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Author Topic: Need alternate opinions, please help  (Read 2041 times)


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Need alternate opinions, please help
« on: August 19, 2004, 10:18:00 pm »

Greetings, All,

Our church has a bit of a sticky situation (go figure).  A new sound system is being considered, with about $30,000.00 CAN to spend.  A couple of companys have been invited, but one of them dropped out, leaving us with just the other.  This company has installed many sound systems in various churches with references to back them up.  To quickly describe the church, which is very old, the sanctuary seats about 300 to 350, rectangular, and 30 ft ceilings if not higher.  The contractor tested with "pink noise" and found a reverb time 2.5 secs at 1000 kilohertz.  The only opinion we have is from the contractor, who I really don't think is trying to rip us off, but it is only his opinion that we have so far.  None of us know much about sound systems, but there are individuals on the comittee that seem to be bent on this contractor for some reason.  The system the contractor wants will be a central cluster--2 JBL 2 way speakers AM42115/64 in front at the ceiling, and a third unit towards the back with delay.  Console suggested is an Allen and Heath GL 2200/24.  He says Mackie boards are nothing but trouble, although my wife and I have heard differently.  They also only tune the church with computer only, they don't do it by ear. We seem to have a hard time convincing others that more research should be done, mostly because we don't know what questions to ask either.  Wouldn't a central cluster make it seem like the sound was coming in over our heads, or will it be ok?  Would a distribed system be better?  What other questions should we be asking?  
This was rather long, sorry, but we may have more questions.

Mac Kerr

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Re: Need alternate opinions, please help
« Reply #1 on: August 19, 2004, 11:05:22 pm »

It is silly to sit here and second guess an installer who has actually seen the room and made some measurements. All you have said about the building is that is may have 30' ceilings. Why did the other firm back out? Did they think you had unrealistic expectations? It doesn't sound like it if you are concerned that he didn't specify a Mackie console. I am assuming you are not thinking of one of the Mackie digital consoles. The JBL speakers may be fine, I have never heard them, but it is a 60x40 horn and 15" woofer. Is the cluster of 2 side by side for 120degx40deg coverage, or 1 over 1 for 60degx80deg coverage? What kind of services are you intending to support?

It is OK that no one in the church has a clue, that is why you have hired someone to make recommendations to you. If you feel you need 2 opinions you really need to get someone else in to give you another option. You don't say where in Canada you are, there may be someone who participates in these forums near you who could help.

There is nothing wrong with a central cluster in this type of installation, and the A&H GL is a better board than most Mackie's.

You say the current installer measured the RT60 with pink noise. Did they make any other measurements? Does their proposal include certifying the performance of the finished system to any standard? Did they give you a completion date with penalties if it is not met?

This has been kind of rambling, and I haven't really answered your questions, but maybe I suggested some questions to ask. Try coming back with more information, and maybe the installers answers to some questions.
Good luck,
Mac Kerr

Karl P(eterson)

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Re: Need alternate opinions, please help
« Reply #2 on: August 19, 2004, 11:22:22 pm »

First off I,and arguably every other soul in audio, applaud you for at least asking us what questions you should be asking.

Now, that aside,

Why did the other company drop out?

I always like to have at least two or three bids, but if for some reason you can only have on, and he has lots of good references, there is a lot of worth there.

In fact, I suggest you grab three of his references for three different _types_ of worship spaces (traditional, contemporary, charismatic?) in at least two different sizes of buildings (maybe something between 150~300 and another in the 700~2000 category if he has one) and go check them all out. If they all sound at least pretty good, then there is a good chance you got someone who has the chops.

How did he determined the speakers? Did he plot them on paper based on speaker specs, did he model it in a program, or did he just select those two. A good company/person will do one of the first two, while if someone does the third, that is at very least cause to inquire why he didn't do either of the other.

Doing overhead central clusters is often the best way to handle voice, and a capable solution for music, If the speaker is to far up in the air, and thus not covering the first few rows, you simply wont hear it and will need front infill's, if he has plotted the speakers and they work, this shouldn't be much of an issue. AS to confusing the sound from coming to far up in the air, this should not be a concern unless the speakers are truly right over your head, in which case that is a different conversation.

