Community Reformed Church in Zeeland, Michigan has taken on the sobriquet of “one of the best-sounding churches in Western Michigan” thanks to the recent integration of two separate L-ACOUSTICS ARCS "WIFO" systems. Installed by AV systems integrator Parkway Communications, the first system replaces an existing ten year old PA in the main sanctuary, while the other is used to transform the church's adjacent gymnasium into an extended worship space for overflow seating as attendance has grown.
The sanctuary system is comprised of two ARCS WIDE and four ARCS FOCUS enclosures, coupled with four SB18m subs, two coaxial 12XT fills and a pair of LA8 amplified controllers for power and processing. In the gym, two ARCS WIDE and two ARCS FOCUS are paired with a single SB18m and LA8. The sanctuary audio upgrade also included a new DiGiCo SD9 console.
However, this wasn't just another project for Parkway Communications, which has a huge portfolio of HOW projects. Gary Zandstra, director of sales and marketing for the Holland, Michigan-based integrator, is a member of Community Reformed Church and often mixes the sound for services there, along with Parkway colleague Josh Maichele, who has also mixed live sound for country music headliners Toby Keith and Keith Anderson as well as classic rocker Mark Farner. So the sound in this church was personal as well as professional.
“The sanctuary has had issues for years with reflections that affect intelligibility, and the gym would naturally have the same kind of challenge because of the hard reflective surfaces,” said Zandstra, who adds that the same committee-based processes of most houses of worship had slowed down acoustical treatments in this church's sanctuary by several years. Work began in the gym first, with planning for the sanctuary system replacement starting soon thereafter.
Both systems came online within a month of each other this year, and both have been just what the church needed. “The WIFO combination is perfect for keeping energy off of the walls and on the audience,” said Zandstra. “Vocals really pop out crystal clear. In the gym, where the portable stage is mounted against the long wall, WIFO is able to give us the vertical dispersion we need to fill that kind of a space without any problem.”
Zandstra adds that once the acoustical treatment materials had been added to the sanctuary area, the church was transformed into “the best-sounding church in Western Michigan, and Josh agrees. With the L-ACOUSTICS systems in place, I'd put this church and gym up against any performance space.”