Pro Sound

References - Projects

Living Word

Living Word Fellowship

2623-272nd Street, Aldergrove BC

Systems Installed
Midas Pro 2 Sound Board
Renkus Heinz PN Series Centre Cluster
Renkus Heinz CFX Series Lip Fills
Renkus Heinz PN SeriesFloor Monitors
Renkus Heinz PN Series Sub-Woofers
Mitsubishi Projection
Da-lite Tensioned Screen
Sharp 90" Confidence Monitor
Custom AV Input Plates
Acoustic Treatment
Acoustic Consulting
EASE Modeling
Custom Rigging


Maximum Performance & Maximum Value For

Living Word Fellowship

By Andrew King


A small town within the jurisdiction of the Township of Langley and part of the Greater Vancouver area, Aldergrove, BC is a community of approximately 12,000 residents a mere 10 minutes north of the Canada/United States border and neighboring town Lynden, WA. Within the community of Aldergrove is Living Word Fellowship, a non-denominational Christian worship community that welcomes a diverse congregation of people from both sides of the border and of various ethnic backgrounds to celebrate in prayer.

 A relatively new church community, Living Word Fellowship was hosting services in a rented facility during its early years of worship. In late 2011, the opportunity arose for the church to purchase its own facility within Aldergrove. In addition to significant renovations to what would eventually become the sanctuary of the new building, church trustees also had to invest in an audio and video system that would not only aid in delivering weekly services to those gathered onsite, but also boast the capability to offer a recorded video and audio feed and broadcast feed to those unable to join the main service.

 John Drake is a Co-Owner of Langley-based audio, video, lighting, and communication systems integration firm Pro Sound & Stage Lighting Ltd. and also a common acquaintance of several members in leadership roles with the nearby Living Word Fellowship. When the opportunity arose for the church to purchase a designated facility for its services and other operations, Drake and his firm were consulted from the outset to aid in the design and implementation of its sound and presentation system as well as room acoustics.

"I wore a lot of hats on this one and became very close to the project,” Drake reveals, listing off responsibilities he took on, from sales representative to design engineer, to project manager and others. Adopting such an active role in an individual project is admittedly outside the norm for the company’s Principal, and for this installation, Pro Sound was working closely with volunteers from the church on some of the more general tasks. One of Drake’s partners in the firm, Ken Oldhaver, oversaw the more technical components, from programming the DSP and video switching and distribution to commissioning the equipment.

Considering the relative youth of the church, this being its first designated worship space following years of celebrating in a borrowed location, budget was a major consideration throughout the entire project. Living Word Fellowship took possession of the property at the foot of 2012, though a short delay in acquiring building permits led to construction commencing in April and Pro Sound entering the fold shortly thereafter.

Prior to trustees’ consultation with Pro Sound, a budget had been outlined for the presentation system. Even at the outset, Drake expresses it would’ve been a challenge to provide the space with a suitable reinforcement and presentation system; however, as time went on, the scope of the project was expanded even further, compounding the need for a financial boost.

"At the end of the day, there was sound, video, presentation, CCTV, networking, security and fire alarm – and everything had to happen with the same funds,” Drake explains. Realizing that the expectations for the system and outlined budget were disproportionate, Drake adopted a somewhat unorthodox approach and took it upon himself to map out what he dubs "the whole enchilada” – a design of the ideal system that would meet the church’s previously outlined needs, both present and future, without any financial considerations. He presented this design to the finance board and subsequently began paring it down to the bare minimum, starting from that point and producing a realistic cost for the project.

 Drake took readings of the entire sanctuary and adjacent spaces in EASE and modeled them with eight different audio solutions. With readings and an outline in-hand, he further invited five loudspeaker manufacturers to offer product suggestions for the main reinforcement system.

 After a brief audition period, Drake was leaning towards Renkus-Heinz PN12/6-3R(T) reference point array for the centre cluster, a self-powered product consisting of three PN121/6 full-range loudspeakers and integral PN-1, onboard amplification, and RHAON system processing. "It had the ideal footprint for the room, and fit the physical parameters of the cloud” Drake explains, describing the large existing cloud built overtop the platform that the church didn’t want to have to tackle in the initial construction phase.

