First Baptist Orlando

Mission: Improve outdated sound systems

As the renovation of First Baptist Orlando took off in 2014, it touched on every aspect of the popular facility, including its physical structure and the AV technology, which had degraded to the point it could no longer serve the spacious venue and the audiences that fill its seats. The ensuing upgrade needed to be comprehensive, improving the lighting, audio and video, and the sightlines.

Spotty sound left guests unable to hear productions equally throughout the expansive sanctuary, which can seat 4,800.

“The system was totally degraded as far as upkeep, and it really sounded bad,” says Christopher Hinkle, project manager for production services, First Baptist Orlando. Prominent sources that would need vastly better sound reinforcement included two choirs and a full orchestra.

“They wanted to make sure wherever you went in the sanctuary and in the narthex, everybody could hear the production equally,” says Craig Dail, AVI-SPL integration specialist.

“AVI-SPL has impressed me the most with their ability to make changes on the fly and to perform at a very strategic level that is hard to find in other integrators,” says Hinkle.

AVI-SPL set its sights on a major improvement of the audio systems, one that could handle level of production. The team would work under the guidance of consultant Idibri, which specified the systems that would be implemented.

Action: Customized audio and control

The new audio system AVI-SPL installed encompasses the entire sanctuary, including front of house systems and choir monitors. The team also implemented a broadcast area where staff can send out live productions for internet streaming and mix down events for recording.

“We gave them something that sounded pretty amazing and converted the entire seating area as well as the narthex,” says Jonathon Sturm, AVI-SPL project engineer. “From the second they walk in the narthex, they’re getting covered by the JBL ceiling speakers.”

To achieve the required sound reinforcement and quality, AVI-SPL integrated equipment that includes subwoofers, and audio distribution and routing systems like BSS London audio processing.

Besides addressing the audio quality, the AVI-SPL team worked on connecting different areas so that staff would be aware of what’s going on throughout in spaces like the studio, stage, and front of house. An expansive intercom system enables any room in the building to connect with any other room. Shure personal monitors provide performers and speakers with in-ear monitoring, while Cisco small business switches handle the control and monitoring of systems throughout the building.

“I reworked the front-of-house system to get them all the features they wanted and the functionality they wanted,” says Sturm. “Everything’s being done the way they want to see it done. You can’t just show up and stick to the drawing. We worked with First Baptist on a daily basis.”

Some of those changes included customizing the graphic user interfaces that staff would interact with frequently.

“AVI-SPL has impressed me the most with their ability to make changes on the fly and to perform at a very strategic level that is hard to find in other integrators,” says Hinkle.

Impact: An amazing experience

“The audio system here at First Baptist Orlando is one of the best-sounding systems,” says Sturm. “Any seat, the visitor is going to have an amazing experience.”

First Baptist Orlando won the 2015 Solomon Award from Worship Facilities for Best Renovation of a 2000+ Seat room. In its write-up on that win, the magazine took note of the vastly improved sound system.

“We have the capability to handle any level of production,” says Michael Casey, First Baptist Orlando’s audio engineer. “The whole integration of everything makes the production really simple.”