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Solomon Awards 2019 – Prestonwood Baptist Church Faith Chapel (Design and Installation of Audio System or Sound Reinforcement)

Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas, is one of the largest churches in America, with multiple sites and venues. At the heart of their sprawling 140-acre main campus, is a little gem called Faith Chapel.

While the chapel is amazingly beautiful inside and out, and impressive in its architecture, there were significant intelligibility issues throughout the room. Prestonwood’s leadership knew they needed to make changes to address the intelligibility, but were unsure if it was possible to fix while still maintaining the pristine aesthetic value of the interior. Prestonwood’s leadership decided to approach Paragon 360 about finding a specific and unique solution to the chapel’s problems.

With seating for 550 people, Faith Chapel was an ideal venue for weddings, funerals, and various other small ceremonies. Because of the nature of most of these events, speech intelligibility was of the highest priority to Prestonwood leadership. However, the aesthetic value of the beautiful chapel had to be preserved as well. Although built in the 21st century, the traditional architecture of the building had older, more classical influences. With stained glass windows, an arched barrel ceiling, and a reverberation time that is well-suited for piano and orchestral music, the building is visually pleasing, but difficult to acoustically control.

Paragon 360 knew the easy fix would be to address acoustics which could be done this day and age without major upsets to the look and feel of the space. However, it might be possible to greatly improve the intelligibility without addressing the acoustics which was ultimately the church’s first choice. Paragon 360 began researching a vast array of manufacturer’s products that, combined with careful design, could be candidates for an electronic solution.

“With the idea that we wanted to try and solve this without dealing with acoustics, we were really looking for loudspeaker solutions that would allow us to critically focus and steer the sound,” said Mark Coble, Lead Audio Designer for Paragon 360. “Without acoustical control of the space, we had to put sound only where we wanted it and keep it off of everything else.” After some initial design and research, Paragon 360 identified state-of-the-art Meyer Sound CAL 96 loudspeakers.

Paragon’s audio team believed in the solution so much that they flew the Prestonwood team out to California to experience the Meyer system capabilities for themselves. “This is a high-profile client who can hire anyone in the country they want too,” remarked Coble. “They came to us for this solution and we felt they needed to see to believe. This would also prevent Prestonwood from again, spending money on speakers that ultimately would not be the right solution for the space. The idea was to put their mind’s at ease, being able to hear the system at work before ever installing it in the chapel. It ultimately instilled confidence in our solution.”

By using a state-of-the-art audio system from Meyer Sound that is practically invisible, Paragon 360 was able to meet the acoustic and aesthetic goals of the church. The new system comprised of two Meyer Sound CAL 96 loudspeakers mounted discreetly to the inside of the antique grille openings at the front of the sanctuary. The beam tilt and spread of one CAL 96 was focused on the lower seating, and the other focused narrowly on the rear balcony. Two small Meyer Sound UP-4slim loudspeakers were anchored along the edge of large pieces of trim, and custom color matched in order to perfectly blend into the interior. Two Meyer Sound 750-LFC low frequency control elements were also installed behind the grilles to supply low frequency extension.

In May 2019, Faith Chapel’s updates were completed. Despite the unique and specific challenges that the Faith Chapel presented, Paragon 360 found a perfect fix that not only transformed the sound and acoustics of the space, it kept the beauty of the building intact. “Honestly, the system Paragon 360 put in the Chapel does things I wouldn’t believe possible, unless I had heard it. This system has raised the bar of excellence,” raved Prestonwood’s Director of Media, Bryan Bailey.

After Paragon 360’s work in the chapel, speech intelligibility was greatly improved, and consistent, even sound coverage to all seating areas was achieved.

Best of all, there was virtually no change to the aesthetics of Faith Chapel, due to the invisible nature of the CAL 96s, and the custom color matching and blending of the UP-4slim speakers.

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