AVL firm ESB Group Inc., an L-Acoustics Certified Provider based in Springville, Alabama, specified and installed L-Acoustics Kara(i) and ARCS WiFo loudspeaker systems in a new 1,400-seat worship center in City Hope Church in Daphne, Alabama, this past February.
Formerly known as Bay Community Church, the church’s tremendous growth prompted its leadership to approve the construction of a new 35,000-square-foot building, of which approximately 75-percent is devoted to the worship center.
“The new sanctuary more than doubles the church’s worship space, which was absolutely necessary because they were packing 600-plus people into a much smaller room for services,” recalls ESB Group Project Manager Nic Taylor.
Taylor is a longtime member of the congregation, and was also the church’s technical director, a job he held for eight years before taking the position with ESB in July 2013.
“Prior to this new construction, the church kept knocking down walls to keep up with the exploding growth in attendance,” explains Taylor, adding that all along the previous loudspeaker system never really met the institution’s needs, especially in terms of intelligibility throughout the room. So, in the early stages of design planning, Taylor and his colleagues knew an L-Acoustics Kara(i) rig would deliver the audio clarity and coverage that had been missing from worship services in the old building.
Today, the new space benefits from 16 Kara(i) split into left and right arrays of eight enclosures, each flanked on the outside edge by a sub array of three SB18i flown in a cardioid configuration. Two SB28 per side under the stage anchor the low-end reinforcement, while eight tiny coaxial 5XT cubes mounted into the face of the stage deliver front fill. Two 12XTi enclosures serve as rear fills, with four ARCS Focus and four ARCS Wide functioning as side fills and delays, respectively. All systems are powered and processed by a total of nine LA4X amplified controllers, with the exception of the SB28s, which are run from a single LA8.
According to Scotty Ard, City Hope Pastor of Production, the L-Acoustics system perfectly suits the progressive, electric guitar-driven music its audiences have embraced.
“It’s tremendous to see the congregation so engaged,” Ard says. “We wanted to make sure that the new audio system didn’t become a distraction, and it hasn’t. It sounds smooth and natural. We are pushing the mix six decibels hotter, to around 96dB, and everything is sounding very pleasing to the ear—far superior to the performance we had grown accustomed to with our previous system.”
Typically onstage for worship services are five vocalists, two electric guitarists, one acoustic guitarist, one electric bassist, one keyboardists and a drummer. “I wouldn’t say it’s rock ’n’ roll, but it’s definitely progressive,” Ard says. “Other than having ESB add a couple riser fills, I haven’t had to mess with anything—it’s been great.”
ESB Group’s Taylor points out that his company took into account configuring the church’s audio complement to accommodate three mix positions: FOH, monitor and broadcast. Services are streamed to its affiliated Alabama campuses, plus City Hope has additional satellite locations in Asia and Honduras. “They’re a very forward-thinking church,” he says, “and that approach certainly carries over into their sound as well.”