When the Message matters most.
MGA’s foundation was laid in March 1976 when Michael Garrison launched His Sound in Portland, Oregon specifically to address the acoustical and sound reinforcement needs of churches. This was a novel and risky concept at that time, as church leadership by in large was only beginning to realize their own need for well-conceived audio systems that delivered both good speech intelligibility and high quality music reproduction. Furthermore, most planners of these facilities had not yet come to understand the interdependent relationship between room acoustics and loudspeaker performance. And, to make things worse, few architects gave these matters any consideration when designing new worship spaces. Consequently, to even find a house of worship designed and built with proper acoustics and a good sound system in mind would have been rare indeed.
This fact, coupled with a slow economy that stifled new construction in the Pacific Northwest, dictated that most of the projects done by Michael’s team in the first few years were limited to the replacement of inadequate audio systems and the application of remedial acoustic treatment for existing facilities. Many churches had purchased their sound systems from music stores or AV rental companies, neither of which focused on the specific needs of religious spaces of assembly. Consequently, the equipment purchased from these firms was often not well suited for the purpose, and was usually aesthetically detracting to the space. His Sound distinguished itself by designing and assembling professional component systems with custom-built cabinets finished to match the architecture and décor of each individual space.
During this era of the audio industry, the design of loudspeaker systems was accomplished primarily via hand calculators and 2D manual drafting. The lack of precision in this process required many “field adjustments” to the design during a system’s installation to achieve optimum performance results. Michael’s team was further set apart from the competition by their commitment to excellence and their willingness to invest as much time and effort as was required to achieve the complete satisfaction of their customers.
Shortly after IBM introduced the first Personal Computer in 1980, JBL Professional developed CADP™, the first PC-based graphic modeling program to calculate loudspeaker array coverage. His Sound was one of the first companies in the United States to purchase and use this new tool, and the investment proved to be a wise one. Almost immediately Michael’s designs became more efficient, delivering better performance for lower cost than the common designs of that time.
Then, in 1983, a revolutionary computer-based acoustic measurement and analysis instrument was introduced. The Techron TEF 10 System was the first dedicated machine with the ability to accurately measure the performance of loudspeakers in reverberant, real-world conditions. It was also the first device with the ability to identify individual problematic sound reflections (echoes). Despite its relatively significant cost at the time, Michael understood the importance of having such a tool and was among the first in the country to acquire it. As before, this investment also paid off by enabling his company to determine the need for, and ideal placement of acoustic treatment, thus eliminating excessive coverage and cost. Furthermore, Michael’s team now had the ability to fine-tune the placement and orientation of their loudspeaker arrays, resulting in improved uniformity of sound coverage throughout a room.
Armed with the latest technology available, Michael and his team quickly increased in their understanding and practical know-how of successful acoustic and sound system design. This proved to be an advantage over most other audio firms in their region, and His Sound became one of the dominant players in the growing Northwest church market. This position led naturally to the spread of their reputation, and within the first ten years of operation they began doing projects in California.
An unanticipated shift from system upgrades and room renovations to new construction emerged near the end of this period. Michael and his team began to be hired more and more often at the early planning stage for new buildings, including projects in California where the economy was more robust. These new opportunities allowed them to finally exercise some influence on the design of the room, thereby replacing inherent acoustic problems and audio infrastructure shortcomings with enhanced conditions for these critical areas. It also afforded Michael the ability to integrate the major audio system elements into the architecture in an aesthetically pleasing way; being the son of an architect, this was understandably his professional passion.
Michael’s team completed about 136 acoustic and/or audio system projects in their first decade of operation in Oregon, Washington and California.
Easthill Foursquare Church - Gresham, OR - 5,000 seats
New Hope Community Church - Portland, OR - 3,000 seats
Calvary Temple Assembly of God - Modesto, CA - 2,500 seats
Capital Christian Center - Salem, Or - 2,500 seats
Willamette Christian Center - Eugene, OR - 2,000 seats
Crossroads Community Church - Vancouver, WA - 1,500 seats
Beaverton Foursquare Church - Beaverton, OR - 1,400 seats
First United Methodist Church - Seattle, WA - 1,200 seats
St. John's Catholic Church - Milwaukie, OR - 900 seats
Memorial Baptist Church - Fresno, CA - 550 seats
After ten years of operation in the Pacific Northwest, Michael and his family moved to Fresno, California to open a second office to better serve the growing number of clients in that state. Over the next five years, the Fresno group emerged as the center for consultation and design services that served both offices. Michael built a reputation for consistently delivering a quality product and for achieving high levels of client satisfaction; a good standing that would inevitably spread eastward. By the middle of his second decade of operation, his team had completed church projects as far east as Canton, Ohio.
