Presenting myriad angled planes and asymmetrical layout, St. Laurence Catholic Church in Sugar Land, Texas has been recently enlarged and furnished with glass and stone surfaces, but the visually striking sanctuary also carried the potential of jumbling words and music in multiple uncontrolled reflections.
The solution was discreet acoustical treatments working hand-in-hand with a precision-calibrated Meyer Sound line arrays to provide markedly improved clarity along with a greater sense of intimacy.
Mary Thompson, the music director at St. Laurence, has been thrilled with what she’s heard since the recent reopening celebrations. “It’s been absolutely wonderful,” she says. “The system picks up everything, the sound with music has been superb, and the spoken word is crystal clear.”
The expanded structure, with nominal seating capacity boosted from 1,000 to 1,500, was designed by John Clements, AIA, of Houston’s Jackson & Ryan Architects. Project architect was Gina Jaimes, Associate AIA. Acoustical treatments and audio system design were entrusted to, respectively, Ashton Taylor and Bill Schuermann of HFP Acoustical, also in Houston.
Schuermann’s design is anchored by two center arrays of Meyer Sound M1D line array loudspeakers with seven cabinets each. A single M1D-Sub subwoofer is placed atop the main array at the rear and two M1D-Sub subwoofers are positioned over the delayed array at the front.
According to Schuermann, his choice was dictated by the need for loudspeakers that offered the combination of both vocal clarity and ample power for a variety of music styles.
“When dealing with architecturally sensitive spaces,” says Schuermann, “if you can get large loudspeaker performance out of a small box that virtually disappears, that’s of tremendous value. The M1D is practically invisible considering the performance it delivers.”
The balance of the Meyer Sound system comprises a pair each of CQ-2 and UPJ-1P VariO loudspeakers for sidefill, eight camouflaged MM-4 miniature loudspeakers in the steps for front fill, and a UPM-1P loudspeaker for the narthex.
A UPJunior VariO loudspeaker and an additional MM-4 provide spot monitoring, with all main system loudspeakers driven and precisely timed by a Galileo loudspeaker management system. Installation was by LD Systems of Houston, supervised by project manager Clay Wisner.
In addition to carrying the voices of the priests during six Mass celebrations held every weekend, the Meyer Sound system also provides reinforcement for a wide variety of music styles, including a simple cantor and pianist, an up-tempo celebration with full rhythm section, and a large choir of about 40 voices.
Mary Thompson comments that the performance of the new system has been exemplary on all occasions. “I’ve been involved with music ministry for almost 30 years,” she states. “I’ve noticed that some churches have sound systems that do well for the spoken word, and others that are fabulous for music, but it’s difficult to find something that can do both equally well. The Meyer Sound system has just been exceptional for both.”
Thompson further notes that parishioners seated in the rear expansion sections have marveled at the system’s almost uncanny presence and sense of intimacy. “Because they can hear so clearly, even sitting so far back, it helps them-and us-maintain the personal touch and warmth the church is known for, even though our space is now much larger.”