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South Africa's Randburg Congregation Utilizes Meyer Sound


"We see this system as a benchmark for what can be done in church sound if you really want to go for the best."

- Hans Rooseboom
Solid Rock Productions

Low-Profile System Packs Power, Saves Space

Early last year, the Randburg Congregation in suburban Johannesburg, South Africa faced a vexing problem. The church had decided to augment worship services with video/multimedia projection, but quickly realized that there was no appropriate place to hang the screen in the 1200-seat auditorium. Mounted up high, it would be shadowed by a speaker cluster that bulged down nearly 1.5 meters below the ceiling. Down low, the screen would be partly obscured from some seats hang and annoyingly close to the heads of praise band members.

The only fully satisfactory solution was installation of a new, ceiling-hugging sound system. But that raised a whole new set of potential difficulties, because the new, more compact system would have to be fully compatible with the present (and future) requirements of the church's high-energy contemporary music ministry.

"Nobody had any regrets about letting go of the old loudspeaker cluster," relates Hans Rooseboom of Solid Rock Productions, who was contracted to install the church's new Meyer Sound self-powered loudspeaker system. "It lacked vocal clarity and there was no real bottom end."

Solid bass was essential to carry the full impact of the church's eight-piece praise band, six praise vocalists and a 20-plus member choir. At the same time, voice intelligibility was crucial to ensure that the spoken word was understood in the far corners by all members of the age-diverse congregation.

The demanding requirements of the Randburg church proved a perfect match for the capabilities of Meyer Sound self-powered systems. The final system, as designed principally by Ian Mansfield of Nixam Audio Video comprises two CQ-2 cabinets aimed along the sides of the wide, shallow room (about 40m x 20m), with a CQ-1 in the center to cover the broad middle section.

"This room is notorious for sucking bass," confesses the church's resident sound engineer, Corbus Beukes, who also consulted on the system design. "We needed lots of bass power, but we could not mount subwoofers either on top of or underneath the stage. Also, due to structural limitations we could recess the ceiling less than a meter to accommodate the new speakers."

This added restriction meant that any subwoofers would have to be tucked into the small ceiling recess as well. Fortunately, the self-powered PSW-2 subwoofers fit neatly in the space and were able to deliver more than enough clearly defined low frequency power.

Hanging the speakers was a tricky proposition, since the severe vertical space limits did not allow "the shelf" rigging solutions. In order to snug the Meyer loudspeakers up against the ceiling, installation consultant Hans Rooseboom devised a custom rigging system employing steel U-track mounted on new ceiling cross beams. Sliding steel plates inside the U-track connect to three moveable arms, each holding one of the CQ cabinets on a chain and turnbuckle suspension. This innovative approach allows both horizontal and vertical adjustments while occupying only a few inches of precious ceiling space.

Although ceiling modifications and rigging point construction proved moderately difficult, the actual installation of the new loudspeakers was accomplished quickly and easily. "This is where the Meyer speakers have a huge advantage," says Corbus Beukes, who participated in the installation. "I literally installed the main cluster sends, including the processing sub-system, in one afternoon."

The new system was completed and commissioned in December of 1999, well in advance of the church's ambitious New Year's service - a multi-media celebration incorporating dance, drama, music and multi-media projection. The response to the new system at the time (and at all services since) has been overwhelmingly enthusiastic.

"The vocals sound great through the CQs," says Beukes. "They come across very warm and natural. Now when I'm mixing, the speakers work with me to help me get the results I want. I never feel like I'm fighting it to cover up inefficiencies, as I have with other systems."

Beukes is equally impressed with the even, controlled dispersion of sound afforded by the new speakers. "The auditorium has a 180-degree semi-circular seating arrangement, which is particularly challenging from both a sound and video point of view. But there's no question that the CQ's give us better gain before feedback because of the accurate dispersion patterns. The overall intelligibility is much higher now."

Other key components in the Randburg system include Shure UHF wireless microphones, a Mackie SR40 mixing console, and Sabine ADF-4000 EQ.

"They had to do some EQ adjustments to take care of potential feedback when the pastor walks out into the auditorium using the radio mic," notes Rooseboom. "But that was about all. The CQ boxes sound so great that they did not want to change the basic character of their sound."

The self-contained nature of the Meyer loudspeakers also made it easier to "zone off" one CQ-2 in order to custom tailor sound characteristics for older church members. A matrix output on the Mackie console feeds the CQ-2 directed at one end of the auditorium, allowing separate control of submix elements and compression threshold. "We can trim the drums and bass in that mix," notes Beukes, "and set the compression threshold much lower. This effectively makes the music softer by about 9dB, but without lowering speech for that section. Older folks hear the preaching full strength but get lower music levels, while the youth section gets more music energy. It's easier to set up your system to do things like this when each loudspeaker has its own separate amplifier and processing."

"We see this system as a benchmark for what can be done in church sound if you really want to go for the best," says Hans Rooseboom. "Quality sound for churches is very much a growing market here. Both myself and Ian Mansfield agree that for those who insist on quality sound, and for those with challenging requirements like Randburg Congregation, Meyer Sound is the preferred option."

June, 2000





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