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Frinton Free Church

We have recently completed a comprehensive audio-visual installation for Frinton Free Church in Essex.

Located right on the shoreline of Frinton-on-Sea, FFC is a vibrant church serving a diverse spectrum of the local community. The church runs multiple services each Sunday to meet the needs of its varied congregation, ranging from the traditional through to the contemporary.

Members of FFC’s audio-visual team first met with our team at the PLASA trade show in London back in October 2013. We were subsequently awarded the installation project which was delivered to coincide with additional rennovation of the building shortly after Easter 2014. SFL’s Patrick Smith, Sales Engineer, worked with Dan Thurston and Mark Betteridge at the church to establish the most appropriate solution in consideration of the church’s applications, requirements and budget. Patrick walks us through the design and installation process below.

Our Approach

Patrick comments: “This project was a great example of our design ethos at work. We wanted to deliver a top specification installation project that made a real, tangible difference to the church congregation, positively impacting on the quality of the corporate worship experience and enabling the church to engage and communicate more effectively during Sunday services and other events hosted in the venue. For us this is always at the core of what we do; focussing not just on what we do and how we do it, but beginning first with a desire to understand why – in this case centering around an appreciation of the church’s congregational activities and the vital role of audio-visual technology in expressing and communicating the church’s underlying values – this is critical to ensuring our design delivers real long-term value in terms that are meaningful and relevant to our customers.”

Audio System Design

“During my initial site visit I discussed various system design options with Dan and Mark at the church. We always aim to educate and engage customers in this process as system design is not a rigid science but a weighing and ordering of priorities in order to deliver a solution that represents the best overall balance between a range of competing factors. Involving the local team is vital to this as their first-hand appreciation of the venue and its applications is invaluable to that process.

Following these discussions I modelled the venue in SoundVision – L-Acoustics’ proprietary 3D modelling software – and further explored potential solutions with the help of Mark Payne, Technical Director. Mark has decades of experience in audio design for literally thousands of installations and events, including in venues such as the Royal Albert Hall, and is recognised across the industry as one of the UK’s finest sound designers; the team approach allows us to tap into that wealth of experience, which is a fantastic resource for projects of all sizes. This is all part of the value added service you buy into when you choose to work with us.
We opted for a distributed system design in sympathy with the building’s architecture and acoustics. The L-Acoustics XTi family were perfect for Frinton Free Church, with a great range of cabinets at different sizes available. The main system uses 12XTi, which in collaboration with the SB18i sub (recessed into the stage to minimise aesthetic intrusion) offer a powerful full range sound. The smaller 8XTi were deployed as downstairs rear and balcony fill. The consistency of voicing between the 12XTi and 8XTi makes these ideally suited for extending near field coverage whilst maintaining tonal balance throughout the venue. Finally the compact new 5XT was deployed as a punchy and descreet fill for the wings and the rear of the balcony, these deliver an unbelievably big sound for such a small box and are great for putting definition back into those tricky, hard to reach areas of a venue without the imposing visual of a larger cabinet – in the past we would have had to make a choice between sound quality and aesthetic, but L-Acoustics have gifted us with a solution that is uncompromising in both respects.”

Mixing Console & Personal Monitor Mixing

“The loudspeaker system was supplemented by an Allen & Heath GLD80 digital mixing console and full set of ME personal monitor mixers, allowing the band to move to in-ear monitors and control their own monitor mixes.

We are dealers for the majority of the major mixing console manufacturers, this is a real advantage to our customers as we can offer and demo a wide variety of products with relative impartiality. Beyond basic utility and functionality (e.g. does the desk have enough channels for the application) we believe that usability and accessibility are the most important factors in console choice for our customers. Our experience is that different customers respond and connect with different brands and models in very different ways, so we like to take a customer led approach in this area rather than imposing our own biases. Frinton was a typical example; they had some products they were already interested in and had previously explored, we added to this a few of our own recommendations and ultimately demonstrated three consoles and two personal monitor mixing solutions from different manufacturers to them before they made their final choice.

The GLD80 is a very popular option at the moment, with an attractive and intuitive touch screen interface that makes it really accessible and quick to get to grips with. This is really important for churches where sound systems are generally operated by volunteers who don’t always have a lot of experience or the time available to learn more complicated interfaces. Add to this Allen & Heath’s ME personal monitoring system and you’ve got an incredibly potent solution at a very competitive price.”

Visuals Solution

On the visuals side we installed a new 3.5m wide electric projector screen powered by a Christie LHD700 projector. Signal switching was acheived using a Kramer VP-438 multi-format presentation switcher/scaler, and distribution was handled using Extron’s new DTP330 HDBaseT DVI over twisted pair transmission systems.


Thank you and your team for all your hard work in delivering this solution. It was quite a daunting responsibility to replace and upgrade so much equipment, and having collaborative expertise from SFL throughout the process was vital. The speaker system is simply stunning, delivering a consistent audible clarity wherever you sit in the main sanctuary. This has been most noticeable in our balcony area where the congregation have commented numerous times on how amazing it is. The GLD80 mixer is a real joy. The desk is really intuitive to work with and has suited the wide range of skills on our team. This, complemented with the ME-1 personal mixers has led to a much more controlled environment that is enjoyable for all. As with any project, we have had minor problems along the way, but often I find that it's not the problem itself but how you deal with it which is most important, and SFL have been excellent in dealing with any issues. It has been a pleasure working with you. We pray that you'll continue to be a blessing to other churches considering similar projects as you have to us.
Mark Betteridge, Church Secretary and part of the PA team