Small Church Gets Big Sound with Renkus-Heinz VARIA

Homestead, FL | February, 2015 - Located about 45 minutes south of Miami, Florida, Princeton Church of the Nazarene has survived at least three major hurricanes over the past century. The church's modest 200-seat sanctuary has a long history of struggling with uneven sound quality and poor intelligibility. As the first stage in a renovation for the building's upcoming 100-year anniversary, the sanctuary was recently updated with a new sound system centered on Renkus-Heinz VARIA modular point source line array loudspeakers.

The system was specified by Robert Bernecker of Waxahachi, TX-based SEFI Consulting, and installed by Revelation Sound of Miami, FL. Bernecker saw this modest house of worship as an ideal setting for VARIA's hybrid approach, using just three loudspeakers to provide controlled coverage for the entire sanctuary.

"The old system was just hammering the back wall, creating a lot of slapback, yet it wasn't covering the front seats because it was aimed so high," explains Bernecker. "It had very wide dispersion and zero control. VARIA's modular design enabled me to create a system with the power of a line array, but with the pattern control to cover the room very nicely."

VARIA's modular design includes a range of cabinets with configurable horizontal and vertical dispersion patterns. Renkus-Heinz proprietary progressive waveguides enable transitions between two horizontal dispersion angles within a single cabinet. The result is a custom configurable system, with tighter pattern control using fewer cabinets.

"Originally, I looked at this church two years ago, and envisioned it would take about 12 horns and a few clever tricks to get the pattern control the room needed," Bernecker recalls. "But by the time the church was ready to move forward, Renkus-Heinz had released VARIA, which gave me the tools to do the same job, with better control, using just three boxes and a good DSP system. The timing was perfect."

The system at Princeton Church of the Nazarene comprises a single array of three VAX101 enclosures, with a different waveguide in each. The bottom speaker sports a 120-degree horizontal guide to enable full coverage of the front rows. The middle box uses a transitional waveguide that goes from 120 degrees to 90, while the top cabinet continues the progression from 90 down to 60 degrees. A legacy subwoofer is flown behind the VARIA system to provide bass extension.

"By putting those three boxes together in that fashion, you get a seamless array with plenty of output," explains Bernecker. "The 10-inch drivers couple together in line array fashion, which is perfect for the lows and low mids. Yet when you get to the highs, each of those horns is serving a distinct area, more like a point source. So it's really a hybrid approach, and exactly what a smaller room like this needs."

To ensure even coverage, Bernecker used Symetrix DSP to control the output of each speaker. "For the long throws at 60 and 90 degrees, I obviously wanted all three of those drivers firing," he notes. "But to keep from blasting the front rows, I used FIR filters to get my pattern control by shading off each box at different frequencies. In essence, we created a variable length array that was still totally phase coherent. We were never able to do that before, and I was very, very pleased with the evenness."

This was the first installation of Renkus-Heinz VARIA for both SEFI Consulting and Revelation Sound, and the benefits were immediately obvious, with fewer loudspeakers providing full-range audio with excellent intelligibility. "It's the kind of thing we do routinely in a 1500-seat house of worship, using 12-box arrays coupled with some high-end processing," says Bernecker. "VARIA enabled us to bring those same capabilities to smaller churches, giving them incredible bang for their buck."

Mike Melcher, President of Revelation Sound, agrees. " The Renkus-Heinz VARIA system sounds absolutely incredible," he asserts. "This will be our premiere system for new customer demonstrations."

As for the worship team and congregation, Bernecker reports that their first experience was revelatory. "When they walked in, their jaws dropped," he recounts. "They had dealt with poor coverage for so many years, it was amazing to them – to have every corner of the room covered perfectly, and how the PA cuts off right at the platform's edge. They could not believe how much clearer it sounds."