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Podcast: AV for a Worship Sanctuary and Overfill Space, Part 2

Perched on the New Jersey shoreline, St. Thomas the Apostle was a church with a growing congregation. During the sanctuary renovation services moved to the church’s activity center.

AV for a Worship Sanctuary and Overfill Space, Part 2

Nov 15, 2012 10:57 AM, With Bennett Liles

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Part 1 | Part 2

Editor’s note: For your convenience, this transcription of the podcast includes timestamps. If you are listening to the podcast and reading its accompanying transcription, you can use the timestamps to jump to any part of the audio podcast by simply dragging the slider on the podcast to the time indicated in the transcription.

Perched on the New Jersey shoreline, St. Thomas the Apostle was a church with a growing congregation. During the sanctuary renovation services moved to the church’s activity center. Bobby Harper from ACIR Pro is going to wrap up the story on how the new sanctuary and the activity center were connected with video and sound, up next on the SVC Podcast.

SVC: Thanks for being back for part two, Bobby Harper from ACIR Pro. St. Thomas the Apostle church is right on the shoreline in Brigantine, N.J., and in part one we talked about the sanctuary renovation and the sound system you put in for them. They moved their services into the activity center while the work was going on and you did the sound systems for both. You connected the two. What video format are you feeding to the screen in the activity center? You’re feeding video and sound over there right?

Bobby Harper: Correct, and the camera itself, it’s a Sony pan, tilt, and zoom camera, and we came out of that into a little monitor in the choir loft so that the choir director could have a little controller because it has six presets on it. So I did a walk in look so the people in the other room, when they were walking in and sitting down, they could see the whole sanctuary and then as the mass started, the choir director could hit the second preset and it would go to zoom in on a priest and then he could zoom in on the cantor or whatever—it’s six presets. I had a feed going to that and I also had, [coming out] of the camera and into a video balun and converted it to Ethernet, set it to Ethernet over to the other room, converted back went into a Yamaha receiver, converted it into high definition and that’s how it got to the projector. [Timestamp: 2:10]

The activity center serves as an overflow area, among other things. The size of the congregation there varies widely by season.

In the summer it’s mobbed. In the wintertime it’s fairly full, so they really had to have an overflow and it worked out really well. You can go in the overflow area [and] you can see exactly what happens all the time and you can hear exactly what’s going on. You’re really part of the service. [Timestamp: 2:38]

So how is the video displayed over there in the Event Center?

There’s a daylight screen recessed in the ceiling and it automatically comes down to a preset level and front projection looks great. [Timestamp: 2:50]

They use that room for the overflow, but there are a whole lot of different events and you put the sound system in there first. So they can hold any kind of thing they want, watching movies or TV, anything they want to do?

Anything really. I mean they can watch Monday night football, like I said. They can watch a movie in high definition—5.1. The other fun thing is they do PowerPoint all the time in there and that Eiki projector is set up to do PowerPoint wirelessly. So you have your option if you have a laptop, you can sit anywhere in the room and connect and project do your PowerPoint that way or there’s one outlet behind the screen where you can plug in and pick up the projector that way. So they do pretty much anything they want there. [Timestamp: 3:36]

Yeah, it’s great that they have that room because that being a more traditional church, it would be tough to try do all those different things in the sanctuary. You chose Yamaha mixers for the sound control. What model of Yamaha mixers did you use?

What I did is I put three mixers in there. In the main sanctuary I have a 16-channel MG series mixer. It mixes everything that happens on the altar. It sends it to the main speakers, it sends it to the choir loft into their monitors, and it sends it to the overflow activity center. The second MG series 16-channel mixer is in the activity center and that receives the audio from the choir, from the altar, and anything plugged into the I/O panels on the walls including the receiver, anything going through the receiver—Comcast or wireless mics in there. And then the third mixer was a 24-channel MG series, which is up in the choir loft, which mixes the choir, the organ, a couple of violins, a flute, and a bass. We don’t really like the drums; they take the bass; they never really turn it on. That seat goes down into both mixers as well so you can control everything anywhere. [Timestamp: 4:56]

That looks like they have a very flexible situation there not only in terms of the space itself but for sound control as well.

The funny part about it is the musical director, her name is Mary Jane and her husband’s the drummer and they’re great people. And the funny thing about it is they’ve been learning how to become sound engineers and they’re getting pretty good at it. The phone calls to me have dwindled; they know how to go into any location and make it work with what’s installed, so that worked out really well as well. [Timestamp: 5:27]

Well, I guess when you get them started with a system like that, no news is good news.

Yeah, exactly.

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AV for a Worship Sanctuary and Overfill Space, Part 2

Nov 15, 2012 10:57 AM, With Bennett Liles

Yeah, you mentioned before the wireless mics. What kind of wireless mic system did you put in there?