 In addition to the centre cluster, the package is rounded out by a pair of PN212SUB-R dual 12-in. subwoofers, five CFX42 speakers loaded into the stars leading to the platform, and a single PN61 with 6-in. horn to cover each of the top corners of the balcony. The musicians also benefit from four PN121M/12 floor monitors as well as several ‘hot spots’ for their mixes. All of these models, save for the front lip fills, are self-powered and incorporate Renkus-Heinz’s RHAON processing. This package not only fit the room, but provided excellent imaging of the audio to a reference point approximately five feet above the platform – right where the mouth of the preacher or singer is!

 "There are some aspects that we didn’t want to compromise on,” Drake explains. "All of the DSP and networking equipment was selected so that it could be expanded down the road. If they want to build on the current PA, all it would take is another DSP cage.” The platform of choice is a Biamp Nexia system, and Drake reports that the choice of a digital solution employing standard protocols eliminated over $10,000 in cable costs from the design.

 Another ever-present concern informing Drake’s approach to the design was that of future technological innovations – or, to be more specific, its potential wake of obsolescence. "One of the things we discussed very early on was change in technology,” Drake explains. "Nobody wanted a dead-end system, if I can put it that way. We didn’t want to get too proprietary with a single platform or manufacturer and be shooed into something where, if we had to incorporate new gear down the road” – which was a definite in this case – "we’d have to rewire the building.”

 To simultaneously future-proof the system and incorporate redundancy, both analog speaker wire and Cat-5 cable feeds each box so audio can be sent via twisted pair(CobraNet) or analog. The sanctuary PA was originally designed as an LCR system, which was pared down to a single centre cluster with a pair of subwoofers and several fill boxes for the floor level with the ability for a left and right group to be added when feasible.

 "Because we started off with the full design, the infrastructure for all of their future plans is in place,” Drake explains of the nearly 25 km of cable runs presently occupying the building, "so we can expand that system as time goes on.”

 The same attention to expandability was paid when it came time to choose the mixing console – a Midas PRO2. The primary consideration when it came to the board was ease of use for the church’s volunteer user base. Of Living Word Fellowship’s stable of technical operators, John McCafferty has taken on the unofficial title of Head Technician thanks to his many years of service.

 With fairly minimal experience working with professional sound gear, McCafferty says he and his team relied quite heavily on the experience of Pro Sound’s staff. "We definitely knew what we wanted to be able to achieve and could also give feedback when it came to what sounded good or was easy to operate,” McCafferty explains, "but John and his staff really led the charge.”

 McCafferty reports that his experience with the PRO2 thus far has been quite positive. "The interface on the PRO2 is just what we needed – simple in the way everything is grouped, with the ability to access all of your channels quickly… In a live setting, it’s very important that it’s intuitive and that we can access everything we need – the basics – without a lot of scrolling.”

 The system is currently in use on a weekly basis for services, handling straightforward speech and music reinforcement. The system can also relay audio into the adjacent "Fireside Room”, a smaller gathering space which can be used as an overflow room if need be, as well as the outer foyer at the rear of the sanctuary. "We also ensured that the speakers outside of the sanctuary are time-aligned with those in the main space so there’s no echo,” Drake explains.

 The company was also involved in the design and implementation of a sound-isolating rear sanctuary wall, employing sound dampening treatments and thick panes of glass not unlike those found in recording studios to isolate noise by a reported 40dB minimum while also providing clear lines of site for those on either side.

Another key component to the system originally outlined by church trustees stems from the diverse makeup of its congregants, including a Serbian contingent with some members that don’t communicate well in English.

 While the services are all presented in English, for certain time slots, a Serbian translator is onsite in one of the two designated translation booths (only one of which currently boasts the infrastructure to be utilized). The rooms are built into the rear wall of the sanctuary and employ sound-isolating panes of glass, which eliminate the need for designated video feeds.

