Celebration Church International

ProjectCelebration Church InternationalLocationHarare, ZimbabweInstallerStage Audio WorksSubmitted byStage Audio Works

Stage Audio Works provided a premium audio solution to support Celebration Church’s services, in an auditorium with a capacity of 3,800.

The system handled a wide range of requirements, catering for live music (including a 300-strong choir), guest speakers and regular services – a testament to Stage Audio Works’ expertise in specifying an all-around, effective solution. The solution can handle the higher volume outputs required from the church’s energetic approach to services, whilst retaining audio clarity. Sightlines were heavily taken into consideration so that none of the equipment would obstruct the church’s plans to broadcast services.

Stage Audio Works provided an extensive aftersales support package, including onsite handover and training as well as continuous onsite support during the planning, integration, and thereafter.

This was a project the like and scale of which has rarely been seen for a church in an African country like Zimbabwe which has struggled with a difficult economic situation for decades.

Consequently, an investment of this level represented an enormous decision for the church – it took years to assemble the necessary funding, and the choice of a world-class system like d&b was not a decision that was undertaken lightly. In addition to being a financial decision, it was also a very emotional one as it elevated the church to a new status – thus all the more reason to ensure that the system delivered was perfect for them in every way.

“Stage Audio Works have outdone themselves,” said the Church’s pastor Tom Deuschle. “We’re delighted with everything so far – their timeliness, their willingness to take responsibility and their desire to make our experience a good experience. I think that we now have the kind of sound that the building deserves, that the people deserve, and that brings honour to God the way we want it to.”

Celebration Church’s Technical Manager Harris Machingura agreed: “It makes life easy both for the technical staff and the choir. Things flow effortlessly now. Without the worry of the issues they were facing previously, the technical staff have more creative space to explore new things. It’s made a big difference to our worship. We also know that we can rely on Stage Audio Works for excellent support which is very important.”

Altogether, Celebration Church’s audio system was composed of 20 Yi8/Yi12 line array elements, six 21S SUB, eight 27A SUB, three AL90 centre hang, 12 5S under the balcony, four 44S front fill, eight 30D amplifiers, six MAX2 monitors, three Yamaha CL3, 10 Livemix personal monitors, and a mix of Sennheiser and Neumann Microphones.

To deliver premium audio, as the brief required, SAW specified a d&b Y-Series L/R hang for the main arrays, with an A-series array to fill in the centre. Bringing up the low end, the subs were flown. An end-fire sub-array of 21Ss was positioned in the centre, and arrays of 27As were flown behind the main L/R hangs.

This main system is supported with 44S front fills embedded into the stairs at the front of the stage, Y7P point source balcony delays and 5S under-balcony delays to make sure the sound is perfectly clear throughout the auditorium.

SAW also specified the microphones for the choir, selecting high-quality Neumanns for their renowned vocal fidelity. Sennheiser microphones were used for the band.

Additionally, SAW implemented three Yamaha CL3 Mixing consoles for the FOH, monitors, and broadcast respectively. Of particular importance was providing a solution for a quality livestream – something that the previous infrastructure was unable to support. Consequently, Stage Audio Works provided a dedicated broadcast console in addition to FoH and monitor consoles. Yamaha was selected thanks to the brand’s proven, rock-solid reliability – even in remote areas with dubious power supply, as can happen in Zimbabwe.

The cardioid subs were flown to optimise the directivity of the PA system and keep energy off the stage and away from the highly sensitive microphones, to avoid interference. Likewise, SAW also decided against wedges in preference of Livemix in-ear monitoring systems to reduce potential bleed.

During worship services, an abundance of churchgoers tend to naturally gather right in front of the stage, which was more of a consideration than a challenge. To counteract this, ensuring that sound was directed to this area, SAW integrated a centre array, which acts as a down fill for that specific area with omnidirectional sound. It has the double benefit of achieving more accurate vocal and speech localisation.

The A-series was chosen over the Y-series for this purpose, as the central hang didn’t need to cover the same distance as the main arrays and the shape and dispersion angle of the augmented array was ideally adapted for this purpose; fewer cabinets are required than a traditional line array making for a visually discreet solution that sits just above the proscenium – another important factor, so as not to interfere with sight lines, as the church intended to broadcast their services routinely.

Aside from the technical challenge, there was also the financial and emotional challenge of undertaking such a quantum leap. For a church in a poor country like Zimbabwe, where the average national wage amounts to just $230 per month, investing such a huge amount in an audio system – that is essentially paid for by the members of the church – was a massive decision.

It took years to assemble the funds and almost as long to make the decision. The stakes were therefore extremely high for Stage Audio Works who designed, supplied, and integrated the system.