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First Assembly Church enters the Soundscape

First Assembly Church enters the Soundscape

First Assembly Church enters the Soundscape


First Assembly Church in Calgary, Alberta has become the first house of worship to install d&b audiotechnik's Soundscape immersive sound system. Sapphire Sound, an audio, video and multimedia specialist based in Calgary, pitched Soundscape to the church when approached to design a new sound system.

‘Music is a huge part of what we do and within our church we,’ commented Justin Wells, First Assembly’s technical director. ‘For people who come for that, it has the potential to be inspiring. For our sanctuary, what we sought was an audio system that could place everyone in the sweet-spot of the sound image, something that could reach those sat at the periphery of our 240° fan-shaped room and give them that inclusive experience.’

Wells and executive pastor Shane Penney contacted Ben Burrell, Sapphire Sound’s managing partner, to assist them. ‘We completed the assessment right about the time of the official launch of d&b’s Soundscape system,’ commented Burrell. ‘Sapphire has been providing d&b solutions since 2013 when we installed a system for Westside Church at The Centre for Performing Arts [in Vancouver]. While we had no direct experience with Soundscape we have great confidence in d&b; everything we had used from them so far performed exactly as they promised it would. The functionality of their object positioning tool within the En-Scene module of Soundscape presented a much more manageable solution to the dilemma of First Assembly, and in many ways a better and more creative one.’

‘When Ben first presented the Soundscape concept it was not simply “another way of achieving what we aimed for”,' said Wells. 'We had started to see the conversations in the pro audio press about so-called immersive sound experiences, so even though it was all pretty new we saw the potential. Looking at the d&b online videos it was clear this was something else. We had already become convinced this was the way to go. The demo was the final stamp of approval. Staged in 360°, it was a very cool experience. Although the presentation was more generalised about what could be achieved with En-Scene and En-Space, it was also apparent how this system would transfer into our church and the impact it would bring.’

Burrell added: ‘Although this was to be our first Soundscape installation, and the first in a house of worship for d&b anywhere in the world, one element was in our favour. Typically, Soundscape requires more channels of amplification than a more conventional point source solution. But such a conventional solution to First Assembly’s listening area was already complex enough that a high amplifier count was a given; in fact, using Soundscape has reduced the number of cabinets required and consequently reduced the amp count. The only cost impact was the d&b DS100 signal processing engine and the En-Scene license.’

‘In terms of installation, everyone, top to bottom, the church elders, the congregation, people who choose to come from out of town - and we get a lot of them - really enjoy it and we constantly receive compliments on the listening experience,' concluded Wells. 'We value excellence at First Assembly; this brings music to a place at the heart of worship. Excellence in itself will inspire others to strive for excellence in themselves and their wider community.’

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