While large megachurches get many headlines, most systems designers will tell you, it’s the mid-size church market that keeps them in business.
For every high-profile mammoth cathedral, there are hundreds of under-1000 capacity sanctuaries in need of better audio. Not surprisingly, a considerable number of them can be found in the Southern Bible Belt.
Meridian’s First Baptist Church faced some fairly typical challenges for a mid-sized sanctuary, explains. William Roland, Principal at Gracenote Consulting.
“It’s a fairly traditional Southern style architecture,” he says, “and while the space isn’t overly reflective, the acoustics were designed with organ and choir in mind, and they were reluctant to change the sound of the room.”
Indeed, the room’s acoustics are well-suited to the church’s traditional Baptist service of choir, organ and piano, but spoken word intelligibility had suffered for many years at the hands of a poorly designed sound system.
With an objective of achieving transparent sound and superior intelligibility, Roland recommended going with dual Renkus-Heinz Iconyx IC24-R systems.
“The Iconyx provided the intelligibility we were after,” he explains. “In this case the soundstage really needed to be transparent. They needed a system that would enhance the acoustic performance they already had, without drawing attention to itself.”
Two IC24-R systems are installed on either side of the stage, with low frequencies covered by a PN112-SUB. Rather than placing them under or even with the stage, Roland opted to install the sub in the organ chamber.
“It’s on the low frequency side of the chamber, which is acoustically tuned,” he explains. “It sounds amazing.”
In fact, while intelligibility was the primary goal, the Iconyx’s musicality was an added plus. “The music always sounded good in the room, and they really weren’t expecting any dramatic improvement,” says Roland.
“Now that they’ve heard what the Iconyx does for the music, they won’t go without it anymore.”
While aesthetic concerns were not considered a priority initially, the Iconyx’s low profile made for a pleasantly unexpected surprise. “We sent Renkus-Heinz a paint sample and they painted the cabinets to match,” says Roland.
“They blend in so well they’re practically invisible. The first concert to use the new system was a gospel group, and the artist was so impressed, he was pointing out the speakers to the audience, because they were so inconspicuous.”
As to those intelligibility issues, as Roland puts it, “The results from the Iconyx were absolutely stunning. Calling it night and day doesn’t even do it justice. The congregation had been struggling for years with the old sound system, and it’s just mind-blowing how good it sounds now.”