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Meyer Sound Goes Wide for Georgia Church
A system based on 16 Meyer Sound self-powered loudspeakers has successfully overcome two exceptionally broad challenges presented by the new First Baptist Church of Canton, Georgia. The acoustical challenge comes from an unusually wide – relative to depth – main worship center, while the musical challenge stems from a refreshingly wide variety of worship music styles.
The system for the 1,200-seat auditorium was designed and installed by Clark ProMedia, a national performance engineering firm with headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. "The exceptional diversity in worship music is what made Meyer Sound the number one choice," maintains Derick Hill, Clark ProMedia's project manager for the installation. "At Canton, they will do acoustic music, Southern gospel and heavy rock all within the same service. You can't be changing settings constantly on your DSP unit to take care of that. You need a system ready for anything you throw at it."
The eclectic mixture of music at First Baptist Canton is a reflection of the growing diversity of those attending the church, a cross-section of this thriving community located about 20 miles north of Atlanta. Rather than create separate services for different age and ethnic groups, all four of the church's Sunday services offer the same universal, boundary-crossing appeal. When outlining system requirements, the church's minister of music and worship, Mark Courington, was fully aware of the audio challenges involved. "We needed balance and flexibility in our sound system to accommodate the many different textures and sounds in our music," he notes, "although certainly we considered speech intelligibility a major issue as well."
Principal designer of the system was George Clark, founder and chief engineer of Clark ProMedia, with additional design contributions from Derick Hill. To achieve uniform dispersion throughout the wide space, Clark divided the room into three zones. The large center portion is covered by three arrays of CQ-2 narrow coverage main loudspeakers: two each in the outer arrays and three in the center cluster. The outer "wings" of the room are covered by UPA-2P compact narrow coverage loudspeakers (one per side), while three UPM-2P ultra-compact narrow coverage units are suspended under the CQ-2s as downfills for the front rows. Four 650-P high-power subwoofers, lodged in the walls behind acoustical scrim, anchor the low end of the sound.
Spreading sound through the elongated space (about 120 feet wide by 60 feet deep) was complicated by the architecture and interior materials. The room emulates the feel of a rustic mountain lodge, with ample use of stone and glass – primarily in large windows looking out on the surrounding trees and nearby lake. Although a wider room allowed more window space and brought the congregation in closer to the stage, the stretched dimensions made coverage problematic. Nevertheless, says the church's chief technician and FOH mixer, Brian Manous, "Intelligibility is very good all the way around. Clark ProMedia did an amazing job of placing the coverage precisely, hitting the seating areas fully but dropping off very noticeably right at the aisles."
The complete turnkey system from Clark ProMedia also includes an Allen & Heath GL-4000 40-channel console; Ashly Protea DSP drive processing; FOH dynamics and effects units from Presonus and TC Electronic; Shure wireless systems; and microphones from Shure, Audix and Countryman.
According to Derick Hill, commissioning of the new system proceeded smoothly, with the room EQ curves falling "exactly as we had predicted." Although some equalization was needed to compensate for room characteristics, Hill adds, "It's always amazing how wonderful those Meyer boxes sound when you first turn them on, making them an excellent choice in a wide spectrum of scenarios."
Following tweaking and tuning by Clark ProMedia, the new system quickly found a strong admirer in Courington. "It has exceeded all my expectations," he affirms. "Never before have I had the privilege of using a system with as much depth and balance of sound. It sounds great when we run the Allen organ through it for more traditional music, and then it just rocks on contemporary music."
After six months of working with the system, chief tech and FOH mixer Brian Manous believes the system has passed a tough test with flying colors. "I'm picky about loudspeakers," he confesses. "I've listened to a lot of them, and it seems to me that the better-sounding ones are from manufacturers that pay attention to phase matching of the drivers. It's one of those things you can tell by listening, and it's obvious that Meyer Sound has done a very good job in that department."
Other recent Clark ProMedia installations of Meyer Sound systems in the Atlanta metropolitan area include Buckhead Church, the new children's ministry auditorium at North Point Church, Vineyard Christian Fellowship, and Peachtree City United Methodist Church. A Meyer Sound system installation at Davis Islands Baptist Church in Tampa points out Clark ProMedia's expanding scope of operations, with projects completed or in progress in more than 20 states throughout the country.