Sound, Lighting, and Video Upgrades for Tunbridge Wells Baptist Church
Tunbridge Wells Baptist Church in Kent has made a substantial investment in its future with upgraded sound, lighting, and video systems, designed by Adlib’s Tim Robinson and installed by an expert church AV installation team led by Senior Installation Engineer, Jack Miller.
The process started in October 2017 as the Church sought to replace its end-of-life systems as part of a major refurbishment project. The specification went through numerous iterations along the way with the final design meeting performance, budget, and aesthetic requirements.
Cabling and infrastructure
Getting things like cabling infrastructure right is key to the longevity of any installation. With flexibility in mind, Cat6 was installed throughout the space enabling all equipment types to use the same cabling, either natively, or with suitable adaptors.
Tim Robinson said “The system included a wide range of ‘loose kit’: digital stageboxes, personal monitor mixers, lighting fixtures, video sources and outputs etc and the Church sought the ability to use anything, anywhere; not just on stage, but around the room. It was quite quickly determined that running proprietary cable types for all of those services, to every conceivable location, would have been prohibitively expensive in both cable and facility panels. What all those things have in common is that they can run, either natively or with adaptors, over Cat6, suddenly increasing the flexibility of the cable infrastructure several-fold at no extra cost.”
On stage, the Church was keen to have floor boxes to help maintain the clean aesthetic established by the rest of the interior design. Adlib supplied eight custom boxes featuring power, analogue audio, and, of course, Cat6, with custom panels and colour-coded tails to terminate the connections back in the patch bay.
Jack Beattie, Worship Leader at the Church adds: “I really appreciate the craftmanship - the labels and the colour coding has kept it really super simple, and straightforward. I'm a clean freak and the wires in the old setup made it a nightmare trying to keep anything looking remotely tidy.”
After considering various options, Adlib designed a front-of-house PA system based around two hangs of seven RCF’s HDL-26A line array elements, complemented by two flown RCF HDL 35-AS subwoofers per side.
The design was modelled in EASE Focus, which allowed a deployment to be developed which could achieve incredibly even SPL and consistent tonal balance throughout the audience, whilst maximising gain before feedback on stage.
One design criterion for the church sound system installation from early on was that all elements of the sound system should be flown. For practical reasons, this kept the floor clear and all system components out of harm’s way; and for acoustic reasons, maximising the efficiency and coherence of the arrays and ensures the front row are not overwhelmed with sub.
The availability of a loudspeaker system finished in white was also key to accommodating a system of this size within the interior design.
Six RCF HD10-A self-powered, two-way wedge monitors, or the option to use one of six Allen & Heath ME1 personal monitor systems, gives the church plenty of flexibility on stage and enables musicians to choose between a wedge or in-ear monitors.
But this flexibility extends outside of the building too. Being self-powered, the monitors can be picked up and taken to another part of the church, or redeployed as three stereo PAs for use elsewhere.
Finally, a pair of RCF MR 50 speakers were installed in the foyer, fed from a matrix on the mixer, affording the Church’s FoH engineer the desired degree of control. A Lab Gruppen Lucia DSP power amplifier provided drive for the MR 50 loudspeakers, with system EQ and delay handled within the amp, simplifying operation for visiting consoles..
Adlib also supplied a full microphone package with items from Shure, Sennheiser and Radial, along with four channels of Sennheiser wireless microphones (two handhelds, and two belt packs with DPA headsets).
Jack Beattie, commented:
“When I first heard it, the system blew me away. The consistency and spread of the sound, and how it keeps smooth at both low and high volume is incredible.
“On stage, I honestly can’t remember being in a venue and thinking it sounded this good. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the monitors – everything sounds balanced and everything on stage works really well. I feel really confident that using either in-ears or stage monitors the experience either way is going to be on par in terms of clarity.
“Historically the church has been quite active in town wide initiatives so things like lugging PA systems down for 5 different bands to use at different events - we've done that sort of thing quite frequently so I can definitely envisage using the monitor system in different ways.”
The lighting system comprises eight Chauvet Eve P-130RGB fixtures installed four-per-side on internally wired lighting bars either side of the chancel to wash the stage in colour. These are complemented by a six Chauvet Eve P-100WW LED washes which provide bright and even front light, together with two Chauvet Rogue R1X spots as specials.
Tim Robinson commented “The Chauvet Eve Pars never cease to impress. This is a compact, cost-effective fixture, however the quality and quantity of light they emit is outstanding.”
The system is controlled by a Zero88 FLX-S console, programmed by Adlib with a range of basic preset looks, enabling the volunteer lighting team to get started and develop their own, more creative lighting designs.
Lighting signal distribution is delivered via a Chauvet RDM-8 DMX splitter and the venue’s new Cat6 infrastructure.
One of the key design elements is the simplicity of the installation. The new installation is “discrete and user friendly” explains Jack. “We’re working with volunteers and being able to recall settings in seconds without eating up lots of time setting up each week is fantastic.
“I've seen where churches that have had big lighting trusses and it's been a bone of contention. I was really impressed with how discrete the install is.
“It’s incredible that we’re able to get such a great result on stage but, as performers, we're not dazzled. We can do a lot creatively without affecting the experience of the musicians.”
A 4-metre-wide, retractable projection screen was installed above the baptistry to replace a small, free-standing screen installed at the side of the church. This was complemented by a Panasonic PT-MZ10K 10,000 lumen WUXGA laser projector, equipped with a long throw lens and flown above the balcony.
Consistent with the decision to install Cat6 cabling throughout the space, the projector is fed via a Blustream HDBaseT system and there is plenty of scope to incorporate a camera system in the future.
As with audio and lighting, delivering big results with minimal visual intrusion was key and the design did not disappoint. Jack Beattie said “I had some reservations about the size of the screen, especially with the big glass window behind. But it really befits the space and feels much more at than what we had before. which looked like a bit of a tag on. When it's retracted nobody even notices it's there and the projector itself is above the balcony, so even more out of the way.”
And what about the process of working with Adlib?
“At the church I worked at before, we had different sound and AV companies in to do consultations, and I have a few friends that work in that industry so I'm pretty savvy. One of the first things I noticed was that ‘these guys are really professional, courteous.
“It's great that Adlib has such variety of experience in the company. Some companies have a strength in one area but then overlook different bits - they might be great at sound and fall down on lighting. But Adlib are really well rounded.
“[Adlib has] been absolutely fabulous. Because the church does things collaboratively it means the strength is that we have more buy-in and there’s more ownership. The weakness is it's more messy. So when you have someone come in and talk to different people with different opinions it can be difficult to bring everyone together but you were gracious, courteous and professional all the time.
“Our guys came away so excited an enthused from the training you delivered. [Adlib was] really clear and I wasn’t embarrassed to ask questions.
“The experience has been really positive and the solutions [Adlib have] come up with have always been creative and in direct response to what we're after - not just trying to force something onto the church because you have it in stock. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend you to anyone.”