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Meyer Sound Aids Contemporary Praise in Historic Northern Ireland Churches

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"The sound quality in the church has improved appreciably. We hear a broader range of frequencies amplified throughout, with musical accompaniment from choir, singers, keyboards and guitars now accommodated in one system. Additionally, the size, location and color of the Meyer Sound system make it virtually invisible." 

- Stephen Lowry
Dean of The Cathedral Church at Dromore

Northern Ireland's historic village churches are revered in their communities as monuments to tradition, yet they also host weekly worship services increasingly incorporating 21st century praise music. To avoid the cacophony that usually results when amplified sound is played in the reverberant acoustics of a purely acoustic era, two mid-sized churches — Dromore Cathedral and Portglenone Presbyterian Church — recently installed discreetly placed and precision-tuned Meyer Sound self-powered loudspeaker systems.

The Cathedral Church at Dromore, serving a parish of the Anglican-connected Church of Ireland, was built in stages over several centuries. Major portions of the existing structure date back to 1661. "It was a nightmare, really," explains Robert Andrews of Andrews Audio (Portglenone), who designed and installed both systems. "They rebuilt and added on to (the building) to the point where there is absolutely nothing symmetrical about the church. The seating goes off all different ways, so there was no way to use a main cluster with delays in such a reverberant space. However, by using the MAPP Online (acoustical prediction) software, I was able to design for uniform coverage throughout with a minimum number of small, self-powered cabinets."

Andrews' solution for Dromore's architectural mélange employs five UPM-1P ultra-compact wide coverage loudspeakers, each slender cabinet tucked up alongside a roof beam for minimal visual intrusion. Solid bass reinforcement for the praise band is provided through a pair of UMS-1P ultra-compact subwoofers. Other key components at the system front end include a Soundcraft LX7 24-channel console, a BSS FDS 960 equalizer, eight Sennheiser hard-wired microphones, and three Sennheiser Evolution Series wireless microphones.

"The sound quality in the church has improved appreciably," notes Dean of the Cathedral Stephen Lowry. "We hear a broader range of frequencies amplified throughout, with musical accompaniment from choir, singers, keyboards and guitars now accommodated in one system. Additionally, the size, location and color of the Meyer Sound system make it virtually invisible."

Compared to the Dromore Cathedral, the 1st Portglenone Presbyterian Church is both relatively recent (1872) and architecturally homogenous, although parishioners here were equally adamant about minimizing impact on the aesthetics of their meticulously preserved neo-Gothic building. For coverage of the wide auditorium and overhanging rear balcony, Andrews specified a central flown point-source array consisting of four M1D ultra-compact curvilinear array loudspeakers and one M1D-Sub ultra-compact subwoofer, with under-balcony coverage from two UPM-2P compact narrow coverage loudspeakers. A single UPM-1P cabinet supplies downfill for seating underneath the main array.

According to church member and volunteer audio consultant Trevor Scroggie, installing the new Meyer Sound array "has offered numerous audible benefits, in that we have achieved a remarkable consistency in SPL, a genuine full-range sound with depth and clarity, and near hi-fi quality. The level of gain before feedback is immense, making it a pleasure to engineer, as even the most timid vocal can be set exactly where it should be."

The vastly improved sound quality and coverage have been noted both by worship leaders and those in the pews, notes Scroggie. "The musicians have commented that they feel they are engaging the congregation to a greater extent, and undeniably everybody is much more involved in the praise times. The uniform speech coverage means not a word is lost, anywhere."

Other key elements in the Portglenone church's complete audio overhaul include a 32 channel Soundcraft LX7II, TC Electronics M1 reverb, and a Sennheiser pulpit microphone with ME 35 capsule.

Andrews Audio specializes in the supply and installation of pro audio equipment for live concert performances as well as commercial business, government agencies, houses of worship and educational institutions.

September, 2005

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