For more than half a century, Atlanta’s Mount Paran Church has been celebrated by the evangelical world as a beacon of effective ministry and engaged, growing membership, evidenced by its 13,000-plus-member congregation. In fact, it was this very community of faith that pioneered the “one church in two locations” concept in the late ’80s that eventually laid the groundwork for multiple satellite campuses, now a hallmark of many of today’s houses of worship. So it should come as no surprise that Mount Paran is forward-thinking when it comes to the technology it uses to communicate its message, a point that was clearly underscored by its recent distinction as the world’s first house of worship to install a sanctuary loudspeaker system built upon 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 – House of Worship for Diversified, the technology solutions provider that delivered the project. “The previous loudspeaker system in Mount Paran’s main auditorium had been in place for many years, and as it aged, it began to have component failures that created erratic coverage—sonically ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ spots throughout the room—which was hampering the worship experience for many of their congregants.”
Although Diversified initially considered specifying a left/right array-based design for Mount Paran’s loudspeaker retrofit, the presence of large LED screens on either side of the stage meant that the array lengths necessary for providing optimal coverage would create sightline issues, particularly for those seated in the balcony. Furthermore, the church wanted to minimize the amount of modifications made to the worship space’s striking 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.”
In a case of near-perfect timing, L-Acoustics had recently rolled out its medium-throw, constant curvature A Series, and the new product line was 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 shares. “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 outfill coverage 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.
Frontfill is achieved by six short-throw X8 enclosures deployed across the stage lip, with four compact 5XT systems located at center 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 underbalcony outfill. A combination of one LA12X and 13 LA4X amplified controllers power and process the entire loudspeaker system, while an L-ISA Controller and Processor combo facilitate the church’s new panoramic, object-based mixing approach.
Diversified 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,” enthuses Geiger. “As an audience member, you don’t just want to feel as though you’re sitting in the room spectating 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 center sections, and you really feel that localization—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.”