Proud of its German heritage, New Ulm, Minnesota, boasts German-style breweries, a 45-foot-tall glockenspiel, a monument to a 9th century German hero-and St. Paul’s Lutheran Church. This stately brick church features traditional architecture, with high ceilings, wooden pews, and plenty of plaster and glass. The acoustics are ideal for organ and choir, but speech intelligibility was poor with its old, cobbled-together sound system. That has since been resolved with Fulcrum Acoustics loudspeakers.
When the church began adding contemporary music to its services, a modern sound system became a necessity. To design and install the new system, the church leadership called on Burnsville, Minnesota-based systems integrators Intermedia Systems Group.
“St. Paul’s has a medium-sized sanctuary that seats 300 to 400, and the reverb time is under two seconds,” begins Intermedia president Doug Klein. “But they had two or three small sound systems that were tied together, and it simply wasn’t functional for what they were doing. Spoken word was reproduced through three soffit speakers that were entirely inadequate, so intelligibility was a major issue. The worship band came through a separate system that relied on multiple wireless subsystems and two submixers. As a result, the sound was over-compressed, not to mention issues with wireless interference.”
Intermedia recommended replacing it all with a modern system that could handle everything and deliver intelligible spoken word. Klein’s solution relied on a pair of Fulcrum Acoustic DX1295 loudspeaker arrays for the mains, a Fulcrum Acoustic Sub115 subwoofer flown with the mains up front above the altar area, and a delayed DX1295 set 40 feet back and centered to cover the balcony and rear seating area. DX1295s feature dual 12-inch coaxial loudspeakers with a 90° x 45° dispersion pattern and operate between 49 Hz and 19 kHz. The Sub115 employs a 15-inch direct radiating subwoofer that goes down to 30 Hz. The DX1295s are biamped, creating a three-way system with the Sub115.
A pair of Fulcrum Acoustic RX699s serve as sidefills for the transepts on either side of the altar. “It’s a wide church,” notes Klein, “and the RX699s provide intelligibility to the side seating areas.” For processing and control, Klein specified a Symetrix Radius 12×8 EX scalable DSP unit.
The Intermedia team was careful to account for the room’s structural features and décor. “St. Paul’s space is large in terms of cubic volume, and it’s very live,” states Intermedia system salesman Joel Evermann. “We needed to place the speakers where they could cover the direct field without interfering with sightlines or distracting from the beauty of the room, and without acoustically overexciting the space. We worked closely with Fulcrum Acoustic to get custom paint to match the space, and they did a wonderful job. If you aren’t looking for the speakers, they pretty much disappear.”
Intermedia’s strong relationship with the leadership of St. Paul’s helped the entire process go smoothly. “We worked very closely with them to understand their needs intimately,” recalls Evermann. “It was important to earn their confidence and trust, and in return, they were wonderful to work with. The Fulcrum speakers delivered the goods, too. When the system went in, there were a lot of smiles.”