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The power and the glory

The power and the glory
Clair Brothers 1AM monitors assist the pastor

The power and the glory

Songdo Ganaan Presbyterian Church has turned to JBL to provide even coverage for its new sanctuary

Established in 2000, worshippers of Songdo Ganaan Presbyterian Church have at last settled into their newly constructed sanctuary in Songdo, Incheon. Following 18 months of construction, in-person services were delayed until early 2023 owing to the restrictions imposed by the pandemic. However, the wait was worth it if the power of the sermons and the accompanying music are to be judged. Many genres of music are performed by a band or a full orchestra with a choir, so a powerful loudspeaker system would need to cater for this diversity and provide even coverage throughout the 2,000-capacity church consisting of two upper balconies in a horseshoe configuration.

The newly constructed Songdo Ganaan Presbyterian Church opened its doors in 2023
The newly constructed Songdo Ganaan Presbyterian Church opened its doors in 2023

Before loudspeaker modelling and analysis could be conducted, both the aesthetics and the architectural acoustics of the building's interior needed to be considered. Neither the central crucifix above the rear of the stage or the full width 729-inch 4K LED screen fixed to the rear wall below could be obstructed. Following numerous meetings between the interior designer, broadcast contractor and church officials, a consensus was reached that would ensure that the audio quality would lead to a powerful, immersive experience.

To fulfil the many varied styles of music and speech intelligibility, TechDataPS was commissioned to design a loudspeaker system for sanctuary. A JBL VTX A-Series line array was proposed and ultimately installed. “Before the VTX A-Series was demonstrated, the church would not have chosen JBL,” admits Songdo Ganaan sound engineer, Jong-Hyuk Kim. “The V-Series of VTX line arrays has always been more appealing for rock music and festival music, and I think that's where JBL's identity has been built. However, with the A-Series, JBL has created quite a unique speaker that adds warmer colouration, while maintaining the JBL identity. Upon listening to speech and various live and pre-recorded music, we knew that the VTX A-Series was what we required.”

L-R hangs of JBL VTX A12 three-way cabinets serve as the main FOH system
L-R hangs of JBL VTX A12 three-way cabinets serve as the main FOH system

Systems integrator Saegyero-In-Sound installed the cabling infrastructure and audio components within the sanctuary. Suspended from the 20m-high ceiling, L-R hangs each comprising 12 A12 three-way cabinets are fixed to VTX-A frames. Designed for larger-size fixed installations, the VTX A12 incorporates dual 12-inch LF and quad 5.5-inch MF differential drivers together with triple 2-inch annular compression drivers coupled to a high-frequency waveguide.

Weighing 60.8kg, each cabinet operates within a frequency range of 46Hz–19kHz and offers 90° of nominal (250Hz - 18kHz) horizontal coverage. Extending the lower frequencies down to 25Hz (–10dB), four JBL VTX B28 dual 18-inch subwoofers are suspended in cardioid configuration immediately behind the A-Series arrays in cardioid mode. Eight Crown I-Tech 4x3500HDS amplifiers power the main A12 speakers and four higher-power Crown I-Tech 12000HDs supply ample headroom to the B28 subwoofers.

The 729-inch 4K LED screen fixed to the rear wall could not be obstructed
The 729-inch 4K LED screen fixed to the rear wall could not be obstructed

Further to modelling, 36 JBL AC18/95 bracket fixed speakers serve as front, under-balcony and side fill. Powered by Crown DriveCore two- and four-channel amplifiers, the compact 8-inch models operate within a frequency range of 63Hz–20kHz (–3dB) with a 90° x 50° dispersion courtesy of the PT waveguide attached to the 1-inch compression driver. Powered by two Lab Gruppen D 80:4L DSP amplifiers, eight Clair Brothers 1AM monitors can be patched in flexibly for some of the musicians and the pastor onstage. Beyond the sanctuary, JBL enclosures including 305P MkII, 308P MkII, EON712 and EON715 models provide consistent voicing in the youth hall and broadcast centre.

Like the rest of the world, broadcasting and streaming has become indispensable for Korean churches following the onset of the pandemic. The broadcasting system combines live broadcast and recorded services on the church’s YouTube channel. “Audio signals are transmitted to the internet from the console to the distributor in a stereo two-track,” explains Kim. “For both internal and external broadcasting, Auto Gain control integrated into the V-Mix minimises the differences in levels for worshippers when listening to a live broadcast. A Midas Heritage D console has been specified as a live broadcast console and we will adopt a Klark Teknik DN9680 AES50 extender to connect the mixing ecosystem over the AES50 network.”

Minimising audio spillage from the stage to the front rows, a personal monitor system was deemed paramount. “We were presented with two choices,” furthers Kim. “The Behringer P16 with Ultranet and the Midas DP48 with AES50 models attracted us most. On the one hand, the P16 has fewer channels than the DP48, but the intuitive interface attracted us as it makes it easy to operate. We were faced with a dilemma. Rather than assign the P16 as a direct channel, we took advantage of the Heritage D's many aux outputs and assigned all sources as aux, making the P16 the choice for our musicians. This would address all their input requirements and provide them with an intuitive interface.

“Like most churches in South Korea, all our sound engineers are volunteers. Having gained basic acoustic knowledge, our volunteers are required to learn two skills. As a church sound engineer, I feel that worship can sometimes take a backseat to a service, so we need worshippers who are trained in worship, the Bible and prayer, and are willing to study and work to make the service better. Secondly, they need to remember that the audio signal is mixed for the entire church and not the individual. In music and acoustics, there are standards, but it is a subjective science. Crucially, an audio engineer needs to follow the demands of the pastor.”

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