First Assembly strikes a chord with Soundscape
Wednesday, 11 September 2019
first-assembly-church-calgary-db-sapphire-sound-02Soundscape provided an affordable solution First Assembly
Canada - At a time when the background noise in audio is all about 3D sound and immersive experiences, arguably an extravagance suited to famous concert halls and exotic experimental music, it is contrary to the flow that a d&b audiotechnik Soundscape system is being applied at a church in Calgary, Alberta.
Thriving it may be, yet the pastoral team at First Assembly, Calgary is not prone to moments of irrational exuberance or wanton financial profligacy. For them Soundscape provided an entirely affordable solution to a seemingly intractable issue between acoustics, worship and sound reinforcement.
Justin Wells, First Assembly’s technical director, saw it as an uncomfortable divide between parts of their congregation and the heart of music worship. “Music is a huge part of what we do and within our church we have highly skilled musicians. For people who come for that, it has the potential to be inspiring. For our Sanctuary, what we sought was an audio system that could place everyone in the sweet-spot of the sound image, something that could reach those sat at the periphery of our 240° fan shaped room and give them that inclusive experience.”
Wells and executive pastor Shane Penney called upon the services of Sapphire Sound, an audio, video and multimedia specialist headquartered in Abbotsford, British Columbia with a permanent office in Calgary. “We had worked with the Church on a number of things in the past,” explains Ben Burrell of Sapphire. “Lighting upgrades, small pieces of kit here and there, that sort of thing - but this was to prove a project of different magnitude.
“They first came to us in early 2017 and requested we look at updating their sound reinforcement system. They really wanted a quality experiential dimension to audio and imagined stereo imaging for everyone. Our analysis showed that while this was entirely possible, the room dimension and physical shape would require an unusually large number of cabinets to achieve what they wanted. It would also be a remarkably complex system to manage.”
Burrell continued. “We completed the assessment right about the time of the official launch of d&b’s Soundscape system. Sapphire has been providing d&b solutions since 2013 when we installed a system for Westside Church at The Centre for Performing Arts (Vancouver, BC). While we had no direct experience with Soundscape we have great confidence in d&b; everything we had used from them so far performed exactly as they promised it would. The functionality of their object positioning tool within the En-Scene module of Soundscape presented a much more manageable solution to the dilemma of First Assembly, and in many ways a better and more creative one.”
Wells took the proposal in stride. “When Ben first presented the Soundscape concept it was not simply ‘another way of achieving what we aimed for’. We had started to see the conversations in the pro audio press about so called immersive sound experiences, so even though it was all pretty new we saw the potential. Looking at the d&b online videos it was clear this was something else.”
Burrell arranged for Wells and Penney to attend InfoComm and witness a d&b Soundscape demonstration. “We had already become convinced this was the way to go,” says Wells. “The demo was the final stamp of approval. Staged in 360 degrees, it was a very cool experience. Although the presentation was more generalised about what could be achieved with En-Scene and En-Space, it was also apparent how this system would transfer into our church and the impact it would bring.”
Burrell received the green light two days later and Sapphire placed the order with d&b audiotechnik Canada.
(Jim Evans)

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