Electro‑Voice PA Brings Clarity & Control to Growing Cleveland Church

October 12, 2011

As in most professions, installation design often involves reconciling the ideal with the possible. A loudspeaker, for example, might have the perfect pattern for a given room’s size and shape and yet turn out to be a less-than-great match in areas such as weight or budget. That was the dilemma faced by AV specialist Jim Madden of NPI Audio Video Solutions in Cleveland, Ohio when he took on a PA design and install job for Cleveland’s Calvary Church of God In Christ. Needing wide coverage and tight pattern control, Madden’s first inclination was to build the system around an Electro-Voice EVH horn-loaded cabinet. But when the limitations of available rigging points became clear, Madden was able to draw on the breadth and depth of EV’s loudspeaker line to create an alternate high-quality system that has proven an excellent fit for the church’s needs.

The services at Calvary Church of God In Christ are high-energy gospel, with a choir, multi-singer praise team, a band, and very dynamic preaching. For the moment, the group is made up of drums, organ, and keyboards; bass and guitar will be added soon. “The room seats about 250 and is not particularly large,” Madden says, “and the band kicks it out pretty good. With the Leslie organ cabinet and the speakers for the keyboard out front, they can easily overpower everything else, so one of my challenges was to bring the volume of the band under control.”

“They are a good‑sounding box, they handle a nice amount of power, they don’t weigh a ton, and they are easy to fly. They offer great value all around.”

Madden accomplished this by enclosing the drummer, placing a clear plastic shield in front of him and more absorptive material behind him. For the rest of the band, the amps and speakers are placed behind the stage and miced. “It lowered the overall level for everyone else in the room,” Madden says. “But the players are happy because they are all wearing in-ear monitors, so they can hear themselves and each other. They can turn those up as loud as they want, but now we can set a reasonable out-front level for the musicians, and blend them with the vocalists and the pastor. Sometimes musicians absolutely refuse to use in-ear monitors, but these guys have been very receptive, and it has absolutely helped the service. It works really well.”

The fact that the band volume is now controlled does not mean that the overall service has become mellow, so Madden still needed mains that could handle lots of energy. Because of the sanctuary’s unusual shape, however, careful pattern control would be required to keep the energy from spreading indiscriminately throughout the space. “The room is an octagon with a diameter of about 76 feet,” he says, “and the ceiling has a raised center section that is about eight feet higher than the rest. There is a lot of drywall throughout, with a lot of very nice exposed wood framing, and on several of the walls there is a lot of glass. But because it’s an octagon we don’t have the same issues with the parallel walls that we would have if it was a square or a rectangle; there isn’t tons of slap or flutter in the room.”

The stage is placed across two of the octagon’s sides, so the seating fans out from the stage area. “I had a very wide area to cover in the near-to-mid field,” Madden says. “Based on the placement of the mains, an EV horn-loaded cabinet would have been my first choice, because the pattern control of the EVHs would have allowed me to keep as much energy as possible off of the stage. But given the hang points that we had to work with, the horn-loaded boxes turned out to be too large. I needed something that was relatively light, but also something that would take some pounding.”

An alternate solution

Re-grouping, and with expert help from Jason Jacquemain of Electro-Voice reps C.L. Pugh, Madden suggested several options from the EV loudspeaker line, and the church ultimately settled on ZX3 composite 12-inch two-way loudspeakers. “The ZX3s are the right weight and size,” Madden says, “and also right for the church’s budget. They are a good-sounding box, they handle a nice amount of power, they don’t weigh a ton, and they are easy to fly. They offer great value all around.”

Madden placed one ZX3 almost directly above the pulpit, firing straight out, and one on each of the side beams to cover the wing areas. “The one in the front is the version with the 90-degree coverage pattern, because I needed the width,” he says. “On the two sides I used the narrower 60-degree coverage pattern boxes to avoid putting energy on the walls.”

The system also includes two TX2181 dual 18-inch subwoofers, one placed at the front of the room and one at the back. “Originally I was going to put one on each side of the stage,” Madden explains, “but the space on one side is used by the band, so the back was the most unobtrusive place for the second box. It helps spread the low energy around in the room rather than building it up at one point. The boxes are crossed over at 100 Hz, so there are no imaging issues.”

Madden says that the TX2181s “definitely round out the sound without being too heavy handed. You could argue that they are overkill, but when the band starts working with their bass player they want the music to thump, and these will definitely thump. And they definitely have enough power to make them run. I always put more power in the rack than the speakers theoretically need, explaining to the client that having that headroom in the system gives them the ability to run clean at the highest volume level the speaker can attain.”

In this case that power is provided by a pair of CPS2.12 Class-H power amplifiers, which can deliver up to 1800 W per channel into 2 Ohms. “This is the amp that I like to put into permanent installations,” Madden says. “It’s designed for contractors. It has a lot of power, it’s reasonably priced, and it has always been very reliable. Plus it’s easy to install. I don’t have to solder a bunch of connectors. I just screw them right into the blocks and push the blocks into the amplifier.”

The system is controlled via an Electro-Voice DC-One, a two-in/six-out sound system processor. “What do I like about the DC-One?” Madden asks. “Everything. It replaces EQs, compressors, and crossovers, so I was able to take all of that out of their analog rack. It controls everything at once, and once it’s set up it can be locked so the settings can’t be adjusted by someone who doesn’t really know what they are doing. The DC-One is an amazing piece of gear.”

With the combination of source level control for the band and full, clean sound from the Electro-Voice PA, the congregation is, Madden says, extremely pleased with the new sound of their services. “If you’re going to church, it’s reasonable to expect that you should be able to hear the word of God clearly,” he points out. “And the music should sound good as well. This is a quickly growing church, and part of being a quickly growing church is having a good sound system. The pastor understands that, and was instrumental in moving this project along. This system is a major step forward for them.”

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