Houses of worship represent one of the most demanding of environments for live sound. Today's media-savvy congregations expect highquality playback of pre-recorded sequences and live events — often with full-sized bands, choirs and even orchestras — that are being held in spacious sanctuaries and meeting places. When Summit Church in Fort Myers, Florida looked to add a brand-new, two-story building for its growing congregation, the design criteria were particularly stringent.
"Audio is everything," considers Todd Milby, Summit Church's mission leader and teaching pastor. "When it comes to our weekend gatherings, the audio/ video/lighting experience needs to be flawless so the message and overall worship experience will have maximum impact. Our five-year-old church attracts about 1,500 weekend attendees made up mainly of young families. Our services feature high-energy, band-driven music in a casual atmosphere." This progressive house of worship opted for a Meyer Sound system as a cornerstone of its AVL experience.
The main sanctuary at Summit Church Fort Meyers, FL "The expectation in live sound today is for post-production quality, and churches are no different," considers Don Allensworth, CEO of the NewGround Group, a consulting firm that specializes in HOW projects, and which developed the design used at Summit Church Fort Myers. "Houses of worship are paying more and more attention to audio, video, and lighting technology."
Allensworth was called in originally as a consultant on the project. "The NewGround Group specializes in master planning, technical AVL design, and minister coaching," he continues. "In essence, we 'create environments.' During a visit to the new site we were asked to review technical requirements and ended up taking over the project. We had a previous relationship with Pro Sound & Video, a Miamibased system integrator," who supplied and installed the equipment. Total budget for the dual-floor AVL package was $410,000.
"The church's main 515-person auditorium on the upper floor features a relatively low 14-foot ceiling," the consultant confides, "which complicated the sound-system design. Once we had decided to develop the 'Meyer Room,' I immediately contacted Brian Dunning from Pro Sound & Video to serve as installation contractor. We worked with Brian to specify a compact but highly flexible configuration that included three Meyer CQ-2 loudspeakers, six Meyer UPM-1P loudspeakers and two Meyer 600-HP subwoofers. The combination worked out very well."
"When we first saw the space assigned for the sanctuary [on the upper floor]," Dunning recalls, "it had a poured slab, with the walls and some partitions erected plus an open ceiling. The second-floor room is fan-shaped to accommodate the large congregation, with a rectangular central area and side wings. Since the church was planning a large-scale concert in that room from a big stage, we knew that sound reflections would pose major challenges. We also used EASE to model the space." Acoustical consultant on the project was Edward Dugger of Edward Dugger+Associates.
All Meyer systems are self-powered. The trio of CQ-2 cabinets is arrayed above the stage area in a left-center-right configuration, augmented by the UPM-1Ps as four front-fills and two delay/down-fill boxes. The 600-HP subwoofers are located beneath the stage, pointing towards the audience. A Symetrix SymNet 8x8 signal processor and 12-channel breakout unit handles distribution of equalized and level-corrected signals to each of the various loudspeaker cabinets.
The compact, high-output CQ-2 features a narrow transmission pattern that enables precisely controlled, high-Q coverage in problematic environments. The unit is flyable and arrayable using standard aircraft pan ring fittings. The cabinet's frequency response of 40 Hz to 18 kHz is said to be uniform over the entire coverage area in both the horizontal and vertical axes, with no side lobes when measured at 6th-octave resolution. The LF section comprises a single 15-inch driver, while the HF section utilizes a 4-inch diaphragm compression driver coupled to a 50 by 40-degree, constant-Q horn. An integral 2-channel class AB/H amplifier offers a burst output of 620 watts per channel, and is equipped with TruPower limiting technology.
UPM-1P ultra-compact/wide-coverage loudspeaker's HF section comprises a 1-inch metal dome tweeter mounted on a symmetrical, constant-directivity horn with a 100-degree beam width. The low/mid section features a pair of 5-inch transducers that work in parallel at lower frequencies, while one rolls off above 500 Hz to prevent destructive interference due to comb filtering effects at mid-band frequencies. The 600-HP compact subwoofer features two high-power 15-inch, high-excursion, back-vented cone drivers with 4-inch voice coils, each rated to handle 1.2 KW; each cone driver is driven by a channel of an integral class AB/H amplifier with complementary MOSFET output stages.
The fully active Meyer loudspeakers streamlined the installation process. "We appreciate self-powered [systems]," Allensworth confides, because they provide "a compact footprint in these environments where we don't have a lot of space to play with. And we also don't have to worry about amps or additional points of failure in the system; there's just no downside to the self-powered design.
"Smaller rooms are often more challenging to design for than larger rooms," Allensworth stresses. "They tend to be much more live, with a lot less fall-off. The Summit Church holds several live concerts a week, but the objective of an advanced church sound system is to bridge the gap seamlessly between pluggedin music and spoken word. This Meyer system allows us to deliver a full rock 'n' roll sound, or the precise clarity of spoken word, with the same cabinets."
