Feature: Soundscaping The Summit
Feature: Soundscaping The Summit
During a complete AVL renovation at the main broadcast campus of The Summit Church, CSD installed the first Soundscape system into a HOW. James Cooke finds out more
Left and right stereo sound systems were quite the revelation at one time. Technology has continued to evolve though, and we have now reached the point whereby pro audio manufacturers are offering immersive sound systems – solutions that deliver object-based 360° sound reinforcement, which means those listening within an audience, or as part of a congregation, hear audio corresponding to what they are seeing. As a visual element passes by, so too does the noise to go with it.
d&b audiotechnik is one of the manufacturers producing such a solution. Its Soundscape system featured in the pages of Worship AVL fairly recently, as it was employed during the final Soul Survivor festival in the UK last summer (see the January–February 2020 issue for more information). Running on the DS100 Signal Engine, a processor based on a Dante-enabled signal matrix, d&b Soundscape features two software modules, En-Scene and En-Space, which are sound object positioning and in-line room emulation tools, respectively.
While a temporary Soundscape setup was used for worship at Soul Survivor, the first fixed installation of the immersive solution inside a house of worship has reportedly been completed at The Summit Church, a Southern Baptist multi-site ministry with 11 campuses around Raleigh and Durham in the US state of North Carolina. The design and installation were carried out by Custom Sound Designs (CSD).
The system has been installed at The Summit Church’s Capital Hills Campus, which now serves as its main broadcast site. It was the vision of Pastor JD Greear and his team to develop an environment that would communicate well with the congregation at the Capital Hills facility itself, as well as those watching the feed from other locations. The CSD design and build team therefore worked closely with the church, architectural and construction teams to deliver solutions that would captivate congregants and remove distractions.
CSD achieved this in part with the installation of three large LED screens as well as coloured RGBW house lights and theatrical stage lighting to create a visual connection between the stage and the congregation. The 360° Soundscape system ties in the sound with object-based audio representative of what is seen on-stage and on-screen.
‘The Capital Hills Campus is the first global church to feature a 360° d&b Soundscape system using both En-Scene and En-Space software,’ confirms CSD Group principal, David McCauley. ‘And it’s the first with En-Space acoustic room emulation, which is particularly important in a worship context. A d&b DS100 signal matrix, DS10 audio network bridges and 10D and 30D amplifiers are employed. The system is comprised of a main system of 24S-D loudspeakers, 24S-D delays, 8S front-fills, J-Subs and a surround ring with 12S, 10S and 8Ss cabinets.’
In total, the sound system installation was formed from 12 24S-D two-way loudspeakers, along with two 12S-D delays and a pair of 12S cabinets, as well as two 10S-D speakers, 24 8S, two 5S, three J-Sub and four B6 subwoofers. The setup is driven by eight d&b 10D and five 30D four-channel amplifiers. Yamaha Rivage PM7 digital mixing is employed at front of house, while a Yamaha CL5 handles mixing duties for broadcast. The monitor mix is taken care of with eight Shure PSM 1000 in-ear personal monitoring systems.
‘The church employs a lot of video content in their services, so sightlines were absolutely vital,’ says McCauley. ‘This meant that large-format line arrays were not a very good option given the interference with video, especially with the stadium-style seating in the rear, and they were not conducive due to the size of the array needed for the room. The church still desired the level of performance and sonic quality that a line array could deliver, and the solution was the deployment of high-output point sources being driven by the d&b DS100 processor. When using a larger quantity of smaller speakers in conjunction with the DS100, CSD was able to achieve the performance characteristics the church was looking for.’
The Capital Hills sanctuary is a large, fan-shaped room, which provided the CSD team with the further challenge of maintaining a connection between those on-stage and members of the congregation. This is because some congregants face towards the stage from a diagonal angle, rather than face-on. ‘The DS100, and specifically the En-Scene software, allowed us to give every seat in the house the same experience, the same connection to what is happening on-stage and enabled distraction-free communication of the church’s message to the people who came to hear it,’ notes McCauley.
The En-Space software, meanwhile, was deployed to create what McCauley describes as an ‘enveloping feeling to the worship environment’. ‘This allows the mix engineer to still have the reverb and effects support he wants for his mix but, instead of coming from the stage, it's coming from all around. This change, while simple and organic, makes a drastic difference and provides a very natural sonic experience. The reverbs for the vocals don't even sound like effects, they just sound like the room. The mix engineer has the ability to let the inputs that he wants have that large hall feel, yet at the same time take it down to an acoustic guitar that sounds like it is right in front of you in a living room. It is really quite exciting to see what this enables us to achieve.’
For lighting, CDS designed and installed a rig comprising more than 100 fixtures from the catalogue of Chauvet Professional. In total, 29 Ovation E-160WW ellipsoidal fixtures with 26° lens tubes, 18 Ovation P-56FC PAR units and 26 Ovation F-915FC full-colour Fresnels were deployed around the stage. ‘We have most of the ellipsoidals arranged in groups of three across the stage as front lights, then some stage left and right,’ says McCauley. ‘There are PARs across the entire stage for fill ins and we also have Ovation units as top and back lights. They’re used to colourise the stage. The realistic, deeply saturated colours that they produce come off very well on video.’
Twelve Maverick MK1 and 10 Maverick MK2 moving head spots complement the stage lighting, creating aerial effects and specials for musical performances and special events. ‘The Mavericks serve a dual purpose,’ explains McCauley. ‘We have some on the front bars for spots and specials, particularly with their gobos. Then, we have some on the floor for uplight effects. Our Maverick wash fixtures work great as general top and back lighting and for specials. We are seeing the value of movers as they give us the ability to change positions on the fly and to catch specials without having to get the lift out and refocus a section of lights. This balance of moving and static lighting gives us more options and they make the lighting process less confining.’
Completing the lighting setup, which is rigged on Tyler Centerline truss, are 15 DTW392 and 20 Sixbar 1000 IP LED bars from Elation Professional and an MDG ATMe haze generator for atmosphere. House lighting is made up from 41 Chroma-Q Inspire XT and 27 Chroma-Q Inspire Wide LED, RGBW, DMX house light fixtures. Control of the rig is courtesy of an MA Lighting dot2 lighting console and a pair of Chauvet Net-XII rack-mountable Ethernet-to-DMX node controllers.
The video setup, which needed to be accounted for during the Soundscape installation, features 320 panels of Vanguard Rhodium-P4 4mm pitch LED screen, controlled via a trio of NovaStar processing units. The LED panels form three screens – one central display measuring 21 feet x 11.8 feet and comprising 120 panels, and two 21-foot x 7.1-foot side displays consisting of 100 panels each. Content is captured by four Sony HXC-FB80HN studio cameras with HXC-UFB80N control units and RCP-1500 remote control panels. Live content is managed using a Ross Carbonite Black Plus 2 M/E live production switcher.
While the entire video and lighting setups are eye-catchingly impressive, it is the first Soundscape system installed inside a church that steals the show. ‘We went with a point source solution rather than arrays so that the speakers where not hanging down, meaning that all the technology was basically at the same level in people’s sightline, so the congregation did not get that feeling of “this is going to be loud”,’ says McCauley. ‘Everyone was surprised that it sounds as if the audio just comes from the instruments. Yes, it gets turned up to concert levels sometimes, but it doesn’t feel like it is artificial. You just think, “wow, the drums are hitting”, not “wow the PA is hitting”. And the room just seems to be full of sound.
‘We know we did a good job because people responded when they heard the system but did not know why or how exactly they were reacting. At CSD Group, we call this “Real Audio”. You forget you are listening through a PA until you turn it off and realise the difference.’