First established in 1891, First Baptist Concord (FBC) is a Knoxville-area church that has witnessed considerable change over its 130 years. One thing that remains the same, however, is the pastoral team’s commitment to personally connecting with its parishioners. Case in point, when FBC took on the renovation of its 25-year-old main Worship Center last year, it chose to install L-ISA immersive technology using an L-Acoustics A Series-based loudspeaker system to further deepen and enrich the worship experience for its congregation.
Following several successful one-off projects with Solotech, the church approached the company’s Nashville team again to help it design and integrate new audio, video, and lighting systems for the space. Solotech Integrated Systems Designer Luke Lasater picks up the story: “We worked closely with L-Acoustics to design two PA options for the church—a standard left/right system and an L-ISA option. After reviewing the designs with the church, all agreed L-ISA was the way to go for many reasons: the budget was within a few thousand dollars to the traditional L/R system, coverage was better for the fan-shaped room, sightlines were improved with shorter hangs, and the ability to actually position the elements onstage in the ‘Scene’ of the L-ISA configuration meant that the singers, band, choir, and orchestra could all find a space in the mix. Plus, it gave much of the room a sense of space and a connection to what was happening onstage, which a dual-mono system with a traditional L/R setup in that wide room could not accomplish.”
Solotech brought in Design Technik to create an acoustics solution that would both help resolve the room’s acoustical issues and complement a new loudspeaker setup. L-Acoustics then worked with both Solotech and Design Technik using Soundvision modeling software to design the optimum system for the space, which is based on an A Series loudspeaker design.
FBC’s new system comprises five Scene arrays of four A15i Focus and one A15i Wide flanked by left and right Extension arrays of one A10i Focus and two A10i Wide. Two hangs of three A15i Focus and one A15i Wide horizontally flown deliver out-fill coverage, while four KS28 subs flown in a cardioid configuration behind the center A15i Scene array supply the LF reinforcement. Coaxial short-throw X Series enclosures provide additional fill and foldback coverage, including 12 X4i for front-fill, four X8 for under-balcony fill, eight 5XT on stands for choir monitoring, and two more 5XT at FOH as engineer cue monitors. A combination of one LA12X, ten LA4X, and three LA2Xi amplified controllers drive the full loudspeaker complement.
“The entire system uses Milan-AVB to transmit audio to the amplifiers,” Lasater points out. “The MADI from the L-ISA Controller feeds an RME AVB Tool, which converts the audio to AVB. The AVB network is run on the L-Acoustics LS10 network switches with a connection to the main AV system for remote monitoring and control from the AV main control system, which is Crestron. Additionally, there is a MADI>AES redundancy to all PA amps should the AVB network have an issue, and the amplifiers will automatically failsafe over to the AES should an issue arise, but it’s been rock-solid for eight months so far and I doubt that it will ever be a concern.”
A Yamaha Rivage PM5 console with DSP-RX-EX is used to mix front-of-house sound and create feeds for the KLANG:fabrik IEM monitor mixing system onstage. The console features an L-ISA DeskLink integration that allows the engineer to have direct control over each of the 96 objects from the knobs and touchscreen on the surface. “It also allows for additional automation, outside the L-ISA internal system, that’s linked with each scene recall,” adds Lasater, who frequently mixes sound at FBC. “This really enhances the creative experience for the engineers as we can manipulate parameters on the fly, or automate them into our console show file.”
For FBC Worship Pastor David Henderson, the sonic improvement has been nothing short of astonishing. “Since the installment of the new system, we have experienced a level of clarity that I originally thought was impossible for the wide range of instrumentation that is represented on our stage every Sunday,” he says. “Within the first couple of weeks of returning to our sanctuary, I had several church members approach me, saying, ‘This is the first time since I’ve been at this church that I can truly hear all the parts represented in the choir, and the balance between band and orchestra is so full and clear!’
“We’ve also enjoyed having a new freedom to really experiment with different ways to mix the sound. The immersive system allows our team to shape the sound in creative ways not previously possible with just a stereo system. To put it simply, this system has completely blown away our expectations, and we are super-pleased with the result.”