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Meyer Unifies Church's Split Acoustics
Sometimes small structures can create big acoustical headaches. One case in point is the modestly sized Davis Islands Baptist Church in Tampa, Florida, where expansion of the sanctuary left the worship space split into three separate — and uniquely problematic — acoustical zones. Fortunately, the church's troublesome 'split personality' was overcome by judicious application of self-powered loudspeaker systems from Meyer Sound.
Built in the 1960s, the church building is described by associate pastor Todd Roberts as an "upside down Noah's ark." The original sanctuary space was confined to the high-ceilinged A-frame part of the structure, with seating for just over 200. But as the congregation outgrew the room, the worship space was augmented by removing the side walls to access adjoining wings to either side—each about 20 feet deep with 8 foot ceilings—that were formerly used as classrooms. The result was three discrete spaces with radically different acoustical characteristics, though all shared one common trait: poor sound. To remedy the situation, the church called on Atlanta-based Clark ProMedia to propose solutions.
"They had an antiquated center cluster and two remote speakers for the sides that weren't even delayed," says Clark Pro Media vice president Matt Card. "They were having issues with visitors not coming back because what they heard was unintelligible, particularly when sitting in the side seating areas. Also, the old system simply didn't have the power and clarity they needed for a contemporary praise band and singers."
The final complication again boiled down to a space issue. "There was simply no room for all the amplifiers we would need to do the job right," says George Clark, founder and chief system designer at Clark ProMedia. "We might have found space to squeeze in amps for the main room system, but finding space to house amp racks for the side wing systems would have been a nightmare."
To resolve all the thorny issues, Clark specified a Meyer Sound system comprising a pair of CQ-2 Narrow Coverage Main loudspeakers, a pair of 650-P High-Power subwoofers and twelve UPM-1P Ultra-Compact Wide Coverage loudspeakers. The flown CQ-2s direct high-Q coverage to the central space, carrying clear sound through to the rear pews without exciting the hardwood ceilings. Two UPM-1Ps are hung under the CQ-2s for front fill, while the remaining ten cabinets are directed into the expansion seating areas on either side. Using a digital processor with multiple outputs, the system is configured for stereo operation, with the side UPM-1Ps receiving alternating left and right feeds.
"For such a small footprint speaker, the UPM-1P produces amazing results," says Matt Card. "It's a perfect solution for tight, confined spaces like this. It gives us the power density we need for contemporary music, but without resorting to large, bulky boxes."
After enduring several years of audio frustrations in his "upside-down ark," the church's Todd Roberts is elated with the smooth-sailing performance of the Meyer Sound loudspeakers. "We can't say enough great things about them," he says. "We have really noticed a huge difference in the way everything sounds."
Roberts admits that tearing down church walls to create more space was a far-from-ideal solution. (Hard pressed to accommodate more worshippers, the church has planned a new building but has been stymied in efforts to find suitable open land in the community of islands in Tampa Bay.) After-the-fact architecture usually involves some compromises, but at least with the new Meyer Sound system in place, the church can offer consistent sound quality that brings everybody together in the same acoustical environment.
"We gave Clark ProMedia a difficult job, but somehow they made it work," testifies Roberts. "Our new Meyer system is perfect for both voice and music; Clark made the sound come out smooth and even no matter where you are sitting."