Feature: An Eternal journey
Feature: An Eternal journey
Richard Lawn takes a tour of Eternal Life Assembly of God’s new sound system, inspired by Reverend Lau’s musical talents
Like many houses of worship in Singapore, Eternal Life Assembly of God church is something of a hidden gem. Tucked away from the hustle and bustle on the fifth level of Bukit Timah shopping centre, senior pastor Robert Lum oversees the services provided in English, Chinese, Cantonese and Filipino. The added singing and songwriting talents of Reverend Daphne June Lau add a further ingredient to the church services that captivate and lift its worshippers. As such, the church opted to upgrade its audio system in attempt to match the virtuoso requirements of Reverend Lau.
Soundsmith Solutions Pte successfully tendered to supply and install an audio system into the 400-capacity sanctuary, having provided a Danley SH96HO and TH118XL on a one-month trial period. ‘At first sight it seemed straightforward,’ confesses Soundsmith Solutions MD, Nicholas Loe. ‘Ultimately, the works went on for almost six months, for which the experience was a valuable learning curve for the company. In addition to upgrading the audio, video and lighting, the project turned into a structural engineering exercise, but we definitely came out a lot stronger from this.’
The overriding challenge affecting any sound reinforcement system in this cinema conversion was the 14m-high metal roof. Once planning permission had been approved, six Doughty Engineering self-hoisting lighting bars were fixed into position above the sanctuary. ‘The room’s shape is asymmetrical and, as such, the lighting bars had to be customised to fit by precisely positioning them.’ Three hired scaffold towers were needed for the works, which had to be dismantled and re-erected each week to make way for the Sunday services and other functions.
Once the trusses and lighting bars had been erected, the simple task of installing the speaker system could commence. An extensive infrastructure of Klotz ais data, fibre, loudspeaker and SDI cables was routed in advance between the loudspeaker and projection outputs to the amplification room and FOH production area at the rear of the sanctuary. ‘We added eight cores of OM3 for which only two are currently used by the digital console, so the infrastructure is future-proofed for many years,’ explains Loe. Having installed the video and lighting aspects of the upgraded works, Media Architects replaced the complex SDI composite video-cabling infrastructure with fibre and copper cable routing and conduits.
‘An L–R system was the only option for a small room with a depth of 16m from the stage to the central back wall,’ adds Loe. ‘My overriding concern was slap back, but not at the expense of sacrificing dB loss. Danley’s simulations were greatly simplified and accurate using the Danley Direct software. The high directivity of the speaker ensured that the speaker had good pattern control down to 400Hz, directing the audio towards the audience rather than the walls.’
Like Eternal Life Assembly of God, the Danley SH96HO three-way speaker is a unique design. The 100kg Baltic birch and polyurea cabinets each comprise four 15-inch LF drivers, six 4-inch MF drivers and a single 1.4-inch exit HF compression driver, all mounted within a 45-inch x 25-inch horn. Operating within a 50Hz to 16kHz (±3dB) frequency range, while providing a 90˚ x 60˚ (HxV) coverage pattern, the SH96HO cabinets can produce a maximum SPL of 139dB (peak). The US manufacturer asserts that this creates a proper phase alignment between the frequency bands. By allowing the physically separated bands to combine and emerge from the horn with synchronicity, off-axis distortions in frequency response are greatly reduced, extending clarity away from the source. Low-frequency extension down to 35Hz (±4dB) is provided by L–R TH118XL subwoofers that incorporate a tapped horn design whereby the driver element doubles its output ability.
The reduced ceiling height in the rear section of the room dictated the requirement for rear-fill speakers to supplement the Danley SH96HO system. Two pairs of Bose Professional EdgeMax EM180 in-ceiling models are sufficient to provide ample 180°horizontal coverage from their locations close to the wall/ceiling boundary. Operating within a frequency range of 50Hz to 18kHz (±3dB), the proprietary PhaseGuide technology inherent in the two-way, 8-inch design provides unique asymmetrical vertical patterns.
Combining 96kHz DSP and networked control, two Linea Research 44C10-Dante four–channel amplifiers supply 2,500W per channel into 4Ω to the L–R speakers and subwoofers. A four-channel 44C06 model supplies up to 1,500W per channel to the two Danley SM LPM 8-inch coaxial monitors onstage, favoured by the pastor.
The musicians and singers, including Reverend Lau, are now equipped with a Digital Audio Labs LiveMix personal monitoring system. Connected to Shure PSM900 and PSM300 receivers, a Mix-16 central mixer has been inserted with an LM-Dante-EXP2 card for enhanced control over the Dante network. The eight CS-Duo dual mix personal monitors combine two personal mixers in one. Each unit comes with 24 channels, each with EQ and compression, while the master output features EQ, compression and reverb. ‘With the MirrorMix feature, remote set up and mixing ensures that the system is simple enough for volunteers to operate,’ explains Loe.
The FOH operations area had to be remodelled and refurbished following the upgrade, which now boasts a Yamaha Rivage PM7 digital console. ‘The old analogue board was actually a lot bigger than this flagship, but the church wanted to create more space for the volunteers operating the audio, lighting and visuals,’ explains Loe. ‘Up to three volunteers operate the PM7 on a Sunday. The control surface features three groups of 12 faders, to which channels can be assigned, so it’s easier to teach and train in this manner. In addition, the video crew wanted to create a central camera platform in between the three consoles. We had no option but to remove four seats to accommodate these changes.’
Inserted with an HY144-D audio interface card and connected to single Rio3224-D2 and dual Rio1608-D2 I/O racks, the PM7 lies at the heart of the Dante network audio upgrade. Featuring 12 etherCON ports, four RJ45 ports and an opticalCON port, each of the two rack-mounted SWP1 L2 switches are central to the Dante network. Boasting 120 microphone inputs, the PM7 is more than future-proofed in the current location. ‘One of the biggest advantages of the PM7 is that it can be operated by two operators simultaneously, each of whom has independent control over all parameters,’ furthers Loe. ‘Therefore, two operators can mix when a large band is using multiple wireless systems during the church’s annual dramas and musicals.’
Wireless transmissions in the sanctuary have been significantly boosted with the addition of four daisy-chained RF Venue Distro4 distribution amplifiers. Having split the existing wireless microphone transmission signals from two antennas connected to the rear wall, the wireless signals are then amplified and routed to the wireless receivers.
Media Architects added Panasonic AW-HE120 PTZ cameras and Eiki projector inputs together with a Remaco painted wall for the video system. The various inputs and outputs are connected to a Kramer VS-1616DN multi-format digital matrix, while VP-734 presentation switchers and scalers ensure HD images.
Soundsmith Solutions supplied a new Epson L1505-U laser projector that is now installed in the rear wall above the FOH production area. An extensive Chauvet Lighting inventory has been inserted to the six bars, including Maverick MK2 Profiles, SlimPAR Pro QZ12 USB washes, Shocker 2 Blinders and Colorado Zoom Tours.
With the scaffolding removed, the volunteers merely need to flick the two Furman CN-3600SE sequencers into action to set the stage for Reverend Lau and the musicians into leading the 400 worshippers into song and celebration each Sunday.
This article first appeared in the July-August 2019 edition of Worship AVL. Subscribe at www.proavl-central.com/subscribe/worship.