All Electro‑Voice Service For 2500 Seat Belfast Church

February 6, 2010

The 2,500-strong congregation at Belfast's Metropolitan Tabernacle is finally enjoying the results of an 18-month project to upgrade its audio services. From the prominent Electro-Voice XLC line array in the main auditorium to the compact ZX1s and SX100s in the adjacent youth center, the extensive digital audio network designed by the Church's in-house team features almost exclusively EV sound reinforcement products.

Trevor Bowron and Ian McAlees from the Metropolitan Tabernacle worked closely with Neal Allen from Shuttlesound to draw up the system specification, selecting XLC for the main house PA. “We hadn’t really used Electro-Voice before,” says McAlees, “but, from the start, the experience has been really positive. We auditioned the XLC and XLE line array cabinets at the Shuttlesound Big Day Out conference, and Neal Allen made the effort to travel to Belfast and attend one of our church services. Throughout the project, the quality of support from Shuttlesound has been outstanding and exceptionally responsive.”

“ the breadth and depth of the EV range of products meant that we could realise our whole audio solution from within their catalogue. ”

McAlees also points out that “the breadth and depth of the EV range of products meant that we could realise our whole audio solution from within their catalogue.” The church has embraced every aspect of EV technology, from the IRIS-Net management software platform carried throughout the building on CobraNet and controlled via NetMax processors, to a full-blooded line array PA that can offer audio quality to match the pro-broadcast standards of the church’s TV and DVD programmes.

Entering the Tabernacle sanctuary, eyes are immediately drawn to the substantial arrays of nine XLC 127DVX modules, flanked by outer hangs each with six Xsubs, thus keeping the loudspeakers off the floor. A delay system of 12 XLE 181s delivers coverage throughout the large auditorium, with additional support from Xi1082s under the balcony. “In every one of the 2,500 seats, you will hear pretty much exactly the same thing,” says Shuttlesound’s Neal Allen. “The coverage is really consistent, and the use of EV’s latest FIR-Drive processors has produced an absolutely seamless transition between XLC and XLE systems. Everything is perfectly balanced.”

The Metropolitan Tabernacle is one of the first major installations in the UK to fully exploit EV’s new FIR-Drive processing capabilities, implemented through their EV Tour Grade amplifiers and accessed via four NetMax N8000-1500 digital matrix controllers. “The mic into the stage box is the only analogue element in this system,” explains Neal Allen. “Everything else is in the digital domain, from the desk to NetMax to the TG amps.”

Operationally, Ian McAlees leaves all system control to the NetMax matrix. “From FOH, all we send is a L and R mix – NetMax handles the balancing of all fills, delays and balcony speakers, as well as all the limiting, EQ, etc, for the EV ZX5 stage wedges. NetMax control extends even to the Aviom personal monitoring systems used on stage. In the future, we plan to make use of NetMax’s GP10 interface to drive talkback from our comms matrix straight into in-ears and foldback speakers.”

A typical Sunday church service will feature a four or five piece band on stage, with grand piano, in front of a 200-piece choir. Says McAlees, “I spend a lot of my time mixing in a studio and when the musicians are playing through this PA, it’s almost like mixing on a big set of studio monitors. XLC gives us an exceptionally clean sound with superb definition; everything is there and it remains very, very even and impressively consistent. And on top of the audio quality, we gain significant benefits in operational terms; IRIS-Net makes the system very easy to manage.”

The Metropolitan Tabernacle has also completed the construction of an annex, adjacent to the main church. Designed for the church’s younger congregation, this building is also tied into the audio network, using a large number of different EV speaker models throughout its social areas and café.

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