Symetrix Solus 16 Revitalizes First United Methodist Church of Appleton

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APPLETON, WISCONSIN: The roots of First United Methodist Church of Appleton, Wisconsin were planted 165 years ago when a frontier preacher named William H. Sampson gave a sermon in one of the few shanties that comprised the nascent town. Sorrows and joys enough to fill a book span the years between then and now, and presently First United is the spiritual home for over 1,300 residents and a cornerstone of community life. Long ago, the church outgrew its chapel and constructed a larger sanctuary on adjacent land. However, the chapel continues to serve the community on a nearly daily basis, hosting organizational meetings, prayer meetings, weddings and musical events - most notably involving students and staff from nearby Lawrence University. Metro Sound & Video recently modernized the chapel's sound system with a Symetrix Solus 16 processor and Extron user control that will soon be iPad addressable.

Greater Milwaukee-based Metro Sound & Video first became involved with First United in 2004, when it upgraded the sound system in the church's larger sanctuary. The sound reinforcement system in the chapel had surpassed its life expectancy, and intermittent problems and overall lack of fidelity were challenging the vitality of chapel events. "When the system went in some time in the early 1990s, it was a quality installation with quality products," said Keith Anderson, project manager of Metro Sound & Video. "Time just got the better of them. With the new installation, we got the fundamentals right by installing the right speaker for the space and adding acoustical paneling to improve intelligibility. The Symetrix Solus 16 gave us all the DSP tools that we needed to dial in the system for awesome sound."

The Symetrix Solus 16, which accepts sixteen inputs, delivers eight outputs, and gives the integrator complete control over audio and control routing and processing, now handles all of the audio mixing and loudspeaker conditioning at First United's chapel. An ElectroVoice EVH-Series loudspeaker fills the main floor, and a pair of ElectroVoice EVID-Series loudspeakers provide fill for the balcony. All sixteen of the Solus 16's inputs are used for various wireless and wired microphones for voice and instruments, as well as for overflow audio from the main sanctuary. The eight outputs send to the main floor loudspeaker, the balcony delays, two separate floor monitor mixes, an archival recorder, and a Contacta inductive loop system for the hearing impaired. QSC amplifiers power the loudspeakers, and a new 6000 lumen Eiki projector brightens the room's visual display.

"Between the extremely low cost and the complete flexibility of its processing design, the Symetrix Solus is the perfect partner for projects where future expansion will not be a concern of the client," said Anderson. "The Solus 16 allowed us to give First United all the inputs and outputs to run the system in the manner hoped for. As a contractor, I appreciate having the open architecture capability of SymNet Designer software, which allows me to use what I need in order to process or route audio in the fashion necessary."

The chapel's entire audio/video system, including the Solus 16, is controlled by an Extron TouchLink control system with a seven-inch LCD color touch-screen. The TouchLink control system will be interfaced with Apple iPad control later this summer once Extron makes the TouchLink App available through Apple. Users have control over input sources, microphone gains, projector power, and media (e.g. Blu-Ray player) operation. For simple control of audio volumes, Metro Sound & Video supplied the church with a Symetrix ARC-2e wall panel remote.

"The church staff and weekly users of the chapel are very pleased with the system's sound quality," said Anderson. "They can finally hear the spoken word clearly in the Chapel. At some point in the near future we will also upgrade the DSP in their sanctuary and will call on Symetrix' new SymNet Edge technology to provide them with ARC-WEB control for live operation of the system via iPad or smartphone that will replace the functionality of the existing analog console."

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