We were initially contacted by The First Church of Christ Science in 2010 about replacing the audio system in their sanctuary. We went to investigate and found what can be best described as a "vintage" system that had served them well for 20+ years (pictured above). The system, though it looked cool and was well cared for, left much to be desired in terms of sound quality. Spoken voice, which is the primary use of the system, was very "nasally" sounding, lacking low end body and warmth, as well as high end clarity and snap. We set out to find a solution that would blend in well within their attractive, well lit space. We strive to deliver systems that are reliable, easy to use, sound and look great. Once again, we turned to our proven partners for quality and sonic performance, Meyer Sound, Sennheiser and Symetrix.
We removed the four "vintage" speakers from the side walls of the sanctuary, patched the holes, touched up the paint, and replaced them with a single Meyer Sound UPM loudspeaker. Paying close attention to the architectural lines of the building, we opted to locate the speaker between two lights which are used to illuminate the "readers". We provided Meyer with a paint sample, which they used to match the ceiling color perfectly. In addition to the color blending in beautifully, the speaker itself matches and covers the room very well with clear, full, even sound. This UPM model offers a rather wide 100 degrees of horizontal and vertical sound dispersion. Featured in the slide show playing above is an image from Meyer's acoustical prediction program, MAPP. The measurement "study" indicates the speaker's projected coverage with a 500 hz tone selected, which is the middle range of the human voice's frequency response. We can see from this graphic that the bulk of the seating area is well covered. The back of the room receives less sound energy (volume); luckily the seating area does not extend all of the way to the back of this room, so less sound (volume) hitting the back wall is a good thing. There was an added bonus to mounting the speaker to the ceiling in this tall room; due to it's nice height, we were able to cover the room evenly without blowing away those seated in front with too much volume, which is always a concern. You can see another MAPP "study" of this in the colorful "cross section" image above.
Two crystal clear Sennheiser podium mics were carefully placed on the pulpit to capture the reader's voices. In addition to the podium mics, one Sennheiser wireless hand held microphone was deployed for guest speakers and announcements. Together, these mics are fed into a Symetrix auto-mixer. The Symetrix handles all of the microphone and speaker EQ levels, time alignment with the organ's speaker system (not shown), compression and limiting. A very simple 3 button controller with LED read out is all that's required to operate the system.
We had the unique opportunity on this project to conduct some before and after testing of the systems. In the slide show you can see the graph image on Kevin's computer screen. The green line is a measurement of the original system playing back "pink noise" (full bandwidth sound) through the 4 old wall mounted speakers. The red line indicates the frequency response of the new single Meyer speaker playing back pink noise. Note how much more "flat" or less "torpedo" shaped the red graph is. This indicates that this system is able to achieve a wider frequency response, thus producing more accurate sound, which helps lead to increased intelligibility. Also, having less speakers in this room, and placing the single speaker above the area where the readers are reading, helps anchor the sound to the focal point, providing the audience with a much more natural listening experience. We've assured the members of the parish that they can expect 20+ year run from this system too. May we all live long enough for this claim to come true.