Since its very first service on Easter Sunday in 1980, Murfreesboro’s World Outreach Church (WOC) has steadily grown into the full scope of its name. Not only does the Christian house of worship welcome nearly 7,000 regional visitors to its central Tennessee campus for three services each week, but it also averages another 5,000 attending around the globe via live streaming. To ensure that both the message and music delivered in the church’s 2,800-seat Three Crosses Sanctuary are heard with maximum clarity, WOC turned to Clair Global Integration to install the world’s first L-Acoustics K3i loudspeaker system in a house of worship.
Although the church’s current worship space is only ten years old, the sanctuary’s original sound system was never quite ideal. “The room had some troublesome reflections and their point-source boxes just couldn’t provide the coverage they needed while avoiding putting energy where they didn’t want it,” says Clair Global Systems Designer Joe Anderson. “There wasn’t a cohesive experience across the listening field, which is why we wanted to suggest a line array solution with adjustable horizontal coverage, as it would give us better control and eliminate the need for delay speakers for the upper seating areas.”
After exploring various loudspeaker manufacturers’ design software platforms—including Soundvision—Anderson says that he and Clair Global Regional VP Dan Heins concluded that L-Acoustics would be the right choice for the project. “Soundvision is one of the best prediction software solutions I’ve used,” he says. “It’s easy to use but still allows for very granular detail. Soundvision was also a very helpful sales tool as we were able to sit with the client and show them exactly what different options would accomplish in their space.”
Anderson initially considered A15i and Kara IIi based loudspeaker designs but ultimately specified L-Acoustics’ newest enclosure for the project: “K3i was truly the perfect enclosure for World Outreach. It has the physical footprint of a typical double 10-inch line array but gives us the punch and performance of a double 12-inch, which is really what their worship space required. K3i is also super versatile; it had the tonality needed to reproduce classical and orchestral music, but also enough impact to make the audience feel those high-energy contemporary worship moments.”
Installed in June, WOC’s new system now features three arrays, each comprising eight K3i, all powered by six LA12X amplified controllers. Two stacks of four KS21i subs in a cardioid configuration reside on stage, with two more centered under the stage, while six compact X4i, discreetly mounted into the stage steps, serve as frontfills. The subs and X4i are all powered by three LA4X.
According to World Outreach Church Production Manager Nic Smith, the triple array arrangement is intentionally not set up as a traditional LCR design. “Based on a recommendation from L-Acoustics House of Worship Application Manager Josh Maichele, we’re running the three-hang K3i system in a Left-Right-Left configuration rather than a Left-Center-Right,” he describes. “Because our room is so wide, this actually helps us give a stereo image to the entire room and allows us to utilize panning without losing a vocal or instrument to one side or the other. It is a simple thing but makes a big difference.”
Also making a “big difference” is the full-range performance of the new arrays. “K3i’s low end is very impressive!” Smith marvels. “After Josh time-aligned and tuned everything, he first unmuted just the main hangs and I was so surprised that I had to ask for confirmation that the subs were actually off. He then brought in the KS21, and you could really feel the ultra-low end.”
Anderson is quick to point out that the deep low-end reach of the system comes at no compromise to the rest of the frequency range’s fidelity. “The system provides great speech intelligibility across the entire seating area,” he says. “And because the system is so smooth, the audio team can run it at pretty much whatever volume they like without harshness or fatigue. Previously, the church had to do some processing on the Pastor’s mic to get the gain-before-feedback needed. After we were done tuning the new system, we had Pastor Allen Jackson stand on the stage and talk, and with absolutely no console processing, it still sounded great. They now just use a bit of light EQ and compression for him, and that’s it.”
In addition to providing the right sonics and coverage, K3i fits the bill—both figuratively and literally. “L-Acoustics is certainly a premium product, but the K3i system is priced very competitively,” says Anderson. “Plus, the way we were able to configure the system greatly reduced our install time and labor costs. We were able to use all of the existing steel to hang from, and much of the wiring could stay as well. This all resulted in a reduced cost for the client.”
Although a number of touring sound companies have adopted the L-Acoustics K3 enclosure since its debut in October 2020, WOC marks the first official installation of the new fixed-install K3i version, sans K3’s touring-specific rigging. “We were happy to be the first integrator to install the new K3i but more excited that it was clearly the right tool for the World Outreach and gave them exactly what they needed,” Anderson notes. “L-Acoustics has always been great to work with, and with as tight a timeframe as we had on this project, they really came through with getting us these new boxes in time. Having done other L-Acoustics installs in the past, we knew the sound quality was going to be great, and K3i didn’t disappoint.”
WOC Assistant Technical Coordinator and Audio Engineer Blake Carman wholeheartedly agrees: “Our new L-Acoustics system has given us so much more clarity and intelligibility. Every word that is spoken or sung, every instrument, and every other detail is reproduced so well by the new K3i arrays. The design and implementation of this system exceeded our expectations and continues to impress me more every week that I mix on it.”
And the church’s AVL team members aren’t the only ones that have noticed. “It feels like we’re getting comments after nearly every service about how great everything sounds,” adds Smith. “Staff members have told me that they hear details they’ve never heard before, and several longtime attenders who always sit on the far edge of the sanctuary have commented on how they can hear everything much better, especially the Pastor’s sermons. Partnering with Clair and L-Acoustics on this project has been a great experience, and we’re loving the warmth and intimacy we’re now hearing with K3i.”