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Houston Church Reaches New Heights with M1D System
When Houston, Texas' Church in the Heights decided to upgrade their sound system as part of a recent remodel, there were multiple challenges their new loudspeakers would have to meet. The system needed to deliver both power and clarity for multi-generational worship services that blend traditional and contemporary styles, and precise pattern control was crucial to keeping sounds off the highly reflective vaulted ceiling and walls in the 400-seat sanctuary. As if these functional requirements were not sufficiently daunting, the entire system had to be small enough to "vanish into the woodwork" and not disturb the painstakingly restored look of the 1950s-era sanctuary. It was a tall order made short work of by a small complement of Meyer Sound's M1D ultra-compact curvilinear array cabinets.
"The M1D ultra-compact curvilinear array was an obvious choice from the outset," says system designer Thaddeus Leopoulos of HFP Acoustical. "It's very small, and, with the custom paint, it practically disappears overhead. But the critical advantage was the tight vertical coverage pattern, which keeps energy off the ceiling. Also, by using (Meyer Sound) MAPP Online (acoustical prediction software), I was able to adjust the array angles to minimize reflections off of the front balcony face."
Installed in early 2004, the new array of four M1D mid-high cabinets and one M1D-Sub ultra-compact subwoofer is supplemented by a single flown UPJ-1P compact VariO loudspeaker for balcony fill. For front fill, four MM-4 miniature wide range loudspeakers are concealed in the chancel steps.
Despite the main array's diminutive size, Leopoulos had no reservations about specifying M1D loudspeakers, having heard them previously in substantially larger worship venues. "Those four little guys fill that space so nicely," he notes. "We raised a lot of eyebrows when we first fired them up."
Speaking on behalf of the installation contractor, CORE Systems Inc. of Houston, Dan Feux says the self-powered arrays were appreciated for both their small size and internal amplification. "Flying the array went very smoothly. You set the array's splay angles while on the ground, and after that's done, flying such a small array is amazingly quick." As for the self-powering, Feux adds, "This is a small church and they didn't have a lot of empty space for amp racks. It was another way that using the Meyers made our job easier."
In addition to the loudspeakers, the complete turnkey installation included a BSS Soundweb (for routing, delay and EQ); a Soundcraft Series Two 40-channel console; stage monitors; 16 Shure microphones (two wireless); Clear Com intercom; FOH signal processors from dbx, BSS and Lexicon; Tascam source playback units; and all racks, wiring and hardware. According to Feux, the entire system fit comfortably inside the church's planned budget, with a net installed cost "still in five figures with room to spare."
To operate the upgraded system, the church recruited a new head sound operator, Adam Chaney. Though still in high school, Chaney is a four-year veteran behind the board, with experience mixing local bands and school events as well as worship services at four other churches. " The old system was gone before I got here," Chaney admits, "but I'm told by people that this new one is a hundred times better. It's certainly the best church system I've ever worked on."
CORE System's Dan Feux never heard the previous system either, but he finds the new Meyer Sound curvilinear array an ideal match to the mixed congregation. "It supports contemporary worship very well, but it doesn't have the intimidation factor that comes with putting big boxes up front. When higher levels are needed, the M1Ds will deliver – with ease – but they still sound pleasing, never harsh. That's a big plus for multi-generational worship services like they have here."
The church's director of education, Jerri Tasker, confesses that she has no technical expertise whatsoever, but at least she can claim to have heard both systems. "Frankly, the old one was not very good," she candidly admits. "This new one is so much better."
For Dan Feux, the system easily passes final muster from the contractor's point of view. "It's unobtrusive and it sounds great. Those are always two of the most important ingredients in church installation."