Riverlife comes alive
Riverlife comes alive
Richard Lawn revisits Riverlife Church and the recent audio upgrade of its Victory Chapel on level one of the building
At the time of Worship Audio Asia’s inception in 2005, the doors of the newly built Riverlife Church in Pasir Ris had just opened. Local resident and audio specialist Jerry Chua took up the challenge to manage the AV systems needed for the contemporary services. Over the decade-and-a-half time span that has followed, the Grammy-nominated mixing and mastering engineer has closely assisted the musicians and technical volunteers. At the request of the church, he has overseen a number of equipment upgrades that would not look out of place on a major tour rider. Riverlife has backed up his recommendations at each juncture and in doing so has placed this peripheral easterly point of Singapore into the limelight of other aspirational HOW technicians.
As the first church to take delivery of a flagship Yamaha PM10 digital console for their main sanctuary three years ago, Chua took on the additional role of influencer. The Rivage series has since been extended with smaller-format PM7, PM5 and PM3 control surfaces, but it was Riverlife’s purchase that helped to stimulate sales enquiries for Yamaha Music Asia, Singapore. “I love mixing services on the PM10,” comments Chua, who sometimes allows three volunteers to develop their mixing skills by operating FOH vocals, FOH instruments and monitors from time to time. “The volunteers don’t really need much training as they can easily and intuitively navigate on the PM10. I still take the files back to my home studio and mix in stereo to evaluate better.”
Several months later in 2018, a Nexo GEO M10 line array system was specified for the secondary phase upgrade of the sanctuary. Simulations were created using NS-1 software with local integrator ATECH Integration Engineering adopting the L-R configuration. “Nothing came close in terms of power, coverage and indeed price performance,” confirmed Chua following an evaluation of several loudspeaker demonstrations. “The GEO M10 system is punchy yet provides this altogether sweeter tone.”
ATECH Integration Engineering created secondary beams above the ceiling for suspending the 300kg loudspeaker hangs. Each L-R hang comprises eight GEO M10 cabinets, with the eighth 10-inch enclosure being an M1025 down-fill model providing 25° x 120° (VxH) dispersion for enhanced coverage for the seats closer to the stage. A central hang combines four LS18 single 18-inch subwoofers with a pair of ID24 cabinets for low-frequency extension and front-fill coverage, respectively. All 18 speakers and four subwoofers are powered by just one NXAMP4x1 and two Yamaha NXAMP4x4 amplifiers. Incorporating DSP parameters, the three amps are managed and controlled over the Dante network.
“We’re running the M10 system at 85dB – previously this was 95dB,” comments Chua. “As Riverlife is in a neighbourhood area, we don’t want to upset the nearby residents by playing the system too loudly. Not only did the congregants and church leaders express their satisfaction with the upgrade, but the musicians noted that the added bass response of their Digital Audio Labs LiveMix IEMs allowed them to lower their own volume levels.” Twelve IEMs provide 24 channels of individual monitoring, so that the FOH technician can listen in to any of the musicians when required. Deprived of IEM technology, the worship leaders monitor their own performances courtesy of four Nexo PS10 speakers onstage.
Having more than satisfied the audio requirements for everyone in the level-three sanctuary, the church committee was tasked in 2020 to specify an audio upgrade for Victory Chapel on level one. Used for Chinese, Youth (Megalife) and English services over the weekend, the 450-capacity, diamond-shaped room is further complicated by a low 5m ceiling and a lack of acoustics. Contemporary services are accompanied by singers and musicians operating a Sennheiser G3 ew 300 wireless mic system. Following a tender process, Riverlife once again nominated the winning combination of ATECH Integration Engineering and Yamaha Music Asia, Singapore. Since taking ownership of the PM10 three years ago, Chua and his team have not recorded any problems with either the control surface or the software. “We have used a variety of vendors since 2005, but Yamaha really stands out head and shoulders above the rest. If we experience a problem at 7am on Sunday morning, for example, I know that I can call Lawrence Tan or any of his team, in full knowledge that they will solve the problem immediately before Sunday service begins.”
Despite being a smaller venue, the budget for the Victory Chapel was sufficient to specify a Yamaha CL3 32-channel console for mixing the services. Incorporating a two-section fader layout for 64 mono and eight stereo input channels, the CL3 features 16 DCAs and 24 mix/eight matrix output busses. The centralogic interface enhances the operating experience, although a selected channel interface is also part of the package. “The audio quality is very clean, the 24 inputs on the control surface are ample for our LiveMix IEM platform and there are more than enough outputs for our needs,” commented Chua. “Above all, the after-sales support from Yamaha is exemplary.”
Like the sanctuary, digital audio networking was a factor in the purchase with the CL3 control surface connected to a RIO3224-D2 remote I/O stagerack and two Ri8-D local inputs. Digital control management is enabled courtesy of three SWR2310-18GT Dante network switches and a Dante-MY16-AUD2 network card inserted into the DME24N digital mixing engine.
A relatively simple point source loudspeaker system enhances intelligibility while ensuring even audio dispersion characteristics. Augmented by dual 18-inch LS18 subwoofers, the L-C-R configuration comprises ceiling-suspended Nexo P12 12-inch coaxial enclosures and four discreet ID24 delay speakers. Single Nexo NXAMP4x2 MK2 and NXAMP4x1 MK2 controlled amplifiers provide ample headroom power in addition to DSP presets as required.
ATECH Integration Engineering installed the entire upgrade over five days between weekend services. Despite appearing to be a straightforward upgrade, the technicians encountered an obstacle with the old subwoofers built into the stage below. “In addition, ATECH had to cut many temporary holes into the stage in order to pull the cables through,” furthers Chua. “As a result, all the cabling is hidden from view. Having witnessed the team at work, our church leaders concluded that no other contractor would have gone to such lengths to ensure such clean aesthetics.”
Like all other houses of worship, Riverlife is allowing limited services within the church, but continues to encourage its congregants to join online. “We’re restricted to just 100 worshippers on a first-come, first-served registration basis. For now, we mix the streamed services on the PM10 and transmit via Facebook and YouTube.” Chua is naturally frustrated with the current setup and is relishing the day when all congregants will be allowed back with open arms. Given the glowing endorsements the sanctuary’s audio system received in 2018, Yamaha Music Asia, Singapore will also be counting down the days for an end in restrictions.