Taking its place among Central America’s architectural wonders, the Casa de Dios church is the culmination of years of planning and fundraising that has given Pastor Cash Luna sanctuary space for a congregation of more than 12,000, as well as satellite youth churches supplementing the main building.
The chosen partner for A/V and lighting installation, Michael Garrison Associates was involved from the early stages of the project, working with the architect to adapt the design to accommodate a technical system that would meet all of the church’s required. ‘Because of the size of the sanctuary, we initially specified a line array,’ Garrison explains. ‘However, half way into the project we learned that they wanted to zone the seating to accommodate groups that were far less than 12,000. As a result,
A long-time user of Tannoy systems, Garrison had the company’s loudspeaker technology in mind from the outset: ‘Initially, we looked at Tannoy and a couple of other brands,’ he confirms. ‘When we modelled all of it, we were very surprised to find that, in the computer modelling, the Tannoy VQ system – an exploded cluster for the main and two delay rings of satellite delay speakers - actually exceeded the max sound level of the very fine line array system, and with much smoother coverage.’we ended up starting from scratch on a new system design.’
With integrated digital signal processing, network control and dual channel class-D amplification, the VQNet line is a self-powered, networked variant of the company’s flagship VQ Series high -performance, high SPL sound reinforcement system.
With Pastor Cash Luna having the final say on the project, MGA shared the modelling data with him: ‘When we showed the coverage to the pastor and the cost comparison, his mind was made up,’ says Garrison. ‘Using VQ instead of a line array saved this project something in the realm of US$500,000. When he heard that, the pastor said: “I don’t care about the touring riders. If they want to play here, they will play with my system”.’
With assistance from Graham Hendry, VP of TC Group’s Applications Engineering and Support division, the team at MGA designed and installed a system that is unique to the space, but one that also considers aspects such as line of sight and aesthetics as well as the general acoustics. The system design included one main exploded array flown above the stage consisting of five VQ60 loudspeakers. With such a defined pattern control, the VQ60 make the horizontal coverage seamless; as a point source the vertical dispersion is perfectly consistent and not hampered by vertical inconsistencies inherent with line arrays, especially at high frequencies.
‘There are two further delay rows of VQ60s, which allow zoning to accommodate smaller congregations,’ says MGA Senior A/V Designer, Steve Shewlakow. ‘There’s also a main LF array of 18 VNet 218DRs and nine of the VNet 215HLs, and then a supplemental five-position delay zone with three VNet 218DRs in each zone in a cardioid array. There are also two subs on the ground that act as warmers and front fills.’
One of the most interesting and unique aspects of the installation is the central subwoofer cluster that sits directly in the middle of two large video screens, described by one onlooker as ‘hiding in plain sight’.
‘People in Latin America they like a lot of bass, so we knew from the beginning that we couldn’t use the usual US reference points for that,’ Garrison says. ‘We knew we would have to put in a low frequency and subwoofer system that would go beyond what would be expected in the US.’
‘With the help of Tannoy, Graham Hendry and other people, we came up with a three wide array that is nine boxes tall, so a total of 27 boxes, 218s on the outside and the centre is 215 boxes, for the main LF subwoofer array, and then we have some supplemental units at floor level because people want to be able to feel that additional sub to reach the outside edge,’ he adds. ‘Because the room is so deep and because they wanted to be able to zone it, we also have an additional delay ring with five positions, with three double 18s each. It comes to around 42 subwoofer devices in the room, and it’s pretty amazing. Working with signal timing, we were able to achieve wide dispersion, and it’s a pretty wide fan room.’
That overall performance characteristic of the VQ system impressed everyone involved: ‘It’s punchy, it’s concert levels, it’s thump your chest kind of levels, so we’re very happy with it,’ Garrison reports. ‘More importantly the pastor is happy with it, and the sound people are very happy with it.’