However, the Portland contracting operation suffered from the slow Northwest economy of the 1980s and was struggling. This condition, along with the growth of His Sound’s expertise in acoustical and architectural design, resulted in a plan to consolidate resources and strengthen the company’s consultation and design capabilities. To that end, the Portland office was closed and, on January 1, 1991, the name of the company was changed to Michael Garrison Associates.
That year also marked the beginning of MGA’s expansion to include a full scope of technical systems design/build services. Paul Luntsford of PLA Designs joined the MGA team with over 15 years experience in lighting and theater design. And shortly thereafter Steve Hooge, with over 10 years experience in broadcast video, became MGA’s senior video consultant.
MGA was contracted to do about 187 church construction projects across the United States from 1986 to 1995.
Crenshaw Christian Center of Los Angeles, CA, after an extensive national search, awarded Michael the contract to design the room acoustics and audio systems for a new 10,146-seat main worship space. This dome facility was the largest church auditorium in the United States at that time. Design work began in March 1987 and project management of the installation was completed in June 1989.
JBL Professional commissioned His Sound to design and develop CADP2™, a computer-aided 3D graphical acoustical analysis and loudspeaker modeling program for consultants and designers.
Calvary Church in Santa Ana, California hired Michael's team to perform a cutting-edge computer modeling study of room acoustics to document the optimal design for their new 3,200-seat sanctuary. Michael was invited by the Audio Engineering Society to write and present a technical paper on this unique work at the AES's 87th International Convention in 1989; AES asked him to repeat the presentation in 1990. Michael was hired by the church to design the acoustics and audio system for this space in March 1989; the design was completed in July of that year.
Jubilee Christian Center of San Jose, CA (then home to internationally renowned worship leader Ron Kenoly) contracted MGA to design/build an acoustics and complete audio system renovation for their existing 2,000-seat main assembly space. This project was expedited to accommodate a Worship & Technical Workshop hosted by Ron Kenoly; design work began in March 1990 and the installation was completed by July of that year.
Southeast Christian Church of Louisville, KY initially contracted MGA to design image display, lighting and video systems for their new 750,000-sq. ft. facility (the largest single-phase church construction project in U.S. history at that time). MGA's scope of work was eventually expanded to include acoustic and audio systems. This project included a 9,300-seat Main Auditorium, two 1,500-seat Fellowship Halls, an 1,100-seat Youth Auditorium, a 500-seat Chapel, two 250-seat Children's Assembly Rooms, and over two dozen more assembly spaces requiring AV and lighting systems. Design started in March 1992 and was substantially completed in July 1995.
1996, the beginning of Michael’s third decade of serving churches, was a banner year for his company with nearly 30 design/build contracts across the country. And in 1997, Southeast Christian Church hired MGA to additionally provide construction administration services for acoustics, audio, image display, lighting, stage and video systems for that huge project. Then, in February of 1998, MGA was selected to also supply and install all of the AV systems designed by them for Southeast Christian Church.
The scope of the Southeast Christian Church project required MGA to establish a temporary satellite office at the Louisville construction site in mid-1997. Eight MGA employees manned this office at the peak of the project management and installation work, most returning to Fresno the second quarter of 1999 when the project was substantially completed. MGA kept this remote office open with two full-time team members, who completed the Southeast Christian installation in July 1999. Then, upon completion of the one-year warranty period in August 2000, this office was permanently relocated to Springfield, Missouri.
MGA senior acoustics and audio designers David Kennedy, Brian Roggow and Michael Garrison began working together on a new loudspeaker “exploded cluster” concept in 1997, wherein the various devices within an array would be spaced optimally according to their frequency ranges to achieve best possible uniformity of coverage. This effort proved to be very successful and resulted in the development of proprietary loudspeaker products built exclusively for MGA by Tannoy.
MGA’s reputation for sensitivity to their clients’ particular needs as well as attention to detail continued to spread, and to include different ethnic groups. Their projects included Christian churches within the African-American, Armenian, Chinese, Hispanic, Iranian and Korean communities, as well as some Jewish synagogues.
