Although First Missionary Church established in Niles, Michigan over fifty years ago, it has been only in recent years that its growth has begun to strain the resources of its small sanctuary. The church elected to move to a new location, where it could build a larger multipurpose room and, as time and funds permitted, additional infrastructure, such as a dedicated sanctuary. Because the new building is located on a hill amid the relatively flat topography of southern Michigan, the church also elected to change its name to Summit Church. However, the name was all that changed. The church did not change its contemporary approach to delivering engaging services, which includes a full band with vocals, keyboard, guitar, bass, and drums. To present those services with maximum impact and intelligibility, Minnesota-based Audio Video Electronics (AVE) designed and installed a sound reinforcement system centered on Danley Sound Labs SH-96 and SH-60 Synergy Horn loudspeakers.
“Summit Church’s worship director posted on a Church Sound and Media Tech Facebook group looking for bids for a design the church had been given,” explained Stefan Svärd, president of AVE. “We were recommended by three people, and I personally responded to his request. Although it seemed like something we could bid on, I wanted to speak with the worship director to understand exactly what their current situation was and what they were hoping to achieve with the new system. We spoke on several occasions, and I came to believe the design they were given was a square peg for a round hole. The room was to be wide and shallow – a gym really – with the stage on the long side. The design called for just one screen with only a 40-degree viewing angle, and the specified loudspeakers had no effective pattern control – in a concrete box with no acoustical treatment. It was going to be an audio/visual nightmare. We couldn’t bid on it in good conscience, but we could work out an alternative. We could give them two appropriate screens, excellent pattern control, and acoustical treatments.”
Svärd visited the church over the July 4th weekend. “I met with them and attended a service at the old location,” he said. “I felt welcomed. They had a great vibe, great music, and a wonderful message.” Based on his now-intimate knowledge of the church and the plan for its new multipurpose sanctuary/stage/gym, Svärd designed a new system in EASE. As installed, it is a simple exploded mono cluster with a single Danley SH-96 loudspeaker for main coverage, opposite Danley SH-60s for side fill, and two Tannoy VX6 loudspeakers for near fill. “I originally included a subwoofer in the design, but the budget wasn’t there,” Svärd said. “Fortunately, the SH-96 has respectable output down to 40Hz. Summit’s bass won’t knock you over or crush your chest, but it sounds full and musical. As funds permit, they may elect to add a subwoofer.”
QSC CXD-Q networked amplifiers power the system, with processing from QSC Q-Sys Core 250. A Soundcraft Expression console on a rolling rack provides flexible control for full-blown events, whereas a simple microphone jack and input for mp3 players paired with iPad control and/or a QSC touchpanel provide simple control for simple events. Band members use a new Digital Audio Labs Livemix personal monitoring system, which connects to the Soundcraft console via Dante. SVSI video processing handles a range of input sources, with final output to two Vivitek 4800lumen projectors and two Draper screens.
Svärd attended the first service at the new location, which turned out to be much more of a nail-biter than he had anticipated. Due to a shipping snafu, the acoustical panels hadn’t arrived in time, and so the system was effectively firing into a painted concrete box. “Between services, the pastor met with a group of older congregants – the population that typically has the hardest time hearing spoken word,” he said. “Without the acoustic panels in place, the pastor feared the worst and expected some complaints. To his amazement, there was not a single complaint! One older member said that for the first time ever he heard and understood every single word that was spoken. For me, there can be no greater testament to Danley’s tremendous pattern control paired with AVE’s solid design and installation. The guy understood every word in a concrete box! It’s astounding.”
Shortly after that time, the acoustical treatments arrived and the system went from great to stupendous. “Summit Church’s new building is located on a large parcel of land, and they have plans to eventually raise new buildings on it, including a dedicated sanctuary,” said Svärd. “I’m sure Danley will be a part of that because everyone is in love with how their new system sounds.”