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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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And that can be more or less a challenge depending on their worship style. How do they have their services set up?

This was a very traditional Greek orthodox church. The church is pretty well known world-wide from the epiphany that goes on once a year with the diving of the cross. The whole root of the Greek Orthodox Church, they are one of the oldest churches known world-wide for their type of traditional services. [Timestamp: 4:57]

In addition to the Sunday services, do they have any other events going on during the week that use the sound system?

Just your typical church events; a lot of weddings, a few memorial and funeral services. [Timestamp: 5:08]

You explained the type of speaker setup they had in the church. Where did they have the amplifiers and what did they have driving all of this stuff when you got there?

Now this was interesting, when I first got here I couldn’t even find the speakers—it was pretty amusing, I’m looking around looking for that normal speaker and so in the main seating area which is about 75ft. long by about 45ft. wide up on the sides were these dents, and as I began to research and find out behind these vents which I originally thought were A/C vents were 8in. ceiling type speakers that you would typically see mounted in a ceiling firing down—these things were mounted across from each other at 16ft. in the air. Then most of the energy was going into the air or hitting the adjacent walls. All of this wired back to an old amp and amazingly enough, we looked through this thing, the wiring was actually not what we would traditionally see as speaker wire most of it was more of a electrical type single conductor run through a conduit…more like a THHN or a THWN type wire but the interesting thing was when I was looking for the speakers and I said, “Can you tell me where these things are at?” and they pointed to them—someone had told them along the way that if they put these air conditioning louvers, like you would see on an air vent, over the speakers that it would direct the sound more down to the congregation so it was kind of comical and really all it did was just add to the already poor quality system. [Timestamp: 6:53]

Ah, if it were only that easy.

Yes sir.

So, what did you do first when you set out to fix all of this?

We ran a lot of RTAs in the room because obviously we needed to understand where the problem levels throughout the frequency range were in the room. That was a real major step to understand the standing rays and what we had to deal with on a basis of—“We can’t fix this so we have to deal with it,” once we achieved the RTA readings in the room we had a good meeting with the church board and some of the church congregation to find out what kind of sound levels overall that they need because every church is different and it’s important to find that out to make that sound system right for their particular service and their application. So through a lot of research we found that in this application that a steerable line array would meet not only the challenging audio aspects but also the aesthetics of the room. [Timestamp: 7:53]

And why did you decide on the Bosch digitally steerable line array?

We did a fair amount of research and it came down to two manufacturers but when we approached Bosch they were all in. Their help was sensational, they came to the site with us to present the system during the demo, they were just so very helpful in helping us get that package ready and get it to the customer—be there for that support and they were also much more competitive really from a price point for our customer. [Timestamp: 8:23]

And you obviously had a big job with the acoustics involved. But once you got this in, what did you have to do to blend it with the architectural environment and sort of camouflage it?

Well since the steer array from Bosch is so slender we were able to mount this on a edge of fluted column and with that being painted the same color as the column the cabinet basically instantly disappeared because it no longer became something you would see with your eye—it just blended right in with the column. [Timestamp: 8:54]

Well, that sounds like it was a little easier than I would have originally thought that it would be. Smaller is better as far as that goes. That sounds like it came out pretty well.

It did—it definitely defied what we would normally consider some of the sound 101 theories and rules but with the technology and the help from Bosch and Ashly and a few of the other vendors that we had in line the project came out to be superb. [Timestamp: 9:22]

Well, it was a challenging situation when you first got in there but I appreciate your giving us the story on how you met that challenge and came up with the sound system to handle it. It’s Paul Garner with Christian Sound Installations in Valrico, Fla. Thank for telling us about it.

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