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The Buzz: Installation Spotlight: St. Andrew Kim Church, Maplewood, N.J.

Jul 1, 2007 12:00 PM, By Trevor Boyer

Intelligible Worship


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Dong M. Ra of HiTrons selected four sets of three VRX932LA line-array series speakers to improve speech intelligibility in the St. Andrew Kim Catholic Church in Maplewood, N.J. The JBL speakers' three-horn design created the even dispersion pattern he sought for the church.

St. Andrew Kim Church in Maplewood, N.J., needed a sound reinforcement system to improve the vocal intelligibility of the pastor, as well as to amplify its choir and small band. Before a recent installation of JBL speakers, the Korean Catholic church had old speakers sitting on stands on either side of the church, which did not provide either the even coverage or visual profile that the congregation desired.

Worse, when the pastor would walk out into the audience, congregants would often hear feedback from his lavalier mic, which had no feedback-rejection capabilities. The church was interested in installing some kind of DSP system to achieve better gain maintenance.

Michael Yorky, a sound reinforcement and lighting consultant for Guitar Center in Totowa, N.J., served as the reseller and an advisor on the project. Dong M. Ra, president of HiTrons of Richfield Park, N.J., served as integrator. He subcontracted out the actual hanging of the four JBL line arrays in their VRXAF array frames. His team decided to use aircraft cables to suspend the four sets of three VRX932LA line-array series speakers above the congregation.

Speech intelligibility was the main criterion that drove Ra's choice of the JBL line arrays, since they display good low- and midrange frequency performance. He also found that the three-horn design of the VRX932 speakers created the even dispersion pattern that he sought for the church. “The small cabinet and the design is very good, and the speech is very good,” Ra says of the VRX932 speakers.

For microphones, St. Andrew Kim uses two legacy Audio-Technica overhead cardioid mics for the choir (AT853As), as well as Shure models (four wired handheld SM58s and three MX line podium mics).

The three sound sources — the pastor's mic, the band, and the choir — are situated at three different spots in the church. The pastor's microphone is front and center at the altar, the band is stage left, and the choir sings in the balcony at the back of the church. Mixing needed to be a fairly simple affair, as young church members serving as volunteers handle that task during services using a Midas Venice 320 32-channel mixing board sitting in the balcony. Ra says that system's equalizer is not overly sensitive, which makes it compatible with the relatively inexperienced hands of its operators.

Monitors (for the console operator and the choir) are run by the aux sends of the mixer. The audio is processed by DSPs from Dbx: a 166XL compressor/limiter/gate for the pastor's mic and a DriveRack 260 loudspeaker control system to eliminate feedback. The DriveRack has six outputs, and each line array gets its own feed. The church has four QSC PLX3602 amplifiers. Again, Ra chose these for their facility in speech reproduction.

Coming soon for St. Andrew Kim Church is a video system complete with a 210in. projection screen that will descend behind the pastor, hanging between a large icon of Jesus and the crucifix. (When I visited the church, much of the audio hardware — including the Dbx boxes and the QSC Audio amps — was unracked and stacked on a table in the balcony during the integration of the new video system. That equipment will be re-racked when the video stage of the project is implemented.)

The church has chosen Panasonic PT-5600 DLP projectors and screens from Da-Lite. There will also be two 4:3 monitors hanging outside of the main sanctuary, and another projector with a screen. All will display the same content — mainly DVDs and PowerPoint files of readings and song lyrics.

Ra, who was a broadcast radio producer in Korea for much of the 1980s and 1990s, says that most of his work with HiTrons involves the installation of sound reinforcement and video systems in Korean churches. He says his company has installed about 70 sound reinforcement systems in Korean churches throughout the New York Tri-State area.


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