As part of a facility-wide audio and video renovation, First Presbyterian Church in Salinas, California has completed the installation of a comprehensive sound system from VUE Audiotechnik. Established more than 100 years ago, the house of worship has been in its current 1,500-seat location for more than a decade, around which time it installed its previous PA system. However, the time had come bring the system up to date.
Retailer John Prock, owner of Music Unlimited, sold the VUE equipment to the church – where he is also the church band bassist. “After hearing the VUE system post NAMM show in 2014, I ended up buying a small-scale portable VUE system to be used exclusively as a bass rig. I was so blown away with it that I brought it to the church to use. Everyone there loved it too, and it got them interested in considering upgrading the Church’s main sound system with VUE,” he said
Ryan Hunzie, creative arts director at First Presbyterian Church, admitted: “I had never heard of VUE Audiotechnik, but after hearing how great John’s bass rig sounded, we went up to Mountain View (San Francisco Bay area) to hear an installed VUE system, and were blown away by the transparency. John and I felt that our existing PA was okay, but knew that by upgrading it, the church would experience a major improvement. We were lucky enough to be able to consider a new sound system as part of the renovation, and although the original PA system wasn’t that old, we knew that a VUE system would provide better coverage throughout the room, as well as increased reliability. The church likes to stay current with technology as we rely on it to spread the gospel.”
Prock assisted Hunzie in selecting the right VUE gear for the installation, with Hunzie making the purchase through Prock’s store in Monterey, California. Hunzie explained: “We have 12 al-8 line array cabinets in two hangs of six on either side of the room, and eight al-4 Subcompact Line Array cabinets hung as a centre array.” The church also uses four hs-28 dual 18in ACM subwoofers to reproduce the low end, and the front fill is provided by six i-Class 2×4.5 Dual 4.5in surface mount foreground systems. Two VUE a-10 compact full range speakers and four i-6a foreground loudspeakers, the latter being powered by onboard amplification, handle stage monitor duties.
When it came to selecting amplifiers and system control/management, Hunzie and Prock naturally opted for more VUE products. “We’re powering the cabinets with the VSeries systems engines with three V6i and four V4i units,” continued Hunzie. In addition to providing the power amplification for the speaker cabinets, each engine has DSP for EQ and crossover functions, time alignment and loudspeaker protection. “This networking capability allows us to use SystemVUE software to create the system configuration, as well as checking on amplifier status regarding excessive power levels, voltage and temperature. SystemVUE was extremely helpful during the installation and what turned out being a very quick tuning process. The engines are fed by our main mixing console, a Yamaha CL5 with two RIO 32Ds and a RIO 16D stagebox.”
Installation of the gear – including the PA hang – was handled entirely by Hunzie. “Ryan took the bull by the horns and unconventionally performed the entire installation by himself,” said Prock. “He flew it, time-aligned it and tuned it without needing any technical assistance, and did an outstanding job. The results are incredible.”
“We could tell the difference between the old and new system right away,” added Hunzie. “The first thing we noticed was the clarity. We had people coming up to us saying ‘What are you doing differently? It sounds so much better now, so clear.’ That’s true, especially in and under our balcony, where in the past we had issues with intelligibility. Coverage across the room is amazing. You can sit on either side and it always sounds like you are seated in the middle of the room, whereas previously the volume and clarity would drop off significantly toward the sides. No matter where you sit, the sound is consistent, including in the sound booth, which is situated in the balcony.”
Consistent sound has also solved another problem for the church, according to Hunzie. “It has always been a challenge for the sound engineer to hear what the congregation floor was hearing, but now it’s much easier to mix because the sound doesn’t vary with location,” he noted. “A lot of the EQ that we would apply when using the old system is no longer needed because the VUE speakers are so transparent and natural sounding. We host a big Christmas show every year called Christmas on Main Street. Last year, we had a total of 7,000 attendees. We’re really excited to host it with the VUE system this year because it’s going to make a significant difference in the sound. We can’t wait to see the reaction.”