Keeping up with St Abdisho's congregation
AUSTRALIA: St Abdisho's church in Melbourne opened its doors in 2014. Its congregation has grown substantially during its short history. As the sanctuary filled with bodies, the basic audio solution installed for the church’s inauguration no longer provided speech intelligibility or transparent sound reproduction of the choir to everyone in attendance.
The church turned to Sydney-based consultants Music on Stage to upgrade the existing 100V line system with a higher quality and low-profile passive column array. Based on the common constraints faced by houses of worship due to budgetary constraints and the technical skill of the volunteers who operate the audio systems, Music on Stage recommended a system centred on elements from HK Audio. ‘Our vision was to provide the church with a simple-to-use PA that enables non-technical people to autonomously operate the system, while delivering flawless audio reproduction at an affordable price,’ explains Leonard David, proprietor for Music On Stage.
Music On Stage deployed a total of eight HK Audio E835 passive install speakers, six of which were flown at regular intervals down both sides of the sanctuary. The remaining two were positioned to the left and right of the altar. It was during this process that Lee Stevens, a technical specialist from HK Audio’s Australian distributor, CMI Music & Audio, came to realise that solving the church’s acoustic challenges required more than a simple loudspeaker replacement.
St Abdisho's had experienced problems in controlling and mixing sound. Up to five priests can preside over any one service, providing quite the challenge for volunteers managing the audio levels. A solution was offered in the form of an AKG professional digital automatic mixer, which mixes and monitors all levels, maintaining a summed output of 0dB by automatically increasing the output for quieter voices and decreasing levels for speakers with louder projection. This has allowed the quintet of priests clearly communicate with their congregation, no matter their microphone technique.
As for the choir, their main acoustic issue presented itself in their performance space, up on the balcony. Members of the choir not only struggled to hear themselves, but also suffered with excessive microphone feedback. To remedy this, the Music On Stage team installed a pair of HK Audio Pro12M stage monitors.
With the sound levels under control for the priests and the choir, Music On Stage and CMI delivered a Mackie DL32R wireless iPad mixer to provide overall control of the system. This was selected as St Abdisho's does not have a standard FOH position and the DL32R offers a solution that can be stowed away when not in use and can be controlled remotely from anywhere inside the building. Another reported benefit of the mixer is the graphic EQ capability on all outputs which aids the church’s volunteers with crafting the monitor mix for the choir to eliminate their feedback problems. All signals can be fed into this EQ.
In keeping with the simple-to-use part of the brief, the setup was completed with Mackie’s Master Fader software for remote control via wirelessly networked iOS devices. All mic inputs are grouped using the software, then hidden and locked before being presented as a three-channel solution providing a single audio level for the choir. Powering the entire system are Max and XP amplifiers from Phonic.