L-Acoustics helps Saddleback Church saddle up its 16th location
USA: For the past 36 years, Saddleback Church has been establishing a template for the modern robust church, ultimately growing to the eighth largest church in the US based on weekly attendance. By the end of this year, Saddleback expects to have added its 17th, 18th and 19th locations, satellites of the Lake Forest, California church's flagship worship space pastored by Purpose Driven Life author Rick Warren. Each new location has presented its own unique set of audio challenges, and the latest addition—in a former health spa in Anaheim, California, where Saddleback Church has maintained a portable outpost for the last five years—certainly proved no exception.
The new campus’ 1,000-seat auditorium was acoustically and architecturally tricky, being considerably wider than it is deep. ‘That really presented a problem when it came to getting even coverage to every seat in the room,’ recalls Saddleback Church global technical director, Greg Baker. ‘We’ve always worked hard to have great sound in all of our locations, and we wanted that to be the case in this one, too, of course. But it was going to take something special to achieve that here.’
Something special came in the form of an L-Acoustics Arcs WiFo/SB18 system specified and designed by CCI Solutions of Olympia, Washington. CCI Solutions project lead Mark Pearson brought Baker and other church representatives to another nearby location where they had installed an L-Acoustics system in a similar configuration to what they had planned for Saddleback Church Anaheim. ‘We knew an Arcs WiFo system would deliver the results they desired,’ notes Mr Pearson. ‘After a few minutes of listening to this system, everyone knew they couldn’t go wrong with L-Acoustics for their new space.’
‘The best way to describe it is a “left-right-left” stereo system,’ says Mr Baker, laughing at the incongruity of the design but with admiration for how well it has addressed the room’s issues. There are three clusters hung along the front of the stage, each composed of two Arcs Wide enclosures flanking one Arcs Focus enclosure. Essentially, those seated on the left side of the room experience a left-right stereo image; those on the right side of the auditorium hear a mirror-imaged stereo right-left sound.
In between the three speaker clusters, two hangs of three L-Acoustics SB18 subwoofers flown in a cardioid configuration provide perfectly aligned bass response. Additionally, a single coaxial 12XTi speaker is used to fill in one rear corner of the auditorium, and four LA4X amplified controllers power all of the speakers.
‘It’s a very creative way of approaching stereo,’ says Mr Baker. ‘We’d never tried that before, but this room called for a different way of thinking.’ It also called for a loudspeaker with wide, highly predictable coverage characteristics, which L-Acoustics says was the design brief for the Arcs WiFo enclosures. Mr Baker continues: ‘When we heard the demo using the same boxes that they planned for put in here, they were everything we needed them to be; very musical for our worship performances and highly intelligible for the audio from our main pastor’s message, which is delivered on video to the satellite locations. Now that they’re installed here, we’re getting exactly that, in what would otherwise have been a potentially problematic environment. We’re filling every seat with even, consistent sound. L-Acoustics and CCI Solutions really came through for us.’
‘The constant curvature design of Arcs WiFo makes installation so fast and simple, we love using them,’ says CCI Solutions vice president of systems integration, Duke DeJong. ‘And they always surprise our clients with how great they sound right out of the box, even before any room tuning. We have been so thankful for our partnership with L-Acoustics. Every speaker system that we put in thrills customers with both performance and price. In particular with Saddleback, a client who demands great results on a reasonable budget, L-Acoustics delivers big every time.’