EUGENE, OR-The First Baptist Church in Eugene, OR, was constructed over the last few years to address the growing needs of the community. A main concern regarding the AV plans was that the unique 1,400-seat space would need to accommodate many different styles of worship, each of which would normally require its own separate design.
Anderson Group International (AGI) of Eugene was brought into the project in its early stages to design the technical systems. "It's been a long project," said Kyle Anderson, CEO of AGI and lead audio designer on the project.
The wait turned out to be fortuitous, enabling AGI to use some equipment that had not previously been released. Anderson had already decided to enlist a Dolby processor, and due to construction delays, he was able to adopt two Dolby Lake loudspeaker processors, making the First Baptist Church the first house of worship in the country to do so. "It provided big cost savings overall because you can do so much with it, it's just a fantastic unit," said Anderson. "The sonic quality is wonderful, it really fits in with the high-quality of the system. We amended the equipment list to move to this particular unit."
Some of the features introduced in the new Dolby Lake processor include the portal front-panel interface, advanced converter design, Iso-Float ground isolation, LimiterMax true-RMS limiting, and flexible hardware configuration options. The two processors are being used to optimize and control a main speaker system comprising 18 L-Acoustics dV-DOSC boxes plus subs and front fills.
"One of the neat things about the Lake unit is that we used a wireless tablet and it was so wonderful to sit where you needed to sit and listen to a particular driver and control everything," Anderson commented. "The type of EQ they have on it, the Mesa EQ, is going to be the standard if it isn't already. Being able to shape your EQ and how you want it to respond to the room while you're looking at the response curves from the SmaartLive is fantastic."
Steve Diamond, AGI senior staff member, designed the variable acoustics of the 2,500-square-foot thrust stage to accommodate the three varieties of services that are presented in the space: choir and band, large orchestra, and a contemporary worship team. When the choir shell at the very rear of the stage is in use, one preset from the Lake unit can apply front fill speaker delay compensation to eliminate the mismatching of acoustic wavefronts. Another preset can increase low-frequency information and drive the subwoofers harder during contemporary worship services.
Anderson said, "They run three services every Sunday morning, with seven minute intervals between each service. Usually you create a room that would tailor to one particular genre, and having a room that was as vast a segue from one extreme to the other, was very difficult. We did a tremendous amount of acoustical work to deal with that. Steve worked very diligently on it. The whole ceiling is designed to move the congregational sound around to enhance first reflections from the congregation, so it becomes a very participatory space."
Rehearsals have also become much easier for the staff because of the audio system. The First Baptist Church installed a Yamaha PM1D digital mixing system at front of house, a decorative wood piece that congregants come upon immediately as they walk in, right in the center of the room, after which around the whole room opens up. "They have a rehearsal every Thursday night, with all three genres," explained Anderson. "There they set up the console, and then Sunday morning it's all ready to go. It's made their lives so much easier."