A clear message for mixed use
GERMANY: Intelligibility is one of the most common challenges faced by houses of worship. Issues can be caused by any number of architectural or electronic factors but they all have the same effect, the message is lost.
Solving the problem can be difficult in older buildings, but when you are starting from scratch with a new facility there is the opportunity to get things right from the very beginning. This is what the Community of Decided Christians (Gemeinschaft entschiedener Christen – GEC) in Heilbronn decided to do when it built its new 600 sq-m Silcherforum.
While the multi-use building features many smooth surfaces such as extensive glass panelling and parquet flooring which have a negative effect on the acoustics, GEC has taken action to ensure the sound is clear. A sound-absorbing acoustic curtain has been hung behind the stage, additional absorbers to the sides of the stage swallow medium to high frequencies, helping to reduce reverberation. As a precaution against standing waves, numerous diffusor panels have been placed on the walls and the trapezoidal sheet ceiling features holes with cavities filled with mineral fibre. Finally, the stands are carpeted, as a result of which more mid-range to high-frequency sound energy is absorbed than reflected.
While the acoustic treatment has ensured the room sounds as good as it can, it is not the only way the church is helping its congregants to hear the sermon. GEC has also installed a Synexis mobile FM system from beyerdynamic to both support its hearing impaired parishioners and provide multi-lingual support.
‘The system’s dual-purpose character in particular made it so appealing to us,’ explains GEC’s Oliver Schaal. ‘With a fixed loop we couldn’t offer translation for the hearing impaired – with Synexis we can do both at the same time. And if necessary, we can simply offer additional foreign languages on other channels or expand the system for more participants.’
Four Synexis TS8 stationary transmitters have been installed at the church. This allows for up to four languages to be transmitted – the original language for assisted listening plus three foreign languages. The transmitters are connected via an antenna combiner, meaning only one transmitting antenna is required for all four languages and to cover the entire hall.
The church currently offers services in German and English, but up to three foreign languages are planned for the future. To that end, an interpreter’s booth for three interpreters has been installed, again calling on equipment from beyerdynamic. Active members of the community act as interpreters, using the manufacturer’s DT 297 headsets, through which they can hear the German sermon for translation.
With the church based in the same town as the manufacturer, the other end of the signal chain calls equally strongly on its products. The church has invested in TG 1000 wireless mics, which were reportedly selected due to their flexibility across the RF spectrum. The church opted for six handheld units for both speech and vocals as well as different guitar and violin options. Completing the mic line up is an extensive solution for the drum kit featuring the TG D70d dynamic mic on kick, TG D50d dynamic on toms, TG I53c condenser mic on hi-hat and TG D58c condenser on snare, with MC 930 ‘true condenser’ microphones used as overheads.
Away from the beyerdynamic products, the signal chain at the church also features control via an Allen & Heath GLD mixing console, Biamp TesiraForte DSP and a Gemini CDMP-1500 media player.
Finding the right combination of room acoustics and audio equipment means that GEC Heilbronn has created a space which can serve the whole community and always ensure the message is heard clearly.