Faith United Methodist Church in Tulsa, OK, which like many houses of worship shifted to video streaming of its services at the outset of the pandemic and then shifted to a hybrid model allowing some in-person worshippers as social distancing practices became more clearly defined, has been outfitted with a new sanctuary sound reinforcement system headed by Renkus-Heinz ICLive X Series loudspeakers.
“The sound system we had was spraying sound all around the sanctuary,” explains Mark Eldridge, Director of Tech Ministries at Faith United Methodist Church. “Sure, it was hitting all the people, but it was hitting all the walls as well. That’s been a challenge with the on-site sound for some time. It wasn’t always the most intelligible sound. But then, with streaming video, you really can’t have that sound getting back to the mics because it really muddies up the mix.”
When first built in 2005, the Faith United Methodist Church’s 855-person capacity, octagonally shaped sanctuary utilized a system that provided sound nearly everywhere in the space – reverberant and reflective surfaces included. “We were already planning on making upgrades to our system,” Eldridge saays. “I had been researching it for about five years and I knew steerable loudspeaker technology was going to work great in our space. When we unexpectedly had to begin live-streaming the services we quickly found the audio we were providing to our congregation was not at a high enough quality. We immediately began looking at what we needed to do it right. The obvious answer was to go with Renkus-Heinz.”
Specifically, the new system incorporates two arrays ICLive X Series installed on the edges of the space, each comprised of two ICLX loudspeakers and one ICLXL. The series carries the latest evolution of the medium-format, steerable line array in the Renkus-Heinz line. On this project, a custom paint job allows the loudspeakers to aesthetically blend into the space.
“Making sure the audio was focused on the in-person congregation was our highest priority,” says Curt Taipale of Taipale Media Systems (Allen, TX), the firm that designed the system. “By using Renkus-Heinz we were able to make sure sound was going where it was needed, and not filling unnecessary space. And when you solve that challenge, you solve the sound on the stream as well.”
Faith United Methodist said after the first run with the new system, it impressed not only those in-person, but also garnered praise from the streaming viewership as well. “Everyone from the staff to the worshipers have noticed the drastic improvement in audio quality we got with Renkus-Heinz,” Eldridge concludes. “Worshipers who have been tuning in via live-stream are calling in words of praise as they’re finally getting an immersive service experience from their homes.”
Renkus-Heinz representative Michael Austin of Native Media provided assistance throughout all phases of the project. Renkus-Heinz provided on-site commissioning of the system, and Taipale Media Systems sent consultant Tom Tyson for on-site setup services. The tuning of the system was completed in just a few hours.