Background and Scope of Work
Calvary Church was founded in 1866 as Midway Baptist Church and was the first church in Clearwater and the first Baptist church in Pinellas County, FL. The original church was a small log cabin in what is today the Clearwater cemetery, but eventually moved to downtown Clearwater where it would call its home for over 75 years. In 1999, Calvary began construction on its current campus and officially relocated in 2005.
Over the course of the years, Calvary knew that creating an engaging and immersive experience for all congregants was the key to maintaining a sense of community and camaraderie, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. After studying areas of improvement, Calvary determined that the audio system in the sanctuary was unsatisfactory and did not meet the needs of the church presently and for the future. In 2021, Calvary contacted WPS to help design and integrate a completely new audio system for the sanctuary that would improve the overall sonic quality within the acoustic limitations of the space.
Calvary Church’s original, analog audio system consisted of a distributed array, mono system configuration which could not adapt well to the acoustics of the sanctuary. This led to the following issues that Calvary needed to overcome:
- Poor audio coverage throughout the space
- Significant drop-offs in bandwidth
- Considerable quality variations from seat to seat
- Substantial comb filtering during musical acts
- Poor intelligibility of spoken word and band vocals
Calvary Church’s sanctuary is designed as a traditional fan-shaped auditorium with a minimally raked, single bowl seating section. With this space in mind, WPS explored several audio system configurations, including an LCR (Left/Center/Right) line-array speaker design which provides thorough coverage from the front of the room to the back of the room, with multiple clusters used to cover from Stage Left to Stage Right. This approach can be accomplished by using a three-cluster mono array or providing a quasi-stereo environment with alternating Left/Right clusters.
After an acoustical analysis of the church’s sanctuary, WPS determined that an alternating Left/Right stereo array configuration was not the best solution for the space due to the overlap between adjacent speaker clusters. While coverage from the front of the room (stage) to the rear of the room would be even, the multiple array locations would have likely created comb-filtered phasing throughout the space, resulting in competing frequency ranges that would cancel one another and create an unpredictable auditory environment.
After exploring a variety of different audio solutions, WPS ultimately decided to implement d&b’s Soundscape sound system, an object-based, immersive audio technology solution that uses advanced sound processing to individually time-align input sources to each speaker within each of the system arrays. The DS100 signal engine combined with the d&b En-Scene algorithm and d&b loudspeakers, allows listeners in any location of the sanctuary to receive a spatially accurate audio picture that does not rely on the symmetry or location of the left or right speakers. Soundscape’s “3D sound” technology reduces phase cancellation and increases clarity throughout the frequency range, giving excellent intelligibility of spoken word and band vocals from the stage.
WPS also installed a new stage monitoring system with an Allen & Heath dLive S7000 mixing console to control the Sennheiser wireless personal in-ear monitor system. The d&b Soundscape system and Allen & Heath dLive console connect via a Dante network.
Calvary Church’s audio renovations were completed during the summer of 2022 and the improvements were noticed immediately. Congregants and church staff alike praised the immersive quality of the d&b Soundscape audio system and its ability to deliver a natural, realistic experience for the entire audience.
For speakers, vocalists, and performers, stage monitoring quality has also improved significantly, allowing them to hear themselves without intrusive feedback, echos, or phase cancelling.
The new audio system provides:
- Greater intelligibility of spoken word and stage performances
- Dramatic improvements in audio clarity for every congregant and attendee
- Improvements in sonic consistency
- Significantly reduced tuning requirements
- Reduced mixing overhead for sound engineers
- Expandability via Dante
Special thanks to the entire Calvary Church staff and d&b audiotechnik for their help throughout the project.