Founded way back in 1865, as the First Baptist Church of Watertown, Wildwood Church predates the city it resides in East Moline, Illinois by nearly forty years. Its deep history includes several different names and buildings, but that all settled down by 1980, when Wildwood moved into its current 600-seat sanctuary. Although not original to the building, the church's most recent sound system was nevertheless very old and regularly imperiled services with the threat of feedback, complaints of intelligibility, and uneven coverage (the front rows got their "hair ripped off" while the back rows asked for more volume!).
That's all changed with the installation of Danley Sound Labs loudspeakers and subwoofers, spurred by the realization that Danley was responsible for the incredible sound quality at nearby Kinnick Stadium and confirmed by a direct A/B comparison of the old system with Danley boxes.
"I don't know that the old loudspeakers were ever a right fit for our sanctuary, but time certainly didn't help the situation," explained Andrew Robinson, worship pastor. "We had trouble getting consistent sound from one event to the next and from one seat to the next." Ryan Winstead, sales & design consultant with Advanced Audio & Lighting Systems, of Peoria, Illinois, added, "Their existing front-loaded boxes flooded the front of the room with too much energy, which caused their feedback problems and the radically uneven coverage from front to back. As the church moved in the direction of more contemporary services that called for greater volume, things got harsh and the system's weaknesses became more apparent." Advanced Audio & Lighting Systems had previously installed a new audio console and a new projector for Wildwood Church.
It so happens that Robinson had a chance encounter with Danley Sound Labs when he took in a University of Iowa Hawkeyes game at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City. "I went to the game with another member of our worship team, and I had a chance to sit in two different spots during the game," he recalled. "It sounded amazing, and when I moved to the other side of the stadium, I texted my buddy to marvel at the sound quality. He said he was in the process of sending me the same text! I did some research and learned that Kinnick had a new Danley system. That piqued my interest, and when Ryan started talking about a Danley solution for Wildwood, he had my full attention!"
"I knew that Wildwood wanted to gracefully walk the line between a more traditional service and a more contemporary service, but the harshness of their old system made that hard to do," said Winstead. "In contrast, the voicing of Danley boxes allow them to hit high SPLs without distorting, which not only maintains intelligibility, but delivers loud, impactful sound that doesn't hurt. In addition, Danley boxes are extremely efficient and lightweight for their output, which was important given the load constraints on the only beam that could be used for mounting the system. Also critical is a superior pattern control, which would improve sound quality by keeping energy off the walls and eliminate their feedback problems with excellent rear rejection."
Although Robinson was convinced Danley was the right solution by his experience at Kinnick Stadium and the EASE models submitted by Advanced Audio & Lighting Systems and other integrators, other members of the church were judiciously skeptical. Winstead arranged for a direct A/B comparison of Danley boxes versus Wildwood's existing system with the help of regional Danley representative Ludwig Marketing. "We put a Danley SH-69 on a Genie lift for members of Wildwood and representatives from a few other area churches," said Winstead. "After letting the Danley system sink in for a few minutes, we played the same material through their existing system. Everyone chuckled because it was so obviously deficient. The Danley system was hi-fi and detailed; the existing system was distorted and indistinct."
Now installed, the system hangs from a central beam that spans the room above the steps to the platform. A Danley SH-69 oriented to provide 90deg horizontal and 60deg vertical covers most of the room, with a Danley SM-60 on either side to provide out-fills. Winstead cleverly arranged them such that the coverage seams though almost imperceptible fall on aisles. A Danley TH-118 flown above the central SH-69 disappears visually but fills the room with deep, honest bass. A Powersoft X4 powers the system with over 20,000 watts.
"The system is even from front to back, we have no feedback issues, and the sound quality is fantastic," said Robinson. "One of our parishioners had previously borrowed my Shure personal monitor so that he could understand the services despite his significant hearing loss. It's a testament to the intelligibility of the system that he doesn't need to use it anymore!" Wildwood Church is excited for its upcoming Christmas performance and the opportunity to bring touring Christian rock bands to their "new venue"!