as you’d think about the walls or how much air handling you’d need for the space. In that way, the Adamson system is over-spec’ed for what the church and school want to do with it. But as the results have shown, it is perfectly spec’ed based on the room that it is sitting in.”
Power & Responsibility
With five IS7 loudspeakers aside complemented by two subs, it’s a lot of PA for the size of the room. Again, it’s all about coverage, according to Rodney: “There’s 12dB of headroom in the system. If they want to go stupid-loud with the system they can. In fact, I’ve throttled the PA back 12dB so they don’t accidentally do any damage. But if there’s a reason for high SPLs, the PA is more than capable of it. The PA is overspec’ed to meet the coverage criteria.”
The IS7-based arrays are designed to cover every seat except the first row, which is addressed by front fill. The Adamson hang is trimmed to avoid hitting any hard surfaces, with acoustic absorption picking up any slack where first reflections are unavoidable.
“It sounds the same in every seat and there is there is no excess energy bouncing off the walls,” states Rodney. “So often you’ll see installations where loudspeakers are spraying sound at the walls, which creates unwanted reflections and acoustic issues. In this case, the acoustics have been dealt with in such a way that those reflections are managed. We’ve got every single seat covered and it sounds the same in every seat.”
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