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Feature: Detailed design

Click to play video Feature: Detailed design

Feature: Detailed design

Having rented out premises in the Bukit Merah neighbourhood of Singapore for some 21 years, Zion Living Streams has found a permanent home. Richard Lawn takes a tour

Upon first viewing, the two repurposed industrial units in Upper Serangoon may not have resembled a house of God to Pastor Philip Tan. However, his vision has been created with more than a little help from his weekly worshippers and leading HOW AV and lighting consultant, Robert Soo from Cogent Acoustics.

Since 2016, places of worship needing a space and who are unable to bid for government religious land-use parcels, are able to lease commercial or light industrial units under a special provision by the Urban Redevelopment Authority and Ministry of National Development. “For us, it’s our home,” proudly comments Pastor Tan. Within a four-month time frame, the seventh-level industrial unit was transformed into a 120-capacity church for their weekly Sunday and other community services. This included the provision of new digital audio and visual systems to enable the charismatic and musical services.

Cogent's Robert Soo and Resonate's Luther Ong reunite with Pastor Philip Tan
Cogent's Robert Soo and Resonate's Luther Ong reunite with Pastor Philip Tan

Never one to dismiss a challenge, Robert Soo was enthusiastic to lend his expertise in converting this relatively small 90m2 unit. “The church wanted to be a good neighbour here,” highlights Soo. “Despite some of the walls being quite thick in places and the fact that there is a car park immediately below, we still needed to factor in sound isolation. The floor was floated during the conversion and semi-isolated walls were added to the interior. In addition, the structure allowed for an isolated drum room to be constructed. Finally, the outer doors to the corridor were found to be leaking, so these have been replaced with fully sealed ones that are much denser to further prevent audio pollution beyond.”

The carpeted 300mm two-tiered stage is the focal point during Sunday service, where Pastor Tan, the singers and musicians gather to lead the prayers, preach and perform. Within the slant-shaped room, the walls are covered with a limited number of acoustic panels that help to retain a “live feel” yet suppress reverberation. Full-length curtains have also been integrated into the acoustic design. No stranger to the Singaporean HOW fraternity, systems integrator Resonate Solutions Pte Ltd was called upon to install the AV package designed by Soo.

“Following the building works, the ceiling was reduced in height from 3.2m to 2.8m,” furthers Soo. “The odd room shape and the low ceiling really limits what can be done in terms of loudspeakers and projection. I wanted to minimise the design and, at the same time, enhance even distribution, so finding the right-sized speakers was important. They’d need to be both compact and powerful. Following a full assessment with the church team, I recommended a self-powered QSC K Series to be employed.”

Two QSC K12.2 speakers and three smaller K8.2 models provide evenly distributed audio
Two QSC K12.2 speakers and three smaller K8.2 models provide evenly distributed audio

Weighing 17.7kg each, two K12.2 12-inch active speakers serve as L-R FOH speakers, while three smaller K8.2 models serve as delays and a side-fill. Operating down to 50Hz (–6dB) led to just one single KW181 subwoofer being required to further extend the low frequency down to 40Hz (–6dB). “In terms of price performance, clarity and the inherent 75° axisymmetric nominal coverage, the K Series measured up to spoken word, playback and live music,” adds Soo. “I rarely recommend for active speakers to be permanently installed but, as this is such a low ceiling, the Ks can be easily serviced and maintained using a small step ladder if a problem was to occur.

“Another advantage of active speakers is that you don’t need an amplifier rack,” adds Soo. “However, there is a small rack to the right of the stage where an Ashly Protea 4.8 processor connected to a GS108PP Netgear unmanaged eight-port network switch has been added to provide room DSP settings.” In addition to the processor, microphone inputs from the stage including reconditioned wired and wireless microphones are fed into an Allen & Heath AR2412 24-in/12-out stagebox. While Pastor Tan monitors himself from a pair of K8.2 wedges, the guitarist, percussionist, bassist and two keyboardists are catered for by six Allen & Heath ME-1 personal mixers. “They’re very intuitive as the band was jamming and playing within 30 minutes of a tutorial.”

The AR2412 is connected to an Allen & Heath Qu32 32-channel digital console in the production area. “Price performance was an important consideration in this selection, as was user-friendliness. Pastor Tan visited E&E’s showroom for a demonstration before making the decision, as he wanted the church volunteers to be able to easily navigate the control surface and mix with confidence. With the downloaded QuPad App on an iPad, they can also wirelessly set levels and other parameters onstage.” The addition of two Furman CN3600SE sequencers and conditioners has added further ease-of-use for powering on and powering down the AV equipment.

Six Allen & Heath ME-1 personal mixers allow the musicians to monitor their own performances
Six Allen & Heath ME-1 personal mixers allow the musicians to monitor their own performances

Given the size of the venue, the relatively simple video that has been installed appears grand in its design. “Regardless of church size, a confidence monitor is pretty much standard in today’s design and Zion Living Streams was no exception,” explains Soo. In addition to the wall-mounted 49-inch LED display that assists Pastor Tan, a further two ceiling-mounted displays provide assistive visuals for the rear seats whose sightlines are compromised owing to the room shape. The main Remaco 16:10 110-inch motorised screen output located to the rear of the stage receives its images from an Epson EB1460Ui 4,400-lumen ultra-short-throw projector.”

“The ceiling height was a major consideration in selecting this model of projector. We could not use a front-loaded projector as the small stage accommodates the musicians right in front of the screen. This Epson 4K model delivers the brightness that we needed.” In addition to the HDMI input connecting the computer for lyrics, images and Pastor Tan’s sermon, two Canon HD-SDI cameras via two HDMI inputs provide images for the main projection, in addition to streaming services for those worshippers who cannot attend the service.

The technical production area combines a Qu32 console and Datavideo SE650 switcher
The technical production area combines a Qu32 console and Datavideo SE650 switcher

A Datavideo SE650 four-channel switcher routes the inputs and outputs, while a VP597 SDI distribution amplifier supports embedded audio and long-distance transmission. An adjacent meeting room combines a faithful Mackie 1608 mixer and QSC K8.2 monitors, together with an Epson 3,500-lumen projector and Remaco 95-inch diagonal screen.

Unassuming and undetected from the outside, Zion Living Streams is a cauldron of activity each Sunday morning. “Ensuring that the church could hold charismatic services here without attracting undue attention was perhaps the overriding consideration in this design,” concludes Soo. “If you are going to make such a significant investment, you need to ensure that you are future-proofed for the next 10–15 years.” Since opening, the escalation of Covid-19 has limited gatherings to less than 10 people. As such, the foresight to provide a streaming solution is already immensely benefitting the church.

This feature appears in the September - October edition of Worship AVL. Subscribe at

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