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Meyer Sound System Adapts to Changeable Church
A robust complement of 20 self-powered Meyer Sound loudspeakers anchors the extensive performance technology systems in a "do-it-all" worship and events center at the new Point of Grace Church in West Des Moines, Iowa. The rectangular, 900-seat venue presents some challenging coverage problems, primarily because of its steeply raked seating and lack of a physically defined stage.
"This church is unlike any other application I've ever seen," admits Matt Card of Clark ProMedia, the Alpharetta, Georgia-based design and installation firm for the project. "It keeps some of the feel of the old school gym – which is where they met for years – and effectively combines it with the sonic signature and aesthetics of a top-class performing arts center."
After meeting in a local high school gymnasium for nearly four years prior to building the new facility, the church leadership had grown accustomed to the utility of such a space as well as the group dynamics that go with having musicians and worship leaders down on the floor and the congregation seated above them. Certainly the seats in the new facility are much better – padded with armrests and cupholders – yet the entire seating assembly still retracts against one wall to accommodate "big floor" events ranging from BMX exhibitions to the summer Vacation Bible School for kids.
"Our goal was to take this highly utilitarian space, which intentionally has no raised stage, and make it sound like a performing arts venue," remarks Card. "The Meyer Sound loudspeakers were key in making that happen."
Designed by Clark ProMedia's George Clark, the church's LCR system utilizes seven CQ-2 full-range narrow coverage loudspeakers split in a 2 – 3 – 2 configuration, with a single UPJ-1P compact VariO loudspeaker mounted underneath each cluster for frontfill. Seamless coverage for the upper rear seats is ensured by a delay system comprising six UPM-1P ultra-compact wide coverage loudspeakers. Deep bass is covered by eight groundstacked subwoofers. Clark used Meyer Sound's MAPP Online acoustical prediction program to maintain uniform coverage and high intelligibility in both worship/performance and multi-use room configurations.
"I love the sound of the powered Meyer Sound boxes," says Point of Grace's Executive Pastor Jeff Mullen, who served as liaison for the church during the design process. "We told Matt and George that we wanted to present a live concert experience, with a sound you feel in the chest, and that's what they gave us. The place just rocks."
George Clark designed the acoustical signature of the 900-capacity room to work hand-in-glove with the response of the Meyer Sound system. The overhead Epicore acoustical ceiling, combined with interspersed barrel diffusors and absorptive panels, give some live feel to the room (RT60 of about 1.2 seconds) while maintaining "high intelligibility and a very tight punch for high energy music," says Clark.
Other key components in the main room's audio system include a Soundcraft MH-3 FOH mixing console, 20 channels of Sennheiser Evolution wireless microphones (some with Countryman E6 headsets), Drawmer gates, PreSonus compressors and TC Electronic digital reverb units. An Allen & Heath ML-3000 console feeds the stage monitor system, with most presenters wearing Shure E5 in-ear units.
"The entire system from Clark ProMedia has been outstanding for everything we do," says the church's Jeff Mullen. "There's really no other room in our state like it. All of the guest artists who have come in so far have been amazed at the quality of the Meyer Sound system. Most of the time it's much better than what they are carrying with them, so they can just plug in and go."
Clark ProMedia installed a second audio/video system in the church atrium, an airy space often used for weddings, receptions and other informal activities. The full-range Meyer Sound system employs only two modestly-sized flown UPA-1P cabinets in conjunction with a pair of 650-P high power subwoofers. "For a 6,000-square-foot space, what those two little speakers do is just amazing," says Jeff Mullen. Audio mixing chores in the atrium are handled by a Midas Venice console.
"We couldn't be more thrilled with our Meyer Sound systems," concludes Mullen. "The sound is outstanding across the board, and I particularly notice it when the big band with the expanded horn section gets going in the main room. With the Meyer boxes, when you turn them up, they don't get harsh. The sound just keeps getting bigger and bigger, until it reaches out and grabs hold of you. Whether it's an acoustic soloist or the big, fat guitar sound of our youth services, the sound of the Meyers is outstanding on everything."