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Church of the Presentation Gets Sound System for Variable Acoustics Pt2

Installed by Monte Brothers, the Audio-Technica wireless mic system has to work with different room configurations – Show 126-1

On this edition of the SVC Podcast, Contributing Editor Bennett Liles completes his conversation with Steve Minozzi of Monte Brothers in Westchester, New York about their design and installation of a new sound system for the Church of the Presentation in Upper Saddle River, New Jersey. They discuss the extensive Audio-Technical wireless mic system, setup of a temporary sound system while the project was in progress, and calibration of the new sound system.


The Church of the Presentation in Upper Saddle River, New Jersey has an unusual right-angle building. Parts of it can be used separately and sometimes they can all be combined so the sound system has to be versatile and easy to operate. Monte Brothers got it done and Steve Minozzi is back with the rest of the story next on the SVC Podcast.

Steve, good to have you back with us for Part 2 on the SVC Podcast from Monte Brothers. We were talking about Church of the Presentation with a very unusual architectural and acoustical layout. You were telling us about how you handled that with multi-channel Powersoft amps and twelve audio zones. They also use a pretty big Audio-Technica wireless mic system. Did you have to modify any of that Audio-Technica gear for their particular use?

Not for their use, but Audio-Technica works with Monte Brothers so we have reserved model product status on the devices we install, which covers a lot of things that we want done to the units. So the model number may slightly be different than what their normal model number on a transmitter, etc. or microphone. When we install a sound system one of the key factors and one of the key reasons why an owner goes to Monte Brothers, besides the fact that’s got to work, is that it’s got to be serviced. And everything we install is always repaired and serviced by replacement and guaranteed by replacement. Audio-Technica excels in the house of worship wireless business with Monte Brothers because they pay attention to the needs of the owner or the user – the end user. And we meet with them quite often. We work with them in design and we give them the feedback from the real world as to what the client wants in a particular item. They’re extremely sensitive to that. They’re very helpful with that. We’ve had a long relationship with them, over 30 years. [Timestamps: 2:03]

How many wireless mics are they typically using in there?

In terms of presentation it presently has the ability to have 18 independent wireless microphones operating at the same time.

Well, that’s quite a setup. Now, how did you do the antenna system for that? You’ve got a lot of reflective surfaces in there.

We used the Diversity wireless antenna system from Audio-Technica for your eight frequency-modulation wireless mics which operate on the new FCC-approved 500 MHz bandwidth. And then we used 10 of their digital wireless mics, which operate at 2.4 GHz. By doing that, which we also do in major installations like NYPD headquarters, etc. we have multiple wireless microphones. If you use a combination of frequency modulation, 500 meg, and digital, 2.4 gig, they don’t see each other. They live on different planets. So you have the elimination of that potential problem. Plus the digital wireless microphones have different features than an analog wireless microphone, like a 500 meg, or even a digital version of the 500 mg. In a digital 2.4 gig wireless mic produced by Audio-Technica, and I imagine other companies probably do too, you can pair two different transmitters with a digital receiver and it will let whichever one gets turned on first works and the other one will be ineffective. This ensures the owner that you can’t screw up. So we have that ability in terms of the presentation, to use alternate transmitters on their auditorium. Digital wireless mics mainly live in the auditorium and then when they have major concerts where they use the whole worship space, all 18 – the 10 digital and the 8 frequency modulation units – all work throughout the whole space. [Timestamp: 3:50]

And so no problem with interference or anything with those.

No. And the new Audio-Technica 3000 series, you could have 30 of those anyway. It’s just that the digital ones have other features. Their wireless bases are phenomenal because you can use them on a podium. So there are different features that the digital ones have. They have lithium batteries that live in them like a phone. So you have different features that are applicable to different logistics and requirements in different spaces. And the combination of 10 digital and 8 frequency modulation wireless devices in that worship space works very well. It doesn’t mean we couldn’t have used 18          of their new 500 meg units. That would have worked anyway. [Timestamp: 4:33]

Yes and you could still have room for expansion when they need it.

We can easily add another 12 mics to that system.

And you used also some ceiling speakers in there, too. Where are those located?

Those are in the ancillary areas of the space. When you walk into the new narthex gathering space with all that glass, the beautiful big entrance they built and everything. It’s called a gathering space, before you walk into the actual church. There are CAMM ceiling speakers under the side ceilings in that space so you can hear everything because that space also becomes part of the worship space in overflow situations. They literally put people out there and they can seat about 200-300 people in that space, which then becomes the church. They leave the doors open, you know. So we used them there and we used them, a lesser type – that’s a high-end ceiling speaker. Those transducers and the ceiling speakers in the narthex, or gathering space, have the same technology as the CAMM speakers that are in the worship space with the Ferrofluid technology for the voice coils and everything like that. In other areas we used a basic Atlas ceiling speaker which has an impedance matching transformer, usually a local volume control for a sacristy or hallway. That’s just the speaker that covers areas as monitoring of something. [Timestamp: 5:55]

OK and while you were putting this in did you have to set up any sort of temporary sound system they could use while the installation was going on?

