Two for one

Two for one

Published: WORSHIP

Just as every house of worship is unique, so too are the technical challenges they present during the installation of new audio, visual and lighting systems. But often even in worship spaces of different sizes and capacity, the technology used to solve the requirements of one church can prove just as effective in another. Such was the case recently when Eric Haslim and his team from Indonesian audio specialist PT Citra Intirama were engaged to help two Catholic churches in the west of Jakarta.

Mr Haslim and his company are well known within Jakarta and beyond for tackling high-end projects ranging from the city’s most exclusive nightclubs to its richest retail outlets, but his work with houses of worship is particularly close to his heart. Over the year he has gained extensive experience in the HOW sector, particularly as regards the requirements of Catholic churches, whose services can adopt a more traditional approach to worship.

Named St Immaculata and St Polycarpus, the two churches approached PT Citra Intirama requiring new audio solutions capable of meeting some common requirements, most notably the need for high speech intelligibility in potentially difficult environments. Also crucial for both was that the audio system itself should be as unobtrusive as possible.

However, the two buildings had little else in common. The home of St Immaculata is only two years old, boasting enough seating within its main sanctuary for 1,600 worshippers. In contrast, the four year old home of St Polycarpus is far smaller with room for just 600 congregants. Nevertheless, Mr Haslim’s experience alongside that of his team helped them to quickly recognise that the same technology could provide an answer for both spaces.

‘Both of the churches are catholic in denomination,’ Mr Haslim explains. ‘The general style of worship within both of them follows a strict code of Catholic Church protocols. It’s usually a mixture of spoken sermons and also singing by both the choir and the congregation. That meant that the two projects were similar in terms of their sound projection requirements. Both churches required a design with clean loudspeaker placement and, most importantly, even sound dispersion across the audience seating area. My team was able to execute both installations smoothly thanks to the experience that we have gained in many previous Catholic church installations.’

At the heart of the designs for both churches were steerable column loudspeakers incorporating technology capable of meeting the two main requirements, all sourced from US-based manufacturer Renkus-Heinz. In the larger St Immaculata, the system is based on 12 IC7-II Iconyx mechanically steerable column line arrays which have been discretely positioned in a distributed design throughout the church’s sanctuary. Affixed at head height to pillars at regular intervals, each of the columns incorporates four 4-inch low frequency woofers and three 4-inch full-range coaxial drivers, all of which combine to deliver a tightly focused uniform coverage beam of 30-degrees.

In St Polycarpus, meanwhile, Mr Haslim’s team selected the larger, digitally steerable Iconyx IC8-R-II system, with just two columns installed in a left-right configuration to seamlessly cover the 600-seat sanctuary. The requirement for digital beam steering technology was of particular importance due to the church’s interior design. Though strikingly beautiful, the sanctuary is acoustically difficult with hard, reflective surfaces throughout and a stained-glass dome above the altar position.

The Iconyx IC8-R-II has been used to tackle similarly challenging environments around the world, often on a grand scale. Each of the columns includes eight 4-inch coaxial transducers, each of which is loaded with three high frequency tweeters. Beam steering is achieved via eight on-board amplifiers and DSP channels, providing effective beam control down to 800Hz using the manufacturer’s RHAON software, with the possibility to individually shape and aim up to four steerable beams from one column.

‘The choice of loudspeaker was easy from the start,’ says Mr Haslim. ‘One of the most common issues we face in projects like Catholic churches is dealing with the challenging acoustic properties of the interior. We always knew that Renkus Heinz speakers, and particularly the Iconyx range, were the ideal solution for tackling reverberant spaces. Thus, when we were presented with the challenge of providing optimal sound reinforcement solutions for both churches, we opted to go with Renkus-Heinz.’

