Calvary Baptist Church Upgrade


Calvary Baptist Church was founded in New York City in 1847 as an independent Baptist church, and has been in its current location on Manhattan’s West 57th Street since 1931. Over the years, the church has undergone a series of renovations, and most recently completed a major upgrade to its audio system with the installation of HARMAN’s JBL VRX Series Constant Curvature, AE Series Compact and CBT loudspeakers.

Professional audio/video services company, Panavid, Inc. of Pompton Plains, New Jersey, was contracted to complete the rigging and speaker installation. The Calvary Baptist Church system is based around left/right arrays of five JBL VRX932LAP powered loudspeakers per side, and two VRX918S 18-inch subwoofers per side. Complementing the two main arrays are two JBL AC28/95 compact loudspeakers for front fill and eight JBL AC15 ultra-compact loudspeakers placed under the balcony. There are also two JBL CBT 100LA column speakers in the choir area. Walter Loehr of Panavid did the system tuning and configuration.

Calvary Baptist Church reached the point where they needed to have professional audio for their sermons and all their events, up to and including concerts. The church has an exceptional choir and music ministry, led by Colin Fowler, and music is an integral part of the services.

The system was very much designed as a collaborative effort after numerous conversations between Panavid, Michael Toombs and Miq Munoz of the Calvary Baptist Church, and Jim Peters of rep firm Sigmet Corporation. Panavid recommended using JBL VRX932LAP loudspeakers with matching VRX918S subwoofers because they are some of the best sounding speakers available; we’ve been amazed at their sound quality.

Calvary Baptist Audio Engineer, Miq Munoz, said,

“The new JBL system punches right through to the back of the room. I used to describe our sanctuary as ‘muddy.’ Not anymore. And low frequency support from the subwoofers is powerful and tight.”

“We also needed speakers that were as unobtrusive as possible, while being able to deliver the large-scale sound quality we needed, and the form factors of the VRX932LAP and VRX918S allow us to do that,” Munoz added. “We used the AC28/95 and AC15 speakers where space considerations precluded the use of larger speakers. We also chose AKG HM1000 hanging microphones to mic the choir with exceptional results.”

Before the system was even tweaked, we were excited about the quality of the sound the JBL’s were providing to the listening space. After Walter Loehr used his software, mics, and ears to fine-tune the system to the church sanctuary, the sound became even more outstanding. The church is very happy with their decision to install this system and we are thrilled to see their excitement.


New York City’s Calvary Baptist Church went from traditional to high-tech with a complete audio/video system designed to bring worship services closer to everyone in the congregation.  Thanks to digital cameras and big-screen displays, as well as a variety of switching equipment, everything from the preacher to the choir can be seen and heard from different angles throughout the church.   The building itself can also be used for other events and presentations.

Created by Panavid, a local audio/video installation professional, the system uses dramatic video walls to surround the congregation on three sides. “The church wanted a cutting-edge system that would add video to an elaborate sound system,” said the client relations manager for Panavid.  “We designed something that could add a whole new dimension to their services.”

Led by Panavid’s President, Rob Loehr, with the help of a team of experts from Kramer Electronics, the system was designed for maximum efficiency and ease-of-use. Four 55-inch LED monitors in a 2 x 2 pattern form each video wall. The walls display video from three HD pan, tilt, zoom cameras placed around the church, a remote camera, computer-based graphics from a desk top and laptop, and a DVD player. Panavid created break-out rooms in the choir loft, a green room, an overflow area and the front lobby that would also show selected content on high resolution monitors.  In addition, monitors display content in the nursery, Sunday School and Fellowship offices and at the organists’ area.

The video content is managed by a variety of Kramer Electronics switching and scaling products.  “The Kramer switchers do a great job of managing all of the connectivity for this system.”

According to Michael Toombs, executive administrator at the church,

“Calvary Baptist Church is delighted with both the equipment and the excellent service received in this renovation. The quality of our worship has been greatly enhanced.”

The primary switching unit is the Kramer VP-747 ProScale™ In-CTRL™ dual scaler seamless switcher with the VP-747T remote control console.  The unit’s dual scalers allow video preview prior to sending the signal to the audience displays.  Eight inputs accommodate various resolutions, and the scaler provides true seamless transitions between sources.   The system also incorporates eight Kramer VM-2Hxl 1:2 HDMI Distribution Amplifiers and a Kramer VS-88H matrix switcher, which routes the sources to selected displays or all of the displays simultaneously.

For long-distance signal transmission, four Kramer Electronics VM-114H4C combination switcher and distribution amplifiers allow selectable input signals of either HDMI or CAT5 over DGKat™ twisted pair cabling.   Several PT-571 and PT-572+ DGKat twisted pair transmitters and receivers and a TP-50 twisted pair receiver and TP-121EDID twisted pair transmitter for computer graphics video signals are used throughout the system.

 Two Kramer HDMI ProScale™ Digital Scalers – the VM-92 and the VP-434 — scale the incoming signals to a computer graphics resolution and output an HDMI signal.  Panavid also used Kramer Electronics racks and rack adapters to house the switching and scaling products.

The system is run by volunteers from the church, who quickly caught on to the technology.  “The church has never had technology like this before, and Kramer helped us to make it seamless for them.”