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Author Topic: Improving old poorly done 70 volt (in-ceiling) sound systems?  (Read 4814 times)

Garrett Nelson

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The company I work for handles the technology needs of quite a few funeral homes. A lot of them have pretty terrible sound systems in the chapel, and we redo a couple of them a year. Audio is not our main business, but a sideline offering that is growing for us.

A pretty typical layout in a funeral home chapel we run into is a room with semi-decent to poor acoustics, and a bunch of low quality 70 volt speakers in the ceiling.

What we have been doing so far is replacing the speakers with higher quality 70 volt speakers when we are forced to use the existing wiring, or else installing high quality standard 8 ohm ceiling speakers when we are able to rewire. If we are staying 70 volt we use a good Crown or QSC amp and put an appropriately sized 70 volt transformer on the output. If we are running 8 ohm speakers we will use multi-channel amps (such as the Dayton Audio MA1240a) so we are driving either 1 or 2 speakers per amp channel.

We put in new mixers when necessary and we normally do either a decent analog 31 band EQ or else a nice digital EQ. We use a Dayton OmniMic to help us set up the EQ for the room.

So... am I on the right track here? Sometimes the budget is tight and replacing the existing equipment is all we can do, but I am wondering if there are other things I should be pursuing when budget might allow? Any different processing options such as delaying the speakers based on position in the room? Are there times it would make sense to add more speakers, or change the positioning of them? When would it make sense to abandon the in-ceiling speakers totally and set up speakers in the front of the chapel instead? Often the rooms have 8-10 foot ceilings without a good place for speakers up front.

I realize room acoustics is a pretty complex thing and we often would not be allowed to make these sort of changes, but are there any general things that we could try when appropriate that are somewhat universal like placing sound-absorbing acoustical foam squares along the back walls of the rooms, or in corners, or anything like that?

Any advice at all on how I can get better at this? Any resources where I can read up on speaker placement and things like that?
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Keith Broughton

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Re: Improving old poorly done 70 volt (in-ceiling) sound systems?
« Reply #1 on: March 31, 2013, 08:18:17 am »

Given the restrictions in some of your locations, I would say you are on the right track.
A higher quality speaker is always a benefit as is using a good quality 70v transformer as the cheap ones have limited frequency response.
As for wiring, if there are no actual shorts or opens, at 70volts, it shouldn't be that much of a problem to keep the existing if you can't get in to replace it.
IMHO , overhead speakers are best suited for this type of application.
The sound source is , generally, closer to the listener and feed back is less of a problem. . . in most cases.
Try to eliminate or reduce the level of speakers close to the microphone position.
More speakers to distribute the sound can never be a bad thing provided there is an amplifier of adequate power to drive them.
If music reproduction is also required, consider a small powered sub on the floor in the corner or a couple of ceiling mountable enclosures.
There are subs that can be mounted in drop or drywall ceilings.


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Jason Lavoie

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Re: Improving old poorly done 70 volt (in-ceiling) sound systems?
« Reply #2 on: April 01, 2013, 10:45:52 am »

If we are staying 70 volt we use a good Crown or QSC amp and put an appropriately sized 70 volt transformer on the output.

In general, the only time I would ever put a transformer on the output of an amp is if the amp already exists and is worth keeping. if you're supplying an amp then buy the right one for the job. Also, many models will drive 70V directly without a transformer (external OR internal), leading to better sound.

Jason
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Hal Bissinger/COMSYSTEC

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Re: Improving old poorly done 70 volt (in-ceiling) sound systems?
« Reply #3 on: April 02, 2013, 02:00:55 am »

In general, the only time I would ever put a transformer on the output of an amp is if the amp already exists and is worth keeping. if you're supplying an amp then buy the right one for the job.

Agreed times 2.
 
Quote
We put in new mixers when necessary and we normally do either a decent analog 31 band EQ or else a nice digital EQ. We use a Dayton OmniMic to help us set up the EQ for the room.

Wow, I really think you selling a bill of goods here. I've been to quite a few wakes at funeral homes in my time (an unfortunate consequence of my old age) and if I were to design one, I never see a need for anything more complex than your basic ceiling speakers/amp retail store kind of background music system. Matter of fact I can't even remember when a sound system was even used so I think your finding "pretty terrible sound systems" is for a reason. Nobody uses them in a funeral home.
 
Now, maybe I'm all wet and your venues are part of mega-churches with the AV and all that stuff. But around here I can't imagine what technology a funeral home would need other a computer and printer for billing and record keeping.  ???
 
-Hal
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Brad Weber

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Re: Improving old poorly done 70 volt (in-ceiling) sound systems?
« Reply #4 on: April 02, 2013, 06:01:41 am »

I unfortunately have recently been to several memorial services at funeral home chapels.  All had background music and two, which were in more rural areas of Georgia and North Carolina, had live music performances that used the chapel's sound system for live vocals, piano, keys and guitar as well as backing tracks.

The audio systems in those rooms seemed almost an afterthought intended for simple speech reinforcement and low level background music.   It also seemed that little or no thought went into the room acoustics and that negatively affected not just live performances but also speech intelligibility.  Neither the systems nor acoustics seem to have considered how the age of many attendees, the background noise of people crying and so on may affect the ability to provide clear,  intelligible sound.

The aspects I noted being most deficient for the live performances were things like keeping coverage off the areas where the live mics were located and better covering the seating.  And maybe needing either speakers with better response or subwoofers, perhaps even in-wall or in-ceiling subs.  For some spaces with existing ceiling speaker systems I might consider using that for a 'speech' system and adding a separate 'music' system.

I am not sure why rewiring or not would necessarily dictate the approach used for the amp and speakers, the chapels I have encountered are typically not that large that you are addressing sufficient power or run length that cable losses would be that significant a factor.  And others have noted, there are so many good amp options that will drive 70V systems that other than existing amps it has been years since I used a separate, external output transformer.

The chapels I've been in all had differences in the dimensions, construction and design details that suggested possibly looking at different acoustical and audio solutions rather than a 'one size fits all' approach.  In fact I would say it may even be the approach of basically buying a system and then trying to apply it to the space that contributed to the current situations.
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Jason Lavoie

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Re: Improving old poorly done 70 volt (in-ceiling) sound systems?
« Reply #5 on: April 11, 2013, 03:14:06 pm »


Agreed times 2.
 
Wow, I really think you selling a bill of goods here. I've been to quite a few wakes at funeral homes in my time (an unfortunate consequence of my old age) and if I were to design one, I never see a need for anything more complex than your basic ceiling speakers/amp retail store kind of background music system. Matter of fact I can't even remember when a sound system was even used so I think your finding "pretty terrible sound systems" is for a reason. Nobody uses them in a funeral home.
 
Now, maybe I'm all wet and your venues are part of mega-churches with the AV and all that stuff. But around here I can't imagine what technology a funeral home would need other a computer and printer for billing and record keeping.  ???
 
-Hal

The quote system doesn't let me grab your whole message, but I wanted to clarify that the second quote in your message was NOT from me :)
I haven't recommended a 31 band EQ to anyone for any reason in a long, long time.

Jason
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Hal Bissinger/COMSYSTEC

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Re: Improving old poorly done 70 volt (in-ceiling) sound systems?
« Reply #6 on: April 12, 2013, 02:17:50 am »

No, that second quote was from the OP's original post. I suppose I should have done a copy and past so that would have been indicated above that quote to make it clear.
 
-Hal
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ProSoundWeb Community

Re: Improving old poorly done 70 volt (in-ceiling) sound systems?
« Reply #6 on: April 12, 2013, 02:17:50 am »


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