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Meyer System Does Double Duty for Georgia Church
The change that takes place every Sunday morning at Peachtree City United Methodist Church is not quite as dramatic as Clark Kent stepping into a phone booth and then, seconds later, leaping into the air as Superman. But there are similarities.
"For the early service the church needs a reverberant room to support traditional liturgical worship with organ and choir," says Matt Card, vice president of marketing at Clark ProMedia in nearby Atlanta. "After that's done, only a few minutes later they need a contemporary pop/rock room, one that supports guitar, bass, drums, some brass — all amplified. The room and the loudspeaker system have to support both equally well, which is one reason why we recommended Meyer Sound loudspeakers for their new worship center."
The Peachtree Methodist congregation had experienced a strong growth spurt in the years prior to building a new facility, but increased membership spanned all generations and all preferences for worship styles. Acutely aware of the importance of music in worship, no matter the style, the building committee wisely decided to deal directly with specialists in sound and acoustics, rather than delegating the task to a general or electrical contractor. After interviewing three prospective firms, the church selected Clark ProMedia.
George Clark, the company's vice president of engineering, assumed overall responsibility for designing both the audio and video systems for the new 1100-capacity worship space. To deal with the divergent music styles, he knew he would have to strike a delicate balance, designing the acoustics and the sound system to fit hand-in-glove. "My goal was to keep the low end fairly tight, but still have a higher reverb time from about 4 kHz on up to give that nice natural reverb tail that works so well for congregational singing," says Clark. "But by deadening the room down much more below 500 Hz, we could keep the bass and drums tight for the contemporary service."
To smooth high frequencies at a reasonable cost, Clark specified plantation shutters on the side wall windows that could be set at different angles. To deaden "room boom," he depended on a drop ceiling with acoustical tile and thicker back wall treatments to absorb slap. The front chancel area remains quite live but, according to Clark, "We can get away with more high-frequency reverb because most of the musicians in the praise group use in-ear monitors." For a main loudspeaker system to complement the acoustics, Clark chose Meyer Sound CQ-2 full-range narrow-coverage cabinets flown in a one-two-one arrangement. A single UPM-2P hung under each cluster provides downfill for the front rows. Bottom end punch is provided by four 650-P high-power subwoofers, with a pair on either side behind latticed screens in what appear to be organ chambers. But in this church, even the traditional organ music is heard through the main Meyer Sound system. "Usually the big, traditional church organs run through their own dedicated system," observes Matt Card, "and that was the original idea here. But the church committee liked the sonic signature of the CQ-2s so much that they decided it would be fine to use them for the organ as well. That saved some money, and it also allows the sound system operator to achieve a better overall balance of sound in the room."
Immediately after the system was installed, and prior to final tuning by George Clark, the church's associate pastor and director of worship, Sean Robinson, came in for a quick audition. "It was really nothing short of astonishing," he says. "It was far beyond anything we'd ever had before in terms of capabilities and sheer audio quality."
As for George Clark, he was relieved to find his theories were holding out in practice. "This was one of those cases where all the pieces fell together to make it work. I've always felt that, for contemporary worship rooms, it's important to have the sound well behaved in the lows and low-mids. The CQs and 650-Ps do just that. They complement each other perfectly. It turned out to be a very musical sounding system." For his part, the church's Sean Robinson was relieved to find that the new system was able to handle the leap between contrasting worship styles with effortless ease. "We know we're walking a tightrope between extremes here, and we're very happy with what we've got. Clark ProMedia has taken us light years beyond where we had been before. The system they provided for us has excelled in every respect."