Sing It Loud: d&b Soundscape Brings Audio Clarity to California Church

A choir singing in church powered by d&b Soundscape.
(Image credit: d&b audiotechnik)

The Village Community Presbyterian Church, founded in 1956 in Rancho Santa Fe, CA, serves thousands of worshipers throughout San Diego. Sound Image Integration (San Diego) recently installed a d&b audiotechnik Soundscape system with En-Scene object-based mixing.

The church started as a traditional Presbyterian church but has since added a contemporary service, with one of each service on Sundays. The traditional service utilizes a variety of instrumental and vocal musicians. The choir can range from 15-150-plus members depending on the service. They also use chamber and full orchestras, brass ensembles, hand-bell ensembles, real pipe organ, concert grand piano, and other acoustic instruments. The contemporary worship band is typically a core group of an acoustic guitar, electric guitar, bass, keyboards/piano, electric drums, lead vocals, and multiple backup vocals. The San Diego Symphony and other professional classical and jazz ensembles also regularly hold concerts in the sanctuary.

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“When we started working with Village Community Church to design a new sound system, their biggest concern was speech intelligibility, as with every house of worship,” said Jake Henricksen, design consultant and account executive, Sound Image Integration. “They also asked that the loudspeaker system be visually discrete to not distract from the architectural beauty of the sanctuary. That led to discussions of distributed loudspeaker systems instead of line arrays or other typical solutions. We also knew the sanctuary had a beautiful acoustic signature desirable for pipe organ, choral, and classical music repertoire. The loudspeaker system would need to be highly directional to overcome the acoustically live space, especially if not using a line array. d&b audiotechnik xS-Series was a natural choice with the directional nature of all their loudspeaker series.”

An empty stage in a church ready for music and services powered by d&b Soundscape.

(Image credit: d&b audiotechnik)

Henricksen said that initially, Sound Image modeled exploded mono, hybrid stereo/mono, and LCR systems. “With the wide variety of instrumental music and theatrical productions the 300-seat church hosts, we felt the space deserved something special. We discussed the benefits of sound localization and improved coverage using Soundscape at length. We also shared d&b stories of house of worship experiences with Soundscape and videos about the technical aspects. Once the design committee understood how powerful sound localization is when connecting with an audience, we never looked back. From that point forward, our underlying design criteria was to make the loudspeaker system disappear physically and acoustically. We wanted the congregation to experience the spoken word and music as if it was all unamplified, coming straight from the source.”

d&b Soundscape enables further connection between the stage and the congregation, creating a more intimate experience. While Soundscape systems typically require more loudspeaker positions than a traditional PA setup, the loudspeakers can often be smaller cabinets at each position, improving sightlines or even tucked away out of sight. Since both level and delay processing are independently utilized per loudspeaker position in real time, multiple loudspeakers are producing sound simultaneously to create accurate localization no matter where a listener is seated.

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The initial d&b ArrayCalc model demonstrated how even coverage across the almost 180º wide seating area was possible using just a few small xS-Series loudspeaker elements that could be custom color matched at the factory. Sound Image provided initial CAD elevations and renderings showing loudspeaker locations, and using a standard RAL color chart, picked a color that blends into the ceiling perfectly. “At the first service in the sanctuary after installation, some parishioners didn’t even notice the new loudspeakers but immediately heard the difference,” said Henricksen. “The church put their full trust in the d&b and Sound Image partnership. The ArrayCalc acoustic simulation file along with videos and marketing materials from d&b were extremely helpful in making the decision to go with Soundscape.”

‘"he d&b Soundscape system gives us the ability to create sound in a new way, by virtually placing audio inputs and moving them around in the system creates a whole new layer of sound,’ said Adrian Norlock, director of Media Ministries. “Pairing the new system with quality microphones was key to enhance the clarity and even coverage in a very lively space. When you enter such a beautiful place, the last thing you want to see are huge loudspeakers. The ability to color match and place speakers out of view helped hide the speakers without losing audio quality, It’s an exciting time to be a part of what God is doing here at The Village Church.”

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The d&b system configuration includes five 12S-D main loudspeakers, two 44S loudspeakers for out fills, two 44S in-wall, flush mounted for front fills, two 16C column loudspeakers for stage fills, two 27S SUBs, three 30D amplifiers, one DS10 Dante network bridge, and a DS100 signal engine with En-Scene for Soundscape.

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