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d&b boosts South African religious broadcasting network

Stage Audio Works (SAW) has provided a creative d&b solution for Faith Broadcasting Network's 'Faith Dome' in East London, South Africa

Integrator Stage Audio Works (SAW) has revealed details of its recent work with South Africa’s Faith Broadcasting Network, the largest religious broadcaster on the African continent.

In recent years, the Faith Dome premises – the ministry’s base in East London, South Africa – has been undergoing a series of renovations, including the refurbishment of a number of television studios, humanitarian aid warehouses, activity spaces as well as the main broadcasting studio. In 2015, work commenced on the ceiling to replace it with the dome structure, with Stage Audio Works designing and integrating a sophisticated audio, lighting and rigging solution for the main arena based on d&b’s A-Series loudspeakers, Cameo and Hog4 lighting with Stage Plus truss. The renovations were completed earlier this year.

SAW’s brief was to provide the Faith Dome with audio and lighting solutions to support their existing broadcasting channels, as well as live events. The client’s brief required the stage and the PA system to be in the centre of the large arena. “It was important for us to have a central stage in the Faith Dome as it truly places the focus of worship in the midst of our congregation,” said Dr Andre Robert, founder and CEO of the River Group. “It’s more democratic than a traditional front-to-back organisation and allows everyone to remain connected and involved with the worship experience.”

Nathan Ihlenfeldt, CTO of SAW, explained that the layout posed a considerable challenge to the AV integration for a number of reasons. “From an acoustic perspective, the sheer size of the space is a factor to be reckoned with, in particular the extreme height of the room which necessitates a PA system that provides comprehensive vertical coverage,” he said.

“We ruled out a traditional line array, as the number of speakers required would have interfered with the client’s broadcasting set-up and stretched the budget. For this installation, d&b’s A-Series augmented array technology was the perfect fit in terms of directivity control, sonic quality and price range. Notably, this project marks the first A-Series installation in Africa.”

SAW used eight augmented arrays of 3 x AL60s flown from a custom-built square truss, itself flown from the ceiling at a height of 13m. To handle low end, four hangs of 4 x V-SUBs are flown from a second square truss inside the first. In order to reduce cable runs, the amplifiers for the subs and the main PA are housed in custom amp racks on top of their respective trusses. “It’s an unusual solution, but given the constraints we were working with, keeping everything together solved a number of issues,” added Ihlenfeldt.

“One of the most crucial elements of our brief was to ensure that the PA would not impinge on camera sightlines,” he explains. “Consequently, the system is 13m above the floor. In fact, the bottom of the PA is higher than the top of the screens!”

Ihlenfeldt concluded that despite the project being an awkward one to execute, SAW is proud of the outcome. “It stands as a testament to our team’s ability to improvise and adapt within the constraints of a specific brief and budget,” he said. “Our industry expertise and wide experience in the worship market means that we are well positioned to provide solutions to ministries of all sizes. We look forward to when restrictions ease and people are able to experience the magnitude of the Faith Dome first-hand.”