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Feature: Consistency and intelligibility under the dome

Feature: Consistency and intelligibility under the dome
Masjid En-Naeem is a commanding landmark in the Hougang suburb

Feature: Consistency and intelligibility under the dome

Richard Lawn discovers how one Singaporean imam has brought his experience of Bose loudspeakers in Mecca back to his Hougang mosque

Having been raised on the Indonesian island of Lombok, Fahmi Hamdan Ali spent 11 years furthering his faith of Islam in the holy city of Mecca. Having learnt to recite the entire works of the Koran from the heart, the devout Muslim is today the renowned resident imam at the En-Naeem Mosque in the Singaporean suburb of Hougang. Here, he critically monitors his own vocals relying on the assistive listening of AV Links Communications [Asia] Pte Ltd team engineers.

Imam Fahmi can recite the entire Koran by heart
Imam Fahmi can recite the entire Koran by heart

During his time in Saudi Arabia, Imam Fahmi gradually became more accustomed to the qualities of Bose loudspeaker performance. ‘I was particularly impressed with the clarity and intelligibility of their speakers,’ comments the resident imam. ‘In Mecca, Bose was the benchmark and I learnt to distinguish the difference between their speakers and other brands. It’s important that I protect my voice, so I need to accurately hear it.’ Having earmarked an audio upgrade for the mosque, Imam Fahmi requested a demonstration from Bose supplier and SI AV Links Communications.

‘Other engineers find it difficult to interpret my terminology, but AV Links Communications team engineers fully understood and appreciated what vocal projection I required for my sermons.’ Suitably impressed by the clarity of a Bose Panaray loudspeaker system during the demonstration, the mosque was supplied with a partial Panaray system for further evaluation over the course of several weeks. During that time, Mr Ham Dan and his team of engineers were frequently requested to fine tune the system and provide expert analysis for the imam. ‘My phone would sometimes ring in the middle of the night,’ laughs Mr Ham Dan. ‘If I sent my team engineers, however, Imam Fahmi would insist I return.’

Bose Professional's Yusof Ahmad and AV LInks Communications' Mr Ham Dan with Imam Fahmi
Bose Professional's Yusof Ahmad and AV LInks Communications' Mr Ham Dan with Imam Fahmi

Imam Fahmi needed to have his request for the upgrade approved by the mosque committee. ‘Overall, price was probably the most important consideration. I explained that the added cost of a Bose system was a good long-term investment both in terms of sonic quality, even dispersion and protecting my vocals.’ The committee approved his request and, following simulation analysis using the Bose Modeler software, AV Links Communications engineers, headed by Mohd Firdaus Lam Bin Yismin Lam who holds a BSc in audio engineering from the University of Highlands and Islands in Scotland, set about designing and then installing the components of the Bose Panaray and FreeSpace loudspeaker system into the worship space.

‘Despite it being a Bose system, I could keep the design within budget as these speakers provide a wide coverage area ensuring less speakers are required overall,’ explained Mr Ham Dan. Delivering 160° wide horizontal coverage with a narrow 20° vertical pattern control, L-R MA12EX Panaray column speakers are fixed to rising columns by Bi-Pivot brackets on the ground floor and balcony. Combining 12 2.25-inch drivers, the speaker models are tailored for this low-ceiling application, improving the throw distance while reducing ceiling reflections.

The peripheral areas are adequately served by 12 DS40F 4.5-inch ceiling speakers that provide a 125° conical coverage pattern. Higher SPLs were required for the central worship space immediately under the dome and this has been catered for by wall-mounting two DS40-SE and four DS100SE cabinets at a 3m height. By sharing identical voicing components and characteristics, the FreeSpace speaker models provide a consistent tonal quality within the mosque. A single PowerMatch PM-4250 4-channel amplifier powers the zone featuring the MA12EX models, while four FreeSpace IZA 2120-HZ 2x120W integrated amplifiers cater for the DS 40F and DS 100SE low-impedance models located in the other four designated zones.

L-R MA12EX Panaray column speakers are fixed to rising columns by Bi-Pivot brackets on the ground floor
L-R MA12EX Panaray column speakers are fixed to rising columns by Bi-Pivot brackets on the ground floor

A 16-channel Soundcraft Signature 16 analogue console receives inputs from various Shure SM58S handheld microphones used for Fajr, Dzuhur, Asar, Maghrib, Isyak and Kuliah prayers. Digital audio processing settings for the imam for the six prayers have been individually configured and stored in a Bose ControlSpace ESP-4120 4x12 fixed analogue processor which comes with an 8-channel ESPLink output. Although the call to prayer changes little in an equatorial country, the different daily settings still required tweaking and storing in the ESP-4120. Located in the rear changing room where the rack-mounted equipment is also based, a wall-mounted Control Panel 7 and Pro controller from Australian manufacturer CommBox provide an on-off switch, individual presets for the six prayers and Friday prayer settings.

Audio effects processing has also been applied to the selected microphone channels through a Lexicon MX200 Dual Reverb FX Processor set to large hall/arena for some natural reverb. Two Furman PS-8RE III processors provide surge protection and electronic sequencing when powering on and off.

‘The imam is very sensitive to changes and insists on volume levels being consistent and that no one tampers with the settings,’ furthers Mr Ham Dan. ‘During Ramadan, he recites the entire Koran over 30 days, during which time he has to take particular care of his voice.’ Fluent in three languages, Imam Fahmi demands consistency of speech. The various Bose loudspeaker components specified, tuned and installed by AV Links Communications has achieved that while providing the worshipper with an enhanced service.

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