Hope Church Upgrades Audio Worship Experience 

by | Audio, AVL Projects, Case Studies, Production

Hope Church recently collaborated with Diversified Systems and HARMAN Professional Solutions to update its sound system with a state-of-the-art JBL Professional audio solution.

Founded in 1988, Hope Church is located in the Memphis suburb of Cordova and is a member of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church. Although Hope Church already had a robust JBL VTX Series audio system in its main 5000-seat sanctuary, the church’s technical staff wondered how a different speaker configuration could benefit the worship experience with improved impact and clarity while retaining an intimate feel. 

Hope Church’s audio director Tim Kanter reached out to Jeff McOlgan of Diversified Systems and—with help from the HARMAN Professional Applications Team—conducted a system review to see if they could improve the worship experiences with more JBL speakers. The team utilized Ease and Line Array Calculator software to design and implement a new audio system configuration that resulted in more comprehensive coverage and clarity than they previously thought possible in the challenging acoustic space. 

“I have been a big fan of JBL since the beginning of my career in the late 80s,” said Jeff McOlgan, Account Executive, Diversified Systems. “For me JBL is the perfect mix of quality and value. HARMAN’s Jay Fullmer and his team are an added bonus when I need assistance supporting the client. The outcome of the collaboration has always culminated in a positive outcome. I am—and more importantly our client is—exceedingly pleased with the performance of the new array configuration at Hope Church.”

The sanctuary sound solution installed by Diversified is based on a traditional left-right system configuration of two ten-unit arrays of JBL VTX V20 speakers, with two outfill arrays of ten V20 speakers each to increase the horizontal coverage in the large room. Five AE Series speakers were added in delay fill positions to cover the separate rear raked seating areas. A high-output center fill enclosure also offers a strong focal point for the front-center seating area. Finally, 12 VTX S28 subwoofer enclosures in 3-box cardioid groups were also horizontally steered for more even lateral coverage. Hope Church’s newly upgraded audio system ensures the ability to address all seating areas with consistent SPL distribution and less unwanted dispersion. 

During the commissioning phase, the Hope Church resident audio staff—Tim Kanter and Eric Albers, both of whom have many hours of both live and studio engineering experience—made for a knowledgeable team working with the JBL Pro Senior Applications staff, who prepared Ease files and provided LAC3 and Performance Manager software files to develop the refreshed system concept. 

Using the LAC3 program allows EQ contours to be added to ensure even front-to-rear coverage across multiple audience seating planes with the added ability of exporting this complex information directly to the GLL loudspeaker file in Ease. After addressing any modifications in Ease, to account for horizontal coverage, the LAC file could then be referenced in Performance Manager addressing the complete networked audio system. 

With a palette of testing and tuning features, optimizing the system to the given acoustical space is highly time efficient, and goes step-by-step to allow the user maximum control and visual display of system health, gain and headroom, and other useful tools. The LAC files produced in the planning phase were imported into JBL Performance Manager software and the results of this predictive work resulted in a stable and linear system that offered improved performance immediately after being powered on. 

The subwoofer system was also reviewed and modified using the LAC program. Adding delay to the outer subwoofer clusters widened the coverage across the sanctuary width, and the cardioid configuration reduced first-order reflections off the front wall surface, which produced a tighter and well-defined low frequency impulse response. 

After conducting extensive listening tests, the staff was rewarded with improved coverage across the entire room and tonal consistency between different seating sections. The response from the client and integrator has been very positive in regard to audio quality, consistency of audience coverage, and reduced energy returning onto the worship riser. 

“There are huge improvements noticed by everyone we have talked to,” said Tim Kanter, Director of Audio, Hope Church. “The biggest system improvements include more clarity, punch, better sound at lower SPL levels, with a lot less sound on stage.”

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