Published in Worship AVL Asia Autumn 2009
A new worship space doesn’t always invite a straightforward technical install,
as was shown by Seoul’s Myung Sung Church. Tim Goodyer discovers the solution
With the unusual shape of its main hall, the design of the sound system for
South Korea’s Myung Sung First Presbyterian Church presented a particular challenge
to local contractor Media House. Answering the church’s prayers, however, the
solution was to hand in the form of a flexible loudspeaker system and some careful
Although this particular branch of the Myung Sung Church has only been open
a matter of months, it is part of South Korea’s largest church – and reputedly
the largest Presbyterian church in the world – and has branches throughout the
country. Called the Jesus Hall, the church’s main sanctuary is the focus of
the large new facility, which is located in the Goyang district of Seoul, around
30 minutes from the city’s centre towards Incheon. In all, it occupies five
storeys including two basement levels.
The Jesus Hall is a double-height room with capacity for around 1,000 worshippers
and is approximately semi-circular in plan, although the boundary walls form
a series of tangents rather than a curve. Accordingly, the downstairs pews are
arranged in a series of angled ranks, while upstairs offers three balcony areas
with an uncluttered view of the large stage. Although quite sizeable, this arrangement
allows the room a sense of intimacy, while its many windows also make it feel
Although the main elements of the sound system are clearly visible, much
of it is not, and it is to the credit of the designers that so much of the technical
infrastructure and operation of the system is hidden from the congregation.
This begins with provision of a ‘broadcasting room’ on the fourth floor –
the upper level of the Jesus Hall – and extends to the use of patch panels that
have been generously fitted into the walls, stage and front pews to carry audio
feeds, loudspeaker connections and mains power.
Flown on either side of the stage at front-of-house is a Danley Sound Labs
loudspeaker system. With a quote from the Book of Proverbs as its mission statement
(‘To find favour and a good name in the sight of God and man’), it comes as
no surprise that the US-based company is well versed in the requirements of
worship audio installations. In fact, the company names applications as wide
ranging as ‘ground zero’ bombing simulation and active noise cancellation
of jet engines to critical listening mastering studios and high-end home theatre
among its achievements. Equally, the majority of projects handled by Media House
are houses of worship – the company has been in operation for around 10 years,
with Danley Sound Labs a relatively recent addition to its catalogue around
12 months ago.
Due to the width of the stage at the Myung Sung Church, the two clusters
are unusually widely spaced – adding to the initial acoustic challenge offered
by the shape of the room itself. Each cluster comprises two full-range Danley
Sound Labs DFA and two SH50 boxes, and a single TH-115 subwoofer. The 2kW-rated
TH-115 is primarily intended for use in concert/tour applications and offers
high output across a 38Hz to 200Hz frequency range, combined with low (152lb)
weight. In the Mung Sung Church installation, the TH-115 is mounted inboard
of the other loudspeakers, whose trapezoidal shape allows each cabinet’s 50°
by 50° dispersion pattern to be used to effectively cover the full with
of the hall.
The SH50 is a three-way, active design while the SH-DFA is an asymmetrical
full-range, two-way horn designed to closely integrate with the SH-50. The SH-DFA
fits the footprint of the SH-50 and, at just 13-inch high, is mounted beneath
each SH50 to provide the required centre fill and down fill for the Jesus Hall.
The SH-DFA coverage pattern of 50° by 100° was an essential element
of achieving even coverage across the width of the stage. Additionally, the
internal DSP offered by the cabinets has allowed the system to be very finely
tuned to the specific acoustic of the hall.
Downstairs, under balcony seating is served by two Danley SH-100 full range
active loudspeakers – a two-way ‘synergy’ horn with a 110° by 110°
beam width and 70Hz to 20kHz frequency response that also uses DSP control.
The front-of-house mixing console is positioned in the balcony, central to
the stage, from which position the sound engineer has a clear view of the whole
room with the exception of the under-balcony areas. In pride of place here is
an Allen & Heath GL3300 live analogue console, offering 40 channel input
channels, eight groups mute groups and a 12 x 2 matrix. As well as a Denon DN625
CD/cassette machine, alongside the desk there is a BSS Soundweb controller that
is loaded with preset configurations for the sound system to operate in ‘normal’,
‘speech’ and ‘music’ modes. With this, it is an extremely quick and simple
job for the engineer to significantly adapt the loudspeaker set-up for optimum
operation in a variety of applications.
If the Danley Sound Labs system is key to managing the spread of sound in
the Jesus Hall, then the key to its operation is Soundweb. Located in the broadcasting
room – along with the selection of Crown XTi and MacroTech amplifiers that are
used to drive the stage monitors – is a Soundweb Lite 3088 programmable digital
audio system. Drawing on the earlier, and more capable 9088iis unit, this offers
the eight audio inputs and outputs that are sufficient for this installation,
along with a DSP engine, analogue GPI control interfacing and RS232 ports for
external control. The broadcasting room is also the operations centre for the
church’s lighting and audiovisual systems, and uses a Neem NS-8S power sequencer
to ensure safe power-up and power-down of its equipment.
As with the audio system, lighting in the Jesus Hall is well provided, with
around 50 units including moving heads installed above the stage. Immediately
to the left and right of the stage, meanwhile, are two large plasma monitors
allowing visuals to be incorporated into a service and also to better relay
the image of the preacher to the outer and more distant seats.
Out on the stage, the pulpit is equipped with Countryman microphones and
uses two Danley SH-Mini loudspeakers for monitoring. The musicians that play
a large part in the church’s services include a choir, as well as piano, organ,
drums and electric guitars. The band members use beyerdynamic mics and rely
on a number of JBL MRX500 wedges for their monitoring.
There is more to the Myung Sung Church than the Jesus Hall, of course, including
a chapel, baby room and restaurant facilities. But the attention to detail –
both in aesthetic and technical terms – is at its best here.
South Korea can claim more than its share of large-scale churches and the
extensive technical systems they rely on for their work. As the US eyes this
market as a logical extension of its own, so South Korean churches are using
US installations as inspiration and aspiration for its own. In case of the Myung
Sung First Presbyterian Church, however, there are lessons to be learned very
much closer to home
Media House, South Korea: +82 2 3775 2328