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Meyer Sound MICA Meets High Expectations at North Point's Buckhead Church
Buckhead Church is the newest of three campuses in the metro Atlanta area built by fast-growing North Point Ministries. The new multi-story church structure is part of a mixed commercial and high-rise residential development in Atlanta's Buckhead district. Starting a successful new ministry in Buckhead requires high-quality programming content and technical presentation that will satisfy the expectations of the neighborhood's worshippers. In Buckhead Church's 3,000-seat sanctuary, the high standards were met by a Meyer Sound system built around 33 self-powered MICA compact high-power curvilinear array loudspeakers.
The Meyer Sound system was amongst several audio and video systems provided to the church by Clark ProMedia of nearby Alpharetta, Ga. According to company founder and chief engineer, George Clark, the selection of MICA loudspeakers stemmed from the success of Clark ProMedia's installation of a M'elodie ultracompact high-power curvilinear array loudspeaker system in the smaller, 2,100-seat auditorium at North Point's Browns Bridge Community Church campus.
"We were extremely happy with the results at Browns Bridge, but we knew Buckhead needed more punch because of the size of the room," says Clark. "The Buckhead auditorium has nearly double the volume (of Browns Bridge), and we felt like MICA's dual 10-inch drivers would carry more of the low-mid energy throughout the room and still keep the arrays under trim height limits."
In developing his design, Clark worked in close consultation with Micah Stevens, director of production for North Point Ministries. The two pursued several interrelated design goals, including a consistent sonic signature at the satellite campuses, very high spoken word intelligibility, and the ability to handle a musical program ranging from delicate acoustic pieces to hard-driving rock.
"From my experience at Browns Bridge, and from using Meyer rental systems for a number of special events, Meyer's MILO family loudspeakers are unique in that they can do it all," says Stevens. "I might find another system that would give me a good rock'n'roll sound, but it wouldn't have the clarity I want for the teaching part of the service. MICA is a box that can go from spoken word to full-out rock and do both very well."
Intelligibility is crucial at Buckhead because a key element in each worship is the "virtual live" teaching segment from North Point's founding pastor, Andy Stanley. Usually recorded at North Point's main campus in Alpharetta, Stanley's sermon is reproduced in high-definition video using a single lockdown camera on the center screen (slightly larger than life size) with IMAG (image magnification) shots on the two side screens.
"Vocal clarity is essential to making it seem like Andy is there in the room," says Stevens. "And at both satellite campuses, I've noticed that there's a clarity that Meyer brings to the table that the others just don't have. The smoothness throughout the vocal range is exceptional."
The complete system at Buckhead, as configured by Clark using MAPP Online Pro acoustical prediction software, employs three arrays of 11 MICA cabinets each, in a left-center-right arrangement. A Galileo loudspeaker management system takes a stereo feed from the Digidesign VENUE console at FOH and distributes it as a left-right-left signal to create a stereo image across the wide auditorium's main floor and balcony. Each array is zoned in three sections by Galileo, with the top four cabinets aimed at the balcony, the middle four at the main floor rear, and the bottom four at the middle-front. Six DF-4 dedicated downfill loudspeakers provide additional front coverage; three M1D ultracompact curvilinear array loudspeakers spaced across the lip of the stage cover the first rows; and two CQ-1 wide coverage main loudspeakers fill in the extreme corners. Controlled, directional bass for the balcony comes from twin arrays of four 600-HP compact high-power subwoofers configured to produce a cardioid coverage pattern, while deep bass on the floor is propelled by four 700-HP ultrahigh-power subwoofers.
Installation was supervised by Clark ProMedia Project Manager Derrick Hill. Final tuning using a SIM 3 audio analyzer was a collaborative effort between George Clark and independent audio consultant Will Sargent, with additional assistance from Meyer Sound Technical Support.
In addition to the Digidesign console at FOH, and another at the monitor position, the complete technology manifest at Buckhead Church also lists Shure UHF-R wireless microphones, Sennheiser in-ear monitoring systems, and a 30,000 lumen Barco HD projector.
Prior to the new building, the Buckhead Church congregation had gathered for four years at a temporary worship space in a converted supermarket. Many components of that interim sound system — principally CQ-1 loudspeakers, UPJ-1P compact VariO loudspeakers, and 650-P high-power subwoofers — have been reused at the new campus, forming the core of sound systems in The Loft (for teen and young adult programs) and the KidStuf Theatre (for children's programs).