It’s a Sennheiser 300 series. I have four of them in the main sanctuary and four of them in the activity overflow room. And in the activity overflow room I am not using any antenna distribution. Actually I have a Sennheiser distribution in there, but I don’t have any remote antennas. I’m just using the whips that come with it and it’s in the closet and works really well. In the main sanctuary the control room’s a little bit further away so I took some Sennheiser omnidirectional antennas and mounted them in one of the naves and ran the coax through the ceiling and into that control room and it works really well. [Timestamp: 6:21]

Yeah, that’s the thing about wireless mic systems, you never know for sure what you’re going to get until you power it all up and test it all out. So you can have complete bliss or a nightmare.

Yeah, exactly, which really, this time it’s been complete bliss. [Timestamp: 6:37]

How do you use the Community dSPEC processor? Was that fairly easy to set up?

It’s funny because I’m looking for a processor. We’re big dealers for a lot people, but it seems like we sell a lot of Yamaha and we like the Yamaha; it’s got some of the best customer service you’re ever going to come across, so we push a lot of Yamaha. So I was thinking maybe I should put a DME in there; I wasn’t sure what I was going to put [in], and then I said, “Wait a minute, maybe Community makes a processor for their own stuff.” Sure enough I call them up and they make this dSPEC and it’s a single space processor, two in/six out, which is exactly what I needed. They said they would come up and they program it for us [and] they would train us and that was great. I said, “Sure let’s do it that way,” and then I played with it for about an hour and easily figured it out. I’m telling you, if I can do it, anybody can do it, so I would highly recommend it. I would use it on any system really, but it works well with a Community for a couple of reasons. Obviously it has delay, lots of EQ, systems drive, phase, all that so you can control everything, but what it really has is these speakers you plug into the model number of the speaker and the model number of the amp and you hook the amp up to the dSPEC then and back to the amp and it reads the input and the output sensitivity, programs the limiter inside the dSPEC so the amp can only send out so much level based on what speaker you tell it is going to be loaded on that amplifier output. So I did that for, I have three sets of speakers in there: the Varis, the MX, and the DS series, and I just plugged in those model numbers into whatever amplifier I said I was going to be using and it set the limiters for me—not that we’re ever going to need them, but again it’s got built in protection; it manages for you so you don’t have to guess or over compress or over limit it will do it for you and that’s really what I found to be probably the biggest advantage of using that piece of gear. [Timestamp: 8:48]

You were talking to the church people about what you were going to be doing in there. Did they have any special requirements or concerns about the project?

Yeah, they wanted the ability to have lots of wireless. They weren’t sure how exactly they were going to use it at all times but they wanted the ability and now they are using it. The priests wear lavalieres. A big thing with them was the look, everything needed to be low profile. We custom painted the speakers ourselves so it matched the architect’s paint and that was very important for them and it looked real good when all was all said and done. I mean more importantly, it sounded great—I’ve gotten a lot of referrals from it. [Timestamp: 9:29]

Did you have to come in and make any tweaks or adjustments after the first services?

I made a couple only because people went in there and did play; I don’t know why but they did. So you know we went back and tweaked it a couple times. But the first service it was mobbed and it probably could have used some more tweaking anyway, so when we went back we did exactly that—a little more EQ and changed the levels on some of the delays and they just had some kind of Catholic-type convention in there where they had guest speakers from different parishes—Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and I’ve been getting phone calls requesting quotes from these new parishes because they liked it so much. So I guess it’s all good there. [Timestamp: 10:18]

Well, that’s always great when the phone rings and you’ve got somebody who’s heard the system and wants the same thing for their place. So what’s coming up next for ACIR Pro?

Well, we’re still doing all of our rentals. We have a lot of rentals in Atlantic City and that’s all going great, whether it be backline or audio rentals and we’re still doing some small club installs. I just did a church down in Vineland, N.J.—Calvary Baptist, which I installed a system in and that’s working out great, but I got a project that I’m working on right now it’s for Exploring the Arts. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of it its Tony Bennett’s wife heads up that program and it raises money to provide arts for schools basically, I guess, in the New York area and they partnered somewhat with Yamaha, I think. They’re putting in a, I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of an AFC system, it’s an active field control. It’s a reverb enhancement system that if you build a theater and it’s too dry, this will add reverb to it. If you have a orchestra on stage and you don’t want to spend all the money for a band shell, this will simulate a band shell. So basically we’re installing a Yamaha Nexo line array system in their theater. We’re installing 31 Yamaha ceiling speakers throughout the ceiling and balcony, another 18 over the stage and four microphones suspended from the ceiling. This active field control, it’s controlled feedback and what this is going to do, you’re going to have your PA working, you’re going to have enhanced reverb in the audience, and if it’s an orchestra on stage, they’re also going to get enhanced reverb over the stage to simulate that band shell. It’s a big project. Yamaha’s really involved with it. We’re project managing and installing it and in about three weeks we have two engineers from Japan flying to tune this PA and it’s a big project. [Timestamp: 12:30]

Well, it sounds like this one turned out fine and they’ve turned their own people loose in there and they’re having some fun with it now. St. Thomas the Apostle with a complete sound and video overhaul. And Bobby Harper from ACIR Pro in Egg Harbor Township, N.J. Thanks for telling us about it.

You got it, Bennett. Thank you very much.

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