A year-long renovation of the century-old sanctuary at First United Methodist Church (FUMC) in Prattville, AL includes a new sound reinforcement system that’s headed by Renkus-Heinz ICLive X loudspeakers to support both music and spoken word programming.
“Our church is a beautiful but very old building, and with plaster walls and other obstacles, it’s difficult to install new technologies in a space that wasn’t built for it, so we took the approach of doing several things at once,” says Jeremy Pyles, Director of Music Ministries at FUMC. “We have a thriving music program involving people of all ages, and after years of dealing with less-than-perfect sound, we took this opportunity to upgrade our sanctuary’s audio system to something we can be proud of.”
For the new audio system design and installation, the church turned to J.M. Anderson at Auburn AV (based in Auburn, AL), which offers a range of design, installation, AV production and sales and rental services. Anderson notes that FUMC previously employed a “hodge-podge” of loudspeakers from the 1970s to the 1990s that varied in size and performance, and they also prevented the space from carrying a clean and uniform aesthetic.
“Acoustically, the sanctuary is very reverberant. It has stained glass windows, hard walls, floors and sloped ceilings. Our main goal was to use a digitally-steerable sound system to point the sound down at the congregation and away from all of the reflective surfaces,” Anderson explains. “The ICLive X system was a perfect fit for this project. It delivers excellent, controllable audio with great coverage from a small footprint. It sounds great and looks great — both aspects that are very important here.”
The Auburn AV team made use of the Loudspeaker Recommendation services offered by Renkus-Heinz. As a part of this service, the local manufacturer’s representative, Richard Hembree, added his experience with digitally-steerable arrays to bring the initial design through to a commissioned system.
“In addition to the need to avoid reflective surfaces such as the large balcony face and tall plaster walls, this sanctuary has three distinct audience areas — a high balcony; a deep and low under balcony; and the wide near-field area between the platform and the balcony,” says Hembree. “The IC-Live X system allows the reinforced sound to focus as needed to evenly cover the congregation with a high level of intelligibility and rich, full-range sound.”
Working with Hembree, to finalize the specifications, Anderson and the Auburn AV team installed a left and right array, each consisting of one ICLive LX, one ICLive X and one ICLive XL. The resulting 9.5-inch wide by 100-inch-tall array is capable of pattern control below 200 Hz. A pair of Renkus-Heinz dual 12-inch PNX212 subwoofers neatly tuck under the platform behind grille cloth to round out the low end.
“We ended up with a high-intelligibility sound system with minimal interaction between the reinforced audio and the room. The room can remain live and rich for the organ and choir, yet at the same time have very high speech intelligibility. With the ICLive X, we can steer the sound where we want it,” Anderson concludes. “For our company, Renkus-Heinz has become the go-to system for difficult spaces like this.”