Morton, Illinois, June 15, 2017 – Morton Apostolic Christian Church has been a pillar of the community in Morton, Illinois for 150 years. When the church decided to relocate from its century-old brick church building to new facility that would better meet the modern needs of their congregation, the congregation realized a major audio upgrade was a key part of making everyone feel welcome in their new worship space. But the church was also adamant about staying true to its mission of inspiring spiritual growth through the Bible — a goal that has been achieved in part through the church's tradition of participatory a cappella singing during worship services.
Once the church had established its footing in the new facility, they reached out to Ryan M. Winstead of Advanced Audio & Lighting Systems to design and install an audio system that would meet their present-day needs without compromising their time-honored traditions. Winstead, whose team has designed and integrated many world-class House of Worship installations across the Midwest, turned to the industry-leading performance of Powersoft amplifiers in his specification of the new system.
New Home, Timeless Gospel
The unusual shape of the main sanctuary, which is over 8,000 square feet, presented acoustic challenges for Winstead. It features low-slung ceilings on either side with pews underneath, and a taller arched ceiling in the center channel containing more pews as well as the main isle. Winstead specified a Powersoft Duecanali 3904 HD + DSP amplifier powering three Danley SM96 loudspeakers for his primary sound reinforcement. With one suspended from the ceiling in the center at its highest point and the other two just at the edge of the overhangs on either side, Winstead was able to get sufficient coverage for the church’s podium-mounted microphone and any of the several wireless microphones that they circulate amongst the crowd during their services.
Winstead had to be judicious with his acoustic treatment of the space, and was able to make up any differences with Powersoft's Armonía Pro Audio Suite software. “I knew we would want to do some treatment to control room reflections, but the church was also very clear that they didn’t want me to completely deaden the space,” Winstead recalls. “The natural reverberation is really important for their unmiced congregational singing, and that’s a key part of their worship services. Armonía came in handy for tuning the speakers to try to balance that out with the output from the microphones for the best possible intelligibility.”
Spreading the Word
With worship firmly at the center of their practice, Morton Apostolic’s leadership wanted to ensure that their congregational services would be clearly audible and intelligible from any part of the church facility, at any time. “When the service begins, that’s what they want you to be hearing — wherever you are in the building,” Winstead explains. “And they want the audio from the podium to be as clear as it would be if you were right in the sanctuary.”
To power an array of 148 Martin 4.8T and 6.8T distributed loudspeakers installed throughout the facility, Winstead turned to a pair of Powersoft Ottocanali 4k4 amplifiers with DSP. The Ottocanali amplifiers deliver a combined 16 channels of output divided into 8 zones with plenty of power on tap, which allowed Winstead to deliver crystal clear sound to each space, while providing individual level controls in certain rooms.
Added flexibility with Armonía
“It was really helpful to have access to Armonía for individualized tuning in some of these very small spaces,” he explains. “For example, they have some nursing rooms for mothers with speakers in them and they’re very compact, but I was still able to dial in a good sound.”
Winstead also utilizes the limiters within Armonía to protect the system. “Normally in an application like this you wouldn’t think you’d need limiting because there aren’t loud instruments or anything like that, but even a dropped wireless mic or something could result in a sudden spike. Armonía helps protect against any eventuality.”
One of the Ottocanali’s channels also powers a series of speakers in the mezzanine above the sanctuary, which are switched off during services but provide additional intelligibility support for congregational administrative meetings. While worship attendance is distributed throughout numerous services at different time slots, these weeknight meetings are only a single session and are often fully attended. The additional speakers can be activated and deactivated easily by way of a Biamp Tesira SERVER control box located at the tech booth.
Given that the AV rack is located directly behind the tech booth in the back left of the room, Winstead was glad to have the efficiency of Powersoft amplifiers at his disposal. “They are extremely quiet and generate very little heat, which in turn requires less climate control, making things even quieter,” he says.
The results have been dramatic, with a system that is powerful and modern but also seamless and unobtrusive. “Throughout the whole process it was really integral to the church that we keep their mission front and center, so Powersoft was incredibly helpful at delivering the expanded functionality that they sought in a compact, easy-to-use, and high-performance package.”
A New Tradition
“It’s amazing what you can do with these amps. If you had told me ten years ago that I’d be getting all of this out of five rack spaces I would have thought you’re crazy,” Winstead admits. But perhaps the thing that ensures that Winstead and his team will be specifying Powersoft more in the years to come above all is their incredible sound. “They are very clear, you can really hear every individual element whether it’s mostly spoken word like this case or even in other applications where the sound is very dense with a lot of instruments,” he notes. “I find myself designing systems with Powersoft more and more. The sound and the DSP are top notch and the service really seals the deal.”