WINNIPEG, MANITOBA, CANADA - NOVEMBER 2011: Grant Memorial Baptist Church in Winnipeg, Manitoba was founded by Scandinavian immigrants in 1894. In the hundred-plus years that followed, Grant Memorial grew steadily into a cornerstone of Winnipeg civic life. Today, a residence for seniors and a K-12 school (serving over 800 students) share the modest property that also includes the church's over 1,500-seat sanctuary (1,123 Main/430 Balcony) and multi-purpose auditorium. Until recently, the school's renown for performing arts education was a bit of an irony, as the A/V system in the auditorium that supported its public performances, as well as weekend services, did not match the caliber of the content or talent. With some brotherly advice, Grant Memorial recently celebrated, as part of a number of other capital projects, a new Danley Sound Labs-based sound reinforcement system that is now perfectly musical and intelligible.
"My understanding is that the church purchased some slightly used equipment that flooded the market at the close of the Pan American Games some years ago," explained Dan Castor, A/V designer and consultant with Washington DC-based Momentum Systems and the brother of Tom Castor, Grant Memorial's lead pastor. As is the case with large sporting events like the Olympics and Pan Am Games, the sponsoring manufacturers offer deep discounts on technology that is used to support the Games. A deal like that is tempting for churches especially. While the technology is often considered state-of-the-art, the cost-effectiveness often overrides whether that technology is appropriate to the specific application. In the case of Grant the system was under powered and the 'point and shoot' placement meant that the off-axis interference created issues, the fiberglass boxes never produced appreciable bass, and the sheer number of sources set largely volunteer sound techs up for failure. The subsequent band-aids that the church applied as components failed only made things worse."
Grant Memorial turned to Castor as a source of unbiased, trustworthy advice. "We considered a lot of systems from a lot of manufacturers," he said. "I like Danley's no-nonsense approach to audio. It's all based on the science and there's no smoke and mirrors. Although there were other systems that would have been much better than their existing system, I felt that Danley was the right choice for three reasons. First, the budget was tight, and Danley's efficiency makes it quite affordable. Second, Danley's sound is transparent and musical - exactly the sort of thing that Grant Memorial so desperately needed. Finally, after watching the techs struggle with so many boxes in their existing system, I knew a Danley system would require the fewest number of loudspeakers and subs." Castor reached out to Danley and was pleased to have the manufacturer's help in designing the system. Danley's Ivan Beaver executed the design and D-Lite Productions installed it.
A modest total of six Danley loudspeakers and two subwoofers now perfectly cover the space that was so imperfectly covered by several times that number previously. Three Danley SH-96s in an exploded mono array cover most of the main floor and the balconies. Below each one, a Danley SH-95 provides front fill. With those six boxes, the system already provides more authentic low end than did the previous system. Nevertheless, two beefy Danley TH-218 subwoofers flown just in front of the center SH-pair propel the low-end response into the 21st century. A modest rack of QSC PL-Series amplifiers power the boxes. A BSS London processor provides input conditioning and routing logic, and a Danley DSLP48 provides loudspeaker management.
Because both the school and the church use the room extensively - and for very different productions - they each occupy separate mix positions. The school's mix position is on the main floor and contains a new Roland digital mixer with a digital snake. An architectural quirk prevented seats from being placed in the middle of the balcony, and the church has since made good use of it as a mix position. "Because its coverage is so even, the new Danley loudspeaker arrangement delivers a representative mix to both positions," said Castor. "Some acoustical treatment at the rear of the church's balcony mix position sweetened it up even further." To allow Grant Memorial to realize the full scope of the productions it was hoping for, Castor suggested a workhorse Digidesign Profile mixing system.
Although Castor himself hasn't yet journeyed north to experience the very recent changes at his brother's church, all reports sent to him are glowing. "They're very happy," he said. "The sound has an integrity it never had before, and they're finally realizing the production value that their efforts have always deserved."
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