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Discreet and simple sound for St John The Evangelist

Discreet and simple sound for St John The Evangelist

Discreet and simple sound for St John The Evangelist

United Kingdom:

Flipside Soundsystem has installed Yamaha VXL line array loudspeakers in the 160-year-old St John The Evangelist church in Walworth, South East London. The church is a Grade II listed building that has faced the kinds of acoustic challenges typical of a sanctuary of its time thanks to high, vaulted timber ceilings and cast-iron columns.

‘The existing sound system was about 20 years old, only partly operational and the sound it did produce was tinny and artificial,’ explained Simon Askey, the church’s assistant priest. ‘We wanted a system that would amplify speech authentically, rather than sound like a PA system, and that could be used by those who wanted to use either fixed or wireless microphones.’

James Cooper, managing director of Flipside, was careful not to impede upon the church’s aesthetics. ‘Church systems need to be a number of things,’ he said. ‘They need to be visually as inconspicuous as possible, but deliver high speech intelligibility, while coping with often very lively acoustic spaces. Control-wise, they need to be extremely easy to use, but also resilient to curious “knob-twiddlers”. At St John’s, the system would be primarily used for worship, meaning spoken word with perhaps a small amount of choral music played back from time to time. Occasionally, the church is used for outside groups and weddings, where more music playback is needed. So we were requested to design a system primarily for church use, but also to cater for music applications, with perhaps the odd instrument being plugged in.’

Cooper kept the design simple, employing two Yamaha VXL1-24 line array speakers and a pair VXS10 subwoofers and hanging them each one-per-side of the chancel arch. A Yamaha MTX3 matrix processor recieves inputs from four fixed and two wireless microphones. The feeds are managed by the MTX3’s built-in Dan Dugan automixing functionality, designed to eliminate potential feedback issues. A DCP4V4S wall-mounted controller has also been installed, providing on/off and volume control over the microphones, a CD player and a pair of RCA system inputs. A new induction loop system has been set up at St John The Evangelist, which is fed by a separate matrix send from the MTX3.

‘We wanted to use as few speakers as possible, carefully selecting those with a dispersion pattern that allowed us to target sound directly at the pews and nowhere else,’ said Cooper. ‘The Yamaha VXL range is brilliant for this sort of application and meant that we could achieve very similar decibel levels at the front and rear rows of pews, which are 17m apart.’

‘The system works well, with the voice amplification sounding more like human voices in a theatre than a PA system in a church,’ added Askey. ‘It has made our worship more inclusive, because everyone can hear and what you hear is the natural intonation of a human voice, which was lost on the old system. I also particularly liked the fact that they went to great lengths make the system “disappear” in the building.’

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