Singing praises with d&b
He is most known around the world as founding member of Phillips, Craig and Dean, a popular contemporary Christian music group since the 1990s, but around Life Austin Church in Texas he is known, simply, as ‘Pastor Randy.’ Lead minister to a congregation of over two thousand, Randy Phillips brings his passion for the arts into his sermons. “We play with a full band every Sunday, perform short skits and even have a string orchestra at Easter. The goal is to find a way to reach everyone, immerse ourselves. We have a lot of audio professionals in our community. They’d be able to hear the difference. Sound was definitely a priority,” says Life Austin band member and AV Director, Joe Diaz. “We want every person to have a full experience.”
It’s taken some time, however. For the last seven years, Life Austin, previously Promise Land West, has built up their congregation from eighty to almost two thousand parishioners without an actual building. Hopping from one school auditorium to the next, the church has endured challenging worship environments, but never gave up hope that one day they’d be able to offer a full range of services in their own space. It’s Pastor Randy and his wife, Pastor Denise’s, dream to one day have a whole neighborhood’s worth of resources to offer. As they began building the first of many new spaces; “The church wanted a sound system that would perform amazingly in the space in terms of speech intelligibility, coverage, and musical reinforcement. However, it had to have a clean and unobtrusive industrial design that was compatible with the architecture,” explains Joe DiFalco, Southwest Regional Manager at d&b. “They really wanted the sound equipment to make as much experiential impact as possible, while making a relatively small visual impact.”
Designed by Roy Kircher, of Big House Sound the system sits subtly in the worship space. With three Sunday services, each reaching near one thousand members, Life Austin would rather save room for more people. Plus, as they provide for other events such as weddings, the reserved sound system helps them maintain a simple, yet elegant aesthetic. d&b audiotechnik combined with Big House Sound’s expertise to create the perfect sound system.
“We all decided that using the White range was a great overall approach because it offered a wide toolbox of products that all have a wonderful power to size ratio, meaning smaller arrays could be used to achieve greater output and a streamlined look with discreet rigging,” DiFalco continues, “Probably the most interesting challenge, though, was the subwoofers. The stage was built solid and very low, two feet for an intimate feel, which left no room for stacking on or underneath. To deal with the low frequency placement and distribution challenges, Kircher developed the idea of employing a horizontal array of passive cardioid subs flown from a custom curved truss that matched the curvature of the stage. Then ArrayCalc software and R1 Remote control software allowed the team to set all delays and levels from the ground. It was exactly what Life Austin needed.”
“This was a great project to work on,” agrees Big House Sound’s Director of Installation, Zach Richards. “The team really came together to create a final product we’re really happy with. A centrally located glass wall combined with a large tiered seating area made it critical to have very controlled coverage. Using the curved cardioid sub array along with delay fills helped us keep energy off many of the room’s reflective surfaces. Despite it all looking really good in our ArrayCalc model, I was skeptical about how the sub array was really going to sound. But once we got it installed and aligned using our ArrayCalc predictions and R1, I was really impressed. There’s really not a bad seat in the house and the low end is very smooth and consistent.”
Life Austin loves their new worship space, allowing the church to offer fun and enriching events to its congregation. Diaz is proud to be a part of a praise focused community, “It’s nice to have a church that values a strong audio system. It really enriches the experience. We can provide a good, clean sound. As a part of the band, we practice a few hours every week, outside of full Sundays. It’s nice to know that work is actually being appreciated, without having to worry who can hear or not. We are helping people worship, and that’s important. I’m thankful for that, and thankful for a system that allows us to do that better.”