Gordon College Venue Adds Audio That Looks as Good as it Sounds
WENHAM, MA—The A.J. Gordon Memorial Chapel at Gordon College in Wenham, MA is among the top Christian colleges and the only nondenominational college in New England. The chapel seats 1,600, making it one of the largest venues on Boston’s North Shore. Recently, MFI Productions of Hooksett, NH, installed a 21st century audio system for the space.
“The chapel on campus is the largest performance venue on campus, bringing international speakers, scholars, musicians, and events to its stage annually,” said Chris Imming, director of media services. “We needed a system that would meet all of these components. We wanted to provide audiences with clear and intelligible speech reproduction while also meeting the growing expectations of professional and touring artists.
The complete Gordon College chapel system includes 14 white GEO S1210 boxes and 14 GEO S1230, two NEXO RS15 white subs, four NEXO PS8 speakers, two NXAmps 4x4, and one 4x1.
The ultimate choice of a white NEXO GEO S12 line array, Imming said, “allows us to continue to host touring artists with less dependence on outboard gear. We hope this reduction in production set-up time and expenses will allow us to host additional tours in the future.”
“The primary goal of the new system design was to address both coverage and intelligibility issues,” explained Denis Gosselin of MFI Productions. “Both had been lacking since the facility’s construction in the early 1990s. The initial system was designed to support speech since the use of the venue was more traditional during that period. As praise and worship performances increased, a portable system was purchased for use when the praise team was leading worship. While that system did provide fullrange audio support, it was never intended as a long-term solution since components were undersized for the venue and left huge gaps in coverage.”
As an educational opportunity, students were involved in the design and installation process. “Both InfoComm and NSCA training was essential in our ability to carry the project from the design stage through completion,” Imming noted. “Throughout the design process, we evaluated both point-source and linear array systems from six or seven companies. While linear arrays are certainly not the best solution for every venue, we chose to pursue compact array designs for the project after completing some EASE modeling of the hall. Satisfied by the computer modeling, we felt that arrays would provide a cleaner install and, in white, disappear into the stage proscenium. We narrowed the list of manufacturers down to three and scheduled onsite demos.”
A NEXO GEO S12 line array system blends well with the chapel aesthetics.
Gosselin added that one of the challenges in a space like the A.J. Memorial Chapel was to balance system design with aesthetics. “Considering no existing rigging was in place, previous touring groups always had to ground support arrays or utilize speaker stacks on the stage, taking up real estate on the stage and providing a disproportionate amount of SPL to the front section. Several months into the design stage, we came up with a rigging platform that would provide us with great flexibility to accommodate system demos and fine-tune array placement during the install. With limited weight capacity of the rigging platform, the NEXO GEO S12 Series provided an aesthetically pleasing install while maintaining intelligibility and musicality.” The complete system includes 14 white GEO S1210 boxes and 14 GEO S1230, two NEXO RS15 white subs, four NEXO PS8 speakers, two NXAmps 4x4, and one 4x1.
“We were all very impressed with how the GEO S12s made it all the way to the back of the room and remained warm and clear even under the balcony,” Gosselin recalled. “The NEXO rig delivered the sound to the room in a very specific and predictable manner, which helped to cover the listening area evenly and keep as much reflection off of the hard surfaced walls as possible. Lloyd Kinkaid, Yamaha design specialist, and his knowledge of NEXO ’s GeoSoft was a huge time saver and allowed us to play around with SPL and pattern options before the first GEO S12 box was hung. Most importantly, it was accurate, with the end result reflecting what was predicted on our laptop!”
For the upper balcony, MFI Productions chose to hang two NEXO PS8 speakers to the ceiling to help restore any high frequency loss after the 100- foot throw. MFI also installed an Aviom Pro16 digital snake, Aviom Pro 16 personal monitoring system, Sennheiser IEM300 G2/G3 Series, Sennheiser antenna combiner, Professional Wireless helical antenna and low-loss cable, Sennheiser EW 335G2 wireless handheld microphone, HME DX200 wireless intercom system, HSA roll-top desks, Bag End floor monitors, and a Listen Technologies assistive listening system.