St. James Episcopal Church – Case Study

The St. James Episcopal Church, located in Leesburg, Virginia, was having a serious issue with their worship room acoustics, which impacted the quality of the services.  The historic church was built in the early 1800’s, and like most buildings of that era, constructed of primarily wood and stone.  Unfortunately, hard and dense construction materials can bounce sound from area to area, causing a multitude of control problems such as echoing, feedback and a general “muddied” sound.

Hoping to solve these issues, the Saint James Episcopal Church first sought out the help of an acoustic specialist to recommend ways to optimize the sound in their space.  After analyzing the space, the specialist’s solution was to undertake extremely expensive, time-consuming, and “messy” remodeling to re-design the space with acoustically designed materials.  Wanting a second opinion, the church then reached out to the Audio-Video Group (AVG), LLC, in Frederick, MD.

Bad Acoustics Was Not The Problem

After performing a thorough audio evaluation, including a step-by-step inspection of the room acoustics, equipment and setup, AVG determined the problems were not in the building’s acoustics! The sound issues the church was experiencing were actually a result of aging sound system equipment, unable to accommodate the space and the variety of events.  AVG’s superior low-cost solution was to forgo any remodeling and instead, replace the current equipment with a new sound system designed to accommodate the harsh dynamics of the building while addressing the specific needs of multiple services.

Using a Hybrid Audio System

When an organization relies on a single sound system to support different types of events, they will need a configurable system designed to respond to the changing requirements.  Houses of Worship, such as St. James Episcopal Church, often have multiple services with different dynamic sound requirements.  The challenges of supporting a traditional service with a choir, piano, organ and speaker are considerably different than the requirements of a praise band with electric guitars, keyboards and soloists.  Solution; install a hybrid system capable of operating in several modes including “hands-free” for events that tend to be the same again and again, or “manual mode” for dynamic live events such as contemporary services.

Equipment List

St. James’ hybrid system includes a dB Technologies portable monitor speaker, and an Allen and Heath ME-1 personal mixer. The ME-1 personal mixer allows the musician to have complete control of their monitor (on-stage speaker that allows each musician to better hear the other musicians).  They can determine exactly what they want to hear and can eliminate unwanted sounds from the band. The monitor speaker also allows for the sound that overflows off of the stage or altar to be reduced, creating a more enjoyable sound for the congregation and reducing the impact of the building construction.

New Speakers Made a Big Difference

In addition to making changes to accommodate a contemporary band, AVG replaced the old speakers with 12 Martin OmniLine main seating speakers, 2 Community V2-210S speakers, 2 RCF MQ100L choir loft monitor speakers, and 2 RCF MQ 30P altar monitor speakers, giving the church quality audio throughout the entire sanctuary. AVG also provided an Allen and Heath Qu-24 digital mixing console, allowing the church to easily switch between a traditional and contemporary service. To house this equipment, AVG utilized a local company, Carriage Hill, to fabricate a custom equipment desk, which fit in well with the traditional architecture.

New Microphones for Dynamic Performances

To enhance the sound system even more, we added Sennheiser EW-300 series wireless microphones with antenna distribution and remote antennas, 4 Earthworks FW730 microphones (2 permanently installed and two portable), a Biamp TEC-1s control interface, a Biamp Tesira Forte AI audio control processor and a Listen Technologies LS-45-072 assistive listening system for the hearing impaired.  All of these selected for their focus and ability to handle the ambience of the space.

Exciting Results of AVG’s Solution

St. James Episcopal Church’s new high-quality audio system fully supports their traditional worship services, as well as their more complex contemporary services with ease and more importantly, without undergoing expensive and unnecessary renovations. The beautiful historic ambience of the church was left intact, to be enjoyed by parishioners and visitors alike.    If you would like to learn more about this project, or if you are faced with a similar challenge, feel free to contact AVG at 301.668.4448 or contact us on the web at


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