Chicago's Moody Church Gets Audio Upgrade

Built in the mid-1920s, The Moody Church in downtown Chicago accommodates more than 3,700 worshippers, making it the largest non-pillared auditorium in the metro area. Amplification inside the vast oval sanctuary was once fraught with challenges until the recent replacement of a 20-year-old main cluster with a new Meyer Sound MINA line array system.

“To the untrained eye, the new cluster doesn’t look that much different,” said Michael Arman, the church’s audio/visual technical coordinator, “so you might not notice we have a new system. But after the first Sunday, our senior pastor [Dr. Erwin Lutzer] told me that a number of people had praised him on his voice being in unusually good form. Apparently, they were hearing nuances they’d never heard before.”

For those sitting in about 80 percent of the historic church’s seats, Dr. Lutzer’s “revived” voice was carried by a single array of 10 MINA line array loudspeakers.

“MINA was clearly the right tool for the job,” said TC Furlong, president of the project’s integrator, TC Furlong Inc. of Lake Forest, IL. “The MINA loudspeakers offered vastly better performance and coverage, but aesthetically they fit into the same mold as the old system that everybody was used to.”

The balance of the main cluster hang comprises two UPJ-1P VariO loudspeakers as side fill, rear-facing choir fills of a UPA-1P and two UPA-2P loudspeakers, and four 500-HP subwoofers in a cardioid configuration. Three UPM-1P loudspeakers on the chancel cover the front rows and hold the audio image down, while a Galileo loudspeaker management system—with two Galileo 616 processors—provides system drive.

According to Arman, the new system also provides greatly improved uniformity of coverage throughout the church. “I find that I don’t have to overcompensate when I’m mixing anymore,” he said. “Before, I’d force myself to mix brighter where I was sitting, because I knew people 30 feet away were in a dead null spot. Now I’m far more confident that everybody is hearing what I’m hearing.”

The Moody Church’s worship services feature a blend of contemporary and traditional music, including an amplified band, full orchestra, and 70-voice choir. Touring artists have also noticed the sanctuary’s sonic improvements. “We had Keith & Kristyn Getty in here with their full band after we put in the new system,” he said, “and their FOH mixer told me we had the best-sounding mono rig he’s heard.”

The new Meyer Sound loudspeakers complement the existing front-end system at The Moody Church, including a Yamaha M7CL digital console, Shure wireless microphone systems, and Aviom personal monitor mixers.

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