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M3D Line Array System Helps Spread the Word
Meyer Sound's UK distributor, Autograph Sales, has supplied a twenty-four cabinet M3D Line Array loudspeaker system to Wigwam Acoustics for an unusual and demanding application — to spread the word of God across Africa.
One of Wigwam's clients is Christ for all Nations (CfaN), an international, inter-denominational missionary organization that holds large-scale evangelistic outreaches in third world countries (mainly Africa). Wigwam's association with CfaN, a long-time user of Meyer Sound products, spans a 15-year period, and this is the fourth major Meyer Sound system that Wigwam has designed and supplied for the organization. Just two years ago, CfaN added sixteen MSL-4 Horn-Loaded Long-Throw loudspeakers to its inventory to help cope with crowds of 500,000 plus.
CfaN conducts its meetings, featuring Evangelist Reinhard Bonnke preaching to the masses, on an extremely large scale. Due to the growing attendance at its events, CfaN decided it needed an even more powerful system and expressed an interest in hearing the M3D.
"We consider the message preached to be life-changing for many people, so we are always concerned that it is clearly intelligible over large distances," says CfaN's Derek Murray. "Over the years, we have purchased various Meyer Sound systems and have always appreciated the consistency and quality. As the ministry has grown, so have the sound systems. The first systems we purchased are still running today, some thirteen years later." Murray continues, "The need to look for a larger system was born out of the ever-growing event sizes; we needed to cover larger areas over greater distances. While many problems could be handled by the increased use of delay stacks, we are physically limited by the amount of equipment we can carry from location to location and country to country."
"The largest crowds so far have been greater than 1.5 million people," says Wigwam Acoustics' Managing Director, Mike Spratt. "Derek Murray from CfaN has noticed that people keep coming to the meetings only as long as they are in range of the sound system. So, the brief was to improve the system's range."
A demo was scheduled, and Wigwam's sales engineer, Paul Braddock, handled coordination of the event. When the time came to demonstrate the system for CfaN, Braddock, Spratt and Murray joined Roger Harpum from Meyer Sound's U.K. Distributor, Autograph Sales, and Meyer Sound's Director of European Technical Support, Luke Jenks, early one morning for what was quite possibly the shortest-ever demo of Meyer Sound equipment.
"The initial tests were done at Bowlee playing field, which is near our offices in the north of England," says Spratt. "The site was originally an RAF airfield, so it was easy to set up a demonstration and walk for 800 meters to see how the sound changed from front to back."
The system consisted of twelve M3Ds flown from a fifteen-meter crane. CfaN events typically take place in rugged environments with extreme heat and dust, so to approximate an actual set up situation, Jenks opted to use Meyer Sound's MAPP (Multipurpose Acoustical Prediction Program) Online to predict the system response rather than measuring it onsite. He then employed two CP-10 Complementary Phase Parametric Equalizers and a VX-1 Program Equalizer to align the demonstration system based upon the prediction.
"With a target area of 50 to 800 meters, the overall angle of the array and the vertical splay between the cabinets were crucial," says Jenks. "With MAPP, I was able to use Virtual SIM to see what the free field frequency response would be at various distances." Virtual SIM is a mode of MAPP Online that emulates measuring the modeled system at specified microphone positions using Meyer Sound's SIM System II, providing extremely accurate frequency response predictions. "I noticed that the frequency response stayed similar throughout the coverage area. This meant that a simple equalization curve, based on very broad filters, would give a similar response throughout the coverage area. With the ability to 'preset the filters', MAPP proved to be a fantastic tool in preparing for this demonstration."
A CD recording of the evangelist was used to test the system, and his voice could be heard clearly — even over a mile and a half away. Due to the disturbance this inevitably caused, and out of respect for the local residents, the demonstration was confined to just five minutes. Fortunately, that was all the time it took to convince CfaN that this was the system for them.
"The demo at the airfield gave us the chance to see how effective the system would be in a similar-sized location," says Murray. "I can only say that I was greatly impressed when at 800 meters we still had clear, articulate vocals with plenty of power. The M3D did what Meyer Sound claimed, we had used MAPP to predict and find the optimum angles, and this is what we heard on the field. It was a great success!"
The new loudspeaker system was ordered with a white finish to help combat the heat typically faced in the African environment. CfaN's existing Meyer Sound MSL-3 system is being refurbished as part of the contract, and will be used as delay clusters, while their MSL-4s will be used as side fills.
CfaN's new M3D system will be used for the first time at a meeting in Nigeria. "With the new Meyer Sound line array technology, we will now be able to accommodate crowds of more than four million people," concludes Spratt.
Related content: A video interview with Derek Murray on Meyer Sound reliability [Post date: March 8, 2012]: