With a rich history dating back 189 years, First Presbyterian Church is a foundational part of the Alton, IL community. Rebuilt in 1990 after a fire, its classic design features a large pipe organ and a vaulted ceiling with a 33 ft. peak. To bring the 30-year old sound system up to contemporary standards, the church brought in regional AV integration firm and house of worship sound specialists Output Unlimited.
“It’s a challenging room, both acoustically and because of the need to respect the architecture,” noted Tracy Bodenbach, Output Unlimited founder and president. “The goal was to provide a high degree of speech intelligibility for in-person and web-streaming audiences, with good all-around sound quality for choirs and any prerecorded music used for weddings and other events.” Output Unlimited proposed a point-source solution utilizing the existing loudspeaker placement, thus preserving the architecture while controlling costs. The resulting installation can be heard clearly but hardly seen, nested up above the church’s arched timber beams.
A pair of EVF-1122D/94 (90°H x 40°V) two-way 12” loudspeakers cover the entire nave, mounted 27 feet high and 27 feet apart along the apex of the ceiling, and aimed at a downward angles of 45° (front) and 55° (rear). The rear EVF is delayed to cover the back half of room. Each EVF is bi-amped by a Dynacord C3600FDi DSP power amplifier utilizing onboard FIR-Drive presets for EV speaker optimization. Two choir chancels are located on either side of the altar, facing each other. Each side is covered by an EVC-1082-96 compact 8” two-way surface-mounted loudspeaker, with both powered by a single Dynacord C2800FDi DSP power amplifier. This allows the choir members to hear a direct feed of the services and to sing along to pre-recorded audio tracks.
While the equipment list and installation is streamlined and cost-effective, the results are impressive. “Since the main requirement of the system was to reinforce voice and pipe organ, there was no need for subwoofers,” added Bodenbach. “This was much more about selecting the right dispersion pattern from the EVF boxes, for maximum intelligibility and full coverage to the seating area. We also did a complete tuning of the room, which really confirmed how transparent and musical these speakers are.”
“These speakers sound so crisp and clear, it sounds like you’re standing next to the person speaking,” said parishioner Matt Corzine, who provides IT and technical services at First Presbyterian. “For the first time, we can understand every word being spoken in all the seating locations, including the choir. In addition to the audio quality, we loved working with Output Unlimited, who really worked to understand our needs. Everything is tidy, clean and professional, and they installed everything in a manner that respects the architecture of our building. The sanctuary and nave sound incredible now, and they also made sure our live-streaming audio feed is just as good, which is very important during these times. We’re extremely happy with the system.”