ArrayProcessing connects the congregation at Rivers Church

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In a suburb of Johannesburg, Rivers Church has recently built itself a new home and in so doing doubled its capacity to three thousand. The sanctuary is fan shaped with a single balcony and in many ways conforms to the current trend in contemporary church architecture. Head of Sound for worship music, Andrew Illgner: “Our pastors André and Wilma Olivier never wanted it to be two churches, those at the front feeling fully engaged, and those at the back, a little removed.”

ArrayProcessing (AP) was not yet available when the church first contacted d&b Distributor, Stage Audio Works. “They first contacted us about this new-build church two years ago,” began Stage Audio Works’ project manager Nathan Ihlenfeldt. “I spoke with Stefan Goertz at d&b and we designed a sound solution using V-Series loudspeakers driven by D80 amps. Then AP arrived. We looked very closely at that; it had the potential to directly address that sense of engagement which the Oliviers so clearly desired. Initially the additional amplifier channels required to implement AP made the cost prohibitive, then d&b’s new 30D install amps came along. What was once financially out of reach suddenly became entirely possible.”

To understand why ArrayProcessing should prove such a critical factor it’s important to understand how the church operates. “We are busy for most of the week,” explained Illgner. “On Wednesday evening we rehearse the weekend service. Across our campuses we have a membership of almost twenty thousand so on Sunday there will be three services, two in the morning, one in the evening. Once a month there is the sister’s ministry for the women, another for the men, and there are volunteer nights for specific projects, plus youth conferences and the like, so there are plenty of demands upon the audio system. For the smaller meetings we might just use the floor section below the balcony.

“When Nathan presented the concept of AP to us it was out of our budget, but the attraction was immediate; a means to ensure all seats throughout the church had the same experience as those in the front rows, no matter what the configuration. That’s exactly what has now been achieved within the church, front to back; when I’m mixing from a position around the middle of the floor area I know that everyone throughout the auditorium can hear what I’m hearing; they all have that same experience.

“What we do is quite different from many other churches. Since we’ve moved to the new church quite a few people have come to me after the service and commented on the difference of experience. They use words like ‘connected’ to describe what they hear, ‘It’s as if the Pastor is stood right in front of us’, they say. So in that sense AP has delivered exactly what we were all looking for.”

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