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Church Overhaul Includes Meyer Sound System
Scripture admonishes us not to put new wine in old bottles, but fortunately says nothing about putting a new worship auditorium inside an older church building. The Family Worship Center in Lakeland, Fla., has done just that, and the results so far – in particular the performance of the self-powered Meyer Sound system – have won enthusiastic approval.
"Everybody here has been very happy with the Meyer system," says Eric Thomas, audio engineer for the church. "They are just amazed at how much better it sounds than the old one."
The Family Worship Center purchased the property from Lakeland First Assembly of God in 1987 and, at the time, the auditorium seated only 1100. Last year the structure was gutted and rebuilt, bringing seating capacity up to 1600, replacing the pews with theater seats, rebuilding the stage and adding new video projection facilities. Initially, the plan was to merely augment the existing 15-year-old audio system, but because of the system's age and marginal performance, Thomas urged the church leadership to investigate an all-new system.
As a certified SIM engineer, Thomas was familiar with Meyer Sound products. In order to effectively convey the benefits to others at the church, he arranged for an on-site demonstration. Meyer Sound southeastern sales manager Rick Coleman and Kelly Prince of Pro Sound's Orlando office brought in four MSL-4 Horn-Loaded Long-Throw loudspeakers along with several UPM-1P Ultra-Compact Wide Coverage loudspeakers, the primary components a the new system proposal.
"We did A-B comparisons with what we already had in there, and they were just blown away," Thomas recalls. "The UPMs in particular were very impressive, because we had been having problems with our old underbalcony units. Everybody was amazed by how much great sound came out of that little box."
When the proposal was approved, Prince completed the final design, with the assistance of CAD drawings by Pro Sound's Craig Compton. Meyer Sound's design services department also assisted in modeling the system using the MAPP Online acoustical prediction program. According to Prince, the clarity and accuracy of the MAPP Online plots also helped move the church leadership toward the Meyer Sound system.
"Another vendor proposing an alternate system used modeling as well," he explains, "but the church leaders were far more impressed by the way MAPP Online presented itself. It was so much easier for them to understand exactly what was going on."
The system as installed by Pro Sound comprises left and right clusters of MSL-4s, covering the main balcony areas and main floor sides, with a center cluster of two DF-4 Dedicated Downfill loudspeakers for the middle of the main floor. A pair of UPA-1P Compact Wide Coverage loudspeakers covers the extreme sides of the horseshoe-shaped balcony, and two USW-1P Compact subwoofers handle the deep bass. Underbalcony coverage is provided by nine UPM-1Ps, with two additional UPM-1Ps providing front fill. The flown loudspeakers took advantage of Meyer Sound's custom color matching, and the MSL-4s and DF-4s were easily mounted using QuickFly rigging.
Following calibration by Prince using the SIM System II FFT Analyzer, with Thomas assisting, the system was inaugurated on the last Sunday before Christmas.
Improvements in speech and music quality won quick praise from the congregation.
"One of our primary goals was to improve speech intelligibility," stresses Thomas. "But we also have a strong emphasis on contemporary music and we often hit peaks up around 110 dB. After that, we come down to a quiet speaking level with our pastor on a wireless lav. Not many systems lend themselves well to that transition, but it turned into a big selling point in favor of the Meyers."
Thomas further acknowledges that, as self-powered systems, the Meyer Sound loudspeakers had an edge in allowing a clean and straightforward installation. Plus, he notes, the self-powered line is quickly gaining favor among other churches in the area – a trend recognized by the church leadership. "It's a name that a lot of churches seem to be going with recently, and I think that also helped tilt the decision toward a Meyer system."