Slightly off the beaten path, Bethlehem United Methodist Church in Bethlehem, Georgia, has thrived in the same location since 1848 due to its dedicated members. Each successive generation has looked to the future, acting as servants to determine how best to minister to the community. The old audio system consisted of two 12” two-way loudspeakers flown sideways in a vertical array with two small side fill loudspeakers to cover the front left and right seating areas. When on-axis with any one of the four loudspeakers, the intelligibility was acceptable. However, intelligibility dropped off significantly in the remainder of the sanctuary. Small incremental improvements could be made by removing even more low-mid energy from the existing system. However, the real solution proved to be a highly targeted audio solution, which Renkus-Heinz loudspeakers are renowned for.
Church staff reached out to William Collins, account executive at Georgia-based S&L Integrated, to implement a new audio solution that would eliminate the intelligibility issues. S&L Integrated contacted independent manufacturer’s representative Richard Hembree of Griffith Sales Associates to assist with the design.
“The main loudspeakers are located in the center, which is usually the best location in a sanctuary,” said Collins. “However, the sanctuary in Bethlehem UMC has a beautiful barrel shaped ceiling. Any sound generated from the center of the room is magnified significantly by this feature. The result is a significant percentage of the sanctuary with poor intelligibility.”
A pair of Iconyx Compact ICC36/3 steerable arrays were the perfect solution for the church’s challenging acoustics. The ICC36/3 brings the performance and directivity of Renkus-Heinz’ industry-leading ICONYX Gen5 Series to spaces where even the classic ICONYX arrays are too large. With a nearly 40% smaller footprint, the slender cabinet of the ICC36/3 virtually disappeared into the background of the nave once installed. Additionally, Renkus-Heinz’ latest beam steering advancements allow for a movable acoustic center, multiple beam opening angles and high-pass filtering of individual beams, all of which helped greatly improve the sanctuary’s acoustics.
Upon hearing the new loudspeakers, the church congregation was thrilled with the upgrade. In fact, most parishioners had trouble seeing the smaller loudspeakers even as they enjoyed crystal-clear, intelligible sound for the sermon and musical worship.
“Oh! I thought those were just shadows,” said one member after having the loudspeakers pointed out to them. Another parishioner, with a look of shock on her face, simply said “WOW!” as someone spoke on the pulpit microphone. A great improvement, indeed.