Clinton Frame Mennonite Church is a fast-growing, tightly knit congregation in Goshen, Ind. Sharing in the Mennonite tradition, full-participation congregational singing is a central part of the Clinton Frame worship experience, whether they be acapella hymns or singing along with more contemporary, band-driven praise songs. That key element of worship was severely compromised when the church moved from its old, smaller space into a new 1,000-seat sanctuary more than a decade ago. Recently, that tradition was fully restored with installation of a Meyer Sound Constellation acoustic system and a direct reinforcement system based around MINA line array loudspeakers.
The acoustical problems with the new sanctuary were not due to lack of diligence on the part of the architects, but rather the result of inevitable compromises that come with designing modern worship spaces. With the fan-shaped layout and large capacity, the room had to be made relatively dead to prevent excessive reverberation with the attendant loss of speech intelligibility and room overload with amplified music. However, the unfortunate consequence was that the room simply could not respond with the acoustical support essential for congregational singing.
Joel Miller, head sound technician at Clinton Frame, recalls an incident when the congregation first moved from their old, smaller "shoebox" sanctuary into the new, larger space. "The new room wasn't quite finished, but one Sunday the congregation walked from the old sanctuary, where they had been just singing, over to the new one," he says. "When they started singing there, it was the biggest letdown you can imagine."
The church first investigated solutions using physical acoustic treatments, many requiring structural changes to the building, but discovered that the costs were exorbitant. "We stopped talking after $1 million," recalls Miller. Fortunately, Miller stumbled across the concept of active acoustics, soon began discussing the possibilities with Doug Hood, president of CSD Group in Fort Wayne, Ind.
Acoustic and PA System Installation (Clinton Frame Mennonite Church)
Project Size: 801-2000 seats
Completion Date: August 15, 2014
Shortly thereafter, CSD Group was engaged to supply a complete technology makeover of the sanctuary, including lighting, video, a new direct reinforcement system, and the Constellation system. The unwelcome compromise finally came to an end. Constellation has not only restored the sense of a unified worshipping community, but by engaging different presets it also adds acoustic "life" to the spoken word.
As with all Constellation systems, the installation at Clinton Frame was designed and tuned on site by a team of Meyer Sound engineers that works exclusively with this advanced, active acoustics technology. The eventual solution was a Constellation system built around a D-Mitri® digital audio platform with dual D-VRAS processors for hosting the patented VRAS acoustical algorithms. Acoustical ambience is captured by 23 miniature cardioid microphones, and the post-VRAS acoustical enhancement is carried through 81 MM-4XP self-powered loudspeakers, eight UPM-1XP loudspeakers, and 12 MM-10XP subwoofers. The seamlessly integrated direct reinforcement system comprises 12 MINA loudspeakers, two 700-HP subwoofers, and a Galileo Callisto loudspeaker management system with a Galileo Callisto 616 array processor.
In most worship services, the Constellation system creates four different acoustical environments for music and speech, with about six changes during a typical service. The complete new technology package provided by CSD Group also includes a MIDAS M32 digital mixing console, three new projectors, and a computer-controlled LED lighting system.