Los Angeles (March 19, 2004)–The newly renovated Wilshire Ward Church originally had a long history of sound quality issues, with poor speech intelligibility topping the list. With loudspeakers that were engineered and installed in the 1970’s, the Church needed a new technology solution for their highly reverberant worship space. Now a new EAW audio system has been installed to remedy those and other problems.
Wilshire Ward Church, part of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), is architecturally very different from its sister churches with its ornate details and high ceilings. “The [LDS Church] has several standard plans for its buildings but this one is different due to its unique architecture,” explained Robert Lester, principal consultant for Lewitz and Associates Inc. The firm has enjoyed a working relationship with the LDS Church for over two decades, acting as its West Coast acoustical consultant. “For the Church, speech intelligibility is a very high priority. Since the room is long and has a fairly high reverberation time–approximately 2.6 seconds in the mid bands and over 3 seconds in the lower frequencies–it was critical to increase the direct sound to listeners and minimize the late reverberant sound.”
Originally, the Church had contacted a sound system contractor in an effort to improve the sound quality in anticipation of its upcoming building dedication, celebrating their newly renovated building. To try and address the sound system problems, the contractor installed a Peavey Media Matrix DSP system but kept the outdated loudspeakers. In addition, the Church’s sound operator tried to mix live audio directly from a small laptop computer screen. Gordon B. Hinckley, the LDS Church president, presided over the Church’s dedication and it was quickly apparent to all that the sound system was still in dire need of help. “People couldn’t hear President Hinckley speak, the quality was poor and there was considerable feedback,” explained Lester.
The Church quickly contacted Lewitz and Associates for a solution. “Our approach was to design a new loudspeaker system appropriate for their acoustical environment, implement easy to use controls familiar to the Church and then properly tune and balance the system using their newly acquired DSP system,” said Lester.
The solution was two EAW DSA arrays each consisting of a DSA230 and a DSA250. Custom brackets were manufactured to achieve the horizontal angles required. “The DSA allowed us to electronically tailor the vertical coverage pattern and aim the sound down towards the audience, therefore minimizing the amount of sound hitting the high wall and ceiling areas. Also, because they are tall and thin, they tend to blend in with the architecture very well,” added Lester. “The system now sounds wonderful and the speech clarity is outstanding.”
A pair of EAW LS432 loudspeakers were installed to provide sound coverage to the balcony. Meyer MM4 loudspeakers were used for the Choir and Rostrum seating. Automatic mixing and level control was achieved using an Ivie 884, customized for the LDS Church. On the occasions where musical events and pageants require more hands-on mixing, a Mackie 1604-VLZ Pro 16-channel compact mixer is used.
Marshall Industries Inc. of Salt Lake City installed the new system. It was measured, balanced and tuned by Lewitz and Associates Inc. using SIA Smaart Live software and a handheld Ivie IE33 sound analyzer.