An amplified education at University Presbyterian Church
USA: The University Presbyterian Church (UPC) has served the Christian community at the University of Washington for a century. The church features a 9,290 sq-m multipurpose room, named Larson Hall, which can accommodate up to 1,200 congregants from the college campus and hosts the College Ministry Outreach worship programme on Tuesday nights, as well as other contemporary worship events that take place throughout the week. The hall therefore requires a good standard of sound reinforcement.
‘The original amplifiers and loudspeakers were installed 20 years ago,’ explains UPC’s director of media service, Jeffrey Blackburn, who recently commissioned a redesign the outdated amplifier setup. ‘There were more than 30 amplifiers located throughout the entire building, but they were beginning to fail, which sparked our search for their replacements.’
Mr Blackburn turned to Seattle-based TR Professional to design a new amplification solution. As the church is equipped with a McCauley line array loudspeaker system, the amplifiers selected needed to be capable of delivering plenty of power. With that being the case, Lab.gruppen’s D Series was introduced to UPC.
‘The D Series was the first time I saw an amplifier that I thought could get the job done well,’ recalls Mr Blackburn, ‘It was pretty incredible, two D 120:4Ls could replace eight of the old amplifiers and provide a much higher level of performance. I was sold.’
D 120:4L amplifiers include the manufacturer’s Rational Power Management (RPM) technology, allowing for the allocation of output power available on each channel. This ability results in the need for less units. ‘I was able to provide the necessary upgrade for under US$20,000 – which was very impressive given how much power the system required,’ adds Mr Blackburn. ‘Instead of a ton of amps, I have a small rack with amplifiers and processing and because it is so light, I actually fly the amp racks behind the arrays.
‘From an impedance standpoint you can load it with whatever you need,’ Mr Blackburn continues. ‘For example, in our situation the HF/MF did not require so much power while the LF needed a lot more. With the D Series I could pick a smaller model and expand the LF channel and allocate more power to it while still having power left for the MF/HF. It was extremely easy to allocate the output power to match the speaker’s requirements. It is incredibly efficient.
‘Between repositioning the existing system to maximise coverage and then hanging the amplifier racks behind the arrays, we were able to significantly improve the sound quality and performance of the system,’ he concludes. ‘Our pastors, who don’t have much experience with audio systems, have not stopped commenting on how much clearer the sound is. The amplifiers’ control and linearity have had a direct effect on how the older line arrays sound – so much so that everyone is learning how to mix in the room all over again. I also take comfort in knowing I can vary the output of each of the four amp channels. If they need to be modified to work with loudspeaker upgrades in the future, we can do it.’