Tulsa, Oklahoma’s First United Methodist Church has a history of serious sound reinforcement challenges that have plagued the church since its dedication in 1928. Hard surfaces and cavernous ceilings allow sound to ricochet all over the building, garbling speech throughout the 1,100-seat space. During the years, church leaders consulted many audio engineers, but they were thought to have been impossible to solve without using acoustical treatments and distracting from the church’s aesthetics.
In 2004, David Rauch of Bridge Communications suggested that the church use a new family of loudspeakers from EAW called the DSA Series (Digitally Steerable Array Series).
Using a sophisticated digital signal processing technology that allows steering of the speaker’s output pattern, the system integrators can vary their vertical coverage pattern from 15 to 120 degrees, as well as aim the coverage up or down by as much as 30 degrees. In this way, sound can be carefully directed in the vertical plane away from troublesome reflective surfaces and toward the listening audience. “We checked out all the manufacturer’s line array speaker demos, but EAW’s DSA Series really stood out for its clarity and unique, steerable coverage capabilities,” commented Minister of Worship Joseph Bias. “Another major selling point was how unobtrusive the enclosures were. The column design didn’t call any attention to itself—no big black boxes to mar the aesthetics.”
Rauch visited Tulsa for a firsthand look at the church’s situation, and then worked closely with Randy Whitworth of Lakeland, Florida-based Landmark Audio to design a new system around the DSA speakers and the church’s existing Yamaha M3000 console. Two DSA 230s were mounted above a single DSA250 on each of the two columns surrounding the chancel and the DSA Pilot software was used to “dial in” the DSA’s output to fit the room.
The system was completed just in time for the church’s biggest concert event of the year, which was held in early December 2004. “We had three performances with more than 80 people in the choir and a 32-piece orchestra. The sound was the best we have ever had,” Bias said. “The clarity of the voices in the choir, the fact that the sound energy was aiming right at the people instead of the walls or the floor, it was simply outstanding. “Now, the aesthetic appeal of our building, the stained glass, the stonework, the flooring no longer interferes with our sound reinforcement needs,” Bias continued. “Finally, after almost 80 years, our church sounds as magnificent and glorious as it has always looked.”
For more information, please go to www.eaw.com.