Construction Confidential: A/V, oy vey!

It’s nearly spring, and we’ve been in the newly remodeled church building for over three months. In that time, we’ve continued to make progress on a handful of open issues with the building, some of which have been mentioned on Sunday mornings. Others have been noticed by members and visitors and entered in our “Complaints/Suggestions” book.

Understandably, one of the suggestions in the book was to have a way of communicating responses to these items back to the congregation. What a terrific suggestion! This week we continue “Construction Confidential,” to offer responses to some of the thorny items we’re noticing.

Today’s Issue: A/V, oy vey!

Opinions on the audio and video system in the sanctuary have gotten a lot of comments in the books. Here’s an example for audio: “I find the sound system in the chapel a little underwhelming.  It feels insufficient and unidirectional. I think stereo speakers would help to give fullness to the voices of speakers at the podium and make it easier to hear what they are saying.

Probably one of the most difficult systems to get dialed in for a diverse set of user needs is voice amplification. At any given time, there are possibly 300 seats and 600 ears to please! Here are the key elements that were used in the design of the current system to address all those ears.

  1. The BOSE modular line array . This single tower at the front was designed to cover a large room with a 160-degree field of sound from left to right, and minimal upward projection to avoid directing any sound at the ceiling. This was to give coverage and avoid “bounce” in what is a very live room. How do they do it? The tower contains 24 small but powerful speakers all arranged at different angles to create the broad coverage needed for the room. Note that “stereo” isn’t really a thing in this scenario because an individual’s live amplified voice is, by definition, mono rather than stereo. The goal in amplification is to get maximum coverage and fidelity from a single source point.
  2. Countryman over-ear microphones for Rev. Luopa and Rev. Chronsiter. These are top notch microphones that allow the ministers full range of motion and portability for their presence on the chancel.
    We were late to fine-tuning the microphones to each of their voices, but this was done in late February, and now they should be just right for best amplifying their individual registers.
  3. Hearing loop and assisted listening devices. The hearing loop provides a magnetic, wireless signal that is picked up by the hearing aid when it is set to ‘T’ (Telecoil) setting. In addition, the church has 15 over-ear assisted listening devices that use the same hearing loop to amplify sound for those who need an extra boost. If you’d like to try, just ask an usher for a hearing device.

Those are the key elements of the audio system. If you’re having difficulty hearing from a particular spot in the room, whether through the speaker or a hearing aid or device, please try another seat the next time you’re here to see if it improves. We may not be able to tune the system so it delivers exactly the same sound to all 300 seats, but we’ll do our best. Many thanks to David Owens, our staff audio engineer, for helping us dial in this new and powerful system and improving our Sunday experience each week.

The video elements in the chapel haven’t gotten as many comments as the audio. The most common note is the condition of the screen, which is our old one from Meadwobrook. It’s a bit worse for the wear, duct tape and all! The plan all along has been to order a new screen. That effort is in process so stay tuned and thanks for your patience.

We have a camera as well that allows us to direct a video feed of the service to a streaming media recorder and to the social hall as an “overflow” function. However, at this point we are a bit stymied: we can only get video to the social hall, not the audio; and the network needs further modifications to connect the camera to the streaming media recorder and the recorder to the internet. When we are able to complete this work with the subcontractor, we will be able to use the social hall as an overflow space for audio and video, and eventually offer our worship services on a streaming service for people away from the church to use. Just a few kinks to work out of the hose still. Much more information will be available when these systems are completed and brought online.

More questions and suggestions? Please find the books at the Connections station on Sundays. We’ll try to get back each week with answers to some of the most common issues.