Steering sound at Central United Methodist
USA: With a long sanctuary and traditional architecture that comprises plenty of hard surfaces, Central United Methodist Church in Albuquerque, New Mexico had suffered from reverberation problems that in turn caused issues when it came to vocal intelligibility. While spoken word was problematic due to the reverberant space, the church’s services often feature music from its organ and choir, which are boosted by the highly reflected acoustics. Therefore, during a recent refurbishment of its sanctuary, Central United Methodist sought a new sound reinforcement system that would solve its intelligibility issues while adding little or no acoustic treatment so as not to disrupt the quality of music performances.
Oklahoma-based A/V solutions provider, Fowler Inc, was called upon to design and install the new solution. ‘The sanctuary has wood everywhere and a domed narthex area behind the alter. There is a pulpit and lectern – left and right of the stage – and the ceiling is almost 18m tall. The pews are wooden, the floor is hard, and walls are flat and contain stained glass windows, so naturally it was a challenge to hear the spoken word clearly,’ recalls Scott Lopez, director of technology at Fowler Inc.
Mr Lopez and his team designed a solution comprising the Tannoy QFlex steerable array system. A pair of QFlex 40s were installed, one to the left, the other to the right of the stage opening, each approximately 3m behind the lectern and pulpit. These loudspeakers were reportedly chosen due to their ability to control directivity, which allows them to reduce unwanted reverberation by targeting the sound towards the seating areas and keeping it away from the walls.
‘With the balcony at the back of the church covering the last few rows of pews, we decided to use delays to cover the under balcony seating,’ Mr Lopez continues. ‘And because the ceiling above the balcony was flat, we provided some extra coverage there as well. We installed four Tannoy Di8 loudspeakers along the edge where the cathedral and balcony ceilings meet and two more for under the balcony.’
To deliver added low end, two Tannoy VS 10BP subwoofers have been implemented in front of the stage in a cove behind the lectern and pulpit.
‘We selected QFlex because it allowed us to steer the sound, which was extremely important,’ Mr Lopez reflects. ‘We replaced a noisy and boomy system with an engineered solution that allowed us to control where sound was delivered. The church leaders and congregation were very happy with the end result that was clear, musical and blended well into the design of the room.’