Upgrading Improperly Installed Audio at St. Nicholas, Part 2

Bennett Liles continues his talk with Paul Garner, principal with Christian Sound Installations in Valrico, Fla. 11/02/2011 10:59 AM Eastern

Upgrading Improperly Installed Audio at St. Nicholas, Part 2

Nov 2, 2011 2:59 PM, with Bennett Liles

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A highly reverberant church sanctuary, an antiquated sound system, and unintelligible sound—that was the story at St. Nicholas Church in Tarpon Springs, Fla. but Christian Sound Installations came to the rescue and now, every word is heard and understood. Paul Garner from CSI will wrap up his talk about how they fixed it; coming up next on the SVC Podcast.
Hi Paul, thanks for getting back with me for Part 2 on the new sound system done by Christian Sound Installations at the St. Nicholas Church in Tarpon Springs, Fla. This was a very formidable situation with acoustics and you didn’t have any of the old sound system that you were going to use because of a pretty primitive existing system they had there. One thing we didn’t talk about in Part 1 was the crew situation. What sort of a tech crew do they have at St. Nicholas Church?

Well this church doesn’t actually have any but if you ask Father Michaels, he said—quoting him: “Everybody’s a sound tech at their church.” So that’s one of the reasons why we chose to go to an auto-type mixer in this installation. [Timestamp: 1:3]

Well, that sounds fairly dangerous and they’re saying that everybody’s the tech guy that sounds like it was pretty open access for a lot of home-styled sound folks.

We have actually mounted the Protiva 8800 in a wall-mounted rack in the back in Father Michaels' office which is to the back of the church, approximately 50-60ft. away from the main PA, and that’s where everything is located is in his office. But their having that Ashly Protiva and being able to control it through a computer and not have the typical sliders and knobs that you would find on a normal mixer that anyone can walk back in there because even with a lockable rack it just seemed like they would just find the key before. And with using the Protiva ne8800 basically solved that problem where we don’t have to worry about anybody coming back and making adjustments unless they’re authorized to. [Timestamp: 2:32]

I would think that most of them would take a look at that and not even know what it was but when you’ve got an open mixer back there, everybody becomes an expert of the moment.


What’s the microphone situation in the church? Do they use a lot of mics? I think you said in part one that it’s a fairly traditional service they have there.

It is, but for the microphones there’s several different units that they are using. We re-purposed four Sennheiser units with wireless patch and outfitted them with new Galaxy tool gear headsets to get the microphone up off of their chest as they are using lapels and actually get that headset on there, so you get a much better thought-out quality sound. And then we switched the choir over from what they were using to the new Audix 5050 MicroBoom switch. I’ve used several situations on choirs and they do exceptionally good job. This church also has chanters, which are a type of choir. They basically do the chanting of certain verses and things and it’s done typically by three males on the opposite side of where the choir is so we used something very similar from Audix—same type of capsule, it’s a 1250 capsule on a 12in. flex shaft setup like a pulpit mic. So that basically they have the same microphone that the choir’s using but not on a big boom now it’s on the front. It’s the pulpit mic. [Timestamp: 4:03]

Wow, head-worn microphones. That’s a real step forward. I mean that would solve just a whole host of problems.

Yes sir, and for the Greek Orthodox it’s a major step ahead because they for years didn’t even typically like wearing any microphones at all and as you well know lapel mics can be an absolute nightmare in a live sound situation. [Timestamp: 4:26]

Yeah, they sure can and some people still insist on those for a more traditional look and it gives the sound people a big challenge on gain before feedback in those reverberant environments. I was curious though about the Ashly ne8800 DSP. How did you do the initial setup on that?

Well the initial setup obviously we did that through our laptop with the Ashly software. All of the programming was done on the site because its really architectural of the ne8800 is pretty straight forward and simple to build your architecture of the things that you would need on each channel from limiting gates, EQ’ing—you name it—it’s pretty much a drop and drag type of situation. So we did all of the programming on-site. We did set everything up the way we wanted to get it the way they wanted before Sunday service. So we got all those settings ready to go and then that way we can make changes later down the road we can make them with…once they get the internet installed to the church we’re going to be able to log on and make any minor adjustments to them from our office which will save them costly service runs out to the site. [Timestamp: 5:37]

Upgrading Improperly Installed Audio at St. Nicholas, Part 2

Nov 2, 2011 2:59 PM, with Bennett Liles

And if they were to upgrade their sound technology at the church, you’ve actually got some option bays on the back of that, don’t you?

