St. Paul’s United Methodist Church needed an audio system for a modern-style service with electric bands that wouldn’t be visible to the traditional parishioners. As installer Les Stephenson of MusicMasters says, “St. Paul’s is a traditional Methodist church that has a contemporary service with an electric band sandwiched in-between two traditional services. So we were faced with a situation where there was an 8:30 traditional Methodist service with pipe organ, choir, et cetera, and then at 9:45 there was a contemporary service with an electric band and 12 wireless systems onstage. That, plus the fact that the people attending the more traditional 8:30 and 11:00 services didn’t want to see anything that has to do with the band in terms of speaker hangs or amps; they didn’t want their sanctuary changed.”
With no interference from TV or DTV because of the frequency it transmits on, MusicMasters chose Sabine’s 2.4GHz wireless, 70 simultaneous channels from which to choose, onboard DSP including Sabine’s FBX Feedback Exterminator® technology and Microphone SuperModeling for more sounds.
“St. Paul’s is a very traditional, beautiful, mid-sized Southern Methodist church sanctuary,” Stephenson continues, “and it’s been preserved that way since it was built in the ’60s and they didn’t want it mucked up with a bunch of gear.”
Creating a sound system that was essentially invisible to the naked eye was quite a challenge, but MusicMasters was up to the task. “We had to create a comprehensive wireless audio system so that the band could walk in there and everything would be wireless—their vocals, instruments, everything,” says Stephenson. “So to save time, money and still have the control we needed, we chose Sabine 2. GHz wireless mic/instrument systems and the Sabine Navigator processor to control the speaker system.
“Using wireless eliminated cabling, plus it gave us more performance and setup flexibility,” he continues. “We chose Sabine because their wireless sounds really good, plus the fact that the systems are engineered around a rechargeable battery, which eliminates the major issue of battery maintenance.
In terms of speakers, “they wouldn’t allow a traditional speaker system to be installed because they didn’t want a bunch of stuff hanging off the ceilings. It’s sort of a domed-shape ceiling and they were not going to put anything up there that changed the lines of the ceiling. To solve that problem, we came up with a six-zone distributed system using small JBL custom speakers down each side of the sanctuary, which are all time-aligned using the Sabine Navigator. And there’s a two-zone balcony fill system because the balcony is big and there’s a front section and a second section that’s almost like a stadium-seating situation with close to 100 to 150 church members sitting up there. Downstairs, there is room for about 400 at maximum capacity.
The audio system components for MusicMasters included two Yamaha 01V96 consoles, JBL speakers and monitors, Aviom monitoring and QSC amplification. The entire project took about three weeks because Stephenson and his team had to build a whole new wiring harness despite the fact that what they were installing was mostly a wireless system.