A Loudspeaker Disussion with Marshall Kay and Don Keele
Dec 15, 2011 11:10 AM, With Bennett Liles
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It’s great when an AV contractor can get in on the design phase of a new church sanctuary. Marshall Kay and Don Keele of Audio Artistry in Raleigh, N.C., are here to tell us how they used that ace card to provide great sound for the Cary Church of God, coming up next for the SVC Podcast.
OK, Marshall and Don, thanks for being here for the SVC Podcast from Audio Artistry in Raleigh, N.C. We’re going to be talking about a very interesting installation that you guys were both in on at the Cary Church of God. Marshall, first though to get things rolling here, tell me a little about Audio Artistry.
Marshall: OK, first off thanks for having us. We’re delighted to be here. We’re excited about telling you about what we’ve done here. We think we’ve done some exciting things and there’s a lot of new technology that we’ve explored and so we’re very interested in sharing that. Anyway, Audio Artistry was founded in 1992 by myself and another fellow by the name of Kurt Pasquale, who’s not actively engaged with the company these days. But we started out first building a speaker that was sold through the local audio stores here in town that interfaced with tube amplifier raids that was going on about that time. Cary Audio was a big company in the area here, and he was working on a new tube amplifier and we set our first speaker out to stereo file along with one of his amplifiers. This was when we first got some attention in the industry—from a major magazine and then in 1994, we incorporated. I had known Siegfried Linkwitz for quite some time, and I had known he was working on a dipole-type loudspeaker that was very interesting to me, and the speaker he was working on at that time was a fully active dipole. It actually had four amplifiers per side and after a period of time, I convinced him that we needed to make that speaker into at least a two-way active speaker rather than a four-way. The first product we introduced with that technology was called a Dvorak. It came out, and we showed that first at 1994 at the CES Show. Building the dipole-style speakers we were able to finally achieve the Stereo File Speaker of the Year Award in 1998 and then later on in time we moved more into a wider variety of things mostly because of requests when we moved into working with larger facilities and PA and that sort of thing. [Timestamp: 2:53]
Sounds like you’ve been pretty busy. Now this Cary Church of God installation project, you had an Aviom system that you put in for sound distribution on their services. What sort of church is the Cary Church of God? What are their worship style like?
Well, Cary Church of God has been around since roughly the early 80’s. It was formed in a house and they have grown at a rapid rate, and I actually have attended that church myself and have been going there for quite some time. It’s a Pentecostal-style worship and they have a 50-60 voice choir, normally use bass, drums, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, as many as two keyboards—sometimes three, also they have some woodwind-type instruments like saxophone occasionally and trumpet occasionally that join in in the service. [Timestamp: 3:40]
OK, obviously a lot going on in the technical level during their services. So what was the situation at the church when they called you in for this job? What exactly did they need you to do there?
In the early 2000, roughly 2004-2005, the growth of the church was such that they had decided to seek land for a new facility, and the church staff knew that I was involved heavily in audio and they came to me and asked me to engage with the architect that they were working with to make sure that we had a facility that would be conducive for state of the art sound and state of the art video and lighting and that sort of thing. So I got involved very early in the design phase of the project, so I was able to work with the architect; it turned out, actually, I worked with three different architects over the course of the project because the scope of the building changed and also the choice of contractor changed over time, but we worked with these three architects to specify not only the layout of the building in terms of where equipment would be located—the air conditioning in the building, the lighting, the power, all those things were specified through the design phase. We even at one point brought in an acoustical consultant that did an EASE model on the auditorium to make sure that we didn’t have any reverb issues. [Timestamp: 5:02]
And that’s always a huge advantage being able to get in on the design phase and have some input on the basic layout and the electrical setup and everything. I know they had a Yamaha M7CL mixer for the front of house. Was that already there or was that something you suggested?
That was actually part of the building phase, but it was purchased early in the building cycle because the sound team wanted to become familiar with it before moving to the new facility. So that was bought, I guess, maybe six months to nine months ahead of the new building so it gave them time to get familiar with it. The new concept to the sound team—they had been running analog boards, in fact Allen and Heath—I think it was a 32-channel board that they had been using and then switching to the M7CL, which gave them a lot more flexibility and control, added a whole new dimension to running sound. But in the end, it turns out it’s a much easier and not as big of a learning curve as some people might think once the thing is configured and set up and working properly. [Timestamp: 6:01]
So how do they record the services there? Do they use multitrack or how do they handle that?
Well, there’s two things that take place there. The services are video—we have video that is recorded; we record audio, and there’s a separate control room where that’s all handled. In that control room there’s a person who runs an O2R96 Yamaha board then the video is mixed there and then they’re merged together and then that feeds the campus video for the nurseries and for fellowship court and the foyer in that area. But we also stream the services from that record control room but that mix and that video mix comes from that room. [Timestamp: 6:40]
And as you said you got in on the ground floor of the design phase on the place. So did you have any sort of power issues when the upgrade started? Did you have to add anything to it for the equipment?
Actually since we were able to specify the power during the design phase, we actually specified transformers for the audio side. So audio is completely isolated from all the other electrical circuits in the house and the audio is on a separate transformer with a Faraday shield in the main power system. [Timestamp: 7:10]
OK and they’ve got wireless gear in there. Is that mics and ear monitors? What type of wireless gear do the performers use?
The microphones that we use are the Shure UHL series and there’s, I think, 12 of those that are running and then each praise team member—the praise team is composed of six people, and each one those people have a wireless in-ear monitor and that is controlled by a personal mixer from the Aviom system so each one can control their own mix and set it exactly as they like and then they’re free to roam around the stage as they choose. [Timestamp: 7:47]
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