First Christian Church Handles Worship and Community Events with New NEXO System
The term "multi-use venue" is common among houses of worship and a perfect example is First Christian Church (FCC) in Kernersville, North Carolina, more accurately described as a "gymatorium" by worship pastor Drew Grounds.
In addition to regular services (three on Sunday and one mid-week), FCC is also the community civic center hosting fitness classes, youth events, graduations and even touring concert acts. While the ministry certainly lives up to its nickname, such diversity requires a church sound system that is adaptable and flexible enough to cover any live sound production.
ON Audio Visual Solutions (ONAVS) LLC teamed with NEXO (a Yamaha company) to design and deliver a sound system installation capable of meeting the array of needs faced by FCC and Grounds every week.
During his 10 years at FCC, Grounds has seen the church's audio capabilities completely change. "When I first arrived, sound wasn't a priority," he recalled. "They were happy to just have speakers on pole-stands and call it a day."
The church did eventually step up to a commercial sound system, but due to the space's wide and unconventional configuration, "the speaker placement was weird, and the sound was super-harsh," Grounds said. "We were never able to tune them properly and push the right amount of sound pressure through to get the volume we needed without people just perceiving it as being loud all the time."
A second upgrade to a new system offered some improvements, "but there still was a harshness," he said. "It's just not an acoustically treated room."
FCC worked with audio consultant Myron Surber at ONAVS, who suggested a NEXO system as the ideal solution. A demonstration soon convinced Grounds he had found the right system for his gymatorium.
"We needed a system that would sound pleasing to everyone's ears but also deliver enough range to handle our growing musical diversity, alternating between heavy contemporary multi-piece rock bands to subtle bluegrass to traditional 50-70 member choirs," he said.
In July 2019, the church installed NEXO's GEO M10 compact line source system with four LS18 bandpass subs built into the stage.
"The demos sounded great, but it's always hard to tell when they're not in the actual space," he said. "Once they were installed, I instantly noticed the change. The biggest difference was the smoothness I perceived in the room."
FCC's members range from young children to the elderly and "everyone has an opinion on what good audio sounds like," Grounds said.
In the few months since the NEXO installation, the improvements are already clear to everyone, satisfying even the toughest critics in the room.
"You really can't tell these are new by looking at them," he said. "To the casual observer they are just black boxes," he said. "But after the first Sunday service we did with the NEXO speakers, a member came to me and asked, ‘What have you done? That is the most fantastic sound I've ever heard in my life, it sounds so smooth.' I almost passed out when he said it because that was my exact reaction."
NEXO's Geo M range is one of the only line source systems on the market to use multiple vertical dispersion options and horizontal dispersion to fit the needs of any space. In the case of Geo M10, NEXO offers an M1012 (12° vertical) and an M1025 (25° vertical), while also allowing the horizontal coverage to easily be adapted to 80° or 120° using NEXO's patented configurable directivity device.
"These speakers give overall coverage that's better suited to this specific space," he said. "We're running things hotter now than before, because the frequencies that were so hard to manage in our older systems are not a problem with these speakers. The 1025 downfills evenly cover the front section where we had to use front fills before. Plus, we can properly adjust them so people up front aren't blasted out of their seats by a wall of sound. The NEXO system covers the room in a lovely way."
Expansion is definitely in the plans for First Christian Church. The ministry is building a 600-seat satellite campus to complement the main building, which will continue to expand its level of productions. Grounds is confident the NEXO system will keep pace with the church's growth, easily scaling up or down to match any production.
"I don't see us having to upgrade loudspeakers for a long time," he said. "We now have a commercial sound system that handles anything we do on Sundays or during the week. The NEXO system just sounds fantastic."