XLmediaworks, an affiliated resellerfor d&b audiotechnik systems, installed a d7b system in the sanctuary at Central Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, a fan shaped room with a balcony. Built in the early 1980s, it seats 1,800 and is said to be one of the original mega churches of the modern era.
“Yet when Don Kendrick, Director of Media Services for the church first engaged us,” says Jerry Temple, founder of XLmediaworks Inc., “we were just asked to service some faulty stage wiring. Little did I suspect we would, in time, come to replace the sanctuary’s complete sound reinforcement system with a V-Series solution from d&b audiotechnik.
“The sanctuary is beautiful,” Temple says, “right down to the ornate carving on the pews. To install a complete, new system in a room like that, is to say the least, a delicate operation.”
Three jobs after that first rewire project, Kendrick opened the conversation with Temple about replacing the main audio system. “It was their attention to detail that interested me,” says Kendrick. “Before I first called Jerry they had done some work on an existing installation in one of our satellite churches. The person responsible for audio in that church had been talking to me about Jerry Temple for some time, saying how good his company, XLmediaworks was. That certainly proved to be the case; they did a beautiful job.”
By coincidence the d&b office was about to demonstrate its new V-Series at The Fox Theater in Atlanta. “When Jerry invited me to come and listen I was intrigued. I’d heard a lot about d&b and heard good things, but I’d never actually listened to one of their systems.”
To moderate the listening experience Kendrick says he also elected to take an objective third party. “I had called upon the expertise of Jim Brawley, of James Brawley and Associates, an old colleague of mine,” he says. “Jim and I have history going way back, and although you might, in this context, fashion him a consultant, I do not believe in the conventional consultant role where a system solution is devised and then put out to tender. I rather decided to pair my preferred consultant with my preferred contractor and create a team that, together, would give me the proper design and proper installation. So we hired Jim to work directly for the church and paired him with the team at XLmedia so we would have the best shot at both the design and installation of the new sound system.
“The d&b demo was excellent,” Kendrick continues. “The Fox is not dissimilar to our church in terms of size, seating and acoustic. I was very impressed by the coverage and transparency of the system, but I still wanted to hear it live. Fortunately MerleFest in upstate North Carolina was just the place, as one stage was using the V-Series. Set on a hillside, coverage was tricky; it would have been all too easy to overshoot part of the audience. But when I walked around, the coverage completely blew me away, top to bottom, and LF to HF, everything was right there. That helped me make my mind up. I’ve been in the business a long time now. I spent 10 years doing sound for TV and have made my own system designs for installations in the past, so I know the nuts and bolts of what is needed. I made my decision with a high degree of certainty.”
Jim Brawley and Temple set about designing the system installation. “We plotted the sanctuary in d&b’s prediction tool ArrayCalc and determined flown L/R arrays of V-TOPs, with flown V-SUBs, and J-INFRAs to each side,” explains Temple. “Modeling the sound dispersion of the V-Series to the room was relatively straightforward. The INFRAs were another matter. The point is Central Church has a tremendous band and some great singers, and there is a powerful tradition for strong worship music here: so including the INFRAs was essential.”
Brawley’s design went further, adding T10 cabinets for front fill. “This is a much weightier cabinet in terms of performance potential for a front fill,” says Temple. “But because of the significance of that great music tradition at Central Church Don wanted something more potent. Yet the T10 is barely larger than a more typical front fill. Although we had loudspeakers at three different distances from stage point zero, setting up the system with delay and EQ was a breeze—exporting all the settings direct from the prediction software straight into the d&b D80/D12 amplifiers as soon as we had power to them. That’s one good reason why we were able to conform to Don’s installation window.”
“Jerry makes it sound easy,” says Kendrick. “Truth is, delivery and installation were quite an undertaking. The existing points within our sanctuary were in entirely the wrong place for the V-Series, and I also wanted the INFRAs and side fills concealed within the proscenium. That’s a great deal to accomplish. Structural work in the roof was essential, and inserting J-INFRAs into the proscenium was no easy task. Jerry and his guys, in collusion with our engineers at Edifice, had just a two week window when the sanctuary was free, while our congregation celebrated at our outdoor Fall Festival. That was the challenge and what they achieved made me even more impressed. Fitting those INFRAs took eight hours each, and don’t forget the main fabric of the sanctuary, the ornate carvings, the rich carpeting, all were still in place. Yet here they were working with cherry pickers in the tightest of confines. Frankly my staff were astounded when they saw what was happening, and not a little anxious at times. But we were all really, really happy with the way it turned out. Jim, Jerry and d&b all worked together as a team to accomplish what was needed.”
“I know my way around a P.A.,” says Kendrick. “This is a lovely system to mix on. That low end from the INFRAs, what d&b says, ‘the octave you never knew you had,’ is right. You can make a bass player sound so true. In fact the fidelity of all instruments is astounding, and all in the right place. It is such an easy system to mix on.”