I would cautiously agree that in general Mackie gear isn't as good as its higher priced counterparts. This is not to say that Mackie is bad at there price range, but I would of course recommend getting something better as soon as funds are available.... With that said, I am not sure that the better answer is a GL 2200/24, while a fine board, there are other boards that I might recommend over that, although at a higher price.

As for tuning the room with a computer. If the person using the measurement platform is able to interpret, translate, and use the data effectively, then the "Computer tuning" is the best thing they can do, and is much better than the subjectivity of the ears involved. Now this isn't to say that after they get everything dialed in they wont tweek it a bit, but doing most of it in computer land is good.

So, in closing, there isn't anything here that throws up huge warning signs. While it is possible that there are problems, we would need more information about your situation to give you more help.

Karl P
Audio Team Leader - CCH

Tom Young

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Re: Need alternate opinions, please help
« Reply #3 on: August 20, 2004, 10:07:04 am »

A few points:

In a live (reverberant) space it is mandatory to restrict loudspeaker coverage to the seats and keep acoustic energy from projecting up into the space.  In order for a center cluster to accomplish this it would need to be quite large. Therefore, the more appropriate loudspeaker system designs would probably be a distributed system (as you mentioned) or line arrays, in the form of multiband or columnar loudspeakers.  These, however, also need to be designed and positioned/aimed very carefully in order to avoid other problems.  Column loudspeakers also represent the most appealing appearance and especially in a traditional worship space.

Center clusters can exhibit down-lobes which make it especially difficult to use podium and lavalier microphones on the platform. If a center cluster is the best design to provide, a saavy contractor or consultant will know how to prevent these lobes from occuring.

If the contractor has actually stated that they optimize their sound systems 'by machine only' and do not incluide listening tests (their ears), then you are in for a bad time. The system should be measured and optimized with a computer-based, 2-channel measurement system (not an RTA) and there should be digital processing available for each specific loudspeaker branch or zone.  The measurement person should also provide evidence that they have taken courses/workshops in whatever measurement system they offer.

Once the sound system is up and running it is mandatory for the contractor or consultant to conduct sound checks, attend the first service (or 2) and train the users.  If this is not part of their services, then you are not in good hands.

One other very important qualification is for the contractor or consultant to have taken SynAudCon training, which is the defacto 'standard' for professional training in electroacoustics.  Not only does SynAudCon provide extensive and real-wrold training, but having attended their workshops sort of separates the "men from the boys" as far as how seriously folks take this work.

Where are you in Canada ?
Tom Young, Church Sound section moderator
Electroacoustic Design Services
Oxford CT
Tel: 203.888.6217


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Re: Need alternate opinions, please help
« Reply #4 on: August 21, 2004, 01:36:04 am »

Hi Cliff

I little more on the room description could help us out abit more a you could have a very wide and very short room or a thin long one as well? Also is the floor all wood you need to think like a sound wave.

Currently our church meets in a school hall and sound is everywhere omnipresent(Hahaha). Our major concern is getting sound from being very unfocused and concertrate it on the people not bouncing of every wall. So a change in speakers from 90 x 60 coverage to much tighter coverage would help.

I would be having a listen to speakers as well if you have never heard them, you need to have a trial on the system you are going to use. Look at other local churches that have a system you like or components you like.

Also specify what you want to hear.
How loud is the meeting going to be ?
How much volume difference over the hall ?
What kind of worship do you play ie loud n hard or soft n quite?
Do you want to fly the speakers?
Permant install?

Tom raised a excellent point and that is care after the purchase. How commited are these people after selling you a sound system.

Also look at SynAudCon or have a look at the Yamaha Pro sound book very comprehensive and very nice. Also have look around at other churches and see what they are doing right or wrong in your ears/eyes.



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Re: Need alternate opinions, please help
« Reply #5 on: August 21, 2004, 06:32:22 pm »

might i suggest a digital mixer, we use two yamaha o2r one for our sanctuary and one for our main hall.  They are very reliable, and easy to use, although they are a little on the exspensive side.  We have 3 media techs and when the 3 of us are gone we just lable the board, and almost anybody can use it.  I'd recomend it if you can budget one, or two
If it can't be done in linux, it shouldn't be done.
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