By Frank Hammel
FOH Online – Nov. 2012

ATLANTA — The historic 2,600 Tabernacle here upgraded its PA system recently with JBL VTX line arrays. Escondido, CA-based Sound Image, which provided the gear, overcame a variety of acoustic challenges within the venue, constructed as a Baptist church in 1910.

Known informally as “The Tabby,” the Tabernacle has a changed very little from a structural standpoint in its 100-plus years. The Tabernacle features an open, standing-room space on the ground level, with three balconies at different levels.

According to Billy Lindsey, House FOH Engineer at the Tabernacle, the design of the venue creates a visually striking but sonically challenging environment. “Since it was built as a church, the Tabernacle was architecturally designed to amplify preachers, so you can talk from the stage and be heard well into the balconies,” he said. “Take that, add modern music and the stage volumes that some musicians can achieve, and you get a rough idea of what the acoustics are like.”

For the main PA system, Richard Davis of Sound Image and his team installed 24 VTX V25 fullsize line array elements (12 per side), with 12 S28 arrayable subwoofers (six per side), with left-right hangs of three VERTEC VT4886 subcompact line array elements each for out fill. Crown IT12000HD amplifiers power the system, which also features dbx DriveRack 4800 processing. HARMAN HiQnet System Architect was employed for system configuration and monitoring.

The third floor of the Tabernacle also features a VIP lounge called The Room that features a main PA system of four VRX932LA Constant Curvature loudspeakers and two VRX918S subwoofers per side.

Davis noted that he had not heard the VTX system prior to the installation at the Atlanta Tabernacle, and pointed out that it’s a perfect fit for the venue. “When I tuned the PA for the room, I didn’t even have to touch the high end,” he said. “It was pretty much right there from the downbeat.”

“With the VTX system, you don’t have to struggle to get above the resonance of the room,” Lindsey said. “These boxes can also go really low and easily go all the way out to 16K.”

In addition, Lindsey noted the advantages of the Crown IT12000HD amplifiers, which feature the OmniDriveHD DSP engine (co-developed with HARMAN’s BSS), specifically optimized for fast and efficient audio processing. “What’s great is everything is in those amplifiers, they have the architecture in the amps all ready to go, which is amazing,” Lindsey said. “We have four amp racks—two at house left and two at house right—and each one has a rack with eight amps per side and four zones, with a secondary amp rack handling the front fills and subs.”

“If I had to measure the level improvement of VTX over the previous system on a scale of one to 10, I’d go with a 12,” Lindsey concluded. “The high-frequency intelligibility, what you really need to cut through the muck, is incredible. And the turnkey package of VTX with Crown I-TechHD is a hip combination. I can comfortably say the Tabernacle is now the best-sounding room in Atlanta.”