Consistent coverage around the Perimeter
USA: Travelling North East out of Atlanta will take you to Johns Creek, Georgia. In the heart of this city and suburb is the Perimeter Church, notable for its worship leader, contemporary Christian singer-songwriter Laura Story. With services led by a Grammy Award winning and Billboard Christian Chart topping artist, the church’s audio solution would be expected to provide clear and even coverage throughout the sanctuary, although this wasn’t the case.
The Perimeter Church suffers from the reverberation and acoustical challenges that plague many houses of worship with its floor-to-ceiling windows in a room that is described as ‘fan-shaped’. Adding to this was a sound solution that was poorly designed and not at all fit for purpose.
‘This room was originally designed to do un-miked, orchestral worship — something we have never actually done,’ explains Steve Simmons, director of technical ministry at the Perimeter Church, noting the reason for the building’s highly reverberant architecture. ‘The system that was in before was a poorly designed combination of four-way point-source boxes combined with line arrays, plus under-balcony-fills, over-balcony-fills and down-firing fibreglass horns,’ he continues. ‘In other words, it was a disaster. Anywhere you sat, you were getting hit with about five different audio sources, and that’s before you figure in the room reflections.’
Therefore, when it came time to upgrade the system, Mr Simmons was eager to install a solution comprising as few audio sources as possible. After exploring options from 35 different manufacturers, the director of technical ministry and his team selected an L-Acoustics Kara system, which was purchased from Mankin Media Systems, based in Franklin, Tennessee. In a shootout between Kara and another brand, the L-Acoustics system reportedly won ‘decidedly’.
‘When we got through all of the demos, there were only a couple that worked really well in the room and the L-Acoustics was my favourite,’ says Mr Simmons. ‘Because of the isophasic design, as I walked the room, everywhere I went I heard the same tonality. And that is what we were after — great coverage and sound, and an environment where as many seats as possible sound the same.’
While the Perimeter audio team completed the majority of the installation themselves, the design was a collaborative effort, as Mr Simmons worked alongside Jacob Springman from Alpharetta-based Tradecraft LLC. ‘He is the finest engineer and system architect I know,’ says Mr Simmons of Mr Springman. ‘Whether networking, rigging, doing carpentry, AutoCAD design, engineering or installation, his company is my go to.’
The design resulted in the installation of 13 Kara loudspeakers and four SB18 subwoofers per side, as well as a centre cluster of four SB28 units. This proved enough to provide even coverage to the majority of the room. However, a pair of video walls that protrude from either side of the stage were causing issues. To combat this, several units of the manufacturer’s Arcs WiFo were deployed.
With the new system installed, Mr Simmons is happy with the results. ‘The other system seemed to get harsh as it got louder. I felt if we went with that option I would be spending my time grabbing the EQ knob rather than mixing inputs. With the Kara it sounded very similar as it went from soft to loud, allowing me to focus on my mix,’ he concludes. ‘We went from a situation with about five sources at every seat to what is effectively a single source, so the gains in intelligibility were great. Plus, the ability to have even coverage in terms of SPL and a consistent tone everywhere in the room has made the Kara rig just a fantastic system to work with.’