Yes sir.

For AES/EBU and networking upgrades so you don’t have to replace it with something else, you can just add some new interfaces into the rear bays.


Were there any power issues there? You had a fairly antiquated sound system so what was the power situation when you got into that old building and maybe not being completely free to re-do any electrical things?

I think through the years—we didn’t really find any issues with the system. We did do a brief power check—we did check the grounding and everything looked good. The good thing is with these newer systems they don’t require near the amperage draw that the older amplifiers and things did so we’re running everything on a much, much smaller scale of amperage ratio so we did not see anything there that would cause a problem and I’m thinking that somewhere through the years it’s probably gone through an upgrade. It definitely appeared that to us. [Timestamp: 6:38]

When you got all of this installed and it was ready to fire up and be operated by the actual users, what was the run-through with the pastor like? What was their reaction when they first tried it out?

We set it up so that on Thursday evening which was the last day that we did the system—got everything up and running. We did a mock service on Thursday night—basically a dry run of everything that would happen just like it would on Sunday morning including the choir and the chanters and we even had a few people in the audience just to give it a more real feel. But most of the major adjustments were done on that Thursday evening and then Sunday morning we did sit through a service with a laptop and actually make the final adjustments on Sunday morning because they were very small adjustments—this could be done without any distractions to the service at all. [Timestamp: 7:38]

And of course, the real proof is with the congregation. What was their reaction?

Oh they loved it. Everyone told Father how nice the sound was and one man came up and it was really interesting you would of thought that—we kind of chuckled because I said I couldn’t have paid this guy to show up and say the right things at that time—he walked up and he said that this was the first time that he was able to clearly hear and understand Father Michaels and of course Father Michaels hasn’t been there for this whole time, but he’d been attending this church for 30 years and he told Father Michaels that it was the first time that he’s been able to clearly hear and understand everything that was being said and the first thing that came to my mind was, "man, that’s dedication." [Timestamp: 8:19]

Yeah, you can’t get any better than that as far as the feedback from the crowd there. You were obviously limited in what you could do with the church being on the National Register of Historic Places but if you had been free to get in there and do anything you wanted, is there anything else you would have done?

Well, I think we would have stayed on the same track but I would have loved to have been able to do some treatments on the walls with some acoustical absorbing type panels. This would have greatly reduced the reverberation time in a room and just further enhanced the overall quality of the sound. [Timestamp: 8:49]

And that’s fairly labor intensive, too. It would have certainly added to the timeframe of it. So what other projects has CSI got in the works right now what have you been doing lately?

Yeah well over this past year we’ve completed over two dozen projects throughout Florida. Some of the more recent are Rivers of Life Christian Center in Riverview, Fla.; Fishhawks Fellowship Center down in Lithia; Salvation Army over in Clearwater; Grace Bible Church in Sebring; we did Sacred Heart Community Center right here in our hometown of Valrico; the High Park United Methodist Church in Tampa; St. Lucas Missionary Baptist Church in Plant City, and Mt. Zion Assembly of God in Plant City and we have actually three in design right now and we’re starting to reach out there. We have Faith Church of Brooksville and then two of them that are out of state, High Point Church of Thompson, Conn. and Lifepark Church of Charleston, S. C. [Timestamp: 9:51]

Sounds like CSI has a whole lot going on. I really thank you for taking time to tell us about this one and because nothing fascinates me more than these projects where you can’t just tear into it and do anything you want but you’ve to be more creative and with the newer technology it can enable you to do that. Thanks for telling us about it.

We thank you also. It’s become a great tool for us to take a product that was originally designed in Europe for train stations and bus stations that had a huge, huge reverberant large, typical unintelligible area to deal with and because of technology and dealing with light safety issues and things like that that we have been able to take that technology and bring it into the HOW market to solve a lot of these problems that years ago were very, very difficult and almost impossible to solve. [Timestamp: 10:46]

Alright, it’s Paul Garner with Christian Sound Installations in Valrico, Fla. and the new sound system at St. Nicholas Church in Tarpon Springs. Thanks for being here, Paul.

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