Complex Audio Worship Upgrade, Part 2

When the massive St. Joseph’s Cathedral in Hartford, Conn., needed a sound upgrade they called in Monte Brothers Sound Systems for the job and it was a huge one. 8/28/2012 6:22 AM Eastern

Complex Audio Worship Upgrade, Part 2

Aug 28, 2012 10:22 AM, With Bennett Liles

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When the massive St. Joseph’s Cathedral in Hartford, Conn., needed a sound upgrade they called in Monte Brothers Sound Systems for the job and it was a huge one. Digital snake, multiple mixers, delay systems, and wireless mics were all made to work together. Steve Minozzi is here to wrap up his account of how Monte Brothers did it, coming up on the SVC Podcast.

SVC: Steve Minozzi from Monte Brothers Sound Systems in Ardsley, N.Y., and we were talking before about a huge project in St. Joseph’s Cathedral in Hartford, Conn. Wireless mics, delay systems, and broadcast all built around a digital snake. We mentioned the cathedral’s media room just briefly, so what do they have in the media room and where is that located?

Steve Minozzi: The media room is located on the upper level of the cathedral adjacent to the choir loft, and it contains all of the sound system components the amplifiers, the DSP processors, one of the Sound Craftsman analog mixer that we spoke of in the last conversation, and it contains the digital snakes components. However, there are other locations throughout the cathedral where we have digital snake end points that enable us to connect to the media vehicle that’s in the rear of the cathedral in the parking lot. We have actually two portable digital snake end points that they can connect in different locations in the cathedral and add additional mixing capability for recording and broadcast so you could have, for arguments sake, you could have four different analog mixers mixing 24 microphones to different locations at the same time without interfering with each other and not have any effect on the live sound of the building whatsoever which is pretty extraordinary. [Timestamp: 2:04]

It is. And one of the things that we didn’t talk about before was the wireless mics. It’s a big place and they have to be mobile so what kind of wireless mic system are they using in there?

The mics that we’re using are Audio-Technica. They’re the engineered series that were modified to comply with the FCC’s regulation of 600MHz, and they’re fitted with mute box that the celebrant or the priest or the bishop or the archbishop can know that his mic has been muted if he doesn’t want it on. The unique thing with the Audio-Technica wireless microphones, one of the requirements for the cathedral is that they do have events that are outside the entrance of the cathedral, which is quite a distance from the sanctuary, probably a couple hundred feet at least and multiple wireless mics had to work. So we utilized their 600MHz tower antennas and we’re able to position them in the nave of the cathedral and they manage all the wireless mics in the cathedral. At this time they have four wireless beltpack lavalier mics and one handheld lavalier mic and those all operate simultaneously. There’s no restriction. They could have more if they wanted to. The system could easily handle more wireless mics, but that covers everything and they’re also programmed through the Nexia DSP processors. All four wireless mics are programmed to automatically override the alter mic so that—and a lot of these major events at the cathedral there are many, many priests and bishops and archbishops and cardinals standing behind the Altar of Sacrifice and during certain parts of the service they do speak so they need to be amplified so the altar mic is there to amplify both live and for recording and broadcast the additional people are speaking behind the Altar of Sacrifice. In order to do that, the wireless microphones, I have to turn them off. When you go to the alter the wireless microphones are programmed through the DSP processors to lower the volume of the altar mics if there’s no phase cancellation when someone wearing a wireless mic speaks behind the Altar of Sacrifice and then when that person stops speaking and the person that is not miked comes up and speaks at the alter, the altar mic will then turn on and amplify that person so the wireless microphones work very well. They did everything they were supposed to do and they cover the distances they have to cover. As you can imagine this building has a huge amount of steel; it’s steel and concrete, so these had to be really competent wireless units and they needed to have a very sophisticated and competent wireless antenna distribution system, which included two powered antennas. The power antennas because of the distance of the cable, the cable to the—one of the antennas was 100ft. from the source from the distribution amplifier. Powered antennas simply eliminate that 100ft. That’s what a power antenna does; it doesn’t add power to the antenna; it just eliminates the ohm load that’s on the antenna that it loses by having a long cable run, but again, that worked really well and they’re happy with that. [Timestamp: 5:03]

Complex Audio Worship Upgrade, Part 2

Aug 28, 2012 10:22 AM, With Bennett Liles

And you mentioned in part one, you’re not only wireless on the mics but you’ve got a wireless remote mixing situation too that you set up with the daVinci control software?

