Martin Audio OmniLine Transforms Sound for United Church of Christ in Maryland
When the United Church of Christ in Middletown, Maryland was damaged by fire, they took advantage of the situation and called in Audio-Video Group of Frederick, Maryland to redesign and upgrade their sound system as part of the renovation.
Fortunately, the church sanctuary hadn't been too badly damaged, with the chancel and the area above it requiring the repairs that mostly involved new wiring. Asked about the challenges of installing the new sound system, Audio-Video Group's president Eric Johnson says: "The church specified that no acoustical treatment was to be added, and since it was an acoustically challenging space because of the surrounding balcony and hard plaster ceiling and walls, the excessive reverberation was surely going to hamper intelligibility. The new system had to be designed around, and to directly combat this issue."
"The previous sound system was built into the ceiling and the coverage was not that great. When they saw this opportunity to undertake a new sound system that would provide better coverage, speech and music reproduction, they pounced on it."
Having a client used to speakers that were hidden from view and therefore wary of any audio system hanging from the ceiling into the sanctuary was also challenging. As Audio-Video Group's chief engineer Stephen Bon explains, "Martin Audio's OmniLine system was our first choice simply in terms of its minimal footprint and aesthetic appeal, which were very important to the Church."
"It also provided the solution to cover the main level seating under and out from the balcony and the balcony itself with full range sound," adds Bon. "So the coverage pattern with a small, visually unobtrusive speaker was a key factor in choosing OmniLine. We'd used the system in the past and knew it was ideally suited for this project."
The installed system consists of a single hang from the ceiling with eight OmniLine enclosures and a Martin Audio AQ212 sub above the hang in the enclosure covered with a grille cloth opening that originally housed the audio system.
Audio-Video Group redid 90% of the audio system with new digital signal processing, amplification, speakers, and additional wireless. The audio was converted from predominantly a speech, manual mixer-only system to more of a performance-based combination automatic/manual setup.
System components included a Biamp Audia Flex DSP (14-in x 10-out) for auto-mixing speech mics and all signal processing; a Lab Gruppen C28.4 four-channel amplifier; Biamp MCA-8050 eight-channel amplifier; four Shure ULX-series wireless systems; and a Marantz PMD580 solid-state recorder.
Asked about the new system, Johnson points out, "The audio quality is as different as night and day. There's a drastic difference in terms of intelligibility with smooth, even coverage even from the balcony down through the main seating area in the sanctuary."
"Now it works well for speech and music," adds Bon. "The church has moved into a more contemporary music program with acoustic instruments and the musical reproduction is fantastic for both. They wanted full fidelity and even coverage up to moderate levels, and that's exactly what they have."
The United Church of Christ's sound operator Paul Fink is also enthusiastic about the change: "OmniLine speakers are an incredible improvement over the old system. The ability to place them in the active space and aim the sound output directly to the congregation while reducing the bounce effects has made the biggest difference. As to the quality of sound from the speakers, there is no real comparison to the old system. I have occasionally driven them to the limits of my hearing with no sound degradation at all."
Describing the overall impact of the church's new audio system, Johnson concludes, "Intelligibility is the predominant characteristic of the OmniLine system. Looking at the entire congregation from the youngest to the oldest member, we were concerned that everyone would be able to understand the spoken word and OmniLine passed with flying colors."