A former Peugeot dealership in Drachten, the Netherlands, has a lively new identity these days, reincarnated as a Baptist Church hall specially equipped for music, mime, and drama as integral parts of regular worship.
“There are two main influences in Holland,” notes Martin de Jong, account manager at Hof Audio, which designed and installed a new sound, light, and video system for the Baptist Church in Drachten as part of the renovation. “One is the traditional church, where they use the organ, and then there is a more evangelical movement. We try to be a modern community and to use all of the tools.”
Hof Audio's own long association with the church and the Netherlands' Christian community helped the company win the job, de Jong says. “We come from a Christian background, and we've grown in this market. We've done a lot of open-air Christian festivals and other work for national church organizations.”
The church in Drachten, located about 20 miles west of Gröningen, is growing rapidly and expects to triple in size within three years, de Jong says. The renovated facility, which seats about 1,200, will become a youth hall in the future, when a new worship center is built to accommodate growth.
Meanwhile, the utilitarian 20m × 40m (66' × 132') space had to be outfitted for multimedia worship. The new design had to both improve acoustics and help minimize the “garage” environment left over from the building's days as a…garage.
In addition to sermons from the pulpit, the new sound system reproduces singing and such instruments as piano, drums, guitar, flute, violins, and synthesizers. Moving curtains allow musicians to come and go without distracting the congregation.
For the sound component, Hof settled on a system built around two Meyer UPA-1P speakers at the front of the church, suspended and angled to provide clear sound to the entire hall. A delay system with two more UPA-1Ps is placed about 11m (approximately 36') forward from the altar area, and two UPM-1P speakers are used as an under-balcony system. Low-frequency reinforcement is supplemented by two USW-1P powered subwoofers, placed left and right of the stage. The entire system is controlled by an XTA DP-226 speaker management system, which optimizes line signals and provides equalization and time alignment delay.
Hof installed an Allen & Heath front-of-house console with 32 inputs, as well as a stagebox with transformer split that routes signals both to the console and to an editing room, where the church produces both audio and video programs from its services and other events.
Music isn't the only added component of worship at the Drachten Baptist Church. Dramatic sketches are often used to “act out” the themes of a sermon, and performances by dancers and mimes are also common. Hof supported these elements with a new lighting system.
“The lights were a budget question,” says de Jong. “We invited them to come to our location and we had a real shootout,” comparing different brands and models of fresnels before settling on Strand Castor 2kW fixtures. These fixtures offer “better coloration without using a gel, and much more light output.”
The lighting configuration includes a total of 12 fixtures, divided among front and back trusses, with some lights to the left and right to provide special effects for dramatic performances.
Video also figures in services and performances at the church, not only projecting scriptural readings and hymn texts but also unobtrusively alerting parents when their presence is desired in the church's babysitting area. The 11' × 14' screen is served by a new Mitsubishi LVP-X400U data and video projector, delivering 3,000 ANSI lumens in native XGA (1,024 × 768) resolution.
The new system got its maiden voyage just before Christmas and contributed significantly to many special events planned around the holiday, de Jong adds. “The customer told us that they were very impressed by the system,” he says. “The vocal intelligibility is very good and natural, and this system is a big step forward compared to the speaker system used in their old building.”