The sanctuary features a Yamaha Digital Live-Production console for front of house, with a Yamaha HS80M-CA powered cabinet for local monitoring. The MC7L-48 offers 48 mono mic/line and four stereo inputs plus three mini-YGDAI card slots for a total of 56 mix channels; outputs comprise 16 mix busses, LCR bus, eight matrix channels and eight DCAs. Stage monitoring is handled by a 16-channel Aviom A-16D system that links directly to the Yamaha FOH console via an A-Net interface card. Stage monitors comprise six Tannoy Power V12 wedges, and three Shure 600 Series P6TRE3 wireless IEM units with a PA805WB directional antenna and PA760 antenna combiner. Wired microphones include models from Shure, Countryman and AKG; a pair of Shure ULXPD24/Beta58 dual-wireless handhelds and a Shure ULXP14D dual-wireless body pack also is available. The hearing-impaired system comprises various Listen Tech transmitters plus tunable receivers and earphones.
Pastor Milby delivers the message with Meyer Sound cabinets overhead. "The A-Net interface between the Yamaha and Aviom monitor consoles dramatically reduced the wiring between the stage and FOH," Dunning says, "since we just needed to pull Cat-5 cables that carry the networked digital audio."
The three Meyer CQ-2 cabinets in the second-floor sanctuary are arrayed in an arc that follows the surface of a sphere centered above the stage. "The loudest source was selected as ground zero, which is the drum riser," explains Brad Gallagher, Pro Sound Miami's onsite system engineer. "We prefer to pull down the subwoofers to honor that loudest source, with the three main systems arrayed to maintain the onstage perspective. The left and right cabinets are assigned to replay music and effects, while the center cabinet carries vocal reinforcement. Four of the six UPM-1P loudspeakers cover the corners of the main rectangular area, with the remaining pair are on delays to cover the wide, outer wings of the audience area. The 600-HP subwoofers offer more than enough power to fill in the lower frequencies. The PA system is run in mono, which is a better choice for larger auditoriums, so that all members of the congregation hear everything clearly."
A variety of analysis and prediction software was utilized during the project. "We used both EASE and Meyer's MAPP [online acoustical prediction] applications to determine coverage patterns through the two spaces," Gallagher says. "MAPP is two-, rather than three-, dimensional, but offers much more acute results [than] competitive software. EASE offers 1-degree resolution. We developed a single-plane iteration that was highly accurate, with results that accurately match the final results in the completed auditoria."
The first-floor auditorium serves as a multifunction room. It features a left-center-right array of flown Tannoy Power V15 self-powered, two-way cabinets flown above the stage area, augmented by a pair of Tannoy VS18DR self-powered subwoofers and four EAW JF80 front-fill units powered by QSC amplifiers. The V15 cabinet features a single 15-inch point source, constant-directivity PowerDual drive unit that offers a wide dispersion coverage pattern and high power handling. The VS18DR direct-radiating subwoofer is designed to partner V Series full-range speakers with an extended frequency response to below 30 Hz, while the JF80 ultra-compact passive two-way cabinet features a pair of 6.5-inch LF drives and a single 1-inch HF driver on a 100 by 80-degree waveguide. Once again, a Symetrix Symnet 8x8 loudspeaker processor provides signal distribution. Stage monitoring also is handled by an identical Axiom A-16D system to the second-floor sanctuary, with four Tannoy Power V8 floor wedges. A 40-input Yamaha MC7L-32 Live-Production console handles FOH duties.
"The first-floor room is rather shallow," Dunning recalls, "with a low 9-foot ceiling height. We faced a number of line-of-sight issues for the PA system and video projectors. We opted for an expanded LCR cluster of Tannoy trapezoidal enclosures with dual 15-inch drivers, augmented by the EAW front fills. There was a lot of acoustic treatment on the side and rear walls that reduced sound reflections and controlled the sound coverage. But the shallow dimensions and low ceilings meant that the aiming of the Tannoy array was critical. We ended up installing a suspended acoustic-tile ceiling, with 2 by 2-foot sheet-rock panels on top of the tiles. That configuration dramatically reduced LF transmission and cut down the HF bounce.
"The Tannoy V12 is a very efficient, great-sounding box. Being self-powered, they offer good value and are hard to damage! We fired them towards the back wall, using an EASE model to refine the coverage patterns."
Summarizing his experience on the project, Dunning cites three major challenges: "First, we came in rather late, with a lot of the infrastructure already sorted out. We needed to work with the existing conduits; we couldn't dig holes or troughs into the slab that had already been poured in the second-floor sanctuary, for example. Secondly, the first-floor room's low ceiling meant that we had to pay particular attention to placement of loudspeaker cabinets and projectors to take into account important sight lines, since some areas would be optically and sonically shadowed. Thirdly, we needed to anticipate the skill levels of the church's operators by setting up the system using the SymNet processors and then lock out the DSP settings. Once analyzed and aligned, we felt that we should offer no user adjustments. Also, the Yamaha consoles selected are very easy to learn; pretty much anybody can jump on FOH and run the systems."
"The Summit Church in Fort Myers is a unique house of worship," Dunning offers. "Being a quick-growth church we knew that time was of the essence. Don Allensworth is an experienced house-of-worship consultant who led a team of experienced professionals, making it an easy installation for the pastor and executive committee."
"Putting in the Meyer system has been tremendous," pastor Milby concludes. "It's such a live, clean sound, with no distortion and power to spare. High-quality sound is very important to our ministry. The project was a positive experience; the design and installation of both rooms was fantastic. Pro Sound couldn't have provided us with better systems. We plan to use Meyer and Pro Sound with every future project at Summit Church."
Mel Lambert is principal of Media&Marketing, a Los Angeles-based consulting service for the pro audio industry.mel.lambert@MEDIAandMARKETING.com