The House That Jakes Built
Saturday, 3 March 2001
If proof were needed that entertainment technology crosses all boundaries, then here it comes in the story of the newly constructed Potter’s House worship centre, home to one of the fastest-growing churches in the United States.

This 26,000 member nondenominational church in Dallas, Texas, led by Pentecostalist minister, author and entrepreneur T.D. Jakes, set out to build the country’s most technologically innovative church facility yet. $32 million later they have created a 300ft by 300ft, 8,200 seat venue, dubbed a ‘Smart Church’.

Power and data terminals installed at 200 seats allow attendees to download sermon notes and power point presentations onto laptop computers. Altar attendants are equipped with handheld PDAs to allow immediate input of new member data and ‘prayer needs’. An associated language translation centre features translation rooms with the capacity to simultaneously input and output up to six language translations.

Dallas-based consultants Acoustic Dimensions designed state-of-the-art sound, lighting and MATV systems. They worked with PRG company SPL on the installation of the audio and video systems, the centrepiece of which is a sound reinforcement system similar to the one recently installed at the Tennessee Titans football stadium in Nashville.

With a footprint on the main floor the size of two football fields, no one on the design team wanted the space to feel like a sports arena. A number of acoustic and audio strategies were utilised to make the 8,000+ seat venue feel like a smaller church. Not only did the audio system need to provide rich, warm speaking tones, it also had to deliver concert quality music at very high levels. To generate the energy needed for congregational involvement in the large space, tremendous sound pressure levels were needed and to achieve this, Acoustic Dimensions opted for the EAW KF900 series to provide the main LCR clusters. EAW ASV 7652ix were used for front fill ceiling speakers and EAW MK 5194s were specified for the front fill floor speakers. Speaker specialists Bag End custom-designed10 subs for installation under the platform steps, with a further four Bag End Quartz subs placed at either end of the main stairs and eight EAW BH822E subs flown from the ceiling.

A Peavey MediaMatrix digital signal processor platform has been installed to allow full LCR matrixing, as well as the individual configuration and control of each of the speaker zones. QSC and Rane amplifiers are controlled by a Crown IQ system, allowing the operator to regulate amp levels and monitor the amp system. Both this and the Peavey are controlled from an audio control area located on the main floor. The 450-seat choir is picked up via 12 Schoep MK-4 preamp with CMC-6 capsule microphones suspended from the overhead catwalks, whilst the onstage monitoring for the band is primarily in-ear by Garwood. Signal Perfection Ltd provided the frequency coordination necessary to eliminate potential RF interference between the in-ear monitors, wireless mics and future RF intercoms.

In the final configuration, three Yamaha PM1D consoles will be installed so that all mixing and audio processing functions can be performed completely in the digital domain. The Control Surface (CS1D) operates the digital audio engine which can be located with the control surface or ‘remoted’ to the stage or other convenient location. The monitor console and FOH console receive a full split of all the mic lines using QSC Rave and Rane pre-amps through a CobraNet distribution system.

The AV system in the church is just as sophisticated. Since T.D. Jakes is a particularly charismatic figure, it was important that those in the congregation had a visual connection with him. As a result, his platform was raised to eye level and an IMAG video system was installed. Stuart Reynolds of Acoustic Dimensions used computer modelling to determine the ‘worst’ seat in the house, then calculated how large a screen would n

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