The column’s low visual impact also proved to be of great benefit. ‘We had to discuss the projects in detail with both church committees and obtain their approvals for the speaker placements,’ Mr Haslim continues. ‘Thankfully the Renkus-Heinz columns are very slim and we managed to incorporate the speakers into the interior design of both churches. They blend in nicely and are almost invisible to the naked eye.’

Having established the key components for both sites, Mr Haslim and his team next had to flesh out the system with additional loudspeaker enclosures for delays, monitors and more. Crucially, he wished to find a cost-effective solution that was capable of maintaining a high quality performance.

His choice comprised a range of models from Italian manufacturer FBT. In St Immaculata, two of the manufacturer’s 12-inch Subline 12sa subwoofers provide low-end extension as required. The church’s altar is supported by two 5.25-inch Jolly 5Ba enclosures which are used as monitors, while the choir listens to a single 8-inch Jolly 8Ba cabinet. Elsewhere in the building, the church’s confession room is served by a single Jolly 5Ba, while another 5Ba is positioned in its mixing room as a monitor. Finally, back in the sanctuary, four Jolly 8Ba enclosures have been installed as delay speakers.

‘The use of a second brand for the rear delays and the requirement to therefore incorporate two brands into the design might seem curious to some, but as long as budget is part of the equation, we try hard to fit the customer’s bill and provide them with the best available technology to deliver on their requirements,’ explains Mr Haslim. ‘We of course try our best to maintain a coherent sound when using two different brands in a single project. Once again thanks to the high quality of both brands, we were able to tune the system to work cohesively without much difficulty and, most importantly, to the thorough satisfaction of the churches.’

FBT enclosures also appear in St Polycarpus, with a pair of MaxX 10Sa subwoofers providing low-end, plus Jolly 5Ba enclosures again used as altar monitors, four Jolly 8Ba cabinets providing balcony delays, a single MaxX 2a acting as a monitor for the church organ and four Jolly 8Ba speakers covering the church’s outdoor terrace. For its confession room, Mr Haslim selected an entirely different solution in the shape of four P-Audio CS-800T ceiling speakers, driven by a Samson SZ240 amplifier.

In addition, the two churches share similar front of house and microphone solutions. Mixing within both houses of worship is done on Roland’s M-380 rack-mountable digital console. Occupying 12U of rack space, the 48-channel mixer includes the manufacturer’s REAC networking protocol, plus 18 buses and eight matrices, four dual-mono effects processors, and four 31-band GEQs / eight band PEQs.

Microphones have all been sourced from the Shure catalogue. In St Immaculata, four MX418D/C gooseneck microphones serve the altar, while the choir can be heard through six Microflex MX202B overhead mics. A PG14-PG185 lavalier clip-on wireless system has also been provided. In St Polycarpus, three MX418D/C goosenecks are used at the altar while four MX202B overhead mics capture the sound of the choir. Finally, a single SM58 handheld microphone has been provided for the church’s soloist.

With work at both houses of worship having now been completed, Mr Haslim describes himself as ‘very pleased overall with the outcome of both projects’. Nor is he alone in that opinion. The work of Mr Haslim’s team has since been evaluated and given a stamp of approval by Renkus-Heinz vice president of international sales, Karl Brunvoll, who visited both sites. ‘I'm pleased to say that he offered praise for the work my team carried out,’ Mr Haslim enthuses. ‘Of course, no installation is ever 100 per cent perfect. There will always be variations in usage, minor tweaks and fine-tuning to be done. But it is always nice to receive recognition from an important factory representative, especially when the project becomes good material for a reference.’

Most important of all, however, is the reaction of the church technicians and volunteers who are now using their new systems. ‘Both the churches are satisfied with the systems,’ confirms Mr Haslim. ‘There was an initial period of training and adaptation when we assisted the engineers in learning how best to use their new systems and how to mix on them. That is the normal procedure that we follow with every new installation, and a very important part of our response to the initial requirements of both churches. They were provided with prompt after-sales service. To date, both projects have been a mutually satisfying experience for both us and the churches.’

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