Right, we installed Linksys, a Linksys VPN wireless router, with specific IP addresses in it and that operates throughout the cathedral. It’s there for the cathedral with password detection on different levels. You can take a laptop computer, connect it to the VPN network that we created that manages the four Nexias for live recordings, for live broadcasts, for recording capability whatever view they go to on the computer and it’s done wireless actually in the cathedral during service or whatever. We also use that technology when we tune sound systems and calibrate them. We do it with our computers in the middle of this space, which is a huge advantage because we’re right in this space adjusting everything. Also when our technicians, whenever we do a sound system as in the cathedral especially, we have a technician that’s there for that whole first weekend for every service with a computer that is actually tweaking the sound system during its use right from the worship space, which is pretty amazing too. [Timestamp: 6:12]

I can imagine all of this stuff coming together and working reliably and at the same time being simple to operate. The priests have a few buttons and they just come in and push the right button for the event, right?

They just push a button; it’s intuitive. We don’t even, 90 percent of the time, have to explain it to them; it’s pretty intuitive. It’s a pretty simple button panel. It allows them to select any four presets, but it also is programmed to default to the weekday presets so they don’t even have to press a button. On the left side of that panel they have the ability to temporarily control the amplitude of any of the four wireless beltpack lavalieres or the handheld or any of the main microphones in the sanctuary and then there’s a simple reset button at the right hand bottom of the simple button panel. This simply always acts if you restart the system so it’s nothing that they can do that make any permanent changes and 99 percent of the time there’s no need to do that, everything’s been calibrated. It’s important to know that when you use a hybrid system that has source and support speakers it isn’t a necessity to adjust the volume levels so microphones don’t accommodate attendance. For example, in the third preset that’s used for the full cathedral. It can have 200 people or it can 1,750 people. You don’t have to adjust any volume that’s taken care of by the speaker design and deployment. [Timestamp: 7:29]

And you had to use a lot of speakers in there to cover it. It’s a huge amount of space for sound. How long did it take you to mount all those speakers and get them into the right place?

Well, it was a little tricky because the cathedral had to maintain integrity of a sound system while this was going on so it took quite a while; it took at least two weeks in which we had to wait for the electrician to provide us with the cable to each location and then we had to relocate the existing speakers, which happen to be in similar locations just not this design and install the new speakers not connected yet until when all of the speakers were installed, the new ones, in all of the areas. Then we made the switchover, adjusted everything, and once that was up and running we went back and disconnected, removed, and patched up where the old speakers were. So it was an ongoing process that actually took a couple of weeks to do but the actual switchover once everything was in place took a couple of days. [Timestamp: 8:25]

And when you got the priests in there and showed them how it worked and showed them the buttons to push, how did they take to learning that?

Intuitive, they came when it was all done. The archbishop, Archbishop Mansell, came in with his staff and director of the cathedral with Monsignor McCarthy, a music director, Ezequiel Menendez, Dr. Menendez, and the plant manager and some other staff in the archdiocese and we walked through the whole system and they listened to it and then made whatever adjustments—little tweaks they wanted and then from there it was to the weekend with the actual services with the people which they were very pleased with. [Timestamp: 8:58]

Lots going on, but still easy to operate. So what’s coming up for Monte Brothers now? Have you got any projects coming up that you want to tell us about or that you can tell us about? Well, we’re doing a lot of very big worship spaces and we just finished another project recently in Austin, Texas—a new church out there similar to the size of the cathedral but it’s a regular Roman Catholic church and then we have projects—one pending in Ohio, which is another cathedral which we haven’t moved on yet but it looks like we’re going to be doing it and then multiple houses of worship in around the country that we’re working on. And one other acoustic project we’re actually going to evaluate the effects of pew cushions in houses of worship. How does that affect the music versus speech versus reverberation, which will be a very, very detailed analysis in that. So there’s a lot of things going on. We’re also doing some special work NYPD that involves what they call SpectraPulse from Audio-Technica. It’s UWB—ultra wideband wireless that is encrypted obviously—it’s not even encrypted. You can’t scan it and it can’t get interference and we’ve been using that in a special project in the headquarters, which I can’t discuss, but it’s really impressive—the capability of the Audio-Technica SpectraPulse UWB wireless technology that they have. [Timestamp: 10:15]

A very big job and I’m sure you had to call on a lot of experience for it. Thanks for telling us about it. Steve Minozzi of Monte Brothers Sound Systems in Ardsley, N.Y., and the St. Joseph’s Cathedral sound upgrade in Hartford, Conn. Huge job. Thanks for being with us.

It’s great talking to you Bennett.

Thanks for being here for the SVC Podcast with Steve Minozzi of Monte Brothers Sound Systems. Show notes can be found on the website of Sound & Video Contractor Magazine at Be back with us next time on the SVC Podcast.

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