Formerly a concert venue and sports arena for stadium tours, basketball, hockey and the like, in the late-'90s, The Great Western Forum hit upon hard times as the touring industry faced increasing costs and dwindling audiences. Looking for a new owner, The Forum’s proprietors were approached by Faithful Central Bible Church, which in December 2000 purchased the venue for The Family of Faith Sunday services with Bishop Kenneth C. Ulmer.
Because the new owners decided to lease the venue for musical and sporting events, plus film/TV projects and commercial shoots, the “mobile” permanent sound system needed to be flexible. In fact, early on most Sunday mornings, the Lab.gruppen–powered sound system is re-installed to a half-house configuration, with the stage located in the center of the 17,500-seat auditorium.
Starting early Sunday morning, the first order of business is to construct the portable stage and begin adding heavy curtains to isolate the rear half of the auditorium and to accommodate screens for the pair of stage-left and –right rear-projection systems. Having lowered the lighting trusses to connect the power dimmers, the arena’s JBL VerTec array, which normally remain concealed within The Forum’s domed roof, are repositioned to stage level and hooked up to the under-stage racks of a total of 20 Lab.gruppen fP Series 6400, 3400 and 2600 power amps.
Each side of The Forum's stereo P.A. system comprises 16 JBL VT4888 three-way cabinets—one 8-cabinet array firing forward and another to the side—plus eight VT4880 subwoofer cabinets. An XTA DP224 loudspeaker management system provides system equalization and signal distribution.
According to sound engineer John Wilks, who mixes front-of-house sound for most of the Faithful Central Bible Church services, “Our Lab.gruppen amps are housed in just five racks; within the first four racks, pairs of 6400s drive the 4888's 12-inch LF drivers, while single 3400s power the 4888’s midrange units and single 2600s handle the HF drivers. The fifth rack houses four fP 6400s for the flown VT4880 subwoofers.”
Edward Simon of the Pittsburgh-based Edward Simon & Company was responsible for designing The Forum’s “temporary” permanent sound system, working closely with Wilks and Gerard McCallum, executive VP of Forum Enterprises, which owns and operates the venue.
“The moment I auditioned these Lab.gruppen amps,” Wilks stresses, “I knew that I had heard the best. We have been using the system for nearly two years and it has never let us down. In terms of clarity, reliability and value, nothing else comes close!”
For more information, visit Lab.gruppen at www.labgruppen.com/.