Innovative Cluster System

November 14, 2013

New Hope Baptist Church of Fayetteville, Georgia is a vibrant ministry! Much of their effectiveness is due to a sweet spirit and good communication. They struggled for many years with an auditorium sound system plagued with deficiencies. It was not at all consistent with the pace of their ministry.

They came to Atlanta Soundworks (ASW) and asked, “What would it take to provide an optimum sound system in our sanctuary?”

Knowing the room well, the Atlanta Soundworks Engineering Team recognized both acoustical and electronic difficulties in the existing room. They collected some basic measurements and copies of early architectural drawings and then placed a call to Renkus-Heinz system designers. Renkus-Heinz created a computer model of the room and developed a speaker package that, for the first time, was matched to the room. The central cluster contained three main-floor, full range speaker cabinets, upper and lower side fill boxes, a front down fill, and a stack of subwoofers. A balcony ring containing eight speakers was mounted to an overhead cat-walk, and four in-step speakers were installed to give point-source presence to the front rows.

ASW then filled in the design with Biamp digital signal processing and Lab Gruppen amplifiers on each speaker box.

Galen Boyce, President of Atlanta Soundworks, commented, “After attending many special events at New Hope over the last 20 years, this has fulfilled a dream of mine”. He counts it a privilege to be the company chosen to finally offer the best solution for the audio issues in their Worship Center. He also offers a “well done” to the ASW Team on an exemplary installation.

New Hope’s technology team then said, “We need a way to access this speaker cluster for any future adjustments, service, and cleaning. Can we put it all on a chain hoist?”

Believing there are really no limitations to what can be done, ASW agreed to make the arrangements.

With calculations of the cluster approaching 3,000 pounds, ASW brought in Atlanta Rigging to discuss the installation of a hoist to hold and elevate the cluster. A structural engineer was contracted to confirm the building could sustain the stress in a localized area. The engineers were told what New Hope wanted, and how they hoped to do it. After a structural study, the design was approved.

Now, to create some way for the whole cluster to attach to a chain hoist, Polar Focus was contacted. Polar Focus was given the cluster design and the system requirements. In a short time, they came back with a steel apparatus that brought the whole cluster together to hang from one bolt. Concerned about hanging a ton and an half from one bolt, Atlanta Soundworks questioned the plan. The Polar Focus engineer responded that this bolt was rated for 80,000 pounds. Three thousand pounds was no problem.

A local acoustical engineer, Paul Christopher was invited to evaluate the room. His tests identified several areas of problematic reflections. The major reflector was the large domed ceiling. Paul pointed out that the sound paths will change with the new cluster and the auditorium may sound like a completely different room.  The room acoustics were deferred until the new speaker system was installed.

The package was approved, delivered, installed, and aligned. For the first time, clear, comfortable sound was heard in every seat.

The addition of an Allen & Heath iLive digital mixing console provided even greater control and flexibility to the room.
The room was then re-tested and there was a significant improvement in room reverb and intelligibility. The sound was now directed onto the listeners, not the walls and ceiling.  There was far less sound energy directed into areas that did not need coverage.  This was the fourth sound system installed in New Hope’s auditorium, and the first one that met their expectations.

An acoustical design was submitted using Econo-wedge rock wool panels by Perdue Acoustics. The proposal laid out a plan for wall treatment and a second phase that addressed the huge dome ceiling. While the ceiling was known to be problematic, resolving the dome reflection was going to be a big step financially. After a few months, New Hope decided to proceed with the wall treatment.

After treating the back wall of the balcony and one side of the forward walls, New Hope’s technical director, Clark Dailey decided to run a test. He shut off half the cluster and ran pink noise towards the half of the room without the wall treatment. When the noise was suddenly shut off, he could actually count about a second and a quarter decay time. When he reversed the energized cluster and fed the same pink noise signal towards the walls with the new treatment, the sound in the room went away nearly as quickly as it was shut off. Amazed with the results, he called in several other observers to hear the remarkable test and they were all impressed.

Atlanta Soundworks has been invaluable in the success of this technology upgrade. The goals of New Hope’s ministry were always in the forefront of every discussion, the criteria of every decision. The project details were organized and executed with professionalism. ASW’s expertise motivated every action to benefit New Hope Baptist Church and their technology goals. This was a win for everyone!

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