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Sound Expansion

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Shandon Baptist Church Grows Into A New Sanctuary

COLUMBIA, SC—Founded in 1907, Shandon Baptist Church has experienced much growth in the past two decades. Making the decision to move from its original downtown location to a new facility in 1995,

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Roundabout Theatre Company’s Sunday In the Park With George used Zaxcom’s TRX900 digital wireless microphone systems. (Photo Credit: Joan Marcus) church staff conducted exhaustive research to find a consulting firm that would achieve their program goals with precision and cost effectiveness. Subsequently, Omega Consultants was retained to design and implement the acoustics, sound, lighting, and video systems. Now, many years later, following significant church growth, the congregation needed to expand once again.

Shannon Ericsson, president of Omega Consultants, detailed the recent expansion for Shandon Baptist: “We started design work, in collaboration with Scott Garvin, the church project architect of the Boudreaux Group, on a worship center sanctuary that would have a few ancillary spaces. This was added to the main church. They had known they would add this future sanctuary beforehand and they converted their existing sanctuary into a youth center on one floor—kind of a college-level worship room—then added a bunch of classrooms on the lower level.”

When it came to the design of the new sanctuary, there were a number of considerations Omega considered for the acoustics. “They wanted a formal aesthetic in it, so we worked with the architect to shape most of the interior worship center design,” Ericsson said, “We settled on an expanded formal coffer design, which adds a lot of diffusion into the room.

“A very important design goal was to provide as much of the acoustical intimacy the church was used to from the previous facility we had designed. To achieve this, we lowered the initial height of the ceiling to optimize proportions of the room and prevent excessive reverberation. We also designed and specified a series of sound absorbing wall panels to diminish destructive lateral acoustical reflections.”

The church’s balcony was also something Omega had to consider in the design. “The under balcony ceiling height was lower than ideal acoustically, so we designed a multilevel, and highly diffusive finish to improve the acoustical and sound system performance,” Ericsson noted. “The result of this design has a very beneficial psychoacoustic effect on a person that causes the sense of ceiling height to actually be two or three times higher than it really is.”

To achieve an even sound field throughout the room, Ericsson needed “a very directional speaker array to achieve a reasonably high level of direct to reverberant sound. But I wanted that low-frequency pattern control characteristic of a line array.”

After an evaluation

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of possible solutions, JBL’s PD (Precision Directivity) system array was selected. “What intrigued me was that I had accurate low-frequency control down to 200 Hz, which is so critical in the voice range of frequencies for any church project,” Ericsson said. “The JBL speakers also sounded more open than any of the others tested, so I chose the PD series and designed a left-center-right array. We configured the array to produce a discrete center mono channel with multi-zone stereo across the L-C-R system.”

The stereo array was also JBL PD5000 Series. “The far throw boxes were 5322/64, while near throw was a 5200/95 mid-high box that duplicates the mid-high of the far throw speakers so there’s a crossover match, so critical for accurate array phase response,” Ericsson said.

The FOH console was a 64-channel Yamaha PM1D with BSS London Soundweb processing. The subwoofers are JBL PD5125 dual 15-inch subs flown in the center array, with four ASB6128 subs on stage. Under the balcony are 16 JBL control 29AV flush mount speakers processed on three different delay lines to time align with the main array. Six additional JBL AM6215/64 speakers are flush-mounted in a ceiling soffit for projecting sound to the upper two rows at the top of balcony. There are also four JBL AM6212/64 speakers for monitoring recessed in the coffered ceiling above the choir.

To put a final touch on the project, Ericsson specified JBL’s LSR32 studio monitors for a hybrid studio monitoring system in Pastor Dick Lincoln’s study.

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