New Church Journeys from Adversity to ArrayProcessing

The 2012 collapse of an integral steel frame structure during the building of City Gates Church in Ilford, Essex, made the regional news headlines. The dramatic incident which fortunately resulted in no injuries despite twenty construction workers having left the site only minutes before the collapse was inevitably a major setback in the development of the new church, requiring the 1,200 strong congregation to relocate to a nearby cinema for services.

But Pastor Rev. Stephen Derbyshire and his team were resolutely unbowed by the episode, ultimately raising £9m for a new church to stand on the same site. After several years of work the five storey building which includes a large auditorium, office space, children’s facilities and a coffee shop, finally opened its doors last summer.

At the heart of the new church is a 1,000 capacity auditorium that will be used to host a wide variety of services and other activities. Its audio system is based around a configuration of d&b loudspeakers devised and installed by SSE Audio Group company Wigwam Acoustics with input from d&b audiotechnik itself. Of particular note in this project, explains Oran Burns from the d&b audiotechnik GB Education and Application Support team, was the decision to implement ArrayProcessing. It represents the first time that it has been deployed in an install environment in the UK or Ireland.

“It’s a historic debut project for ArrayProcessing which offers the opportunity to intensify the clarity and tonal balance of the J-Series, V-Series or Y-Series line array solutions,” says Oran. “ArrayProcessing ensures that every member of the audience benefits from the same impressive quality of sound by enhancing the spectral consistency with a defined level distribution to achieve a consistent tonal balance for each listener.”

The fact that ArrayProcessing necessitates a doubling of the number of amplifier channels means that it won’t be within the reach of all install customers but Wigwam Sales Manager Phil Goldsworthy, who was instrumental in delivering this project confirms that at City Gates it has helped to achieve “very even coverage throughout the auditorium. In conjunction with the Y-Series products, it makes it very easy to cope with everything from a single preacher speaking at the front of the room to a full scale gig type event.”

The installation was undertaken over a two month period in late spring with commissioning taking place in June. Providing primary reinforcement are two left/right hangs of three Yi8 and three Yi12 loudspeakers, augmented by two flown Yi-SUBs per side. Power comes from a quartet of 10D four channel amplifiers which are intended for permanent integration with applications requiring lower SPL levels. The amplifiers’ sophisticated Digital Signal Processing capabilities include comprehensive loudspeaker management, sample rate converters (SRCs), GPIOs and extensive signal monitoring.

Helping to ensure seamless coverage in every area of the auditorium is an array of six Bi6-SUBs. These high performance subwoofers were specifically designed for ground stacked applications and each house a long excursion 18-inch driver built into a bass-reflex design. Amplification is supplied by a single four channel 30D, which like the 10D amplifier occupies just 2RU.

Providing fill for the front, side and under-balcony areas of the auditorium is a grand total of ten 8S loudspeakers. These versatile, 2-way boxes utilise an 8-inch/1-inch coaxial driver combination with a passive crossover, delivering a symmetrical dispersion pattern in the horizontal and vertical plane. Frequency response from 70 Hz to 20 kHz allows the 8S to be used as a full range system.

St Albans based acoustic consultant and sound system designer Jon Raper also contributed to a project that “progressed smoothly and according to expectations,” confirms Phil. “d&b is a staple of our installation projects, and in all honesty, it was at the top of our priority list from day one. As hoped, it has delivered a versatile and powerful system for City Gates as it begins this exciting new chapter.”

Pointing out that a reverberation time of 1.2 seconds means that the church offers a reasonably hospitable acoustic environment, Oran adds that the system has been the subject of a few post installation tweaks, a result whereby “everyone is very satisfied with its performance. I have been there during services and it really does provide that live, inclusive feeling of being part of a large congregation.”

Joseph Perry, Worship Pastor at City Gates, confirms that the d&b installation has exceeded the expectations of both clergy and congregation. “The congregation were pretty blown away the minute the first note was played. The coverage to the entire auditorium space is something quite spectacular, and while most wouldn’t know the ins and outs of why, it has certainly been appreciated by our church. As someone who heads up the music and production aspect of the church, it is a joy to play and sing in that environment each week. The d&b install, particularly with ArrayProcessing, makes for a very unique experience in a church.”

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