Inavation Awards winner: Intelligent design at the Capital City Church International

Intelligent design and ease of use combine at the brand-new Capital City Church International. Reece Webb discovers how Stage Audio Works delivered an Inavation Award winning project

When it comes to a demanding house of worship installation, no expense can be

spared. Stage Audio Works (SAW) was brought on board to deliver a comprehensive AV system that

could adapt to the fluid needs of a modern church, without compromising on quality or ease of use for the church team with a project that took home the 2022 Inavation Award in the House of Worship category.

Located in Pretoria, the South African Christian church, Capital City Church International (3Ci) made the jump from congregations held in houses, school halls and tents, to its own dedicated house of worship.

Built from the ground up with a sturdy and reliable AV system in mind, SAW secured the tender

early on in the project’s lifespan, collaborating with the building’s architect, Ferdi le Grange, and acoustician Bruce Gessner to supply a turnkey design for the church’s new-found needs.

Nathan Ihlenfeldt, technical director, Stage Audio Works, says: “We received a first-hand recommendation from another client we had worked with, who recommended the 3Ci team when the project was still in the planning stage.” SAW was brought on board to supply a comprehensive PA system for the church’s main hall, in addition to a custom house lighting system and background music across the building to support the church’s various spaces.

Key to the day to day running of the church is ease of use and flexibility for a variety of events and activities that take place at the church. SAW worked to ensure that the technology installed within the church made the best use of staff time.

Ihlenfeldt explains: “The design was informed by experience on other projects. We’ve developed a combination of products and systems that work well to allow the church to free up volunteer manpower. That was part of our design; the church trusted us to put the necessary system in place.

SAW brought in an acoustics engineer who devised an acoustic treatment plan for the client. “Ultimately, the church space has to function as a speech transmission medium. If you have a church with bad sound and acoustics, it defeats the point of having a church in the first place. Getting the sound elements right was our top priority,” adds Ihlenfeldt.

Stepping into the church, visitors are greeted by a gigantic main auditorium. With capacity for 2,500 people, this space is home to a sound system which prioritises sound constancy and no audible disparity between each seat in the auditorium.

At the centre of the main auditorium is a d&b PA system. This audio system boasts d&b’s Y8/Y12 loudspeakers arranged in left/right hangs with support from six 10AL outfill arrays on either side of the stage. Additional support is provided through the installation of six d&b 27-A and six d&b 21S subwoofers and 30D amplifiers.

Ihlenfeldt explains: “We were able to get a really even frequency response and impactful SPL over the entire venue. The combination of stacked and flown subwoofers provided a very powerful setup.

“It’s all about providing directivity and the quality of the product, as well as its longevity. This makes sure that [the system] provides an ethical use of the church’s resources, to ensure there is long term value. That’s why we chose the d&b system.”

A Yamaha CL5 console is used for control of the PA system, offering a reliable platform for the church’s everyday use.

Ihlenfeldt adds: “It’s a stable platform that will work for a long time, and it is easy to use for the [church] volunteers. A modern contemporary church like this is really a ‘rock and roll’ venue as well as a lecture theatre at the same time. The building needs to be well controlled enough for loud, amplified music and also have excellent speech intelligibility for the spoken word portions of the service. The acoustician really got that balance, and the room sounds incredible, providing a very neutral canvas for the PA system that we installed.”

Acoustic Worx acoustic panelling is installed in the ceiling to provide additional sound intelligibility in the venue, customised on-site to reduce the reverberation time and improve intelligibility. The end result is a sound environment with an impressive sub 1.2 second reverb.

The main auditorium is also home to a house lighting setup, comprised of a custom Stage Plus RGBW lighting system. Ihlenfeldt explains: “This system is something that we were working on for a long time, to find a cost-effective lighting solution for contemporary church applications. We have these fixtures built for us which are DMX controlled and convection cooled, offering RGB and warm whites. That system is controlled from a QSC Q-SYS system that acts as a central control system for the various venues in the building. The Q-SYS system also acts as the lighting controller.

Ihlenfeldt: “We have Windows touch panels throughout the building in the public spaces and other areas. We also installed a fibre-optic backbone, as we do on other projects, with Ethernet switches that we can provision any service from, tied in with the IP network.

“As the touch panels run on Windows, they can be used for other functions. An HDMI output is included, allowing it to be used as a media player to play videos. This is useful in places such as the children’s church environment while also controlling the system DSP. It’s a bit more flexible than using a manufacturer-specific control interface.”

The main auditorium is also home to a PixelPlus 16x9 3.9mm LED screen, a mechanically simple and lightweight rental product installed by K2 Innovate.

“We find that rental products do have better precision between the cabinets when you align them. This product has been installed in a number of other churches; it fits the bill as an inexpensive product with good image quality and greyscale,” says Ihlenfeldt.

Moving through the venue, the church boasts its own multipurpose space for holding various events, currently equipped with an old PA system from the church’s previous tent-based set up. In time, this system will be replaced with a d&b system when finances allow.

There are also classroom spaces which form part of the Q-SYS system. Most spaces throughout the venue feature touch panels for simplified, local control of the system, eliminating the need to schedule volunteer training to operate the system.

Wall plates are present throughout the facility, offering a mix of line-level and Bluetooth. Ihlenfeldt says: “In the multipurpose spaces across the building, a variety of church and external events are hosted, so the church wanted the ability to pair a smartphone with Bluetooth to play music. We’ve tried to include additional options for functionality outside of the regular use case within the church.”

In other areas of the church, including the church’s meeting spaces and classrooms, a mix of Audac CIRA724 ceiling speakers were installed alongside QSC AD-6CT ceiling speakers and AD-6ST surface speakers.

Ihlenfeldt adds: “This particular project was challenging because the installation took place during the Covid-19 pandemic, so we had some issues around getting kit to site, but aside from Covid-related issues, it was a very smooth installation.

“A large percentage of the work on site involved the house lighting installation. All of the house lights were individually hung on steel wire, so a lot of work had to be done to rappel off the roof to get those in the right place.”

The project proceeded rapidly and was completed within three weeks, with SAW continuing to maintain a solid relationship as the church team considers new upgrades and improvements.

Ihlenfeldt adds: “We’re in constant communication with the client, pretty much on a daily basis, with support and new requirements. In South Africa, we play an integral role in the ongoing maintenance and strategic high-level thinking that these organisations have.”

Eugene Smith, elder, 3Ci, closes: “The experience was brilliant. The quality of the holistic product delivered is simply amazing. The sound, the lighting and the acoustics all combine to create a truly intimate worship experience despite the size of the auditorium – everyone feels involved. People are impacted. When they walk in, they see excellence. It’s far beyond anything we’d dreamt of.”

Kit list


Acousticworks acoustic panels

Attero Tech Bluetooth panels

Audac CIRA724 ceiling speakers

d&b Y8, Y12 and 10AL loudspeakers, 27A-SUB and

215-SUB subwoofers, 30D amplifiers

QSC AD-6CT ceiling speakers, AD-6ST surface speakers and Q-SYS platform


PixelPlus LED screen


Windows PoE touch panels

Yamaha CL5 digital mixing console

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