Right in the heart of Music Row in Nashville, the non-denominational Belmont Church, now streaming through Belmont.TV due to COVID-19, was recently outfitted with new d&b audiotechnik A-Series augmented arrays thanks to the installation talents of Spectrum Sound, Nashville.
From its humble beginnings in 1911 as a revival tent meeting hall, the church officially broke ground in 1915, and 100+ years later they are still at the same location. The 900-seat contemporary church underwent a complete audio system renovation to the church’s main sanctuary sound reinforcement system, recording studio, and broadcast audio-for-video infrastructure. The new A-Series forms the heart of the sound reinforcement system for the main sanctuary.
“The last time Belmont Church’s main worship space sound system was renovated was nearly 20 years ago, so it was time,” states Ken DeBelius, System Integration Sales Manager, Spectrum Sound. “As far as the room and interior design of the space, although it feels small, it does have a nice intimate setting. The geometric room layout posed significant challenges for a loudspeaker system design that would provide appropriate coverage uniformity to all the seating planes. The main concerns of the room were the asymmetric layout of the main floor seating around the stage, and a large, steep raked balcony, which not only shadowed significant portions of the main floor, but the balcony area itself is also asymmetric. A line array solution was out of the question; the room wasn’t nearly large enough to justify, and line arrays would create unacceptable sightline issues. That left a point source loudspeaker solution, still not ideal, particularly with obtaining the considerable vertical coverage needed, and how it would look overall rigging-wise.”
Considering the coverage challenges of the room, during the time while a working point source design was still on the drawing board, DeBelius had the opportunity to audition the A-Series augmented array. “I’d actually been waiting for d&b to come up with this kind of product for a long time. Having heard it and knowing that this kind of loudspeaker product perfectly bridges the gap between point source and line array, it became an “Ah Ha” moment that this was going to be a great solution for Belmont Church as it checked all the desired design goals. d&b’s ArrayCalc software verified it would not only cover the room appropriately but would easily meet the SPL requirements while minimizing the impact to sightlines.”
Once home to Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith (and considered The Birthplace of Contemporary Christian Music) Belmont Church certainly fits the artists’ contemporary style of worship. “The bar for sonic expectations of this upgrade were high, and the church wanted a system that would cleanly reproduce everything both in speech and music,” DeBelius said.
David A. Terry co-founder of the music production company, Sodium Glow LLC, is a music producer, mix engineer, mastering engineer, and oversees all technical aspects of the church as well as co-leads the Worship and Arts department at the church. “Before I became a full-time studio guy, I did a lot of live sound for various artists, from small venues to 20,000 seat arenas,” says Terry who has attended Belmont Church since 1992. I was heavily involved in the PA install in 1998 and again in 2020. “The old PA at the church was clinging to its dying breath. I had to use gaffer’s tape, tin foil, and paper clips to keep it functional for a couple years while we researched different options for the upgrade.”
Terry has had a professional relationship with Spectrum for many years and is occasionally hired as a consultant/trainer by Spectrum to assist in some of the company’s other projects. “It was a natural fit to call them when it came time to upgrade. The decision to use Spectrum was based on their system design, attention to the needs of the church, and our mutual relationship.”
Terry said, “My ‘must have’ list included even coverage in all seating positions across the frequency spectrum, excellent sound quality, and integration into our existing recording/broadcast studio and streaming system.”
The design included the use of ArrayProcessing, which delivers optimization of an array’s tonal balance and level distribution over the entire defined coverage area, front to back.
Terry added, “I absolutely love the d&b design philosophy and the sound of their loudspeakers. Because we have line of sight challenges in some seating areas, we wanted to use a speaker with as small a vertical footprint as possible. The A-Series was perfect for our application both in physical size and desired coverage. After I looked over the specs, we agreed with Spectrum’s recommendation to go with the A-Series.”
Terry also noted that because of the coronavirus pandemic, the church has not had a live service with a congregation since the install was completed but has put the loudspeaker system through its paces with a small ensemble as well as pre-recorded music for its streaming service. “The coverage and sound quality are fantastic!”
The A-Series system is comprised of 4 Main flown clusters, each consisting of 2 x ALi60 and 1 x ALi90 cabinets for a total of 12 boxes. 2 x Yi-SUBs center flown cardioid subwoofers, 2 x 21S under stage floor subwoofers, 8 x 5S front fills, 8 x 5S under balcony fills, and 10D and 30D amplifiers round out the d&b system.