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Sound To Match A Beautiful Aesthetic At Christ United Methodist Church
An upgrade that brought intelligibility and musicality to a pristine space.

A view of the sanctuary at Christ United Methodist Church, with the Yamaha M7CL-48 digital console at the balcony operator position and McCauley line arrays flanking the stage.
Christ United Methodist Church in Jackson, Mississippi, the denomination’s third-largest church in the U.S., offers worship services that regularly feature a 150-person choir and an orchestra of up to 80 pieces in addition to smaller ensemble groups.

The backdrop for all of this is a beautiful sanctuary with a tough acoustical environment. The space is chocked full of granite staging, stained glass, travertine surfaces, expansive gypsum walls and 1,600 wood-backed seats.

While the worship sanctuary has only been open for about seven years, the original sound system was proving inadequate in terms of coverage consistency of the entire space, and lacked both commensurate intelligibility and musicality.

Chuck Weatherford, the minister of music at the church, contacted Howard Reitles of Harrd Road, a design/install and touring sound company based in Carlsbad, California, to discuss solutions to the churches acoustical needs.

Chuck and Howard share a long association of collaborating on church sound system upgrades and retrofits.

“The original system was proving completely inadequate for the space,” explains Weatherford.

“The architecture is beautiful, but the space is an acoustical nightmare. The previous design did not take these issues into account.”

Devising Coverage
The sanctuary is fan-shaped, far wider than it is deep, with an elevated second level of seating running the entire width at back of the room. A 100-foot wide front platform anchors the front of the room, with a “steeple” ceiling running down the heart of the listening area.

“The space called for a system that would ensure constant coverage of the seating area without bouncing

McCauley IN.LINE line arrays and flown subwoofers, all painted a custom color to match the surroundings and suspended with custom brackets.
off the walls and ceiling,” Reitzes says.

“I’ve worked with McCauley Sound for several years and believed that their IN.LINE line array modules, and Loudspeaker Controllers, powered by Lab.gruppen amplifiers, would provide what was needed in terms of output and fidelity, while maintaining tight pattern control.”

Reitzes worked with the McCauley Engineering Group in designing the audio system for the space. The use of IN.LINE installation line array modules with 3 variable horizontal coverage patterns allowed the engineers to develop a coverage pattern specific to the space.

The main system is comprised of two IN.LINE arrays flown to the left and right of the wide platform. Each array consists of four N90 (90-degree horizontal dispersion) atop five N120 providing wider (120-degree horizontal dispersion) to better cover the nearer seating areas. The arrays were processed in 3 zones to allow slight gain shading from the top to the bottom and phase alignment.

Both of these modules are 2-way designs with twin 8.8-inch cone drivers and a 1-inch-exit extended high frequency compression driver mounted to a proprietary waveguide.

Three McCauley NS1 dual 15-inch subwoofers were installed directly behind each array with a McCauley Sound NB1 rigging frame connected to Harrd Road fabricated custom ceiling mount so that the main and sub array could work around support issues.

“The subwoofers are behind the arrays due to space constraints, with the non-directional output of the subs unaffected by this location,” explains Reitzes.

Two pairs of McCauley ID2.208-96 narrow-profile 2-way loudspeakers, mounted to pillars, supply side fill coverage to the widest “wings”

McCauley M88 dual-18-inch subs, stacked in pairs on the floor, add impact to the low end.
of the coverage area.

Eight more iD2.208-96 provide delay coverage to the balcony, with their 90-degree by 60-degree waveguides rotated. The cabinets were mounted horizontally with the corresponding iDB.208-HU horizontal installation brackets.

Further low-end energy is supplied by four McCauley M88 high performance dual-18-inch subs, stacked in pairs on the floor to the left and right of the platform. All loudspeakers and subs were custom painted by McCauley to exactly match the aesthetics of the space.

Power & Control
Loudspeaker control and signal processing is supplied by two McCauley M408 4-input, 8-output loudspeaker controllers offering a wide range of functions, including FIR filtering, low-and high-pass IIR crossovers, virtually unlimited equalization, delay, compression, limiters, and much more.The loudspeaker controllers reside in an equipment room behind the platform, rack-mounted with the system’s Lab.gruppen power amplifiers.

The loudspeakers are driven a total of three Lab.gruppen C-88:4, two Lab.gruppen C-68:4, and a Lab.gruppen C-48:4.

All of these amplifiers offer four output channels and tremendous output from a 2U package. A single Lab.gruppen FP 9000, optimized for low frequencies, capably drives all four of the subs on the floor.

“Lab.gruppen amplifiers are workhorses,” Reitzes states. “They provide superb sound quality and are extremely reliable. I use them both on our touring systems as well as for installation projects.”

A new Yamaha M7CL-48 digital console anchors the system operator position at the front/center of the balcony, and it does double-duty with both main and monitoring systems.

Lots Of Small
Seating for the 150-member choir is made up of risers in front of a travertine

The multi-channel Lab.gruppen C Series power amplifier and FP 9000 that drive all loudspeakers, joined by McCauley M408 digital processors.
and wood wall, and below an 80-foot peak in the ceiling. “Coming up with a monitoring solution that wouldn’t reflect against the surfaces was a real challenge.

It ended up that ‘lots of small’ was the ticket,” explains Reitzes, who specified 30 Nady PM-100 compact powered personal monitors under the seats to meet the application.

Six Groove Tubes GT57 condenser microphones are suspended from the ceiling to capture the choir, and he notes that “they’re larger than your typical choir mic, but the quality is just exceptional.”

Other mic needs are filled with a variety of Shure dynamic microphones (SM58, SM57, SM81), Shure UHF-R wireless systems, and DPA 4088 headband (dual over-the-ear) cardioid mics.

Shure PSM Series personal wireless monitoring systems are used by the music and choir directors.

The Yamaha console is outfitted with an Aviom output card to deliver the digital feed to Aviom A-16II personal monitoring mixers utilized by the ensemble/band members.

A six-day installation window meant a tight, tough schedule of 14-, 17- and even 22-hour days, but within one week, Sunday morning services commenced with dramatically improved audio quality and dramatically improved coverage consistency.

“The majority of my business is touring sound,” Reitzes concludes, “but I find nothing more rewarding than helping a church improve their services through better audio and acoustics.”

Thank you PSW Staff for the Original Article.


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