MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE - JANUARY 2009: The Pentecostal Church of Memphis was in a quandary. Its members had outgrown the 1,000-seat building that had been the church's home for the past fifteen years and new land a few miles away was already in its possession. Everyone was excited to break ground for a new building, but there was one snag: the same economic forces that have made selling a home so difficult have also cast a pall over the church market. Without a buyer, the church was stuck in its current location.
Much of the excitement over moving to a new location sprung from a desire to leave the existing building's many problems behind, not the least of which was a decades-old sound system with a nasty tendency to blast some seats while barely whispering to others. "From some spots, the system sounded like a rock concert, but in others you could barely tell what was going on," commented Executive Pastor George Newman. "Although our church has been blessed with over twenty babies in the last year, many of the new mothers were distressed during the services with the loud noise jarring their babies into tears."
If the church had had no intentions of moving, it would have been a slam-dunk case for buying a new sound system. "Although it was perhaps the best it could have been given technology and the church's budget fifteen years ago, many components were in constant distortion, and the coverage was abysmal," said Curt Taipale, president of Taipale Media Systems and designer of the sound system for the new, still-in-the-planning building.
What to do? An earlier experience helped guide the church to a decision. A year prior, the church approached Taipale with a very specific concern: the sound system was completely incapable of reinforcing the choir without feedback. Taipale recommended that they purchase five AKG C 4000Bs. The new mics went up and the choir sounded loud and authoritative. The worship pastor commented that if he had that all it would take to bring the choir into the mix was five new mics, he would have bought them long, long ago.
"It was that same thought process that went into the decision to replace the existing sound system with a Danley-centered system," said Taipale. "They wanted it loud, but clear, and with even coverage. Those are, of course, the hallmarks of a Danley system. With an unknown departure date, the church reasoned that they had tortured themselves long enough. The church and its accomplished band and choir deserved better. In addition, the vibe from a top-tier sound system might help sell the property in the same way that a new coat of paint can help sell a house!"
Summit Integrated Systems installed the Taipale-designed system and commissioned it in mid-November. Four Danley SH-50 full-range loudspeakers cover the main floor in an exploded mono arc, each with a Renkus-Heinz TRX81/9 for downfill. Four Bag End TA6000S loudspeakers provide front fill. Five delayed Danley SH-95 full-range loudspeakers cover the upper balcony with appropriate dispersion beam widths, while eight more TRX81/9s cover the under balcony.
"In the 'pre-Danley days,' I used to be able to get away with just a mid-high box for the choir monitor," remarked Taipale. "The low-end wrap around from the main speakers was sufficient to fill in the bottom. With Danley's low-end directivity, those days are gone! For this church, I used two Danley SH-95s for choir monitors for clarity. The wonderful trade-off, of course, is that gain-before-feedback with the Danley system is amazing and it arrays seamlessly."
Although many churches would have been more than happy with just the low-end provided by the SH-50s, Taipale knew that the Pentecostal Church of Memphis would appreciate some amazing Danley subs. He specified two Danley TH-115s to sit beneath the front of the stage. Carpenters at the church built a custom stage extension to accommodate them. "They had subs in the old system, but they crossed over at near 300Hz and weren't really working," said Taipale. "You should have seen the smiles, especially on the pastor, the drummer, and the bass player the first time we fired up those subs!"
Biamp Nexia provides the processing and Lab.Gruppen C-series amplifiers provide the power. In addition, Taipale updated the heart of the system from the user's perspective with a new Allen & Heath GL2400. "Of course, we expected the new system to sound great," said Tim Reid, the church's volunteer technical director, "But it sounds even better than we imagined. We only wish we had done it sooner!"
"This new loudspeaker system provides clear, full, even sound coverage across all seating areas, with plenty of "weight" provided by the subwoofers. That in turn means that the system doesn't have to be driven excessively loud to enjoy," said Taipale.
The church is now content to wait a little while longer for the building to sell, and its youngest members are returning in droves."Just last Sunday, I noticed the new mother who was in tears a few months ago because the old system was too harsh for her baby," said Pastor Newman. "She was in the second row and obviously enjoying the music... right there with her baby!"
Danley Sound Labs is the exclusive home of Tom Danley, one of the most innovative loudspeaker designers in the industry today and recognized worldwide as a pioneer for "outside the box" thinking in professional audio technology.
DANLEY SOUND LABSwww.danleysoundlabs.com
PHOTO CAPTION Summit Integrated Systems installed the Taipale-designed system at Pentecostal Church of Memphis using four Danley SH-50 full-range loudspeakers to cover the main floor in an exploded mono arc, each with a Renkus-Heinz TRX81/9 for downfill. Five delayed Danley SH-95 full-range loudspeakers cover the upper balcony.