With the support of its 13,000-plus-member congregation, Atlanta’s Mount Paran Church pioneered the ‘one church in two locations’ concept in the late 1980s laying the groundwork for multiple satellite campuses, now a hallmark of many of today’s houses of worship. Its most recent distinction is to become the world’s first house of worship to install a sanctuary loudspeaker system built on L-ISA Hyperreal Sound technology.

‘Good sound is one of the most essential elements in today’s churches, and achieving consistent, engaging audio throughout an entire worship space is mission-critical so that the congregation has a shared community experience,’ says Tim Corder, Strategic Accounts Director at House of Worship for Diversified, the technology solutions provider that delivered the project.

Seven arrays of L-Acoustics A Series enclosures serve as the combined Scene and Extension system for Mount Paran’s sanctuary

‘The previous main auditorium loudspeaker system had been in place for many years, and began to have component failures that created erratic coverage – sonically hot and cold spots throughout the room.’

Although Diversified initially considered an LR array-based design, large LED screens on either side of the stage presented sightline issues, particularly for those seated in the balcony. Further, the church wanted to minimise the amount of modifications made to the worship space’s architecture, both for aesthetic and budgetary reasons.

‘With so little space to work with above the screens, we chose to explore an L-ISA design, which offered us the ability to spread the system’s power out horizontally versus vertically,’ says Nick Geiger, Account Executive and Audio Lead for Diversified. ‘This enabled us to achieve the SPL and coverage that we needed while keeping the speaker hangs compact enough to not cause visibility issues with the lighting and video facilities.’

With near-perfect timing, L-Acoustics rolled out its medium-throw, constant curvature A Series – quickly deemed ideal for the project. ‘The A15, in particular, is really what made L-ISA a viable, practical, and budget-friendly option for Mount Paran,’ Corder says. ‘We designed a frontal system featuring seven A Series arrays, and the overall price point was very comparable to a traditional left-right PA design while also allowing us to meet our fidelity and sightline goals.’

Installed late last year, Mount Paran’s new loudspeaker complement is now comprised of five arrays of four L-Acoustics A Series enclosures – two A15 Focus over two A15 Wide – evenly spread out and flown over the front of the stage as the Scene system and flanked by two arrays of one A15 Focus over two A15 Wide as the Extension system. Dual hangs of two A15 Wide deliver out fill to the far left and right front seating areas, while two rear-firing A15 Wide positioned above the stage provide monitoring for the approximately 150 choir seats. Four KS28 subs, concealed by a scrim and centrally flown behind the Scene system, deliver ample low-end reinforcement throughout the entire auditorium.

Front fill is provided by six short-throw X8 enclosures across the stage lip, with four compact 5XT systems located at centre stage for sermon monitoring. Farther out in the house, two A15 and eight ARCS Focus systems serve as the delay ring around the catwalk covering the upper reaches of the balcony, while four locations of Kiva II provide under-balcony fill. A combination of one LA12X and 13 LA4X amplified controllers power and process the entire loudspeaker system, while a L-ISA Controller/Processor facilitate the church’s new panoramic, object-based mixing.

DiGiCo SD12 console and L-ISA Controller at FOHDiversified also furnished Mount Paran’s FOH mix position with a new DiGiCo SD12 console, which is connected to L-ISA via Desk Link, natively bringing all source controls onto the desk surface and allowing engineers to access L‑ISA as an integrated element of their existing workflow.

‘L-ISA is an incredible tool for Houses of Worship,’ Geiger says. ‘As an audience member, you don’t just want to feel as though you’re sitting in the room viewing something that’s happening onstage. Mount Paran has a large choir, orchestra and praise team, and L-ISA enables you to feel enveloped by their sound – like you’re a part of it – in every seat in the house.’

Corder agrees, adding that the audio imaging capabilities of the new system produce a very natural-sounding binaural listening experience. ‘When the left side of the choir has a solo, you feel it come from the left side,’ he says. ‘I’ve heard them stagger vocal intros between the left, right and centre sections, and you really feel that localisation – and it’s stunning. You totally forget that you’re listening to a PA because it just feels like you’re listening to the choir. I’ve never had that experience before.’

Mount Paran Church Technical Director David Mendoza says that intelligibility was one of the key points his church was striving to improve with a new system, and L-Acoustics delivered on that, and more. ‘We wanted our entire congregation to be able to understand every single lyric being sung by the music team and every single word being spoken by the pastor,’ he says. ‘When I heard L-ISA, I was blown away; it was a completely euphoric feeling. Not only is the sound pristinely clear everywhere, but the amount of control that it gives our tech team over the placement and presence of each object is amazing. Being able to creatively control so many parameters – like distance, width, and elevation – minimizes the distractions within the worship experience here at Mount Paran, helping our congregation feel more connected to what’s happening onstage.’

‘We at Diversified pride ourselves on being at the forefront of emerging technologies that are making an impact in our industry,’ Corder adds. ‘You really must experience L-ISA as one of the several thousand people gathered in the room during a service to understand the full impact that this technology and loudspeaker system makes on the engagement of the congregation. Words do not do it justice. It is inspiring on a level that is quite literally paradigm-changing.’

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