Case Study: Prestonwood Baptist Church, TX


When the renowned Prestonwood Baptist Church decided to do a major remodel on their Prosper-based north campus, time was even shorter than usual, and the budget had to stretch to deliver ambitious results.

Prestonwood North Renovation | Paragon 360

When the renowned Prestonwood Baptist Church decided to do a major remodel on their Prosper-based north campus, time was even shorter than usual, and the budget had to stretch to deliver ambitious results. Prestonwood is one of the world’s foremost media ministries, so expectations were high. Church principals wanted the experience at Prosper to mirror the production values of the 7000-seat flagship campus in Plano within the constraints of a smaller footprint and budget.

The underlying design concept was to transform the Prosper campus from a proscenium to a more three-dimensional space both for those in attendance and for the online congregants that make up a large part of the Prestonwood community. The church would effectively be both black-box theater and television studio—a platform that the technically-savvy staff and well-trained volunteers could use to create impactful content under the leadership of well-known Director of Media Bryan Bailey. Visually and sonically it needed an inclusive, community design that would wrap the congregants in imagery and support them to lend their voices, without drawing attention to the technology.

The Prestonwood team turned to longtime collaborators Paragon 360, a Springfield, MO-based design, integration, fabrication, and installation firm with deep expertise in churches and their technology needs.

“Prestonwood is a very technically driven ministry,” explains Ryan Cowen, President of Paragon 360. This shows up differently at both campuses, but the underlying mission is the same—to give people a profound media-supported experience.

“They have clear ideas about what they want from technology,” says Mark Coble, Paragon 360’s Director of Audio Design. “They have a good-sized staff of full-time professionals and they invest in their volunteers more than any other church I’ve ever seen in a very effective manner, focusing on creating a distraction-free experience for everyone.

“The head of media, Bryan Bailey, is extremely knowledgeable, talented, and very good at managing his very large crew,” Coble says. “He’s the guy that others in the technical arts field look to for how to manage a media ministry. We are a partner with him and his team in the design process.” These shared values gave Paragon 360 designers confidence in specifying systems that would deliver impactful sound and video performance, without any concern that it would be unfamiliar or out of reach for the Prestonwood staff.

For the fast-growing Prosper community, the goal was to welcome people into the local campus and connect them to a music-driven worship with clean, intelligible, and uniform audio. Visually the team envisioned big LED backdrops that would fill the space with imagery, but also be camera-friendly for streaming capture. Detailed lighting and LED were carefully calibrated to ensure complementary and uniform performance in a modern space that has minimal architectural detail and relies on technology to create the environment.

Coble explains that a key value for Prestonwood is ensuring a quality equitable experience for every person in the room. “That means even distribution of sound and speech intelligibility—for every seat. They’re a musically-driven church so they needed a PA that would reflect this core, and it needed to be flexible—sometimes dynamic, sometimes traditional worship, sometimes able to support big SPL. Overall, they like a room that’s well balanced and supports the atmosphere that originates from the platform.”

For all this, the team turned to Meyer Sound to deliver the right sonic experience, and also to meet the unique constraints of schedule and budget that were driving the remodel. “This was the fastest track large-scale project we’ve ever taken on,” Coble says. Meyer Sound delivered, no small accomplishment in a time of compressed schedules and supply chain challenges.

Prestonwood’s team was familiar with the Meyer Sound range; Paragon had recently installed LINA systems in the youth center at the Plano flagship. For the Prosper location, LEOPARD-M80 was the right fit, supported by 900-LFC ULTRA-X42, ULTRA-X40, and UP-4slim, and a Galileo GALAXY Network Platform. “LEOPARD is very smooth and accurate,” Coble says. “It has a very studio monitor feel to it. What you put in is what comes out.

“A priority of the new system was to maintain balance in the room. Their old PA system was aging and couldn’t support the mix they wanted, and it sounded different all over the room.” Coble says “We had a hard budget, so we didn’t change acoustics. We couldn’t change the room size or the structural components of the building, we had to do it with the speakers, the system design, placement, and rigging.” With the Meyer Sound MAPP 3D system design and prediction tool they were able to work in a virtual environment and have a dialog between the modeling and the site. “We were careful to terminate loudspeaker coverage into the audience plane and keep it off the walls,” Coble notes. Outfill and delayed components in the Meyer inventory work transparently with the array and provide the consistent, integrated sound Prestonwood was looking for.

Prestonwood is a DiGiCo house with three Quantum 7 desks at the main Plano location; the new campus received an SD7 Quantum at FOH, and a new Q338 monitor console that was installed in December.

On the video side, the new campus also mirrors the main location with its dramatic LED walls. “At Prosper, we renovated the stage floor ReveLux LED from the same batch that we used at their Plano campus,” explains Cowen. Paragon 360 has a strong relationship with the emerging ReveLux and founder Chad Rose and has deployed their StoryGlass walls in some high-profile worship installations, including Prestonwood and Evangel University. The StoryGlass Ultra series is available in pixel pitches from .7 to 2.5mm, native 16:9 at a quality and price that Cowen sees as a strong option for the houses of worship market. “They look good in person and on camera, they have a low failure rate on delivery and we find them easy to use and assemble out of the box.” At Prosper, the walls are served by a FOR-A switcher and carefully integrated with a comprehensive Chauvet lighting package calibrated to ensure camera-friendly performance on the LED walls.

Cowen echoes Coble’s sentiment on the turnaround, which was intense even for an experienced AV veteran like Paragon 360. He cites the company’s 350 manufacturer relationships as one key facet of flexibility and speed. Having a technically savvy client also helps, and a history of trust. “They have a lot of expertise and experience and some very specific preferences,” Cowen says, “so it definitely foreshortened portions of the design process because we knew up front what we could disqualify.”

Still, like all installs, there was the unforeseen. One big example was that a wall that had originally been slated to hold an LED turned out to be full of electrical chase—fixed branch circuitry and conduit that couldn’t be moved without blowing the budget and schedule. On site, the LED repositioning solution had to deliver on expected sightlines, just in another way.

The final result changed the experience for Prestonwood congregants but also for how the media team approached content in the more immersive space. “There was definitely an intentional shift on the part of the media team,” Cowen says, “they understood how to use that technology to set the mood.”

“In an invisible way,” Coble adds. “Someone will walk into their sanctuary or worship center and have that experience and not know that a tremendous amount of technology is behind it.”

Article written by Cynthia Wisehart and originally published on Sound & Video Contractor