Feature: Inside the triangle
Feature: Inside the triangle
Breeze Stage and Studio owner and former worship leader Jennifer Breeze Timmerman recalls the sound system set up in Christ the King Vineyard Church’s triangular sanctuary
The sanctuary at Christ the King Vineyard Church in North Olmsted, Ohio is very unique because it’s a triangle-shaped hall, with each of the three sides of the room measuring approximately 110 feet. The stage spans the majority of one of those three walls and faces the rear corner of the room at a distance of 95 feet. Seating is moveable, with a capacity for approximately 400 worshippers. Services are contemporary in nature and music plays a very important role in their services. There is a full worship band with drums, multiple guitars, keyboards, bass and percussion, along with a vocal team. Whereas the original sound system was inadequate for the space, it was crucial that the new system deliver a high level of speech intelligibility and first-rate music reproduction characteristics.
I spent most of my adult career as a worship leader in the church. After having my son, I decided to retire from full-time ministry to spend more time with my family. After leaving the ministry, I committed to leading a worship leader network. I felt there was little opportunity for local worship leaders to connect with one another. Through the network, Ed Breyer became a good friend of mine. Ed was a worship leader in South Florida for several years. When God called him away from South Florida, he landed in Ohio at Christ the King Vineyard Church. When the church decided it was time to make some upgrades to their sound system, Ed reached out to me to put in a bid. I believe they chose to work with us for a combination of reasons, but primarily when we submitted the system design, we also submitted an EASE drawing that gave them the evidence they needed to see that this design would in fact give them nearly perfect coverage throughout their unique space.
The project included replacing their entire sound system – specifically their speakers which were doing a poor job of delivering clear, quality sound. We chose to run with the PreSonus Commercial line and decided to upgrade their existing digital console with a PreSonus Series III, which also encouraged them to add a couple of EarMix 16M personal mixers. This gave them a complete PreSonus ecosystem, which I believe simplifies things when you can run one brand like that. Their previous sound system was ultimately designed for speech and they had since expanded their worship service to include a full band. In addition, the room previously had a centre stage, which meant their sound needed to be ‘in-the-round’. The speakers were attached to every column in the space and pointing in every direction. It just was not an ideal coverage pattern and, with their decision to move the stage, we were able to better place the new system.
There were a lot of strange things going on in addition to the sanctuary’s odd, triangular shape. We also had multi-level ceilings, a hard tile floor, tunnel-like corners with the sloped ceiling and half the room opened up to a large lobby, which opened up to the basement. It’s the craziest room I’ve ever seen. We had sound bouncing in and out of the lobby area which made for some crazy reverb times.
The first order of business was acoustic treatments throughout the room. This was a huge help. Because the acoustics were far less predictable, we just started tackling hard surfaces and the most obvious trouble spots. I’m sure we could have been more extensive in our acoustic treatment, but, as always, we tried to keep the project budget-friendly. We were most concerned with making big improvements and we were very successful. We actually ran through about three or four different room designs. We ran a ‘stereo’ pair with delays, we ran centre clusters with fills and delays, and we landed with a centre cluster and side-fills. All of the designs could have worked, but budget and practicality played a big role. With the assistance of Jon Taylor and the team at PreSonus, I know we are never making a great sacrifice when we make budget decisions. The customer is always more than impressed with the results. The final design gave us such amazing clarity and even coverage throughout the room, the church body will never be able to complain that they can’t understand the pastor or the music.
We flew a WorxAudio X5i-P line array underneath an X118i-P powered subwoofer. These are positioned over the front, centre area of the stage. For side-fill, there are two suspended WorxAudio Wave Series W-12Ai point source speakers – one for the left and one for the right.
The project wasn’t without its challenges. We had to work on 25–30 feet of scaffolding. Certainly not the most ideal way to hang a couple hundred pounds of speaker. Because the sanctuary is built above the basement, we were limited to the basic scissor lift due to the amount of weight the floor could withstand. This meant that all the beam work above the stage had to be done from scaffolding. It would have been a much quicker and easier install had we been able to work from a boom lift. And, to top it off, we ended up having a bogus scissor lift. It would not lift the speakers to the ceiling without the emergency shut-off kicking in. Unfortunately, we didn’t realise the lift was bad till the job was done. The speaker array hung half way to its final fly point for several days as we figured out a manual hoisting plan, which took six guys to pull off and a final bear hug from a certain someone to bolt it into place. Just another reminder that something will always go wrong. We look forward to these challenges because then we know we got the worst part out of the way.
Although we do audio, video and lighting, this project was strictly audio. We may have helped change a lightbulb or two while we were 30 feet in the air, but the only other gear I installed was some Furman power sequencing hardware, so the whole system could be turned on with the flip of one switch. Previously the church was turning on FOH and then walking to the stage to flip on all the amps. Certainly not the end of the world, but it wasn’t the shortest walk. And it would have been a little difficult to climb 30 feet in the air to turn on the powered speaker.
Everyone at the church is very pleased, the coverage is even and the sound is amazing. No matter where one happens to be seated, the entire congregation can understand the presenters when they speak, which wasn’t the case prior to installation. And the new StudioLive console has given the church more flexibility, with an easier interface, which means their volunteers can maximise their performance as sound engineers. With all these improvements combined, the music sounds better than ever.