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JBL, Crown, BSS and Soundcraft for Essex church

An Essex church has replaced ‘speakers on stands’ with an integrated Harman Professional solution as part of a major revamp . St. John’s, an early Victorian Anglican church in Buckhurst Hill, has been fitted out with JBL’s constant beamwidth technology by specialist worship system integrator New Day.

Four discreet white CBT70-J line array columns and four CBT70-JE bass extenders have been mounted high up out of view, interspersed with four JBL Control 25s, to ensure even pattern coverage in the side aisles.

By adding the 70cm column extension, the rig has can output powerful full-frequency sound from a total of eight 5in LF drivers and 16 1in HF drivers, while at the same time exhibiting excellent pattern control.

New Day won the competitive tender for the project. Director Derek Clare explained: “The brief was that with the stripping out of the central pews as part of a general refurbishment, a sound system was required that could operate in all four directions by refocusing the beam. At the same time it needed to blend in with the building. This is a huge advance over what the church had previously – which was just speakers on stands.”

The main sound system is driven by two Crown XTi 14002 amplifiers, while the Control 25s are driven by two XLS 2000s.

The sound is processed by a 12-in/8-out BSS Soundweb London BLU-100 fixed format DSP. This is controlled from a BLU-6 remote wall panel situated in the AV desk for level control, while a second BLU-6 is due to be added at the pulpit for local operation by the clergy for further control – with a set of static radio mics independent of the mixer.

“The beauty of Soundweb London is we can program in EQ and orientation set-ups for weddings, funerals and so on,” continued Clare. “This can be accessed at the press of a button — it will simply configure itself.”

The plug-and-play characteristics are particularly useful for midweek events, when technical staff may not be present. However, with a resident worship band and clergy on radio mics – all supported by line playback machines and video soundtracks, switched to Soundweb from a Kramer switcher/scaler – there is a heavy input requirement.

Continuing the Harman Professional upgrade, the mixer is a 32-input Soundcraft Si Expression 3, providing 30+2 faders and 32 mic/line inputs. Ease of use determined its choice, said Clare: “I have seen a lot of digital desks but many you need a degree to operate. What everyone says about the Expression is that it is just so easy to use, particularly if you are familiar with analogue. Customers love it, which is why we also run it in our hire stock.”

The ‘four position’ set-up also gives the AV team tremendous flexibility. “By plugging in the digital stagebox at any of the wall sockets, and running it back to the main desk, they can operate from anywhere,” said Clare.

“Everyone has been hugely impressed with the sound system,” he concluded. “Aesthetically the CBT70 is very good and performance wise it’s phenomenal – visually you just don’t know there are speakers in there. This undoubtedly gave us the best option within the budget.”

The system will be heard increasingly as St John’s extends its scope to become a more community focused venue. “It will be almost like a mini theatre,” explained Clare. “In addition, the church is building a community hall next door, which will also be used as an overspill, and will be integrated within the existing BSS environment.”

Finally the installer credited Sound Technology , UK and ROI distributor of the Harman Professional portfolio, for its support. “They have been a brilliant company to work with. You can just pick up the phone and contact them anytime with any questions.”