When the First Pentecostal Church in North Little Rock, Arkansas (FPCNLR), upgraded its sound system three years ago, it became the world’s first adopter of Martin Audio’s then new Wavefront Precision Compact and Mini line arrays. Now, the church has built a mid-size chapel on its campus and brought in a new sound contractor – but kept faith in the British loudspeaker manufacturer.

New FPCNLR chapel with Martin Audio sound system On this occasion, the PA needed to reinforce events that were ‘too large for our rotunda space, too small for our sanctuary, and not quite casual enough to be held in our Great Hall’, according to church Director of Communications, Zachary Ward.

With aesthetics a major consideration, the solution was found in the discreet O-Line column micro array, specified and installed by Nashville-based Spectrum Sound. This provides balanced coverage for the 232 main floor seats and further 48 seats in the balcony.

Ward confirms that brand continuity was based on the ‘exemplary’ Wavefront Precision performance in the main space. However, the decision was not taken before scanning the market to compare options. ‘We considered multiple brands and models but ultimately it was Spectrum Sound who, after seeing the space, recommended we take a look at O-Line, a product which none of us had even heard about at that point,’ he says.

‘The new room presents an auditory challenge as the floors are of tile and the ceiling is more than 40ft high, creating quite a reverberant space. Added to that is the need to reliably produce clear, intelligible speech during a sermon or dinner involving a speaker while also being capable of producing rich, vibrant music and vocals during a time of worship. We feel that the Martin Audio system accomplishes these demands well.’

To achieve this, Spectrum provided two hangs of 16-deep O-Line, run in two-box resolution with a pair of Martin Audio iKon iK81 amplifiers, and a pair of white floor-mounted SX218 subs placed unobtrusively between a couple of large floor-to-ceiling columns, powered by an iK42.

‘Although there are a number of column-style small-format line-source arrays using 2-inch or 3-inch drivers, no other brands can match this – especially when considering the overall vertical coverage scalability required in this project,’ says Spectrum Sound Sales Manager, Ken DeBelius

New FPCNLR chapel with Martin Audio sound system ‘O-Line is unique, because it allows the flexibility of a traditionally curved larger line source, but in a package that fits a space like this chapel much better aesthetically. And adding Martin Audio’s Wavefront Precision magic really optimises what is possible as to the acoustical radiation from such a compact solution.’

Operating in different live touring and installation sectors, the house of worship market segment forms a major part of Spectrum Sound’s Systems Integration division. However, the FPCNLR project represented not only the company’s first deployment of O-Line but the first Martin Audio installation experience. Prior to installation the installation team pre-assembled the systems in workshops and flew them at trim, to test performance.

‘We were happy with the sonic result right at the outset and adding the dual 18-inch subs made it a truly full range system,’ DeBelius says. ‘The mostly hard, reflective architectural surfaces provide an obvious challenge for any system for amplified speech or music. This system needed to have as precise polar radiation as possible, to keep the overall room reverberation managed and under control.’

A further challenge was presented by the separate upper balcony seating section. ‘I was loath to add a set of delay fill loudspeakers, once again with aesthetic considerations being a major concern. Thus, the main arrays needed to be capable of projecting up into the balcony, and this they did extremely well.’

Tuning and design were carried out using Martin Audio’s Display software, using construction drawings and on-site measurements. In addition to powering the main system, the spare channels on the 4-channel amplifier were wired with stage connectivity for use with passive floor monitors.

‘For now, the system is being driven analogue by a small mixing console, but later on – with the upgrade to a larger console – they can drive the system via Dante directly into the iKon amplifiers,’ says DeBelius.

On evaluation, O-Line delivered listeners with ‘good direct-to-reverberant ratios for their live amplified program content. The small size, combined with the controlled directivity of the compact Martin Audio O-Line, provided the perfect solution to solve both of these challenges for this room. That, plus the fidelity and overall sonic character of these arrays were an added bonus’.

‘We are extremely satisfied with the performance of O-Line,’ Ward agrees. ‘With high ceilings and several stained-glass windows reaching more than 28ft, O-Line provides even coverage and clarity while accomplishing our main goal, preserving the overall aesthetic of the room.’

Ward says that the design approach was largely unconventional – rather than incorporating AV/lighting solutions into each phase of the design, the church sought to realise the Pastor’s visual, structural and implementation goals first and foremost. ‘We then ask our lighting and sound teams to design a system to fit the room. O-Line has certainly proven itself capable of meeting the demands placed on it by the unique aspects of our design and installation needs.’

‘While the hardware performance is exemplary, it’s the installation and follow-up teams that really set this experience apart from others we have had in the past; after all, your hardware is only as good as the installation and tuning.’

See also: 
Martin Audio ‘First’ at Pentecostal Church

More: https://martin-audio.com

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