Meyer Sound Constellation Tailors Acoustics for 82-Year-Old Laguna Presbyterian Church


In the heart of Laguna Beach in Southern California, an 82-year-old Spanish mission style building stands proud as the home of Laguna Presbyterian Church. After a two-year renovation that included the installation of a Meyer Sound Constellation acoustic system, the sanctuary now provides acoustical environments that fully support its rich and diverse worship program.

"We were very unhappy with the sound," says worship elder Lorna Cohen. "It was fine for spoken word but we had all sorts of music that just really wasn't engaging our congregation because of the building's acoustics. We also have this Möller organ with 1,600 pipes and we weren't really able to experience the full range of that because we had a very, very dead space."

"From our first hearing of VRAS to the completion of our Constellation install, the response of the congregation has been nothing but positive. The system is also very simple to operate, which is what we need as a church."

- Lorna Cohen
Worship Elder, Laguna Presbyterian Church

Laguna was committed to finding an audio solution that would aurally envelope the congregation and fully support its praise band, sermons and readings, agape bells choir, and chorus. Preserving the aesthetical integrity of the historic architecture was also named a key requirement, and this effectively eliminated large mechanical modifications as an option.

According to acoustical measurements conducted by Jerry Christoff of Veneklasen Associates in spring 2005, Laguna had a nominal reverberation time of only 0.8 seconds at 500 Hertz. The short nominal reverberation resulted in dry and lifeless choir and organ sound, and less than robust congregational singing. The report concluded that the VRAS technology, which is at the heart of Constellation, would achieve a much wider range of reverberation and envelopment than the alternative options.

Subsequently, a successful VRAS demonstration in July 2005 shone a clear path for Cohen. "It was my first Constellation listening experience and it was a shocking difference," says Cohen. "The system was turned on and off, and then on, it was just the difference between wanting to sing and not wanting to sing."

From spoken word to reinforced sound, to choir and organ, each activity requires a different optimal reverberation time that can be achieved electronically without costly physical building modifications. Deploying Meyer Sound's patented VRAS algorithm, the Constellation system at Laguna provides a flexible solution to achieve the desired acoustical qualities for its different presentations. Five presets on a touch-screen panel are available for selection, ranging from the longest setting of up to 2.4 seconds for organ music to the shortest setting of 1.1 seconds for the spoken word. The reverberation time of the unassisted room is 0.8 seconds.

Dave Lawler of Docktrdave Audio Inc. oversaw the audio upgrade at Laguna, from system design, installation, to final tuning. Sixteen miniature cardioid and omnidirectional microphones throughout the room pick up the room's acoustics and these signals are processed by one MS-Constellation and two MS-VRAS processors. The VRAS processors generate 32 de-correlated reverberant signals that are distributed through the system's 48 discrete outputs to 67 loudspeakers. The custom painted, low-profile loudspeakers are strategically positioned to create a natural sounding reverberant field, while remaining out of sight.

In addition to the Constellation system, Laguna also installed a main reinforcement system that features 14 UPM-1P, four UPM-2P, two CQ-2, eight UPJunior VariO loudspeakers, and 15 Stella-4 installation loudspeakers, as well as 500-HP and USW-1P subwoofers.

"From our first hearing of VRAS to the completion of our Constellation install, the response of the congregation has been nothing but positive," says Cohen. "The system is also very simple to operate, which is what we need as a church."

Sound and Video Contractor contributing editor Bennett Liles interviewed Lorna Cohen, Dave Lawler, and Meyer Sound's Steve Ellison in blogcast "Acoustics Tailoring with Meyer Sound Constellation System." To listen to the interviews, please visit:

May, 2010