Joy Christian Fellowship in Medford, OR is a church filled with spirit and lacking in pretense. Located in a working class neighborhood not far from one of the city’s remaining timber mills, the unassuming church does not have the gleaming steel and marble façade typical of megachurches. At first glance, it’s hardly a place where you’d expect to find one of the first installations of Meyer Sound’s M’elodie™ ultracompact high-power curvilinear array loudspeaker to go into a house of worship. But it's never wise to make judgments based on appearances alone.

“Music plays a big part in our worship ministry,” explains music minister Jake Schmelzer. “All churches have a message that needs to be communicated clearly. In our church we have a desire to carry out that duty with an attitude of excellence.”

With two M’elodie arrays of eight cabinets each providing coverage of the 500-seat worship center's main floor, the only fill cabinets needed are a pair of UPJ-1P compact VariO™ loudspeakers to cover a shallow balcony located on one side. Ample bass is supplied by a pair of 600-HP compact high-power subwoofers, with drive processing for all loudspeakers provided by a Galileo™ loudspeaker management system.

The church’s selection of a Meyer Sound system is, to a great extent, the result of Schmelzer’s experiences at the Britt Festivals in nearby Jacksonville, for which George Relles Sound (Eugene, OR) has provided a Meyer Sound rental system every summer since 1985.

“When I thought about the best sound I’d heard in the area, I immediately thought of Britt,” recalls Schmelzer. “I heard Nickel Creek there last summer, and Ricky Skaggs a few years back. The clarity of the sound for both was stunning, and, in Christian music, clarity is crucial because you want the lyrics understood. The Meyer systems at Britt also have plenty of impact, and a warmth that really envelops you.”

With Joy Christian Fellowship now celebrating its 25th anniversary year, the church’s senior pastor (and Jake’s father), Steve Schmelzer, decided to put a quality sound system in the first phase of the church’s renovation project, rather than in the last, as is often the case. Jake contacted the Britt Festivals, and was referred to Relles Sound. Relles responded with two system proposals: one with the brand-new M’elodie, and another using CQ-2 narrow coverage main loudspeakers. He plotted both options using the MAPP Online Pro™ acoustical prediction program and presented the results to the younger Schmelzer.

“The CQ approach looked fine,” says Schmelzer, “but I was struck by the smoothness of the M’elodie, and the way they kept uniform coverage all the way underneath the balcony. It was the higher-priced option, but we decided to go for it.”

Adds Relles, “It was my first opportunity to hear a full M’elodie system, and the thing that struck me is the way they really do sound like a small version of MILO. They are very accurate, and very predicable.”

To complement the Meyer Sound system, Relles also supplied a Yamaha M7CL digital console, a complete Aviom personal monitoring system, and eight Shure PSM Series wireless in-ear monitors. The package also included a fresh complement of wired and wireless Shure microphones to supplement existing stock from AKG, Sennheiser, and CAD.

When the system was installed, even prior to Relles’ tuning with a SIM® 3 audio analyzer, Jake Schmelzer’s reaction was typical. “The first time they turned them on, the sound was just awesome,” he recounts. “The clarity and transparency are astonishing. They put out exactly what goes into them. They don’t hamper or change anything.”

But, as Schmelzer admits, such transparency can be disconcerting if you’ve been accustomed to systems that cover minor blemishes with muffled sound. “If what you’re doing in your production isn’t up to par, [the M’elodies] show it to you right away. I like that, because as a worship ministry, it challenges us to keep improving.”