Edman Chapel’s auditorium has 2,400 seats
Edman Chapel first opened on the Wheaton College campus in Wheaton, Ill., in 1960, in celebration of Wheaton’s centennial. Since then, it has become a popular community venue; its auditorium, with 2,400 seats, hosts regular chapel services, lectures, conferences, choir performances and various other recitals for the school’s renowned music conservatory program. At the outset of the 2012-13 school year, it became evident that the chapel’s 30-year-old sound system was ready for an upgrade.
“It was a fast project. Due to the schedule of events set in Edman Chapel, we only had a few months to choose a new system and have it installed,” remembers Jonathan Laney, principal consultant on the project for Threshold Acoustics. “But the production team at Wheaton College knew just what they needed: repeatable quality. Our goals became smooth, even coverage in both floor and balcony seats, reduced reflection in the acoustically reverberant room and a system that would enhance both music performance and speech intelligibility. From the start, Wheaton had a clear and educated concept. They were very sophisticated clients. Good clients help create strong projects and positive results.”
Laney continues, “We needed a high tech system that could work for a wide range of venue needs. Looking for a small format line array, with under 90-degree horizontal coverage maintained below 1,000 Hz, d&b audiotechnik was really the only choice. Their systems are rider friendly and work with a variety of audio performances. Plus, they were able to adjust to the college’s specific aesthetic goals as well.”
Moving forward, the team reached out to d&b sales partner Audio Logic Systems for help on the project. Senior designer Jason Kartak helped custom create a system to specifically target Wheaton’s acoustic requirements.
“We used elements from the d&b Q-Series to reduce reflections and focus the energy towards the audience, not the walls,” Kartak says. “To reduce visual impact, we paired the loudspeakers with 27A-SUB cardioid subwoofers, a much smaller physical presence than three Q-SUBs in cardioid mode. We actually rigged the two components together and custom built white boxes to best fit the space allotted.”
Wheaton College Music Producer Brian Porick (left) and Event Production Specialist Kerry J. Haps
The system also uses d&b E8 loudspeakers for the side and choir fills, 8S loudspeakers for the front fills and12S-D for balcony delays. “Each project is different,” Kartak adds. “We had to draw from a few different d&b Series for Edman Chapel, but above all, d&b audiotechnik has that versatility because of the consistency of performance between the different Series.”
“Everyone we’ve worked with has been amazing and allowed us to get the most out of this very capable system,” says Event Production Specialist Kerry J. Haps. “d&b is absolutely in a class of its own. Jonathan Laney and his team at Threshold Acoustics made sure everything was dialed in nicely when they handed us the reigns last August. We’ve hardly needed any adjusting throughout the year. Jason Kartak and others from Audio Logic still visit periodically to check on the system as we continue to explore its range. Our d&b system is just right for our room and it’s a challenging room. With such a sound system in place, we know we can trust it no matter what. Now, we can focus our energy on other, more limited, elements of mixing audio in that space.”
Brian Porick, Wheaton College Music Producer, agrees. “We’ve always had a strong music program here at Wheaton College,” Porick says. “However, depending on your seat in the house, the sound quality was poor and inconsistent. Now any seat in Edman Chapel offers a smooth and natural sound. It’s even made our auditorium more attractive to other, professional performers. The conservatory’s Artist Series which books around seven performances a year can accommodate a new set of performers simply because we have the right equipment. Hearing the new system only makes me wonder why we waited so long.”