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Earthworks FW730 FlexWand Delivers Major Sound Quality Improvements to Green Acres Baptist Church

Nashville-based AV Company Morris Designs and Installs the Sound System

Milford, NH – When Green Acres Baptist Church in Tyler, TX was looking to upgrade their sound system over the summer, they turned to Morris to design and install the system.

Mark Leonard, Audio Director for Green Acres Baptist Church, describes the church: “Our building is fan-shaped, seating about 3,400 people. One of its most unique features is our 300-voice choir loft. On Sundays we have two services, each with its own choir of about 120 singers each. For special occasions such as Christmas, we bring both choirs together to form the larger choir.”

“We use a 30 to 50-piece orchestra on the stage with quite a number of brass instruments, and there is always the fight of keeping the orchestra sound out of the choir mics,” explains Leonard. “This was always an issue, and I could never get it all where I wanted it. It was always a back and forth, I would have to duck something else to get the choir over it, when I needed to. We typically use a praise team to enhance the intelligibility of the choir. With 300 voices up there, all you usually had was a big smear of sound. There was a real intelligibility problem. I have always wondered if there was a way to solve all of this in any situation.”

The New Sound System Install

Mark Leonard has been with the church for 17 years and notes that this is the third major system install completed in that time. “One of these installs is in a contemporary venue that is across the way that will seat 2,500. Another sound crew runs that room. We also do television broadcasts on a couple of local TV channels and on the local cable channel.”

Danny Rosenbalm, CEO for Morris, describes the main requirements for the microphones for this install: “The mics had to blend in visually. They could not hang from the ceiling and needed integrated cable management system. Lastly, they had to be of extremely high quality.”

The main challenge, explains Rosenbalm, was in “choosing a mic that had a wide enough polar pattern to minimize the number of microphones required to reproduce the choir appropriately.” With those requirements and challenge in mind, Morris’ team selected the Earthworks FW730 FlexWand choir microphone system for this install.

“We hired Morris from Nashville to do our new sound system install,” explains Leonard. “We have worked with them on and off for nearly four years. We purchased SSL L500 mixing consoles and d&b audiotechnik line array speakers. Morris has a nice selection of audio professionals who do all types of installations and also do sound on the road for a wide array of famous recording artists. When I asked them about choir mics, all of them said “Earthworks.” It was unanimous! So I went “OK let’s do it!” We purchased 14 Earthworks Flexwands and we are using 13 of them in our large choir loft.”

Both Leonard and Rosenbalm were pleased with the immediate results the FW730 FlexWands delivered. “There are not many times that you put a new sound system into a church and the very first time you use it, you don’t have a bunch of bugs and problems,” explains Leonard. “We had a number of immediate comments about the sound quality of this new sound system and the Earthworks Flexwands were a big part of this.”

Rosenbalm explains the improvements that the FW730 FlexWand provides as compared to other microphones he has previously used for choir miking applications. “The goal of any mic is to have a one to one representation of a performance; the Earthworks FW730 does just that – it takes the content on stage and creates the closest experience to a one to one representation available in the choir microphone application.”

Prior to switching to the Earthworks FW730 FlexWand, Leonard had used a variety of other microphones at Green Acres Baptist Church. “Over the years we have tried several different types of microphones on the choir and for several years we have been using large diaphragm condenser mics for their warmer sound,” says Leonard. “Miking a choir is always a challenge; having enough sound level without going into feedback, getting a good blend of voices and achieving a good overall choir sound.”

Using the FlexWands at GABC

“The first Sunday using the Flexwands was pretty amazing,” says Leonard. “Our choir director opened with a heavy choir selection, with no praise team with just piano accompaniment. When I brought up the Flexwands that Sunday morning, there was intelligibility that I couldn’t believe. I had gain that I couldn’t believe. All of this just blew me away.”

“The first time we did a choir with orchestra selection, I could not believe the amount of rejection I was getting of the orchestra, compared to what we were getting using previous choir microphones.”

“I have always felt that there was no magic microphone, but between the line arrays, the console and the Earthworks mics, I cannot make the Flexwands squeal within the volume ranges that we run, which totally amazes me. I just bring the faders up, the choir is there, I bring them up some more, the choir is there, and this totally amazes me. The Earthworks Flexwands are worth every penny we paid for them.”

“I have been doing sound for over 40 years and I didn’t think there was any product out there that could make this kind of difference. I never believed that I could get this amount of gain and intelligibility with my choir. I have people in the congregation coming to me saying, “we can now understand the words that the choir is singing.” This is just incredible! We have now just used these microphones for four Sundays and we are just wearing the new off. Six months from now when we have lived with these mics and tweaked everything, it will really be amazing.”

“With regard to the choir, our choir loft is so large and deep; most of the male singers stand in the center section. We put Flexwands in front of the men and also a couple more Flexwands further back to pick up the rest of the singers.”

“I also noticed that with the Flexwands, you don’t get the hot spotting or high lighting you have with other makes of microphones. I have heard more blend out of the choir than I ever have before. The wide pick-up pattern and accuracy of the pattern is responsible for that.”

FlexWand in Baptistry

Leonard also put one of the FW730 FlexWands in the baptistery. “It is doing an incredible job,” says Leonard. “There is all kinds of gain and the broader pick-up pattern is great. In a baptistery, no one is speaking directly into the microphone. They are either off to the side or looking around and this is not an optimal situation. But, the FlexWand has improved the sound from our baptistery as well. I also purchased a FlexWand for our pulpit, though we rarely us a mic on our pulpit. But I am anxious to hear how the FlexWand does with this as well. I think it will be a huge improvement.”

Final Thoughts

Leonard offers greatest experience thus far on the Earthworks FW730 FlexWand: “My greatest experience with Earthworks microphones was on that first Sunday when I brought up the FlexWands, the choir was just right there in my face. I could understand the words whey were singing, whereas before it was difficult to hear the words. The choir sounded great with all the level I needed. That was a real moment for me right there.”

“The purchase of these FlexWands is one of the best investments I have made on this new sound system. I am in love with the FlexWand choir microphones. Earthworks always does really inventive things.”

Leonard concludes, ”As a user, you read about this stuff and you hear about it, but the real deal is when you get someone in front of it and they can actually hear that difference. The actual proof is in the pudding. The FlexWands are just incredible microphones.”

Rosenbalm shares his final thoughts on the GABC installation: “From the speakers to the consoles, this installation project encompassed the best technology in the market. The sound and build quality of the Green Acres Baptist Church system would not have been possible without incredibly high quality microphones like the Earthworks FW730.”

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