Cleveland, OH - August 2013… Roots run deep at Olivet Institutional Baptist Church, a cornerstone of Cleveland community and worship since 1931. Over the years, the church’s pulpit has played host to such luminaries as the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, Vice President Al Gore, and TV talk show host Oprah Winfrey.
But this congregation with a strong sense of tradition is equally forward-thinking. The church’s 1,500-seat sanctuary, constructed in 1954, recently underwent an in-depth renovation, enhancing sound and vision with the addition of HD cameras, a switcher, and large-scale video screens, as well as a new Renkus-Heinz VARIA modular point source loudspeaker system.
As Tom George, Director of Installations for installer Eighth Day Sound, explains, the sound reinforcement aspect of the project presented some unique challenges. “Although the exterior of the building has a peaked roof, the sanctuary’s ceiling is flat, and relatively low – only around 25 feet in height. So going with a traditional line array would have created line-of-sight issues. Moreover, we were faced with a 400-pound weight restriction, which made the design even more problematic.”
With a need to ensure musicality for both its traditional gospel choir and plugged-in bands, as well as high intelligibility for all spoken aspects of the program, VARIA’s feature set seemed a good fit for the large, acoustically challenging space. With VARIA’s modular and flexible enclosures, Eighth Day could create a system to deliver the coverage of a traditional line array, but using fewer cabinets, thereby decreasing weight, visual impact, and cost.
The flown system consists of six VAX 101-7/6 (7.5 degree), two VAX101-22/69, and two VAX101-22 912 VARIA loudspeakers. The result is powerful, even coverage across the congregation’s main floor and balcony, from the front rows to the rear wall 100 feet away.
“When we listened to the box, we were convinced,” says George. “VARIA met the challenge – it delivered the coverage we needed, along with the power and performance. It looks great, and it sounds great.”
Olivet’s recent improvements mark Phase One of their in-depth renovation, with improved lighting and Web streaming next on the agenda. Through it all, elevating the live sound experience has been key for the Cleveland church.
“Olivet wants to reach younger people – they understand that the demographic is changing and a more contemporary worship style is a big part of that,” Tom George says. “VARIA was the perfect solution for this congregation’s message and their music.”