Delivering clarity at Praise Cathedral
USA: A congregation of around 2,600 fills Praise Cathedral in Greer, South Carolina during two services each Sunday morning, as well as a Wednesday evening sermon. The Pentecostal church mixes traditional elements of worship with the contemporary and leads its services on a Sunday with a 150-piece choir and orchestra that performs a medley of hymns and modern worship choruses.
As it approached its 20th anniversary, Praise Cathedral decided to replace the original sound system installed when it opened. ‘After consulting with the senior pastor, a committee was set up to oversee the upgrade,’ recalls Daniel Scarbrough, Praise Cathedral’s media pastor, ‘We brought in a specialist consultant, who suggested a range of options.’
One of those options was an Alcons Audio LR7 micro line-array system. ‘We fell in love with the sound of the Alcons L-series when our local installer, Audio Solutions, demonstrated it in our auditorium,’ says Mr Scarbrough. ‘One of the most important things was that the performance in the vocal range had to be exceptional and the pro-ribbon drivers delivered great speech intelligibility and a crisp, clear sound.’
Having committed to the L-Series solution, Alcons Audio USA supplied the church with EASE data, which reportedly showed that the system would provide even better coverage than anticipated. The installation comprises 27 LR7 cabinets with three LR7B bass modules and a pair of BF362 mkII subwoofers. Three VR8 monitors were also provided for the choir and orchestra, while three Sentinel10 amplified loudspeaker controllers manage and power the entire setup. The main system was painted white so as to blend in with the sanctuary’s décor.
‘The LR7 with LR7B makes for an outstanding array, both in sound and in appearance,’ Mr Scarbrough declares. ‘Adding the LR7B has allowed us to roll off the LR7s, delivering a nice blend of the low-mid frequencies and allowing the LR7s to operate in the upper frequencies for which they are best suited. We are sending the extreme lower frequencies to the BF362mkII subs via an auxiliary send, which allows us to tailor the level of the subs from the mix position with ease. The choir also loves the VR8s; pushing sound to a 120-voice choir clearly and evenly from overhead has been a challenge in the past, but the VR8s have given them sound clarity like never before.’
Set up was completed in five days, resulting in no disruption to Sunday services. The new system has not only improved coverage and clarity, but also eased the workload for Praise Cathedral’s technical staff.
‘With our old system, it felt like a rush of sound,’ says Mr Scarbrough. ‘We were having to monitor channels and continually turn things up and down to highlight a solo or to feature sections. With the Alcons speakers, if we need to feature an instrument or soloist, minor adjustments are all that are required. The sound that the pro-ribbon drivers produce is unbelievably natural. The elements that need to sit on top of the mix sit there with ease and don’t come across as forced. This smoothness of sound makes it so much easier to mix, we don’t have to constantly ride faders to get a good overall balance.’