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Meyer Sound M'elodie Clarifies Worship at Mt. Bethel United Methodist Church
In early 2009, management at Mt. Bethel United Methodist Church in Marietta, Ga. was finally persuaded to replace the original reinforcement system in the church's 11-year-old, 1,800-seat sanctuary. When the new Meyer Sound M'elodie line array loudspeaker system was installed, the overdue makeover proved a revelation for Senior Audio Engineer Matt Sheren.
"With the old system, about all I could do was push up faders to make it louder," Sheren confesses. "But with the extraordinary clarity of the M'elodies, now I can do real mixing. I can make those subtle but noticeable changes that enhance the worship experience."
The new system was a collaborative effort between Sheren and Jeremy Barfield of Tucker, Ga.-based Rock 'n' Road Audio. Their challenge was to dramatically improve coverage, clarity, and bass punch for the congregation while fixing serious choir monitoring problems—all with a system of the same size and in the same place as the original single flown center cluster.
"There was no budget to re-do the room layout and acoustics, so we had to play the cards we were dealt," says Barfield. "But both Matt and I were familiar with the M'elodies, so we were confident they would provide a solution."
Flown from a single short truss, the new system comprises a seven-high M'elodie main array, with side-fill coverage from two UPQ-1P loudspeakers. Two 500-HP subwoofers are spaced and delayed for a controlled cardioid pattern. In addition, two rear-firing M'elodie loudspeakers serve as choir monitors. A Galileo loudspeaker management system supplies all processing for the main and auxiliary systems. Coverage was plotted by Barfield using the MAPP Online Pro acoustical prediction program, with installation managed by Brian Sarlan at Rock 'n' Road.
According to Matt Sheren, the dramatic improvement in clarity was immediately appreciated by members of the church, perhaps most notably by a beloved patriarch of the congregation. "This elderly gentleman, with hearing aids in both ears, came up to me and said, 'This is amazing. This is the best it's ever sounded in here.'"
Though Sheren had been lobbying for a new system for nearly two years, administrative approval was hard to come by until Barfield arranged a demo of a M'elodie line array. "We stuck just five M'elodies up in the bell choir loft, almost as high as the old cluster, and then A-B'd the two systems for our senior pastor, accountant, and executive administrator. They were astounded at the difference. It took less than ten minutes to get approval."
Versatility was another key factor at play in system specification. In addition to hosting Sunday services, the sanctuary also serves as a multi-purpose auditorium for the Mt. Bethel Christian Academy.
"We needed something that would work for everything," comments Barfield, "from live music concerts to playback to full-out Broadway-style musicals. The M'elodies and 500-HPs are taking it all in stride. I'm particularly impressed with the low-end coverage, which is solid all over the floor and up into the balcony. Considering the size of the 500-HPs, I was surprised at how much punch we're getting."
For Sheren, when he takes up his post behind the church's new Yamaha M7CL digital console, it's the clarity of the system that makes his Sunday duties more satisfying. "The old system was loud if we wanted it to be, but it wasn't clear. People would complain that they couldn't understand the words the choir was singing, and couldn't distinguish individual voices. With the M'elodies, I can bring everything out in the mix with amazing clarity."