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Atlanta Warehouse-Turned-Church Now a Meyer Sound Showcase
A commercial warehouse is not the type of structure known for pleasing acoustics. Undoubtedly the sound quality inside the empty building acquired by Atlanta's Vineyard Christian Fellowship earlier this year was, well, unholy at best. Nevertheless, through careful acoustical design and a commitment to using only the best audio technology (including a full complement of Meyer Sound self-powered loudspeakers), Vineyard's "sow's ear" warehouse has since been transformed into a "silk purse" auditorium offering outstanding sound quality.
"The new Meyer system is working out tremendously," says Vineyard's associate pastor for worship Joel Balin. "It has been great for both spoken word and music. We've had several touring Christian concert artists in here already, and they have been very impressed by the quality of the loudspeakers."
This happy outcome was not happenstance. Immediately after acquiring the warehouse space—a decision prompted by the favorable location and the need to quickly create more space for the fast-growing congregation—a Vineyard leadership team led by Balin addressed the sound and acoustical issues. For expert consultation, they turned to Atlanta's Clark ProMedia.
"When we first walked in there, the room had a reverb time of between five and six seconds," observes George Clark, founder and chief engineer at the company. "We did some initial modeling of the room and came back with recommendations for wall placement and acoustical treatments. Today, the finished room has an RT of about 1.3 seconds well down into the mid-bass region. That's working out well, because they did not want a completely dead room. They wanted a live feel that would still work for contemporary, rock-oriented sounds."
Once the acoustical design was completed, Balin and the Vineyard team worked with Clark ProMedia on the crucial issue of loudspeaker selection. Here, a divergence of opinions revealed the need for objective group evaluation—also known as a "shootout." Company vice president Matt Card recalls the session: "We all agreed on the general type of main loudspeaker, so we put three equivalent models from different manufacturers into the room. I literally blindfolded the five team members from the church. We played twenty short music segments of all different styles, and then tabulated the votes. Out of the hundred votes cast, over 80 were for the Meyer CQ-2. I think that was fairly compelling data."
With this crucial decision behind him, George Clark went to work on the system configuration. As installed, the Vineyard system comprises left and right clusters each with two CQ-2 Narrow Coverage Main loudspeakers and a center cluster with three CQ-2s. Using a multi-output digital processor, all flown cabinets are on individual outputs, with the two outside clusters assigned to the Left output and the center cluster to the Right for stereo imaging. A single UPM-1P Ultra-Compact Wide Coverage loudspeaker is hung under each cluster for front fill, while deep bass is provided by a quartet of 650-P High-Power subwoofers.
With their urgent need to have a larger worship space quickly, the Vineyard leadership pressed their contractors for an ambitious (and optimistic?) schedule for construction. As the scheduled opening drew near, however, some other trades fell behind. That left Clark ProMedia in a bind.
"We typically ask for twenty elapsed days for an installation of this size," says Matt Card. "On this one, we were down to five. I think it's safe to say that, without the self-powered Meyer boxes and their ease of installation, we would have had no chance of meeting their deadlines. True, our crews worked very hard, but essentially we were able to give back three weeks of time, which is a big, big plus for the Meyer systems."
George Clark concurs. "The glaring thing here was the speed. If we'd had conventional systems, there was no way we could have wired up that many amp channels and done it right. Sure, we could have done it with temporary wiring hanging out, but that looks bad and we'd have to go back and do it again. With the Meyer loudspeakers it was, for lack of a better term, plug and play."
Clark was equally impressed by the immediate, out-of-box performance of the CQ-2s. "There was virtually no EQ time needed. One of our engineers went in there and dipped out just a little at two frequencies and said, 'It's ready. We can do church now.' Of course we went back later to do a comprehensive tuning, but we had to change very little."
Perhaps the most telling evaluation of Vineyard's new system comes from Joel Balin, who, aside from his duties at Vineyard, also is a noted musician, songwriter and recording artist. "I spend a lot of time working in the studio with good near-field monitors," he says, "so I'm used to hearing the whole sound spectrum, clearly and with a sense of immediacy. The Meyer speakers are the only ones I've heard that give you that same characteristic in a large auditorium. You get clarity across the whole spectrum, without the coloration you normally encounter when music comes through a loudspeaker. To me, they are like big studio monitors: that's my favorite thing about our Meyers."