Dating back 189 years and rebuilt in 1990 following a fire, historic First Presbyterian Church on the banks of the Mississippi River in Alton, IL has implemented an upgraded sound reinforcement system better able to meet contemporary standards that utilizes Electro-Voice and Dynacord components as its foundation.
AV integration firm Output Unlimited (based in Alton), which specializes in houses of worship, handled the project, implementing the system in a sanctuary with a large pipe organ and a vaulted ceiling with a 33-foot peak. “It’s a challenging room, both acoustically and because of the need to respect the architecture,” notes Tracy Bodenbach, Output Unlimited founder and president. “The goal was to provide a high degree of speech intelligibility for in-person and web-streaming audiences, with good all-around sound quality for choirs and any prerecorded music used for weddings and other events.”
Output Unlimited proposed a point-source design utilizing the existing loudspeaker placement, thus preserving the architecture while controlling costs. The resulting installation can be heard clearly but hardly seen, nested up above the church’s arched timber beams.
A pair of EVF-1122D/94 (90- x 40-degree h x v dispersion) 12-inch loudspeakers cover the entire nave, mounted 27 feet high and 27 feet apart along the apex of the ceiling, and aimed at a downward angles of 45 (front) and 55 (rear) degrees. The rear EVF is delayed in covering the back half of room. Each of these loudspeakers is bi-amped with a Dynacord C3600FDi DSP power amplifier utilizing onboard FIR-Drive presets for EV speaker optimization.
Meanwhile, two choir chancels, located on either side of the altar, facing each other, are each covered by a single EVC-1082-96 compact two-way surface-mounted loudspeaker, both powered by a single Dynacord C2800FDi DSP power amplifier. This allows the choir members to hear a direct feed of the services and to sing along to pre-recorded audio tracks.
“Since the main requirement of the system was to reinforce voice and pipe organ, there was no need for subwoofers,” adds Bodenbach. “This was much more about selecting the right dispersion pattern from the EVF boxes, for maximum intelligibility and full coverage to the seating area. We also did a complete tuning of the room, which really confirmed how transparent and musical these speakers are.”
“These speakers sound so crisp and clear, it sounds like you’re standing next to the person speaking,” says parishioner Matt Corzine, who also provides IT and technical services at First Presbyterian. “For the first time, we can understand every word being spoken in all the seating locations, including the choir. In addition to the audio quality, we loved working with Output Unlimited, who really worked to understand our needs. Everything is tidy, clean and professional, and they installed everything in a manner that respects the architecture of our building. The sanctuary and nave sound incredible now, and they also made sure our livestreaming audio feed is just as good, which is very important during these times. We’re extremely happy with the system.”