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Community Lutheran Church Chooses a Sound System Worthy of Las Vegas

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"It's funny—even knowing they're a small line array, we were still surprised when we saw the (M1D) boxes. They're tiny! The entire cluster of nine boxes is only about five and a half feet high. Then you turn it on and this huge sound comes out of it. It's amazing. It's like a little Mini-Me model with this great big sound."

- David Starck
Project Engineer, Ford Audio Video Systems

It should come as little surprise that a Lutheran church in the heart of Sin City might lean a bit towards the non-traditional. Las Vegas' Community Lutheran Church recently completed rebuilding their sanctuary, including installation of a sound system that is exceptional not just amongst other houses of worship, but even many secular venues. The system is based around a line array featuring Meyer Sound's M1D ultra-compact curvilinear array loudspeakers and an InovaSON SY48 mixing console.

The 800-seat church is widely known for hosting an eclectic mix of services, offering a little something for almost every mindset. "They have a fairly traditional Lutheran service early Sunday mornings at 8:00," says David Starck, project engineer at Ford Audio Video Systems' Las Vegas offices. "At 9:20 they've got a Celebration-style worship service, with a 70-voice choir, organ, piano and full band. They do a more contemporary Praise and Worship service on Sundays at 10:45, as well as on Saturday evenings. That one's truly an experience, with video, lights, and driving rock music. And then they've got a Sunday evening Country Western Gospel service, led by the Honky Tonk Angels. It's really something for everybody." The church is also known for massive productions on Christmas and Easter, as well as at other times throughout the year.

Most of the ten year-old church was left intact during the renovation. "The sanctuary was fairly old, at least by Vegas standards," quips Starck. "They ripped the side of the building off where the old sanctuary had been and built a new one in its place."

"A lot of the city's entertainers attend the church, and the level of expectation is pretty high," explains Kevin Potts, Ford AV's senior account manager. "The production values there are quite exceptional." Community Lutheran is also very involved in local community events, and the church elders wisely kept an eye toward versatility during the planning phase. "They wanted to be able to utilize the sanctuary as a community building for all sorts of events, and we approached the design to be able to function equally well as a venue, not just a sanctuary."

Adding to the venue's versatility is provision for connecting with the outside world when needed. "There's a loading dock at the back of the stage," Starck reports. "It's very well hidden, thanks to some ingenious doors that the architects designed to be pretty much invisible. The loading dock area is wired for a remote recording truck, with 400 amp switches and conduit, and is ideal for accommodating larger productions or even small concerts."

As with many modern sanctuary designs, the room is far more wide than deep, ranging only around 65 feet from the stage lip to the rear wall, but with a wide arc of around 130 degrees. "This kind of room is becoming more and more common in churches these days, and they present their own unique set of challenges," Starck reflects. "The design makes a lot of sense, in that it gets the congregants closer to the stage and more involved in the action. We've found that it lends itself better to a mono system, which is what we've done here."

Starck specified Meyer Sound M1D-based line arrays for the main sound system. "The size of the room dictated which boxes we chose," he explains, "and we went with the smallest, which was still plenty for this room. The M2Ds would simply have been too much."

Due in part to the room's slightly unconventional shape, the system is comprised of nine M1D cabinets per side. "We had to hang the boxes in a somewhat nontraditional arrangement, since the proscenium opening is very high and the boxes are mounted out of view behind grille cloth," Starck recounts. "Because we hung them so high up, we needed to use a few more boxes to achieve proper vertical coverage." Four M1D-Sub ultra-compact subwoofers are hung on each side to complement the line array. "It wasn't the ideal location for subs, but we needed to keep everything very clean and out of sightlines. In truth, the line arrays are so good on their own that the subs are barely used."

"The Meyer line array was the best fit for a variety of reasons," Starck continues. "It's got a nice wide angle of coverage, and has the power (the church staffers) need for their contemporary services. It's a full-on sound reinforcement system, not just speech reinforcement for the pastor. I've always been a big fan of Meyer stuff – it sounds great to me."

"It's not your typical staid Lutheran church," Potts adds. "They have fun at the services. It's a predominantly younger crowd, especially at the Contemporary services. They're not afraid to play the system loud, and they needed a system that was capable of that."

The InovaSON console, while perhaps somewhat high end for a modest church sound system, turned out to be the ideal fit for Community Lutheran's wide ranging mix of performances and program material. "The InovaSON was a great solution for these guys, because it's so user-friendly," Potts says. "They do such a wide variety of presentations, and there's not much time between the services. The InovaSON can fully recall a setup, so they can be good to go in less than fifteen minutes."

Six Meyer Sound MM-4 miniature wide-range loudspeakers are installed as front fill for the first few rows. Onstage, a pair of UPJ-1P compact VariO loudspeakers are hung for choir monitors. "For the most part they're only used by the singers, since the musicians are all on the Aviom matrix mixing system," Potts explains.

"We've been putting the Aviom in almost all the churches we do, and the musicians can't say enough about it," Starck adds. "The front-of-house guy loves it too, because he doesn't have to mix monitors. Plus, it makes his job easier because it's a nice quiet stage."

Video is provided by Christie projectors: a pair of LX65 units and an LX45, all pointed at Da-Lite projection screens. A Sony DXC390 camera system covers the action on stage.

Ford AV handled the entire system design, from consultation to installation. "It was a fairly straight ahead installation," reports Starck. "We worked very closely with the architects throughout the planning stage, so we had the speaker soffits and grilles measured exactly for the size of the line arrays. The only thing we didn't get (granted) was our request to have the proscenium opening a bit lower – the architects wanted a very high, impressive space, and although we had to compensate with the line arrays a bit, the end result is absolutely stunning, visually. It all came together very nicely."

"The simplicity of the system made for a very easy installation," Potts remarks. "They saved money by not needing any amp racks, and we ran a minimal amount of cabling."

"The Meyer line arrays were great to work with," Starck concludes. "They installed and came together easily. It's funny – even knowing they're a small line array, we were still surprised when we saw the boxes. They're tiny! The entire cluster of nine boxes is only about five and a half feet high. Then you turn it on and this huge sound comes out of it. It's amazing. It's like a little Mini-Me model with this great big sound."

March, 2005

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