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Church Sound Application Profile: Highland Park Presbyterian Church, Dallas

A look at the development of a contemporary worship system that meets standards for sound quality while also meeting a wide range of pertinent factors - fitting a challenging space, expandability, operator friendly and more

By Keith Clark October 19, 2009

Perspective of the multipurpose worship space at Highland Park Presbyterian Church

What makes for an optimum church sound reinforcement system? On the surface, the obvious answer is “good sound quality.”

Yet anyone possessing a grain of systems experience knows the correct answer is much more complicated.

First, how does one define “good”? It has so many meanings, all of them potentially correct (or not!).

Besides, the effectiveness of a system goes way beyond the realm of the often-subjective issue of sound quality.

For example, is the system designed to be operator friendly? Is it adaptable to meet a wide range of applications? Is coverage consistent across the entire audience area? Is the system easily expandable to accommodate future needs? Is it structurally safe? Does it fit the aesthetics of the space? Does it work within the acoustics of the space? Was it implemented within the client’s budget?

Serious questions, indeed, and failure to address any one of them can lead to a less-than-desired result.

An experienced, cohesive team took aim at all of these key points and more in implementing a successful new sound reinforcement solution for the multipurpose worship space at Highland Park Presbyterian Church, a thriving parish in Dallas.

Church member Bruce Marlin, who heads Marketing Concepts, an AV systems manufacturer’s rep firm based in Dallas, helped bring together the team for the project. Acoustic Dimensions, a leading systems and acoustical consulting firm also based in Dallas, plied its talent in guiding overall design, with Senior Consultant Brian Elwell taking the lead role.

Sound Reinforcements, Inc. of nearby Burleson, TX, which specializes in installing audio, video and lighting systems as well as supplying value-added custom engineering services to predominantly church clientele, did an expert job in implementing the design.

All parties interfaced closely with John Eldridge, the church’s hands-on systems representative, to devise solutions meeting expectations.

Going Contemporary
A move to offer weekly contemporary worship services was the primary fuel for the engine driving the new need for a new sound system at Highland Park Presbyterian Church.

For the past few years, contemporary services were held on a monthly basis, but their growing popularity led to the desire for offer them each week, in addition to continuing traditional services as well.

In the monthly contemporary service timeframe, the church had simply contracted the system equipment and personnel needed to properly support the more dynamic needs of contemporary worship. However, the weekly schedule rendered this solution too expensive.

In addition, other needs, such as support of live theatrical productions and concerts, pointed toward a permanent system solution. And, still other uses of the room – for senior meetings, dinners and more – furthered the need for an improved system approach.

Perspective of the contemporary worship space at Highland Park Presbyterian Church. (click to enlarge)

Built in 1980, the contemporary worship space is actually a multipurpose room with no permanent seating.


The rectangular interior space measures about 90 feet wide by 120 feet deep, with a large stage and proscenium centered in one of the short walls. An orchestra lift at the front of the stage can serve its named function in addition to being raised to extend the stage further into the room.

Ceiling height is about 18 feet, a factor that influenced the main loudspeaker design (more on this later). Ceiling surface areas are covered by panels that help tame the room’s acoustical signature, particularly in light of the parquet wood floor that’s aesthetically beautiful but perhaps not so ideal in serving as a very large reflective surface.

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About Keith

Keith Clark
Keith Clark

Editor In Chief, ProSoundWeb & Live Sound International
Keith has covered professional audio and systems contracting for more than 25 years, authoring hundreds of articles in addition to hands-on work in every facet of publishing. He fostered the content of ProSoundWeb (PSW) from its inception, helping build pro audio’s largest portal website, and has also served for several years as editor in chief of Live Sound International (LSI).


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