In the audio world, most people think of me as a rock and roll guy. If you want a sound system that sounds clear and musical while shaking the paint off the drywall, you call Paul (which rhymes). But every so often someone comes along asking for help with their system which does not fit that mold. (Mold is another thing I can shake from buildings).
First Christian Reformed Church in Artesia is one such place. Built in 1939, this ambient room was intended to self-amplify the pipe organ in the front and choir loft in the rear. What was lacking in the modern era was the clarity for spoken word, ease of use, and an architecturally pleasing solution. The latter wasn't hard- over the years people (wonderful people mind you) had attached various black carpeted speakers to the walls at seemingly random locations. The result was not unlike a portable DJ sound system in what was otherwise such a wonderfully designed old space.
I went for a consultation, made my suggestions and turned in a proposal with some scalable options for improvements. Then I forgot about it.
Here's where I am going to embarrass myself. I don't do consultations in Artesia that often, yet also in Artesia that same month there was a large church that needed a new rock and roll sound system. We had gone through a few phone meetings, and a meeting with the board. Months later when an Artesia church called and said they were ready for their system and would like to do the full $25,000 package I was somewhat confused. I remember saying "Twenty-five thousand dollars isn't going to really do very much out there. Did I give you that number?" "Yes, it is actually your more expensive option". By the time I remembered that Artesia had actually managed to produce not one but TWO churches, I felt terrible. I still can't imagine why they trusted me with the project after I had completely forgotten about their proposal.
We installed a Renkus-Heinz speaker system. By hanging the boxes from the architectural beamwork and having Renkus finish the cabinets in the custom color, we were able to visually integrate our system into the space. We installed Renkus subwoofers behind the beams as well, out of site. A Symetrix Jupiter 8 provides processing for the speakers as well as a uniquely mastered output to a local TV feed. The result is a system with clarity for music and speaking far beyond what the church had expected. Older members of the church that had been forced to use assisted listening headphones can now understand every word without them. The downside to this is that all the football fans who used to listen to the game with those headphones are now forced to participate in worship.
Speaking of headphones, while we were rewiring the tech booth, we came across these beauties. Still wonderful looking, and wonderfully mono.
For the mixing duties, we installed a Presonus StudioLive 16 channel digital mixer. Since the church building is also a part-time home to two other congregations, each have their own saved settings which they simply recall. The mixer and all devices are mounted in a secure rack with no access to connections. In the past there had been a lot of creative "improvements" to the way things were patched by each user on a weekly basis. FCRC wanted to put an end to them showing up and wondering why nothing was working and everything was unplugged. We provided a simple panel to plug in a device for recording or playback, leaving everything else permanently connected.
Meanwhile, up in the bowels of the organ loft, we may or may not have removed every pipe to blow into it like a gigantic whistle.
In the end, First Christian Reformed Church in Artesia has not only a forgiving nature but also a wonderfully integrated and terrific sounding audio system. One that I am not likely to forget- again.