Enjoy Church, headquartered in Melbourne, is the fastest-growing church in Australia. As is common for many churches in the country, the main campus is situated inside a warehouse, which has undergone mainly cosmetic improvements to transform it into a functional worship space. It can now seat approximately 1800 people, but its acoustic environment is not ideal: the venue’s construction is typical of a warehouse, concrete walls with metal roof. Initially the main worship sanctuary was defined only by drapes, but, over the years, internal sheet rock walls have been added as the seating capacity needed to be increased and sound transfer to other areas of the building mitigated. The ceiling of the worship sanctuary consists of acoustic absorbent material directly fixed to the underside of the sheet metal roof.

Forefront Productions had installed a NEXO GEO S12 line array system in this building in 2009, but, in order to keep up with its expanding congregation, Enjoy Church asked Nick Burns and Matt Wever to implement a purposeful main speaker system upgrade. The aim was to apply more modern sound reinforcement technology to the venue’s geometry, and better cater for future changes in presentation as well as capacity.

Forefront’s Nick Burns selected the STM Series modular line array from NEXO as the main building block of the new system. “For this project, we needed to supply coverage to a greater area without increasing the overall line array length (so as to not impede sight lines), and at the same time increase headroom and sonic capability. The STM system allowed us to deploy double wide main arrays of M46 main and B112 bass modules, with under hangs of the smaller M28 omnipurpose module. Using M46 main cabinets only for the centre fill and outfill arrays meant we could keep the same HF/MF sonic signature without the expense or physical size of the main arrays.

STM’s modularity means it can change and expand really easily. “It really is the Lego of speaker systems. We can simply add more STM cabinets of any form to the system to further extend the value of the investment.”

The main sanctuary space is quite a challenge. It has a relatively low roof/ceiling line to that of the width and depth of the auditorium. This geometry together with the usual stage lighting and video reinforcement infrastructure plus other mechanical services means not only is there a battle for sightlines but also limited unobstructed positions for PA to fly within. Add to this the rudimentary acoustic treatments and seating arrangements that curve around the stage – this meant a heavy reliance on the speaker system design and implementation to achieve desired results.

Forefront’s designers Nick Burns and Matt Wever used NEXO’s proprietary NS-1 calculation and coverage prediction software to provide an extremely true representation of the actual system performance. “It is a valuable tool in producing any NEXO system design, coupled with mechanical information and of course the ability to also produce 3D visual representations. Having been very meticulous in the design phase of the system, we were again particularly impressed by how true to life NS-1’s MIF calculations are.”

In just three days, the Forefront Productions team installed the new main PA, comprising
19x Nexo STM M46 Line Array Elements
10x Nexo STM B112 Line Array Elements
8x Nexo STM S118 Sub Bass Elements
6x Nexo STM M28 Line Array Elements
4x Nexo PS8 Speaker Elements
9x Nexo NXAMP4x4 Power Amps / Processors
1x Nexo NXAMP4x1 Power Amp / Processor

NEXO NXAMP4x4 amps were deployed with the inclusion of AES interface cards – existing NXAMP4x4s were augmented with new additional units. This allowed all processing to be conducted via NeMo network control. All system tuning and processing is achieved onboard the NX-AMP4x4s with NeMo allowing any elements to be grouped and zoned together as desired.

The results are notable. One of the great characteristics of the STM system is its perceived “near field” sound. This extends to the furthermost corners of the auditorium area, giving the listener the impression that they are very close and drawn to the action. From full range live band program material to speech, the intelligibility and consistency in coverage throughout the space is impressive.

With the acoustic environment, there were of course existing nodes and antinodes within the listening area. Careful placement, angulation and tuning of cabinets such as in the outfill areas produced much improved sonic consistency and coverage.

Enjoy Church routinely employs a front stage thrust, which encroaches into the usual seated area and places the presenter’s handheld or headworn microphone within the field of coverage. This presented a unique challenge when considered alongside one of our aims for this system installation being to remove the need for smaller front fill speaker elements and keep sources to a minimum.

Our design resulted in downfill elements of STM M28 elements to the main arrays, some with 120 degree horizontal dispersion, as well as a centre flown cluster of M46. This results in the same sonic signature across the front audience area and is time aligned to make the centre cluster largely imperceptible. Perhaps even more notable, the ability to achieve incredible gain before feedback from performers and spoken word presenters even with poor microphone technique venturing onto the stage thrust area.

Another remarkable improvement is the stereo imaging. With a relatively wide room and main arrays quite wide, the known attribute of the STM’s stereo imaging has indeed presented listeners with a very perceivable increase in stereo imaging – allowing mix engineers to enjoy mixing in a stereo state without concern for certain seating areas missing the benefit.

With the much improved increase in headroom that the STM system has delivered, Enjoy Church can cater for outside events without any concern or need for additional equipment. The auditorium is routinely used for external events such as school gatherings, musical presentation and touring artist concerts.

Normally to achieve the scale of increase in performance and quality in sound that this project has delivered, you would expect to see a much more sizeable system to that of the GEO S12 it replaced. In fact the bottom of the STM main arrays is only 70mm lower than the former system. The perceived increase in size has come in main array width, which in the black of over stage space is unnoticed.

The former system had subs flown behind the main arrays as the client brief was a clear front stage area, whereas with the STM system we have been able to achieve a clear front stage area by insetting the horizontal sub array of STM 118’s. Together with the LF produced in the air by the B112 cabinet arrays, the LF and sub bass has proven to be very controllable in the space, with even coverage.

The STM system has provided an overall cleaner look in the overhead space.

This installation not only provides a significant and notable sonic improvement, but allows Enjoy Church to cater for its various needs, both in style of its presentations from contemporary church high impact band reinforcement, to dramatic theatrical performances, spoken word and everything in-between.

This system also uniquely demonstrates the ability for an organisation to extended the value of their technical investment. Enjoy Church’s original NEXO GEO S12 system has been redistributed across three of its smaller campuses, providing upgrades to those venues, and enabling the church to extend the value of its investment. By keeping their systems within the NEXO brand family of products, Enjoy Church can continue to augment with new technology, achieving significant improvements across the different venues in their organisation whilst keeping up to date and at the Forefront.