Pulpit Rock, Tragedy To Opportunity
Pulpit Rock Church is located in beautiful Colorado Springs. A little over a year ago, due to some flawed materials used in a roof replacement on the church, as well as some heavy rains, the entire sanctuary was a total loss. The sanctuary needed to be reconstructed from scratch, along with some other sections of the building. This was disheartening to say the least. However, the church had great faith and superb vision. For a design team, of course, this was a clean slate. SOA (Second Opinion Audio LLC, www.secondopinionaudiollc.com) was contacted by Nick Thacker, the church’s Worship Arts Director, and Jacque Fabey, an interior designer who had been tasked with serving as the Project Manager. We are so glad they called us. At SOA, we love to solve problems: the bigger the better. Just tell us it can’t be done and we will accept the challenge. As a rule, we never simply tell a client what it is they need. We do, however, demonstrate everything, from speakers to projectors to lighting.
At the initial site visit, we took one look at the space and saw how difficult this might be to cover in a traditional manner, and immediately deduced that beam steering was the only real solution. When we told them about a new system that would provide phase linear beam steering that we had in our possession and that they could hear immediately, they were at first skeptical of the claims that it would do everything we said it would. So, we set up a demo in their space. The sanctuary was nothing but a shell of concrete, wall framing and electrical wires. We set the system up, did a few calculations, and eight minutes later, we were demonstrating what the system would sound like in their finished sanctuary.
Every inch of the floor was covered perfectly with audio energy where it was needed and none where it was not. We had uniform energy from left to right. Front to back, the coverage was uniform with less than a three-decibel difference from the first seat to the back row. When we told them that there would just be one column line array on each side of the platform with a couple of subs hidden beneath, and
they thought immediately how unobtrusive the speakers would be. The architect was thrilled because the loudspeakers were so discreet; they would not impact the aesthetics of the design in any significant way. This brought out a host of new possibilities for lighting and projection. Because the loudspeakers are on-axis and there are no large speakers suspended overhead, this look is what everyone always asks for. “Can we hide the speakers so we can’t see them?” Well, not entirely, but, if you are looking for speakers in the air, you will not see them. You have to look long and hard to figure out that the two small columns on each side of the platform are actually loudspeakers, and they are what is filling every corner of the room. Yep, we never get tired of showing people what we can do with a little creative thinking.
When the time came to commission the system, our calculations turned out to be absolutely correct. There was now a wall of glass on the second floor where there was none before, and no energy from the main loud speakers reached it. This greatly reduced unwanted reflections and minimized the amount of acoustical treatment required. There is one small area on the second floor where there is an opening for congregants to enjoy the service from café-style tables. We covered this with four compact loud- speakers that match the sonic signature of the mains, and delayed them. The sound covering this area is seamless.
The lighting is also something very special. Besides the theatrical LED lighting fixtures, we demoed a new house lighting LED pendant fixture with color mixing capabilities that provides the lighting director with the ability to change the colors of the architectural lighting. Now the lighting cues include the entire sanctuary itself and not just the platform, giving the congregation a feeling of inclusiveness rather than “us and them.” This opens endless possibilities for creating unique looks and ambient effects for the seating areas.
The video was a little bit of a challenge, but nothing insurmountable. Because the ceiling has only architectural lighting pendants and discreet LED front theatrical wash lighting, and no large loudspeaker arrays, it was undesirable to see projectors suspended from the ceiling. Thus, we set them “cinema-style” in a dedicated room projecting through openings in the wall. They project onto specially treated surfaces on either side wall of the platform. No screens or projectors are visible.
The church loves how the room sounds and looks, and couldn’t be happier. Thacker stated, “We began our project with Daryl and Bob a year ago, and there has not been a day during the build or after completion that I haven’t thought to myself, ‘I am SO glad we went with SOA!’ Do yourself a favor and get these guys in for a consultation — and if you want to save even more time, money, and hassle, and have the absolute best project you can possibly imagine, just hire them. Trust me, it is one of the best things we’ve done for our facility!”