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Meyer Sound M'elodie Paves Path to Excellence at The Crossing Church in Tampa
The Sunbelt city of Tampa, Fla., and its surrounding suburbs are growing fast, and The Crossing Church is growing even faster. As word spread about the church's excellent high-energy praise music and lead pastor Greg Dumas' dynamic sermons, worship attendance grew by more than 20 percent in 2006. When services started filling nearly all of the building's 1,400 seats, church leadership became increasingly concerned about the sanctuary's erratic sound quality. To ensure that every congregant receives the most inspirational worship experience, the thriving church called upon Dallas, Texas-based worship technology consulting firm Mike Walker Creative, who immediately recommended a new sound system based on Meyer Sound's M'elodie ultracompact high-power curvilinear array loudspeaker.
Prior to installing the M'elodie system, speech sounded, at best, marginally intelligible in certain spots at The Crossing Church. In other seats, music was either muffled or overly shrill. To resolve these sonic shortfalls, Mike Walker first assessed the room's acoustics, then conferred with Kelly Prince and Rod Sintow of Pro Sound, Inc., an installation and design firm with offices in Miami and Orlando, Fla., and Los Angeles, Calif. Prince and Sintow suggested that the church audition a M'elodie system. When the demo was done, M'elodie received unanimous approval from the church staff.
"We had the M'elodies set up so they could do an A-B comparison with the old system," recalls Walker. "After the listening session, the executive pastor, Todd Bolt, turned to me and said, 'We don't want these loudspeakers to leave the building.'"
A bit of strategy was required to achieve sonic excellence within the low-ceilinged, industrial-style design of the church. The sanctuary is nearly a perfect square, with a stage area along one side that creates a relatively wide, shallow auditorium space. The room seats about 970 on the main floor and 430 more on bleachers positioned against the far wall. The previous system, inherited from a prior church occupant, used a distributed approach that – by today's standards – simply was not up to task.
Meyer Sound's advanced technology was capable of accomplishing the job, however, as Pro Sound set out to prove. Sintow and Prince collaborated with Meyer Sound's Design Services department to devise an appropriate solution for the challenging acoustical space. A few days later, Pro Sound flew a system in the church with nine M'elodie loudspeakers per side, augmented on the low end by six 600-HP compact high-power subwoofers.
"It was a totally different sound," says Bolt. "It was like going from AM radio quality to high-definition digital. The change was so striking that I was initially concerned about what it would cost. But in the end, they beat our expectations for what we'd have to pay for the system."
The M'elodie cabinets, in fact, never did leave, although Prince reworked their configuration for permanent installation. Using Meyer Sound's MAPP Online Pro acoustical prediction program as a guide, Prince specified new structural steel to allow optimum positioning of the arrays. The 600-HP subwoofers were spaced and delayed appropriately to form a horizontal line array for uniform low frequency distribution. Two UPA-2P compact narrow coverage loudspeakers were flown for front-center coverage, and a single UPA-2P flown at each front corner. Six M1D ultracompact curvilinear array loudspeakers were placed across the stage lip for front-row coverage.
The system is tied together and optimized using a Galileo loudspeaker management system, a device that earns much praise from both Walker and Prince. "I've used most of the other well-known digital drive processors, and Galileo blows them all away," says Walker. As the specialist responsible for final system optimization (using a SIM 3 audio analyzer), Prince remarks, "Galileo's interface with the SIM 3 system makes it exceptionally easy to align the system."
Wade Russell, the church's technical director and chief FOH mixer, welcomes the audio renovation. "We now have ample headroom to push the PA when we need to, and it's a lot more natural sounding. Also, the improvement in coverage was huge. It was like going from darkness into light."
For Bolt, the new Meyer Sound system eliminates an impediment to an all-inclusive worship experience. "We have superb musicians and vocalists, but if people out there can't hear that quality because of the loudspeakers, then you have a barrier to achieving excellence," Bolt observes. "With the Meyer Sound loudspeakers, that barrier is gone. From a value standpoint, I feel like we got more than we paid for."
"The PA has lots of emotion now," Walker explains. "Before, it was flatline. It would never get up and take you anywhere. Now, the PA can take you somewhere."