The First Baptist Church in downtown Asheville, N.C., recently underwent a $10 million renovation that included a new audio system based on Meyer Sound’s self-powered M1D ultracompact curvilinear array loudspeaker.
According to Scott Hughes, chairman of the church’s renovation committee, the quest for sound solutions is woven into the building’s history. “When the structure was first completed in the 1920s, the ability to hear the spoken word was so poor that they spent much of the next 20 years trying to address it,” he recalls.
The source of the church’s frustration comes from the massive domed ceiling and a consequent reverberation time of nearly seven seconds. The church initially commissioned a specialist who recommended a canopy over the chancel area to contain the sound. That remedy, coupled with acoustical treatments added later, improved the situation somewhat. However, intelligibility problems continued even after the church installed a new sound system in 1986. “We still had dead zones and lots of complaints from people who could not understand what was being said,” says Hughes.
For the recent renovation, the church contracted Mark Girardi of Asheville's Real World Audi Inc. to tackle the challenge of creating consistent sound throughout the sanctuary without altering or detracting from the building’s original aesthetics. Girardi considered camouflaging the system, but his eventual solution—twin arrays of 10 custom-painted M1D cabinets each—blended with the interior design.
With the aesthetics under control, Girardi then turned his attention to configuring a primary system that would provide seamless coverage with intelligibility. He also wanted enough warmth to adequately reinforce the vocalists and instrumentalists that perform during the church’s worship services and special events. After sketching out a preliminary design, Girardi worked with Meyer Sound's Design Services department to detail plots using the MAPP Online Pro acoustical prediction program.
The system is set up for stereo operation, with each array zoned in three sections using an LD-3 compensating line driver to control area coverage. To tune the system, Girardi enlisted the help of Meyer Sound's Technical Support Department, who employed a SIM 3 audio analyzer.
In addition to the M1D arrays, Real World also supplied a pair of Yamaha digital mixing consoles (an M7CL for FOH and a DM2000 for broadcast production), theatrical lighting and a Crestron control system.
For additional information on Meyer Sound, visit www.meyersound.com.