MGA was contracted to do 225 church projects across the United States from 1996 to 2005.
Jubilee Christian Center of San Jose, CA contracted MGA to design/build the acoustics, audio, image display, lighting and video systems for their new state-of-the-art 3,200-seat auditorium. Design started in October 1996 and construction was completed in July 1998.
Southland Christian Church of Lexington, KY contracted MGA to design/build the acoustics, audio, image display, lighting and video systems for their new 3,000-seat multi-purpose main assembly space. Design started in March 1999 and construction was completed in October 2001.
Faith Chapel Christian Center of Birmingham, AL contracted MGA to design/build the acoustics, audio, image display, lighting and video systems for their new 3,000-seat auditorium. Design started in June 1999 and construction was completed in December 2002.
Aloma Baptist Church of Winter Park, FL contracted MGA to design/build the acoustics, audio, image display, lighting and video systems for the comprehensive remodel of their 1,355-seat main sanctuary. Design started in September 2002 and construction was completed in June 2004.
James River Assembly of Springfield, MO contracted MGA for a multi-phased renovation of their recently completed 3,000-seat auditorium, which included substantial re-design of the room to correct acoustical and technical systems' shortcomings, as well as to dramatically improve the stage area functionality and increase seating capacity to 3,500. The scope of work involved completely replacing the audio and image display systems, along with significant expansion of the lighting and video systems. Design started in December 2000 and various implementation phases occurred from the first quarter of 2001 through 2005 - with more scheduled for 2006 and 2007.
MGA celebrated its 30-year anniversary in March 2006, a year that saw the beginning of a number of significant changes for the company. They began work on the design of a new 12,000-seat church auditorium in Guatemala - MGA’s first project outside of the United States.
But MGA did not escape the effects of the economic downturn in 2008. Many churches were forced to scale back their budgets and postpone, or cancel plans for expansion projects and improvements to existing facilities. As a result, MGA was forced to scale back operations, including closing the Springfield, MO office.
However, over the course of the company’s fourth decade, as the economy improved, MGA experienced significant growth in opportunities to serve many of its longstanding clients from all across the U.S. The scope of work ranged from new construction projects for remote campus facilities and expansion on existing campuses, plus room renovations and system upgrades. A few examples of these repeat-clients include:
Abundant Living Faith Center – El Paso, TX
Aloma Church – Winter Park, FL
Anchorage Baptist Temple – Anchorage, AK
Believers Center – Albuquerque, NM
Bethel Church – Redding, CA
Campus Bible Church – Fresno, CA
Christian Faith Center – Birmingham, AL
Christian Fellowship Church – Evansville, IN
Crenshaw Christian Center – Los Angeles, CA
First Presbyterian Church – Bozeman, MT
James River Assembly – Ozark, MO
Kingsway Christian Church – Avon, IN
NewSpring Church – Wichita, KS
Northshore Christian Church – Everett, WA
Southeast Christian Church – Louisville, KY
Southland Christian Church – Lexington, KY
However, this season also saw many churches from across the United States choose to partner with MGA for the first time; a few examples of these new clients are:
Beebe Memorial Chruch – Oakland, CA
Central Assembly of God – Springfield, MO
Christian Life Center – Dayton, OH
Christian Life Center – Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Connecting Point Church – Turlock, CA
First Baptist Church – Carmi, IL
First Church – Burlington, KY
Journey of Faith – Manhattan Beach, CA
Lakeside Church – Folsom, CA
Menlo Park Presbyterian Church – Menlo Park, CA
Petra Academy – Bozeman, MT
The Caring Place – Indianapolis, IN
The Highlands Christian Fellowship – Palmdale, CA
Vida Abundante Miami – Miami, FL
Whitewater Crossing Christian Church – Cleve, OH
Williamsburg Community Chapel – Williamsburg, VA
MGA’s work in Latin America did not end with that first project; they were contracted to partner with five other churches to design and integrate the audio, video, lighting and acoustic systems for their projects, ranging in size from 5,000 to 11,000 seats; projects in Cali, Colombia, Panama City, Panama, Quetzaltenango, Guatemala and San Pedro Sula, Honduras.
In all, MGA was contracted to do 172 church projects across the United States and Latin America from 2006 to 2015.
March 2016 is MGA’s 40th anniversary and the beginning of it’s fifth decade of helping churches. The MGA team continues their tradition of commitment to professional excellence, innovation and complete customer satisfaction.