Feature: Ecosystem adds value at Sumkim
Feature: Ecosystem adds value at Sumkim
With a move to larger premises temporarily delayed, Sumkim of Sarang Presbyterian Church has chosen an Avantis system to provide more colourful worship services
Construction plans may be on hold but that has not stopped Sumkim of Sarang Presbyterian Church from raising its production standards. 2020 was supposed to be the year that the charismatic church built a larger-capacity facility in the southwestern South Korean city of Gwangju to accommodate its growing congregation. But like the stay at home message amplified during the ongoing pandemic, the committee opted to upgrade the AV quality of their existing services in the 1,000-capacity Grand Chapel instead.
Historically, the church has implemented continual technological upgrades in phased stages. Installed several years ago, the FOH loudspeaker system combines TW Audio T24N dual 12-inch point source cabinets with B18 subwoofers powered by a single Powersoft X8 amplifier. The rigging points required readjustment and additional Chris System K-series passive speakers were added as delays for worshippers on the balcony and under-balcony areas following these works. Powered by QSC amplifiers, additional K-series models were added more recently as pastor monitors and front fills. A large inventory of wired microphones has been created over the years including Shure SM58s, Audix models including the D6 on percussion and dual Countryman goosenecks on the pulpit.
Following the recent introduction of LED displays, the audio technicians replaced their existing digital console that had been in operation for more than a decade. The upgrade of the digital mixing system may focus on the Avantis control surface, but the ecosystem that Allen & Heath provides has extended the mix from the stage to peripheral zones beyond the Grand Chapel. "We selected an Avantis partly because it is the latest system available on the market,” comments the church’s lead audio engineer, Taehun Lee.
Designed to provide more colourful worship services, the processing capabilities of Avantis has doubled the capacity of the previous mix system. Managing up to 64 processing inputs, Avantis is a fully processable system so that the church can now accept 68 input channels, including 12 local inputs on Avantis. A further 32 inputs are fed into two DX168 expanders, while 24 inputs connect to the DX32 I/O expander in the same portable rack together with gigaACE audio networking. The inclusion of a Prime input module mounted into the DX32 represents an APAC debut for the UK manufacturer.
“I’m personally most impressed with the premium-quality preamp called Prime, as is it can be configured at a very reasonable price within the newly created ecosystem,” adds Lee. Integrating ultra-linear components, two newly designed Prime cards are significantly different from the regular dLive preamps. Providing access to the 96kHz XCVI FPGA core, the eight-channel card has been specified primarily for high-profile sources, including the pastor's gooseneck microphones used during sermons. “They represent a significant investment,” explains Sama Sound’s Allen & Heath product manager, David Son. “But a listener can certainly distinguish between the two.”
"It’s like selecting a full option when buying a car. Most churches add expensive analogue preamps to their mix for improving the intelligibility of the sermon. However, our solution is easier and a lot more cost-effective to install. We simply combined the analogue inputs and outputs and routed them to the AES output options that connect the power amplifiers and the Prime preamp options inserted into the DX32 modular I/O expander.”
While most preamps are based on AC coupled stages, Prime has a DC coupled gain stage that eliminates the LF distortion associated with AC coupling to greatly improve low-frequency linearity and phase response. Along with other church officials, Lee attended a live demonstration held by Sama Sound to highlight Prime’s characteristics. “Prime offers a wider dynamic range and clearly defined audio to the extent that the listener believes that a sophisticated mastering process has taken place. During the blind test, the audience could distinguish the differences in balance between the low, mid and high frequencies.”
Multitrack 96kHz recording has been enabled with the insertion into the Avantis ecosystem of a Waves V3 audio networking card. In addition to the added network stability provided by the simple setup, a rich palette of Waves plug-ins can be applied to the engineer’s mix with the addition of a SoundGrid server. Like Prime, the dPack option with the DEEP processing plug-in including multi-band compression and dynamic EQ normally used on the flagship dLive consoles was added to the order. "We are applying various compressors and plug-ins on each instrument and input to individually express the preferred nuances."
Replacing onstage wedge speakers for monitoring, six ME-1 personal mixers are now preferred by the keyboard players, guitarist, bassist, singer and percussionist. "Sales of the ME personal mixers have doubled every year over the past four years," adds Son. “Since the launch of the more basic ME-500, we’ve noticed a huge growth in the HOW sector market as a result of word-of-mouth referrals and glowing endorsements from users."
A further ecosystem benefit is the customised volume control that has been applied to the children’s cry room. Here, an IP1 remote controller has been flush-mounted to the wall adjacent to a light switch for extending Avantis control via a single PoE connection. Source control selection is activated by simply pressing and turning the push-and-turn rotary dial.
Just like the church engineers and musicians, systems integrator CGI, who oversaw the audio upgrade, has also joined the Allen & Heath fan club. "We installed three Allen & Heath dLive systems into three Gwangju churches last year,” comments CGI CEO, Bumshin Kim. “However, this installation represents the first occasion that CGI has installed the Allen & Heath flexible I/O ecosystem for Avantis. With the addition of Prime, we did not need to add expensive analogue preamplifiers and we easily created a convenient kid’s room solution with the addition of the IP1 remote controller via Cat-6 cabling. Together with the ME personal mixing system, we're going to continue proposing and developing Allen & Heath solutions."