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Staying Traditional at St. Joseph Cathedral, Part 2

Jan 19, 2012 11:46 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.

Cathedrals are built to sound big, but the pastor’s message has to be heard clearly. Peter Borchard is here to wrap up his talk on how MuSonics made the careful balance between lofty reverberation and speech intelligibility at the St. Joseph Cathedral in Sioux Falls, coming up next on the SVC Podcast.

SVC: Peter, thanks for being back for Part 2 on the SVC Podcast and we were talking about a huge sound system and acoustic treatment job at St. Joseph Cathedral in Sioux Falls, S.D. and of course reverberation and speech intelligibility is the big thing on this. You wanted to give them clear speech capability while maintaining that big lofty, reverberant sound the place was actually designed to provide. One of the first things that you got into on this was dealing with the church staff and getting a feel for what they want and how much they know. How specific were they in telling you exactly what they wanted?

Peter Borchard: They don’t have any real technical people around. There isn’t the audio guy and there isn’t the video guy. The diocese had to have some people, and we didn’t deal with them as much as the guy who did the video design, Roger Wiley. There was never any notion of, “Oh yeah, well they can mix this or they can take care of that,” and we had to make it so it was push the button for “on” and go and use it with some notion toward future options and that was as, we mentioned last time, the ability for the Lectrosonics Aspen series to be able to be controlled with a, literally, an Apple iPad 2. We felt comfortable with that. The wireless system is also quite expandable right now. That was six bodypack mics and two handhelds, so we have two mainframes, but we still have four extra slots for additional channels if they should need that. [Timestamp: 2:25]

Right, the Lectrosonics VRM Venue series. And I think those were the Lectrosonics LMA digital hybrid beltpacks?

Yep, the belt packs are LMAs and then the handheld’s are the UT with the VMO. I usually go for an omni capsule. [That sounds] counter-productive, but most people they would tend to on some people try and lip lock the thing and others want to hold it down in their waist so we wasn’t charging around with a low frequency and proximity affect and that sort of thing. Plus some people like to talk in the side and some people like to talk in the front so this is usually the safest thing. You find a good level and then just say, “Look if it’s not loud enough, make them hold it closer; and if it’s too loud, hold it further away.” And that seems to work pretty well. There’s no absolutes with that and there’s none enough dynamic control in anything that can take screaming lip lock versus them talking moderately at waist level. [Timestamp: 3:21]

Well, the Venue Series has one real ace card in its bag and that is that they can really pack a lot of receivers into a small area, I mean one rack space and you’ve got, I think, as many as six receivers.

Yeah, it’s a only a one rack unit thing, and it takes six channels worth. Once you have those, if you say you need an extra channel, it’s just not that expensive for another VRS input module. So it’s very nice and the way it handles antennas is very good too. You don’t need a separate splitter. [Timestamp: 3:49]

Did you guys run into any tricky situations running cable and mounting speakers and all that?

Oh yes, yeah, yeah. The equipment all fits not that far from the apse, the forward end of the church, but the conduit was pretty circuitous. I think we ended up with nearly 200ft. or maybe even a little over 200ft. from the antennas to the receivers. So we used one of in line power antenna, which is also a splitter thing at the UFM 230 and those did the trick; we had plenty of signal. [Timestamp: 4:21]

Huge job doing all that.

That’s why it’s grand that the owner of the company that we did it was onsite. He could make those decisions and lots of things. [Timestamp: 4:29]

How long did all that take from the first concept to the first time you rang the system out and actually tested it?

Over a year, mainly because of the renovation, but I would say they were onsite on a regular basis—well, increasingly as time went on; first they pulled all the cable. [I] couldn’t even mount the speakers or anything like that until the painting was finished. It was an [overall OK] time. I often thought that Jeff Engen had brought a hammock and put it up some place and stayed there all the time. That’s quite a run; it’s a 40—almost 50 miles actually. [Timestamp: 5:03]

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