The new Vue in Jakarta
The first Vue Audiotechnik al-8 line array system in the world has been installed into Jakarta Praise Community Church, writes Caroline Moss.
Jakarta Praise Community Church has become one of Indonesia’s fastest-growing Christian ministries. From a modest gathering of 10 worshipers coming together in 1996, JPCC has grown to encompass two locations, more than 7,000 members and outreach programmes that help thousands of people across the country.
It’s fitting then that the first installation of Vue Audiotechnik’s newly launched al-8 line array system – not to mention one of the company’s most significant Asian installations to date ¬– is at this forward-thinking church. Vue’s Indonesian distributor PT Sarana Generasi Bintang supplied the al-8 line array as the main sound reinforcement system for JPCC’s new flagship worship space. The facility is located on the 3rd floor of the Kota Kasablanka Mall, a well known shopping, entertainment and tourism centre in downtown Jakarta.
The decision to opt for the newly launched Vue line array, which incorporates a unique beryllium-loaded compression driver, followed a long search for a suitable system. ‘Over the years our church has tried line arrays from most of the major manufacturers, but we’ve always struggled to achieve really good high frequency definition,’ explains Pongky Prasetyo, owner of Soundworks Productions and JPCC’s sound engineer since 2003. ‘Our music incorporates a lot of guitar and synthesisers, along with a vocal style that’s very heavy in the upper-mid and high frequencies. For us it’s crowded at the upper end, and most systems struggle to reproduce this without sounding harsh. For years we used an old-style point source system in our previous, original facility, and then we rented in the same brand for all of JPCC’s big concert events.’
US-based manufacturer Vue Audiotechnik entered the picture at InfoComm 2012, when executive vice president Jim Sides met Harmoko Aguswan, owner of the company that was to become his Indonesian distributor, PT Sarana Generasi Bintang.
‘We started talks with Harmoko about his company coming on board as Vue’s distributor in Indonesia, and a few weeks after the show the agreement was done,’ recalls Mr Sides. ‘PT Sarana Generasi Bintang became one of our very first distributors in the Asia Pacific, and the Jakarta Praise Community Church project came up a few months later. Harmoko had a long-standing relationship with the church and was well aware of its struggles to find a PA system that could meet its needs. Over the years the church had tried line arrays from just about every other manufacturer, but never found a single solution that did everything that was required.’
In the meantime, Mr Prasetyo had heard that Vue was preparing to introduce a system with beryllium compression drivers. ‘I was immediately intrigued,’ he says. ‘I’ve had experience with beryllium in the studio and know how much better it is at translating high frequencies. When I heard from Moko that Ken (Berger, Vue Audiotechnik CEO and co-founder along with Mr Sides) and Jim were planning to release their own brand I was very excited. The timing was perfect because we were in the process of building our new facility. At that time no one had heard the sound of Vue, but my confidence only increased when I read all the positive feedback from people who attended a demo tour in America.’
However on contacting PT Sarana Generasi Bintang for more information, he discovered the new system was not yet completed. ‘When we first spoke, the al-8 was just entering the tuning stage and had not yet been announced publicly,’ says Mr Aguswan.
Mr Sides contacted Mr Prasetyo to discuss what the church was hoping to achieve. ‘JPCC’s programme material called for a system that was extremely powerful with exceptional fidelity – especially in the upper end,’ he recalls. ‘It also needed to be versatile and able to handle a broad range of genres, including a full rock and roll programme. Coverage and SPL were key.’
After reviewing the church’s requirements and schedule, Mr Sides was confident that Vue could deliver the HF performance that JPCC had been seeking. ‘At the time our al-4 and al-8 line array systems were nearly finished, so I was able to share a significant amount of information with the Soundworks team,’ he says. ‘They were really impressed with the direction we were taking on the al-8. They were preparing to christen their new facility in spring 2013 so we committed to working together to make that new worship space the first official al-8 installation in the world.’ Vue also committed to delivering the first finished al-8 system in time for the JPCC’s live recording, One, and its anniversary celebration.
