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Meyer System Goes Up Fast for Pearland First Baptist Church
The ministry team at Pearland First Baptist Church in Texas recently faced a rather uncomfortable situation. They were nearing completion of their new 2000-seat worship center when, under unfortunate circumstances, plans for the sound system suddenly fell through. Postponement of the opening was not an option: for months the senior pastor had been preaching about how they would "march forth on March fourth."
A desperate phone call went out to Ted Collier of Fisk Technologies' audio/video group in nearby Houston. "They called me immediately after the other company had reneged on the deal," Collier recalls, "but that left us less than six weeks to design and install a large, complex system."
Concerned about the tight deadline, Collier called on Houston-based consultants HFP Acoustical for design assistance. Collier and HFP vice president Omar Longoria reviewed requirements with the church leadership, and then tossed the hot potato into the lap of HFP senior project consultant Bill Schuermann. With the clock ticking away, he quickly opted for a system comprising Meyer Sound self-powered components.
Keeping It Simple
"Because of the tight deadline, it was to our advantage to specify the Meyers," says Schuermann. "Look at it this way: the system as installed has only three power amplifiers in one equipment rack. Two are for the monitors and frontfill, and one 70-volt amp for the hallway speakers. But if we had gone the conventional route, we would have needed three amp racks with maybe two dozen power amps, plus all the outboard signal processors, connectors and cabling. We would have to pull four conductor runs to every device. All of a sudden you have created a huge time element for the project. But with self-powered speakers, that whole equation changes in your favor."
The system as laid out by Schuermann employs a total of eleven Meyer speakers. The front section of the auditorium is covered by five CQ-2s: three in a splayed center cluster and two set out to either side. Five CQ-1s, set on delays 70 feet back from the platform, cover the rear seating areas. Deep bass is provided by a single PSW-6 cardioid subwoofer positioned on a catwalk directly over the stage front.
The oddly shaped room at Pearland presented some unfriendly acoustical characteristics, further reinforcing Schuermann's conviction that a Meyer system would deliver optimum results.
"Pattern control was crucial for the Pearland project, and for that reason I think a lot of credit for the sound in that room should go to John Meyer," maintains Schuermann. "Those CQ boxes, to me, are like a Fresnel lens. If you take a section of seats and aim it, and John says it's fifty degrees, believe me it's fifty, not forty-nine or fifty-one." The precise pattern control enabled Scheurmann to fit his overlap zones precisely in the aisles between adjacent seating sections, ensuring absolutely uniform coverage.
Meyer Sound's revolutionary PSW-6 cardioid subwoofer proved yet another lifesaver in this fast-track project. "I had never flown a subwoofer before," admits Schuermann, "because with a conventional subwoofer you are just asking for trouble. But the design left no other acceptable options, and there was obviously no time to rework the architecture. So the subwoofer went up on the catwalk, right over where the pastor normally delivers his sermon. But with the PSW-6, I guarantee that you can sit right under that rascal with a live lavalier mic and you won't have a problem. The deep bass is just not hitting you."
Fast-track installation of the Pearland system was carried out under the supervision of Fisk Technologies project manager Neal Hosier.
"Basically we crammed three months of installation into less than two weeks," recalls Hosier. "We had the console, racks and most of the wiring in when the speakers arrived on February 27th, the Tuesday before the opening Sunday. But we really had to be up and running by Saturday for dress rehearsal. Fortunately, the Meyers took a lot of worry out of the process."
Hosier and his crew were pleasantly surprised by how quickly they could mount and aim the CQ speakers using the standard yoke-and-clamp system. "We had all ten speakers up in a matter of four hours. We had prepped the catwalk and hung a piece of pipe, but after that it was a piece of cake. If we'd had to do the aircraft cable suspensions, the hanging and aiming would have taken a couple days."
With installation complete, HFP's Bill Schuermann came in to fine-tune the system before, during and after the Saturday rehearsals. The following day's opening would test the limits of the system with a contemporary worship celebration featuring a 65-voice choir, a 35-piece orchestra, and a six-piece praise band fronted by four vocalists. To the relief of all, the system performed flawlessly and quickly earned unstinting praise from the church's new music minister, Mark Christian.
"The system we have here is second to none," says Christian, who had toured extensively with secular artists such as Tony Orlando and Bobby Vinton. "The best compliment I can give is that, on opening day, as a worship leader and as a performer, I did not even have to think about it at all. It was incredible. It made my job so much easier. I just stood there, overwhelmed by the sound. The atmosphere was totally conducive to musicality."
Bill Schuermann, who mixed the first services (there had been no time for training volunteer operators), was equally elated by the results. "When Mark Christian walked up and said, 'That's the best sound system I've ever heard,' I was absolutely flattered. I was one happy guy."
The Right Choice
Following several more visits during the first month of operation, Schuermann was further convinced that he made the right choice in opting for the Meyers. "Because it's a powered system, it is extremely quiet–quiet as a churchmouse, no pun intended. When the pastor pauses, you hear his breathing, not the system's residual noise. It's completely transparent, you don't even realize it's there."
Given the time crunch, HFP's Omar Longoria was understandably relieved when the Pearland system turned out so well. The success of this project has prompted him to put Meyer products in the front rank when specifying future systems. "It's our reputation that's on the line with every job," he states, "so we want to make sure we provide the best possible sound for our clients. That's why there's no hesitation now in recommending Meyer product."
As for the church's new music minister, Mark Christian, when he learned about the plans for the original system after the fact, he was convinced that the last-minute change in plans was, in his words, "a blessing in disguise."
"I arrived long after the original design period, but when I looked at what they were proposing, I was convinced it would have been a nightmare," he insists. "And now the results we're getting on the Meyers are just amazing. There is so much separation in the mix. Everything is distinct, every instrument–highs, mids and lows. It's just incredible, especially for the large room we have. There is literally not a bad seat in the house."