The Northeast Christian Church in Lexington, KY sports the first installation of Renkus-Heinz’s new RHAON audio system.Lexington, KY (October 26, 2007)–Northeast Christian Church in Lexington, KY is the proud owner of a newly constructed 2,400-seat sanctuary which was completed in the nick of time: The $11 million building replaces the church’s existing sanctuary, a multipurpose space, which had become increasingly unsuitable as a worship environment and was unable to accommodate the church’s growth.
With the construction of the new fan-shaped space with a balcony, however, came the need to fill it with sound, and the responsibility of specifying and installing an effective audio system fell on to the shoulders of CMG Audio Visual of Canton, GA.
CMG president Jeremy Alison explains that his firm became involved with the project in February 2006 after a guest musician of the church contacted a member of CMG’s board of directors who had been his FOH engineer for several concerts, and adds that the blank canvas with which the team worked was a good one. “We had the privilege of working with two of the best architects in this market,” he says. “They really understood the need for proper sound reinforcement and good room acoustics, and worked closely with us early in the design phase to develop solutions that fit the needs of the church.” In particular, the CMG team, led by project manager Jon Ostrander, worked closely with Jerry Herndon of JHA, the architect and owner’s representative.
As might be fitting for a house of worship, the system designers took a leap of faith and spec’d what would become the world’s first installation of a Renkus-Heinz RHAON-equipped self-powered audio system. The RHAON (Renkus-Heinz Audio Operations Network) technology provides a digital signal path with remote monitoring over a Cat 5 based CobraNet network, via a MediaMatrix Nion distribution processor, to the loudspeaker drivers. Despite the digital system, however, the mixing environment for the church’s all-volunteer audio team had to be strictly analog. “The church’s sound volunteers did not want digital consoles,” continues Alison, “but we had to have three splits for FOH, monitors and broadcast, and we wanted a digital back end both because of the size of the space and limited space for amplifier racks. We chose Midas Verona and Sienna consoles for their warm sound and ease of use for volunteers. We chose the MediaMatrix Nion for reliability and to provide CobraNet distribution, taking analog signals from the desks, processing and distributing them–via D-Link network switches for CobraNet and control traffic–to the RHAON self-powered cabinet network. This combination allowed the entire digital back end to be remotely monitored.
The final factor in the decision was, he says, the musical nature of the church’s worship services, in which a contemporary service style is delivered through southern gospel and bluegrass by a sizeable band, fully DI’d, a large choir and some orchestral elements: “It’s a full live experience, so the fidelity of the system was very important.”
The main house system centers on Renkus-Heinz’s ST Series, with an ‘exploded’ central cluster of five ST9/64R cabinets. These are augmented by a six-cabinet ST4/64R balcony delay system, with a half-dozen SG81-2Rs Sygma boxes as an under-balcony delay system. A trio of the smaller Sygma SG81-2Rs serve as front fills while six PN212-SUB R house subwoofers tackle the low end. The system is completed by five more Sygma cabinets, the SG121-52R, which form the stage monitor system, and a pair of SG151-52Rs as the choir room system.
“The Renkus-Heinz loudspeakers were specified for the exceptional pattern control based on the results of the EASE model, and the monitoring and overall flexibility offered by RHAON,” said Alison. “Another benefit of going down this route was that, with all audio and data signals being delivered to the loudspeakers–even the high power three-way main cluster–on a single Cat 5 per cabinet, wiring pulls were exceptionally light and easy. RHAON proves very helpful in being able to identify issues which in a distributed system that large you will have from time to time; it’s been a very good experience.
One interesting audio request from the church was that the acoustics of the main sanctuary match as closely as possible those of the choir practice room, a tough call due to the sheer difference in volume of the spaces. The answer, explains Alison, was two-fold. “Using EASE, and in conjunction with the architects, we raised the ceiling in the choir practice room to increase the room volume, and used hard surfaces to produce additional reflections. In the sanctuary, acoustical clouds were installed at angles that reflect audience response to increase the intimacy of the worship service without interfering with the sound reinforcement system. The result is a really nice-sounding main room and a practice room that matches it very well.”
“The owner and operators are very pleased with the functionality and flexibility of the installed system,” says CMG Audio Visual CEO Keith Denmon, “and the acoustic warmth of their new worship center. From our point of view, the combination of RHAON and Nion enabled a complex multi-zone room to have simplified cabling infrastructure while giving each loudspeaker its own source signal, with delay uniquely tuned to each loudspeaker, rather than just zoning them and making a compromise – and the saving in cable pulling was very significant. It was exciting to be a pioneer but equally gratifying that the system worked as well as we hoped it would.”