Pattern Control is Key in Electro-Voice PA for Damascus Friends Church
Often in House of Worship audio, speaker placement is a compromise between function and aesthetics. To fit the architectural design of the space you can’t always hang the speakers in their acoustically ‘perfect’ positions. Therefore, it’s particularly important not only to control reflections with proper acoustical design but also to minimize their origination. That’s why Jim Madden of NPI Audio Video Solutions in Cleveland, Ohio often finds himself basing church PA systems on the EVH series of horn-loaded loudspeakers from Electro-Voice.
“What I like about the EVH line in general is the pattern control,” Madden says. “It’s great for keeping the energy on the audience and off the stage, ceiling and walls.” That characteristic is precisely what was called for at the Damascus Friends Church (DFC) in Damascus, Ohio, which recently tore down its old sanctuary and built a brand new worship center with a roughly 90’ by 90’ space seating about 600 congregants, as well as new classrooms, A/V rooms, an impressive visitor’s area and backstage lounge for performers.
DFC offers parishioners a variety of worship styles, including two types of contemporary service. “There is a typical acoustic-driven service with drums, bass, and acoustic guitar,” Madden says, “and there is a full-blown rock-and-roll service, which is all-electric, louder, and more dynamic. There is also the occasional national Christian artist as the Church’s guest as well. These are the ones that put the system to the ultimate test. We built the system to handle these services, because you can always turn it down but you can’t make it do more than it’s designed to do.”
With expert technical input and EASE modeling from Jason Jacquemain of C.L. Pugh & Associates in Brunswick, Ohio, Madden selected a pair of Electro-Voice EVH-1152/99 two-way coaxial 90- by 90-degree full-range loudspeakers for the mains.
Madden says that the only feasible spot to hang the mains was directly over the front lip of the stage, tipped down about 25 degrees for front-row coverage. “Based on that placement, my main concern was to avoid hitting the stage with a lot of low-mid energy. And that’s what would have happened — particularly in the middle of the vocal range at around 400-500 Hz — if we’d used a normal front-loaded box. But the EVH is horn-loaded, so its directivity control in that range is very good. The speaker is a little ways back in the cabinet, and the net result is a tighter vertical and horizontal coverage pattern, which keeps the energy focused out on the audience. We did not have to use a ton of EQ for feedback control, and it worked out really well.”
“Another advantage of the EVH series,” Madden continues, “is that the clarity and intelligibility are both excellent. And the speakers are also very hot, which is really important when you need volume at a reasonable cost. I’ve never heard a box come right out of the carton as hot as these are. They are exceedingly efficient, and they gave us plenty of headroom. As a matter of fact I had to turn them down a little bit compared to the subs.
Two QRx 218S compact dual 18-inch subwoofers were used for the low end. “I use the QRx 218S whenever I can,” Madden says. “For the dollar, they are an incredible value. They thump really hard, but they are still tight; they don’t get flabby-sounding.”
From low to loud
Madden says both the QRx and EVH lines share a common trait of Electro-Voice loudspeakers, which is that they sound good even at low volume. “Some of the other well-known brands sound great as long as you apply power,” he explains, “but they don’t like it when you lower the volume. They get thin-sounding very quickly. The EV boxes are much more consistent from low volume to high. And while DFC is a big contemporary church with a rock-and-roll service, they also do traditional services, weddings, funerals, bible study, and all sorts of other things. So it has to sound good at low volume.”
The system is powered by Electro-Voice Contractor Precision Series amplifiers, with a CPS 2.9 running the mains mono bi-amped and a CPS 2.12 running the subs. “The CPS series are tremendous amplifiers and very affordable,” Madden says. “They’re very powerful, they match well with all the EV processors and loudspeaker systems, and they’ve been very reliable for me. I’ve used them on a lot of jobs.”
Madden has also done a lot of jobs with the Electro-Voice DC-One processor, which he chose for DFC. “The DC-One is an absolutely tremendous ‘Swiss army knife,’” he says. “I use it for just about everything, because it does so many things and replaces so many pieces of equipment. And the DC-One Editor Software is wonderful. I don’t even mess with the front panel. I just go in with my laptop. The graphical interface is very good, very easy to work with.”
The system is rounded out with a set of EV’s new Live X series loudspeakers for visiting performers who prefer wedges to in-ear monitors. “They use ELX112Ps for vocals, and ELX115Ps back at the drums or keyboards,” Madden says. “These are also great to use as a portable PA for either inside or outside of the building. They are powerful, they sound good, and they’re cost-effective.”
For parishioners who have hearing issues, DFC supplements the PA system with a Telex SoundMate SM-2 personal listening system. “The SoundMate takes a feed from the board, and transmits to bodypacks and earphones,” Madden says. “It’s a low-band system, so it stays out of the way of the wireless mics. It’s stable and it works very well.”
Madden says the DFC installation, which included video systems in addition to the PA, has been a big success. “So far, so good,” he says. “Jason Jacquemain accompanied me to the church for the final DC-One adjustments, and I’ve been back a couple of times since to see how they are doing with the system. DFC’s A/V team spearheaded by Jared Jones A/V Project Director, Victor Trimmer Lighting and Audio Coordinator, and Tony Minich Video Director, are wonderful and a pleasure to work with. They seem to be extremely pleased.”
Madden is pleased as well, but not surprised. “EV does a great job, it never fails me, and it’s cost-effective for the customer,” he says. “I’ve been using EV successfully for over 20 years.”