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Lecture Hall or Concert Space? Design of the Worship Facility

Excellence in the Arts - by - April 27, 2011 - 12:42 Etc/GMT+5 - Be first to Comment!

A worship facility is not just another performing arts space. As the spoken Word- the sermon- is at once equal to and yet higher than the “singing of hymns, psalms and spiritual songs” it is therefore neither lecture hall nor concert space, but Worship Facility. Designing the Worship Facility means to design a space that supports speech as well as music. 

Room and Support

Loudspeaker and acoustics go hand in hand-  they should be engineered in tandem, both to complement the other and to offer a complete solution.  The goal is to foster worship without system limitations, acoustic distractions or quality issues.  The congregation being a part of that environment, the designer takes them into consideration to create a space with consistent and controllable effect throughout the room.

The LCR Design

Lecture and music have divergent acoustical and loudspeaker support requirements. A true Left-Center-Right (LCR) design is a good solution because it integrates a high quality stereo music system and a center channel mono vocal system.  Stereo side loudspeakers excite the room, allowing for a robust and lively music reinforcement, but cause speech to bounce around and smear. A center loudspeaker delivers clear speech and soloist vocals directly onto the congregation. The dual system delivers the highest speech intelligibility with full concert sound.  Another benefit of the LCR loudspeaker approach is a wide sound image allowing sound techs to mix both up-down in volume and spatially left-right. Giving this separation in the mix instead of all sound stacked coming out of the same speakers reduces the ear fatigue and psycho-acoustic disconnect that cause distraction.


The audio system designer will use consistent-quality components throughout so that there is no weak link in the overall sound effect but is limited by the system’s end users’ needs, budget and context.  Quality is necessarily listener dependent: higher quality can mean better signal-to-noise ratio, lower percentage distortion, lower slew rates- some people think that high quality is more “musical.” Buying more expensive equipment does not define quality, absent of clean, engineered infrastructure, good soundbooth placement and appropriate acoustics.

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