Built in 1920s, Hollywood United Methodist Church is a landmark of gothic beauty and reverent peace nestled amid the bustle of the neighborhood’s famous Hollywood and Highland district, just a block away from the Kodak Theater.
Its architecture was inspired by Westminster Abbey and has provided the backdrop for Whoopi Goldberg’s “Sister Act,” in addition to hundreds of scenes in other movies. Hollywood UMC has survived all of those shoots without tarnish, and a buffeted foundation has left it undamaged despite all of Los Angeles’ earthquakes.
But Hollywood UMC’s outdated and underpowered sound system could not survive the transition to more contemporary music. It consisted of a handful of little six-inch speakers mounted near the bottom of the cathedral’s awe-inspiring support columns and was barely sufficient for the choral reinforcement for which it was originally designed.
As a result, the church A/V tech, Dave Whittaker, requested meetings from area integrators for a Renkus-Heinz-centered system.
One of the firms he contacted was Platt Design, headed by President and Senior Designer Bill Platt, who is a two-time Emmy winner and spent 15 years as director of audio and show development for all of the Disney theme parks.
As fate would have it, the staff at Platt Design had recently been introduced to the uniquely affordable and functional Symetrix Automix Matrix 780 when Whittaker contacted them.
The Automix Matrix 780 is one of the latest in Symetrix’ Integrator series of cost effective solutions for small to medium-sized installations in churches, hotels, restaurants, and the like. It includes 12 input channels, each with comprehensive filters, EQ, feedback elimination, dynamics, delay, automatic gain control, and either gating or gain-sharing auto mixing. Up to eight submixes are sent to the rest of the system through as many outputs.
“We almost always use SymNet DSP in our larger installations,” said Phillip Kim, director of client relations for Platt Design. “We knew that Dave had his heart set on Renkus-Heinz loudspeakers, so the important differences between our proposal and our competitors’ came in the system we built around the speakers, price, and our reputation as a company. The Automix Matrix 780 came along at the right time. It has the comprehensive DSP tools that Bill needs to build a perfectly-tuned system at a price that would be hard to beat.”
Cost was definitely a factor in Hollywood UMC’s decision, and Platt was awarded the contract on reputation and assurance that the system would have the utmost fidelity and functionality without a tremendous price tag.
A far cry from the mini speakers they replaced, Hollywood UMC’s benefits from eight authoritative Renkus-Heinz IC-series full-range loudspeakers mounted in such a way that there is almost no compromise between fidelity and preservation of the historic church’s stunning aesthetic.
A new Mackie console that was donated to the church, and Yamaha choir and stage monitors, let the musicians benefit from the dramatic renovation as well.
Although the Symetrix Automix Matrix 780 integrates seamlessly with the Symetrix line of ARC interface panels, Bill Platt used the unit at Hollywood UMC for “behind the scenes” work that no one at the church would ever have to concern themselves with.
Taking input from the church’s existing board, the 780 performs all of the alignment, equalization, and filtering for all of the speakers and monitors. In addition, it provides delay for the speakers that are located farther back in the sanctuary.
“Since this is Bill Platt, he’s never satisfied with default settings,” laughed Kim. “He tweaked everything.” The Automix Matrix 780 connects to a computer via Ethernet with a straightforward Windows™ interface providing easy and efficient setup and adjusting.
With the new system in place, Hollywood UMC is now truly ready to move forward with expanding musical styles. And despite an improvement in fidelity and power for which no superlative is adequate, the church budget is still intact.