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PAYNESVILLE, MINNESOTA – AUGUST 2010: In many ways, Grace United Methodist embodies the enviable characteristics of a thriving mid-sized rural church. Located in downtown Paynesville, Minnesota – population 2,300 – Grace enjoys a congregation of neighbors who support the church and each other with a dedication rarely seen in larger metro areas. But until recently, Grace also had some less enviable characteristics, chief among them an outdated audio system which delivered inadequate coverage to the sanctuary’s 250 seats, and a dynamic range which fell short of their needs and expectations. Intermedia Systems Group, of Burnsville, Minnesota, helped to change that, upgrading everything with a full complement of up-to-date, high-performance equipment, including network-ready Ashly NE-Series amplifiers that allow Intermedia to keep tabs on Grace’s system from over one hundred miles away.

“Grace’s old sound system consisted of a single two-way box placed

at the center of the room above the altar near the ceiling,” said Joel Evermann, systems consultant at Intermedia Systems Group. “Although their typical Sunday service leans toward traditional, they are incorporating more contemporary elements into their services, including video playback. They also are beginning to use their space for events such as special music performances and movie nights. As it was, the system was hardly adequate even for their traditional needs, as the coverage was lacking in intelligibility and the dynamic range was severely restricted on the low end.”

Grace initially contacted Intermedia Systems Group for help with a visual system upgrade. “The discussion progressed a bit and the question arose: ‘if we do a massive video upgrade, how will it all hang together with obviously inadequate audio support,'” said Evermann. “We ended up finishing the audio system first, with the video upgrade coming on its heels.” As of this writing, the only remaining component from the technology upgrade that has not been added is the digital signage portion. The timing of that project appears to be in the very near future.

The church’s new full-range audio system is delivered by a collection of Yamaha installation-series loudspeakers arranged in a configuration that provides coverage throughout the sanctuary, including the choir. A Yamaha subwoofer tucked into the corner of the room extends the system’s response into the deeply-felt range, and RCF 55 70-volt two-way speakers powered by an SRA 4075 sew up the under-balcony coverage. At the front end, Audio-Technica wireless microphones combine the convenience of cable-free operation with high-fidelity befitting the capabilities of the rest of the system. A Yamaha LS9 digital FOH console provides much improved, full-featured control for Grace’s sound techs. A Biamp Nexia DSP delivers input processing, routing and loudspeaker management for solid, reliable results.

Two Ashly ne800 amplifiers and one ne1600 amplifier power the Yamaha loudspeakers and sub. “In addition to the fact that Ashly packs a lot of reliable, affordable power into just two rack spaces per amplifier, one of the main reasons we use Ashly amps is their ability to network without hassle,” said Evermann. “We provide a service called Remote Support Coverage, which gives our clients peace of mind that we are able to look after their system when they may need some quick assistance. If we need to, we can make changes through our Burnsville office. Although it isn’t a concern at Grace, we can also monitor system changes made by individuals who are feeling a little too “creative.”

Grace’s new video system is anchored by stunning Vaddio WallVIEW HD PTZ cameras, a ProductionVIEW HD Controller, and a 21.5-inch iMac running ProPresenter for worship presentation. Sharp 65-inch video displays render the input capture with full resolution. New theatrical lighting supports the video. In the coming months, video capture will not only be used for in-house playback, but also for broadcast on a local cable channel.

“Grace’s new AV system far exceeds their original expectations; they are simply beside themselves,” said Evermann. “I commend them for their dedication to doing things the right way. They really followed through on every front to see this project to completion and hit a home run, as far as I’m concerned. If a small church in rural Minnesota can make this happen, then churches of all sizes would do well to consider their situation with respect to technology and the benefits it provides in reaching today’s church families.”

ABOUT ASHLY AUDIO With over a thirty-five year history, Ashly Audio Inc. is recognized as a world leader in designing and manufacturing quality signal processing equipment and power amplification for use in the commercial sound contracting and professional audio markets.

INTERMEDIA SYSTEMS GROUP Intermedia Systems Group is a cutting-edge technology systems contracting firm that services the commercial, house of worship, corporate, and educational communities in the Greater Minnesota five state region.