 The translation booth receives a live feed of the English service, which is relayed to the translator via headphones, and uses a wired headset mic for the translation, which like the English audio is recorded for later manipulation and distribution, as both the audio and video from each service is catalogued on the church’s website for those unable to attend. Additionally, a small in-house wireless system enhances the experience for the hearing impaired. Plans are also in place to incorporate an online streaming audio and video feed and likely even broadcast audio over FM radio for nearby communities.

 While there’s a provision in the design for a future production booth, which will comprise a second PRO2 console for the planned broadcast mix, presently, the sole PRO2 is handling the main house sound mix, monitor mix, and the audio and audio for video recording.

 The complementing video system consists of an Exron video switcher found in the technical booth with a PC running a songbook program as one input, allowing the lyrics of each hymn to run above the platform. An Extron MTP System distributes the signal via Cat-5 to a Mitsubishi WD8200 projector, which relays the feed to an 88 x 156-in Dalite Tensioned Screen

 The worship leader also benefits from a 90-in. Sharp LCD confidence monitor mounted on the front face of the overhead balcony. Currently, there’s a single camera providing the video feed which is split between the switcher and a direct input into a PC for recording. The rest of the building is wired for distributed video and digital signage, though none of the complementing devices are in place.

 While implementing the various cabling infrastructures throughout the facility will make future expansion far more convenient, it did present a few challenges during the initial phase. "We ran into a few issues when it came to getting cable from different points so that its integrity wasn’t questioned and we could have easy access in the future,” Drake explains.

He and construction site manager John Gray, an independent consultant, developed cable raceways above the overhead T-bar for the administrative wing of the building, which was left exposed after the sanctuary’s rear wall was moved back during construction to comply with seismic regulations. A wire chase runs under the raised balcony to the equipment room and from the equipment room to the technical booth and translator booths.

 Another challenge that arose in relation to the administrative wing pertained to fire code considerations. The administrative wing required a 45-minute-burn ceiling in addition to sound reinforcement. After much consideration, the solution came in a Bosch 6-in. in-ceiling speaker loaded with a fire dome. "As minor as that seems,” Drake says candidly, "it was a challenge that took some time to resolve.”

 While every install comes with its share of on-the-job hurdles, foreseen or otherwise, both Pro Sound and the Living Word Fellowship were victims of theft during the off-hours of the project. The church had thousands worth of construction materials and tools taken from the site in two separate incidents while Pro Sound had its onsite trailer stolen in a third incident, though it was fortunately recovered completely intact by the local branch of the RCMP.

 Positive attitudes persevered throughout, however, and the project culminated in late 2012 with both parties pleased with the results of the undertaking. Since its completion, Drake and Oldhaver have worked with McCafferty and the church’s volunteer base on training, both during regular services and downtime.

 "They’ve been a great help getting us up-to-speed,” McCafferty says of the Pro Sound principals. All in all, McCafferty dubs the process a "huge undertaking” that began with what he calls a "major fixer-upper” and resulted in a space that he and his peers can be truly proud of. "With everything up-to-date, it’s like a completely different church.”

 His inner amateur technician also relished in the opportunity to get his hands on so much high-end equipment under the guidance of the Pro Sound team. "Working with John was a very eye-opening process,” he says enthusiastically. "Visiting his offices in Langley was a great learning experience, as was seeing a lot of this gear in action.”

 He also reports on behalf of the church that the sound quality of their services has taken a "180-degree turn.” He elaborates: "Our musicians and music leader are thrilled; we’ve been working closely with them to get the monitor system on the platform fine-tuned and now everyone is liking what they’re hearing. Seeing the difference between what we started with at our previous facility and what we have now is very, very impressive.”

 With plans in-place for the second wave to round out the recording room and add some congregation mics to be able to provide a whole-room pickup for playback and broadcast, Living Word Fellowship and Pro Sound & Stage Lighting will be continuing their working relationship through 2013 and beyond.

The initial phase came with a few trials, including the eventual doubling of the initial budget set aside for the audio and video systems; but as Drake explains, "There’s a saying in our industry that goes, ‘There’s never enough money to do it right, but there’s always enough money to do it again.’ We do our best at Pro Sound to negate that saying.”

Andrew King is the Editor of Professional Sound.