Electro‑Voice EVA line‑array loudspeakers fill Moncton First Baptist Church’s traditional sanctuary with contemporary sound quality

May 5, 2014

When it comes to HOW installations, it’s the traditional sanctuaries that often pose the greatest challenges. In part that’s because older interior finish materials such as wood, plaster, and stone are all highly reflective. While that can sound great for choir and organ, it works against the intelligibility of spoken word, and it compromises musical clarity at the higher volumes characteristic of contemporary services. At the same time, the architectural and historical value of older interiors often means that loudspeaker placement options are limited, and systems must be mounted or flown with minimal physical and aesthetic impact. SSI Audio of Moncton, New Brunswick faced both challenges when it came on board as a design/install consultant for a sanctuary makeover at Moncton’s 185-year-old First Baptist Church. The solution was a new sound reinforcement system built around Electro-Voice Expandable Vertical Array (EVA) full-range line arrays and X-line subwoofers.

Moncton FBC holds both traditional and contemporary services in the sanctuary, which seats a combined 1100 on the main floor and balcony. SSI did more than simply design and install the sound system; the company was involved from the early stages of project planning. “We worked very closely with the members of the board in order to guide them with the design of the new sanctuary layout,” says Mark Moore, SSI’s lead on the project. “This included a stage extension and a rearrangement of the pews.”

“we were able to quickly see that the EVA was the right choice for the job.”

Moore says that the historic nature of the building was a primary consideration in the project’s design. “We knew going in that we wanted to avoid altering the appearance of the sanctuary. Maintaining that look was at the forefront of our concern the entire way through. And as with a lot of sanctuaries that age, lots of hard wooden surfaces are exposed and offer acoustic challenges throughout.”

Moore points to several factors that led to a great result for the new sound system. One is that SSI was able to impress upon church leaders the importance of proper loudspeaker placement in achieving a clear sound. “We often see speaker systems hidden away in the corners,” he says. “We were able to educate the client on what was required for proper audio reproduction and how to minimize reflections, and that resulted in us being able to place the arrays in the optimal position.”

Also working in SSI’s favor was the flexibility of the EVA line, which allows the design of an array to be easily tailored for the requirements of the room. “With four options available that offer different dispersion angles,” Moore says, “we were able to strategically focus audio into the balcony while avoiding the back wall as much as possible. And at the bottom of the array we chose a much wider pattern in order to hit the first few rows of pews without the need for front fills.”

Consistent and clean

“Having the ability to select different patterns within the same family of loudspeakers also helped keep the look of the hangs consistent and clean,” Moore adds. “And the EVA system also has very sleek rigging, with no exposed side pins or rugged multi-system rigging bars. That made it visually appealing and an easy sell to the client. Plus the EVA’s passive crossovers helped us save on amplifiers and control systems, making it a very budget-friendly option.”

The system’s eight EVA elements are hung in left/right arrays of four each, with each array consisting of one EVA-2082S/906, two EVA-2082S/920, and one EVA-2082S/1220 (top to bottom). Low end is enhanced with two Xsub dual 18-inch subwoofer elements mounted under the stage. “We needed a powerful solution that could essentially do the job of multiple subwoofers,” Moore says, “and we needed to keep them hidden. The Xsubs have great punch and power; they were the perfect choice.”

The sanctuary system is supplemented with a pair of Sx300E 12-inch two-way full-range loudspeakers that provide choir fill. One box is flown directly behind each line array, hidden from the audience. “This solution works very well in covering the choir section consistently without interfering with the choir mics,” Moore says.

EV loudspeakers are used directly on stage as well, in the form of six 12-inch two-way full-range TX1122FMs that serve as monitors. “The wedges are left on stage during the traditional service,” Moore says, “so we needed a low-profile option. The TX1122FM was a great choice for size and weight. The tonality and clarity is great, and the client loves them. We’re very pleased with those boxes.” An additional pair of full-range EV loudspeakers, the powered SxA100+, is used in a separate multipurpose room.

To power the sanctuary system, SSI chose eight EV Contractor Precision Series amplifiers: three CPS 2.12, three CPS2.9, and two CPS 2.4. “Reliability was the key factor,” Moore says, “so that was an easy choice for us. Having used CPS amps and other EV amps in our production department for so many years, we knew we could rely on years of use out of these.” The system is controlled by a Dx46 two-in/six-out FIR-Drive sound system processor.

Once the system was installed, Moore says, it didn’t take long to confirm that SSI had made good choices for the components. “The second we checked the PA with a vocal mic,” he says, “we felt that we had already won. The boxes sounded good right out of the gate, we had crystal-clear intelligibility, and we had even, consistent coverage throughout the venue. So we were able to quickly see that the EVA was the right choice for the job. And so was our client. They continue to be astounded that regardless of where you sit in the sanctuary, you can hear every word from the stage. We’re all very pleased with how this installation turned out.”

(Photos taken during construction)

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