When Green Acres Baptist Church in Tyler, TX was looking to upgrade its sound system over the summer, they turned to Nashville-based AV company Morris to design and install the system.
“Our building is fan-shaped, seating about 3,400 people,” said Mark Leonard, audio director for Green Acres Baptist Church. “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. 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.”
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,” he said. “Another sound crew runs that room. We also do television broadcasts on a couple of local TV channels and on the local cable channel.”
“The mics had to blend in visually,” said Danny Rosenbalm, CEO for Morris. “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, Rosenbalm said, 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,” Leonard said. “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,” Leonard said. “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 explained 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.”
“The first Sunday using the Flexwands was pretty amazing,” Leonard said. “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.