MISHAWAKA, INDIANA: It was a direct lightening strike that brought the original building for Albright United Methodist Church in Mishawaka, Indiana to the ground, and it was three years after the fire before the congregation had a new permanent sanctuary. Like any complete re-visioning, Albright seized the opportunity to build a church that would meet its unique needs perfectly. The lovely new 450-seat sanctuary provides a well-functioning home to a range of ministries, activities, and classes nearly every day and night of the week, including both traditional and contemporary services on the weekend. To minimize the logistically complicated need for technical staff at all of the various functions, Albright turned to northern Indiana/southern Michigan A/V designers and installers Last Pew Sound Engineering to design an A/V system that would largely take care of itself via intuitive user-interfaces that even technology-challenged church members could easily command. Last Pew
turned to a Symetrix Automix Matrix 780 signal processor with Symetrix ARC wall panel controllers to deliver sophisticated functionality with simple controls at a very affordable price.
Albright’s new front-of-house system is comprised of ElectroVoice Xi-1152As biamped, Xi-1082 as fill loudspeakers, and ElectroVoice Xi-1191A subwoofers powered by Crown CDi amplifiers. The main array is supplemented by delay boxes to cover peripheral areas, a second story balcony, and the choir. Shure wired and wireless microphones form a unified front end for an Allen & Heath ZED 436 analog/digital hybrid mixer, which not only provides output for the FOH system, but also for a Pro Co Sound Momentum monitoring system. Together with Audio-Technica wireless personal monitors, the Pro Co system allows groundbreaking control over individual monitor mixes using smartphones running Pro Co apps. Albright’s brand new video system is comprised of Elite projector screens, BenQ and Sony projectors, Sony video cameras, Grass Valley mixing, and Kramer Electronics processing.
The Symetrix Automix Matrix 780 ties the system together, providing input conditioning, loudspeaker conditioning, and routing logic that tailors the system to the myriad needs of the church. The Automix Matrix 780 is part of Symetrix’ Integrator Series of cost-effective, fixed-architecture DSPs and features twelve inputs and eight outputs with up to eight zones. Last Pew configured the unit at Albright for user control from three ARC-2i wall panel interfaces, which use eight-character backlit displays together with menu, up, and down buttons to flexibly perform installer-specified functions.
“Each of the Symetrix ARC-2i wall panels is located in a different section of the church to perform different functions,” said John Lindstedt, sound designer at Last Pew. “For example, we have one in the choir practice loft by a 52-inch flat panel display with video access to previous services. Using a single selection on the nearby ARC, the choir leader can shut off all of the speakers except those that cover the choir. They can watch, for instance, last week’s service and then practice to delivery a performance with more impact.”
He continued, “Between the comprehensive control afforded by the ARC interfaces and the video technology that we were able to employ, the church has easy command of a system that would otherwise be quite complicated. They can walk into the control booth and with a few button pushes, the video system is up and the audio system is configured to meet multiple applications. They don’t even need to touch the soundboard except for the contemporary service or special productions. The traditional service and other basic application presentations require no one at the mixing board, which puts a lot less strain on the church’s technical staff. Despite that incredible level of sophisticated control, the system ended up being quite affordable.”
Despite the sad event that motivated the building of Albright’s new sanctuary, the church is quite pleased with the capacities they now have to convey the word of God more effectively. No matter where they sit, the parishioners consistently praise the system for its intelligibility and, during contemporary service at least, its punch. And the church officials and support staff are delighted with their fabulous new sanctuary that better serves their congregation and community.
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