We did. Since it was our account, the assets they had from the old worship space were reinstalled in a temporary manner into the auditorium. A temporary wall was built that they could use that auditorium for their liturgies and services and events during the construction of the major worship space. After that, pretty much everything from the previous sound system was replaced with newer technology, which is what’s in there now. [Timestamp: 6:29]

Yeah, I can see where they couldn’t just stop or relocate. They had to be able to keep going during the project. You ran a lot of wire in there. I think it was something like fifteen thousand feet.

Yeah, because you have all these zones – the speaker zones and logistics they have to accommodate. Most companies don’t use what we call a point source hybrid sound system. We have source speakers but they’re supplemented with distributed speakers. And the reason I don’t do it is cost. It’s more expensive. However, on the flip side it works. We constantly remove central cluster systems. We remove a lot of times these digital line arrays that are 18 feet tall that are supposed to go around corners. The concept is sold to the owner, but in reality it doesn’t work and we end up coming in and removing them. But that’s less expensive to install because you don’t have to run 15,000 square feet of wire. [Timestamp: 7:22]

Now where did you locate the Powersoft amplifiers? They’re obviously out of sight somewhere.

They’re in the main console. Everything is in the main console. We don’t remotely put equipment out into a space. That has other problems with monitoring and everything else. So everything lives in the main console in the sacristy of the worship space. [Timestamp: 7:43]

And once you got all of it installed, a big job in itself, how did you checkout and calibrate the whole thing? How long did that take?

It takes a couple of days. We use lasers to time-align the speaker systems. We have everything pre-charted out. We have very heavy documentation so when a client calls their phone number is their account number. Once they call we know what their floor plan looks like, pictures of the space, the flowcharts, everything. So before we go into that space we’ve already met in our executive boardroom with all the technicians and came up with a plan. And then we implement the plan and we go into the space which we get quiet. Our crews go in and balance everything, make sure all the speakers are correctly connected, but we have the documentation to follow so that there’s no confusion. Once all that is done we have quiet time, then we use lasers to establish distances for time alignment for digital delay from critical zone which is something we developed; the point of delaying, where do you delay from? And that’s part of the tuning process. And then we use one-sixth octave spectrum analysis on the speaker systems and low frequency DSP management which allows us to manage low frequencies in the speaker so that it gives you the presence of low frequencies but doesn’t expand inside the cabinet beyond a certain level so that the owner doesn’t overload, which is usually the problem that happens with speaker systems. Which doesn’t apply to any particular speaker; all speakers you can do it with. It’s our technology, but it applies to all speaker systems so you can get full low frequencies for your acoustic piano, microphone and for your electric piano, synthesizer, microphone inputs and still have clarity for voice. That doesn’t need 80 Hz pounding behind it. [Timestamp: 9:35]

I’m sure that was a fairly involved process with the unusual layout and acoustics.

It’s time-consuming because you have to define the acoustical zones and then normalize them to an acoustically flat response that anticipates the acoustical trends of the space. So you need to analyze the space and see if there’s intense activity in the space between 180Hz and 730Hz. If that’s the nature of the space then you need to compensate that when you actually fine-tune the sound system with equalization because those are going to be more active than the other frequencies. It’s almost like a psychological analysis of the sound in the room. What are the tendencies? That’s how we do it. [Timestamp: 10:17]

Yeah and an interesting time setting all up and getting it ready to go. Now that it is and they’ve used it and they like it, what does Monte Brothers have coming up now?

We have many, many house of worship projects. We are working with NYPD right now to redo their press room at One Police Plaza to bring it up to current state-of-the-art capability. We just actually began that. My next phone call is to headquarters to go over that shortly after we finish here. The other thing we’re working on, which you might want to just put in your back pocket, is we are working on a project with Powersoft. It’s going to be very similar to what we did with NYPD after 9/11. It involves sound. I can’t give you too much information yet, but we can talk once it evolves. Monte Brothers is involved for two reasons: 1) with our experience with what we did for NYPD after 9/11, and 2) it does have sound involved in it. And so we’re going to be heavily involved in the implementation of this new type of concept which has to do with many types of security, but especially school security. [Timestamp: 11:28]

Well, that’s all-important nowadays.

Yeah, very important. And so we’re going back into that with the team that we used for the NYPD project right after 9/11. After 9/11, the project that we completed for NYPD had to have what they called fail safe. You could not take it out. They were four secret hubs in the city and if you took out three of them one could run the whole system. It didn’t matter if the phone lines went down, electricity went down, internet went down, that had to stay up. This project that we’re involved in now is a modern version; much less expensive and much more capable than what we did 17 years ago. [Timestamp: 12:10]

But you have the technology now that you didn’t have then.

Yep, and we have a team of players that know what they’re doing. So this is going to be very, very interesting as to how the world reacts to it when they see. [Timestamp: 12:26]

That’s going to be interesting to see and we’ll have to talk about that when you get further into it. It’s been nice having you here. We’ve been talking with Steve Minozzi of Monte Brothers in Westchester, New York about the Church of the Presentation. Complete sound system install for a very versatile house of worship. Thanks for telling us all about it, Steve.

You got it.

Church of the Presentation can arrange their spaces and the sound system can handle anything thanks to the way Monte Brothers designed it and made it all work. We’ve got more AV installation case stories so get back with us for the next one on the next SVC Podcast.

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