Dallas, TX (July 9, 2020)—While multi-site Gateway Church hosts more than 30,000 worshippers a week across nine campuses—eight in the Dallas-Fort Worth area plus an extension campus in Wyoming—the largest portion come to the flagship Southlake campus, which is centered around a 4,000-seat auditorium. Ensuring everyone heard every word is crucial, so the worship venue was recently upgraded with 51 Meyer Sound Leo Family loudspeakers configured as a mono-stereo “hybrid” system.
The auditorium sports fan-shaped seating that wraps around the stage, creating both a sense of intimacy and a headache when it comes to maintaining a stereo image throughout the space. Accordingly, when it came time to implement a new system, the game plan was to “open up our sound with a stereo feel for most of the congregation while still maintaining excellent intelligibility and without the effect being distracting to anyone,” says Brandon Conn, Gateway Church senior audio engineer for Live Production. Having already upgraded some satellite campuses to Leopard line arrays, the audio team opted to continue in that vein and go with more Meyer Leo components.
The new system was designed and engineered as a collaborative effort by Gateway Church audio staff, Meyer Sound director of System Optimization Bob McCarthy, and system integrator Pro Sound & Video (a Solotech company). On-site installation was supervised by Pro Sound & Video’s Shaun Philips, assisted by TJ Volts, under the direction of company CEO Rod Sintow.
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The eventual solution was to deploy three hangs of five-each Leopard line array loudspeakers aimed to cover the first 10 rows of seating, all carrying a mono signal. Meanwhile, the main center section, with the great majority of seats, is covered in stereo by left and right arrays, each with five Lyon-M main over six Lyon-W wide coverage line array loudspeakers.
“The idea here was to create a stereo image where it works well, but not attempt it where it would compromise performance or intelligibility,” comments McCarthy. “Up front, a split left and right would be so wide it would pull you away from the stage, so a mono image reinforces an intimate connection with the stage there. From row 11 back, it blends seamlessly into a more open stereo image.”
The audio overhaul also included new low-frequency components, with the former groundstack-only system replaced by dual flown gradient cardioid arrays of five 1100-LFC low frequency control elements each for uniform dispersion throughout the auditorium. Four new 1100-LFC elements placed under the stage enhance the visceral effect up front. Eight UPQ-1P loudspeakers replaced the former stage side fills, and five Galaxy 816 Network Platforms took over signal optimization and drive. The existing delay systems, comprising a combined total of 41 UPQ-1P, UPQ-2P and UPJunior loudspeakers, were tested and left in service.
According to Conn, sound is now uniform throughout, but the subtle differences allow worshippers to select their preferred experience. “People who are musically inclined and want the stereo image will sit more toward the middle,” he says, “where those who want direct energy from the stage will congregate toward the front. And those who want it just a bit quieter will go to the back, but with no sacrifice in the fullness of the music or speech intelligibility.”
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