When the time came for Colorado’s St Andrew United Methodist Church to evaluate the effectiveness of its installed sound system, it encountered a problem that will be familiar to houses of worship all over the world.
While the style of worship practiced at the church had changed over the years to fully embrace musical celebration including live performances and playback, the aging sound system was no longer fit for purpose, having been originally designed for more traditional spoken word sermons. Determined to transform not just the sound quality but the overall experience of the congregation, the church’s leadership began the search for a solution.
Crucially, the new system needed to deliver unsurpassed audio quality and flexibility without requiring any major construction changes to the church itself – a challenge that was given to leading regional systems integrator Equalized Productions. Having experienced countless loudspeaker demonstrations over the course of many years, Equalized’s Operations Manager and Project Engineer Chris Malmgren quickly settled on the perfect choice to satisfy every requirement – TW AUDiO ELLA.
“The church’s goal was to bring their ageing system forward to meet modern worship standards as well as improve on the quality of all aspects of worship production,” explains Mick Whelan of TW AUDiO USA. “Meanwhile, the architectural design of St Andrew UMC is inspirational, and it was essential that nothing in the sanctuary distract from the impact of that visual experience. A custom acoustical cloud is suspended above the altar and the audio system must blend with this structure as effortlessly as possible, evolving, not standing away from it. Colour matching was essential.”
In addition, there is no acoustic treatment within the sanctuary, meaning the new system needed to offer exceptional dispersion control to minimize reflections. The room itself also presented challenges. The worship space is entirely asymmetrical, requiring a design that featured different deployment left to right but which still sonically matched. Finally, a large choir is seated beneath the organ pipes along the room’s right wall; while energy from the array needs to be kept away from these seats it is essential that the array cover the congregation members seated just a few yards away. It was clear that a cardioid line array solution was required.
Working closely with the TW AUDiO engineering team in Germany, Equalized Productions set about creating a system design that would ultimately not just meet the expectations of St Andrew United Methodist Church, but exceed them. In particular, the team invested a great deal of time into accurate planning and implementation in order to achieve truly even coverage side to side and front to back, despite heavy restrictions on where loudspeakers would be positioned due to available support and the church’s décor.
The completed solution now comprises two hangs of eight cardioid ELLA6 elements per side flown in a L-R configuration which addresses the room’s irregular shape, plus a single M8 for side-fill and a cardioid subwoofer centre-hang of one S32i. Power for the system is courtesy of two Powersoft Quattrocanali 8804 Dante + DSP amplifiers.
With the installation now complete, Chris Malmgren is delighted with the results and the collaboration that helped to deliver them. “Working with Mick Whelan and the team at TW AUDiO has been a great experience,” he says. “During the design process they aided our understanding of their products and capabilities. This system is color matched and even with the heavy challenges in Europe due to the pandemic they worked hard to meet our deadline and kept in great communication. The TW AUDiO team travelled to the installation during the commissioning to work with the Equalized Productions team and ensure that the system met their stringent performance requirement.”
Malmgren adds: “The new system is nothing short of amazing – it hits every seat in the church evenly and clearly. The seams between the arrays and the fill speaker are non-existent and the sonic quality of the entire room has jumped drastically, well beyond what we even expected in the design phase”.
Most importantly, the church leadership is described as “ecstatic”.
“The system has exceeded my highest expectations; I couldn’t be happier,” reports Senior Pastor Reverend Mark Feldmeir, while Executive Director Lana Banbury adds that within weeks of beginning to use its new ELLA system, the church “noticed that the use of assistive listening devices by the congregation fell to just about zero”.