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Immersive sound at home and in the sanctuary

Immersive sound at home and in the sanctuary

Immersive sound at home and in the sanctuary


Faith United Methodist Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma, is not the only HOW to shift to video streaming during the pandemic. As the building reopened, it developed a hybrid model – a few worshippers were allowed into the church while it continued to stream its services. However, a challenge emerged: with the onsite sound system running, the audio on the stream became increasingly unintelligible.

“The sound system we had was spraying sound all around the sanctuary,” said 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 onsite 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 HOW’s 855-capacity, octagonally shaped sanctuary used 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 added. “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 livestreaming 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.”

The new system is powered by the ICLive X Series, with two arrays installed on the edges of the space each made up of three modules – two ICLX loudspeakers and one ICLXL loudspeaker. “Making sure the audio was focused on the in-person congregation was our highest priority,” said Curt Taipale of Taipale Media Systems, 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.”

“Everyone from the staff to the worshippers have noticed the drastic improvement in audio quality we got with Renkus-Heinz,” Eldridge concluded. “Worshippers who have been tuning in via livestream are calling in words of praise as they’re finally getting an immersive service experience from their homes.”

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