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Upgrading Improperly Installed Audio at St. Nicholas, Part 1

Oct 20, 2011 10:20 AM, With Bennett Liles

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Editor’s note: For your convenience, this transcription of the podcast includes timestamps. If you are listening to the podcast and reading its accompanying transcription, you can use the timestamps to jump to any part of the audio podcast by simply dragging the slider on the podcast to the time indicated in the transcription.

When Christian Sound Installations was called to update the sound system in St. Nicholas Church in Tarpon Springs, Fla., they found ceiling speakers in the walls and HVAC louvers being used to direct sound. Paul Garner is here to tell us how they fixed it all with a complete revamp, coming right up on the SVC Podcast.

Paul, thanks for being with us here on the SVC Podcast from Christian Sound Installations in Valrico, Fla. Give us a little background on CSI here. How long has the company been around and what does CSI do?

We started this business in 2009 and we're a complete design service installation of satelliting and video as a installation contractor for primarily the houses of worship industry. [Timestamp: 1:1]

And that’s still a booming business. A lot of AV stuff going on in churches and it’s not just the big guys anymore. We see a lot of more sophisticated sound and video systems being installed in mid-sized and even smaller churches with the technology that’s available now. So, with the St. Nicholas Church in Tarpon Springs, Fla. you really had your work cut out. What was your first impression when you got the call on this one and saw what they had?

The church originally was constructed in 1942 as a cathedral and back then of course the architecture of that era was a lot different than it is today. And the system that was installed probably somewhere on line between when it was built and I think was late 60’s early 70’s. The system, in my opinion, was improperly installed from the beginning because the speakers were mounted in the walls in about 16ft. off the floor facing across each other if you can imagine that—the speakers just facing each other across the sanctuary which at the very least was causing some face cancellation and when you combine that with the fact that the room had a over a six-second reverb with several standing waves in the frequency range it just made for a horrible, horrible unintelligible room. [Timestamp: 2:3]

Well, it sounds like you were in a good spot for sound if you were on top of the wall at least.

Yeah, I guess. If you like noise it was a great spot to stand because that’s about all you could hear. [Timestamp: 2:4]

Yeah, I read where the speakers were up high and just blasting toward each other instead of down into the congregation.

Yeah that’s correct.

Well, they trusted you to figure this out and give them a better sound situation. So how did you explain the problem and what they needed to the non-technical people in the church?

Well it was easy on this project because the sound was so bad that they already knew that they couldn’t understand anything that was being said by the priest but I think the way that we really brought it to them was by bringing the proposed system out, setting it up in a temporary setup condition as close as possible to how it would be installed so they could actually hear the difference. This was the real selling point. The system really spoke for itself when they could walk from the front of the church to the back of the church and the levels were not only clear and intelligent, the level of intelligibility was there, but the volume level was the same with this type of system. [Timestamp: 3:39]

And there’s no substitute for being able to actually put a demo system in and show the clients exactly how much of an improvement they can have.

Absolutely, absolutely.

Now this church is on the National Register of Historic Places and obviously that presented some challenges. What sort of restrictions did that listing impose on the project?

Well, having the church listed on the Historical Registry was no doubt a challenge. They didn’t want to see any of the speakers—of course we couldn’t change any of the architectural look of the church—they wouldn’t let us do any acoustical treatments to the walls or anything at all that would obviously help that acoustical environment and they just wanted the system to be as transparent as possible as most churches do, but in this type of a cathedral sanctuary it was a very, very high priority to make it as transparent as we could get it. [Timestamp: 4:32]

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