Praise Cathedral in Greer, South Carolina, is a Pentecostal church with a blend of traditional and contemporary worship styles. The recent replacement of the cathedral’s audio system has seen a newly-installed Alcons LR7 Micro line-array system earn high praise from the cathedral staff.
Built 19 years ago, the cathedral has a 2600-strong congregation, which is led each Sunday by a 150-piece choir and orchestra in music ranging from hymns to modern worship choruses. With many elements of its original audio system still in use, in 2016 it was realised that a major upgrade was needed to fulfil the expectations of present-day services.
“After consulting with the Senior Pastor, a committee was set up to oversee the upgrade,” says Daniel Scarbrough, Praise Cathedral media pastor for the past six years. “We brought in a specialist consultant, who suggested a range of options. We fell in love with the sound of the Alcons L-series when our local installer, Audio Solutions of Greenville, demonstrated it in our auditorium. One of the most important things was that the performance in the vocal range had to be exceptional and the pro-ribbon drivers delivered great speech intelligibility and a crisp, clear sound.”
Once the committee had chosen Alcons as their preferred solution, Alcons Audio USA provided EASE data and a variety of other technical information for the L-Series, which showed that it actually provided better coverage than the committee had specified.
“Another advantage in selecting Alcons was knowing that, as both member of the Alcons Pro-Ribbon Network and the exclusive regional dealer, Audio Solutions can provide excellent support with their extensive backline of Alcons products and their great relationship with the company,” says Daniel.
The chosen system comprises a main system of 27 Alcons LR7 micro line-array modules, three LR7B micro line-array bass modules and a pair of dual 18-inch BF362mkII high-output subwoofers, with three VR8 compact versatile monitors for the choir. The whole system is powered and controlled by three Sentinel10 amplified loudspeaker controllers. The main system is painted white, to better blend into the cathedral’s décor.
Along with new microphones, cabling and front of house mixing console, the new installation took only five days to complete, including tuning the Alcons system. This meant that no Sunday worship was disrupted.
“The LR7 with LR7B makes for an outstanding array, both in sound and in appearance,” says Daniel. “Adding the LR7B has allowed us to roll off the LR7s, delivering a nice blend of the low-mid frequencies and allowing the LR7s to operate in the upper frequencies for which they are best suited.
“We are sending the extreme lower frequencies to the BF362mkII subs via an auxiliary send, which allows us to tailor the level of the subs from the mix position with ease. The choir also loves the VR8s; pushing sound to a 120-voice choir clearly and evenly from overhead has been a challenge in the past, but the VR8s have given them sound clarity like never before.”
Compared to the original audio system at Praise Cathedral, the Alcons installation has not only improved the audio quality and coverage, it has made the workload for the cathedral’s technical staff noticeably easier.
“With our old system, it felt like a rush of sound. We were having to monitor channels and continually turn things up and down to highlight a solo or to feature sections. With the Alcons speakers, if we need to feature an instrument or soloist, minor adjustments are all that are required,” says Daniel. “The sound that the pro-ribbon drivers produce is unbelievably natural. The elements that need to sit on top of the mix, like voices, sit there with ease and don’t come across as forced. This smoothness of sound makes it so much easier to mix, we don’t have to constantly ride faders to get a good overall balance.”