This was an especially bold move given that more established brands had failed to live up to the church’s stringent criteria. So what exactly convinced JPCC to go with a system that hadn’t been tried or tested anywhere under real world conditions, from a new manufacturer that had only been operating in its country for a few months?
‘From a technology perspective, I know that our partnership with Materion, and the integration of their Truextent beryllium into our compression driver design was particularly compelling,’ says Mr Sides. ‘JPCC’s programme material is very high energy. The church’s instrumentation and vocal style results in very crowded mid and upper frequencies. Most of the systems they had tried struggled to reproduce this without sounding really harsh. Vue’s compression drivers with beryllium diaphragms are dramatically more effective at reproducing high frequencies than more conventional materials like aluminum or titanium. In fact, Pongky has monitors equipped with beryllium-equipped HF devices in his own studio, so he knew first hand the advantages of beryllium. This was a huge factor in their decision to go with Vue.’
Mr Sides adopted a hands-on approach for this important installation, travelling to Jakarta with one of Vue’s engineers who was in charge of the design and implementation at JPCC. ‘Since this was our first major al-8 anywhere in the world, I felt it was my duty to oversee the final installation and be there for the first performance,’ he says. ‘I also wanted to personally thank the JPCC board members and the pastor for their belief in Vue.’
The team carried out extensive work with various acoustic modelling and prediction programmes, as well as measurements and critical listening through the final stages of the design process. ‘This is one of the reasons that JPCC was excited to work with us; it was about us being there as the product was being tuned, and having the opportunity to see it evolve in the final stages, and offer input as well,’ continues Mr Sides.
The installed system includes 32 al-8 acoustic elements arranged in left and right clusters of eight, and a centre cluster consisting of two eight-box arrays. Eight of the manufacturer’s V6 Systems Engines provide all amplification, DSP functions and connectivity to the SystemVUE network. Low frequencies are delivered by 12 Vue hs-28 ACM subwoofers. On-stage sound, meanwhile, is via Vue h-12 enclosures. Elsewhere in the venue a Yamaha CL-5 console is used for front of house mixing while dual Yamaha CL-3s are used for monitors and broadcast mixes. The church’s wireless microphone system is all Lectrosonics.
Following the completion of the installation, Mr Prasetyo has declared that he ‘couldn’t be happier. Just as I had hoped, the beryllium drivers in the al-8 translate the upper frequencies better than anything I’ve tried before. I no longer have to pull back the 2-5kHz range. The al-8s are so clean and accurate that I feel like they can handle anything I send them.’
He’s also a big fan of the hs-28 subwoofers. ‘There’s a very realistic quality to hs-28s that’s much more musical than most subwoofers. It’s more than just a punch in the chest. They deliver accuracy at the low end that’s the perfect match for the al-8. From the bottom to the top, the Vue system translates perfectly.’
He adds: ‘The Vue guys were very helpful and professional to work with; they helped us to design the system for our new facility, and made extra effort to ensure the delivery arrived before the live recording of our JPCC concert, One. Now Soundworks is operating with the Vue A series, H series, al-4 and al-8, all of which our clients have praised highly for the sound quality. All the systems have been tried in all kinds of events, from seminars and weddings to concerts and raves, and they’ve performed very well.’
As for Mr Sides, the installation meant a lot on a personal as well as a professional level. ‘I really can’t say enough about everyone we worked with,’ he says. ‘The JPCC church members and leadership were so gracious – a real pleasure. Pongky and the Soundworks team are world class and exceptionally gifted. And Moko is a fantastic representative for Vue in the region. It was an extremely positive experience from beginning to end. When the system first came online, I spent a lot of time doing critical listening and analysis. I was extremely pleased, not just because the system sounds so great, but because the customer is so happy. That’s what we strive for.’