Experience Church Gets Sonic Makeover

Puyallup, WA, USA – December 2020… In the shadow of majestic Mount Rainier, Experience Church is part of a new generation of houses of worship, a non-denominational Christian church bringing their message to parishioners via modern music and technology. The 500-seat sanctuary welcomes parishioners with upbeat, amplified music and innovative videos.

Installed more than 15 years ago, the church’s sound system was showing its age and in need of an update. Uncertain of the cost and in need of ideas, the church contacted Sumner, WA-based McCauley Systems for advice and consultation.

“I’ve had a long-standing relationship with this church, having designed and consulted on the original sound system about 15 years ago,” reports McCauley Systems principal Ryan McCauley. “Fundamentally the system is still in good shape, with excellent coverage and impact, but many of the loudspeaker components in particular were approaching the end of their useful lives, and some of the amplification and other electronics were beginning to fail.”

With the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the pandemic, budgets were also a concern. “Since I’d designed the original system, I suggested refurbishing that system rather than replacing it,” McCauley continues. “With the advancements in loudspeaker technology, we were able to not only replace the failing components, but update them with more modern versions, far superior in performance and sound quality.”

Perhaps even more significant have been the advancements in DSP and amplifier technology. “What was state-of-the-art 15 years ago has been vastly surpassed by today’s technology, larger per channel power, advanced DSP, and FIR signal processing capabilities,” states McCauley.

The existing line array cabinets – left and right hangs comprising eight dual-8-inch cabinets per side – have been refitted with custom designed OEM loudspeakers from RMS-Acoustics, and the rack of amplifiers have been replaced with four Linea Research 44C Series 4-channel Networked DSP amplifiers.

“The Linea amps are immensely powerful and quite simply sound amazing,” states McCauley. “We were able to replace an entire rack of 7 amps totaling 14 channels with 16 channels via just four Linea units, two 44C20 and two 44C10, which cuts down on both heat and rack real estate.”

The workhorse 44C20 amplifier delivers 4 channels of 5000W/ch into 2 ohms, while the 44C10 offers 4x 2500W/ch. All C Series amplifiers offer integrated 96kHz DSP and network control as standard, including FIR filters on every output, in addition to the more traditional EQ and DSP processing and an optional Dante interface.

“In addition to the obvious hardware improvements with loudspeaker components and amplification, we also upgraded their signal chain to include a Dante digital audio network,” continues McCauley. “They now have a dual redundant, primary/secondary Dante network between the console, amplifiers, and personal mixer system, improving both dependability and sound quality compared to their previous analog system.”

Measuring and tuning the room was also a breeze, with McCauley employing Eclipse Audio FIR Filter Designer to design a custom FIR filter from multiple locations in the room. “The Filter Designer software dramatically changes the equation for FIR design in smaller spaces. We’re able to take the required measurements and design the FIR filter, in less than an hour. It’s a powerful tool.”

Plans are to replace the existing subwoofers in the near future as well, but even with just the new mains and Linea amplification, McCauley points to the newly upgraded system as a night-and-day difference. “The technology of loudspeaker design, amplification, and signal processing has evolved immensely over the past 15 years,” he observes. “The tools we have at our disposal now are dramatically more efficient and precise. With relatively incremental changes to the system itself, we were able to achieve the metaphorical equivalent of lifting a blanket from in front of the sound system. Even the most untrained ears can tell the difference.”