As time wore on, issues with intelligibility recently became more problematic with the aging system. Looking again to Mitchell, he installed a system featuring new speakers, amplifiers, a mixer along with a wiring overhaul.
Over the span of a week in late February, Mitchell worked extensively on installing a set of horn-loaded Electro-Voice EVH coaxial speakers in the space. Also part of the install were a single Electro-Voice EVF fill speaker for the balcony, a set of four biamped Electro-Voice CPS 2.9 MK II amplifiers, an Allen & Heath Qu-PAC rack mountable digital mixer and a pair of Electro-Voice DX46 speaker processors.
Change was required, due to “complaints from the congregation that they could not hear in certain spots.”
One major change with the new system, Mitchell noted, was the ability to have an iPad mini control it. That allowed the mixer to be remotely located. With that flexibility, certain scenes can be quickly recalled, whether for a school mass, funeral or regularly scheduled mass.
For a congregation numbering around 300 for each of four weekend services, according to Tom Costello, the church's Director of Stewardship and Parish Administration (who also oversees the music program), many congregants "were experiencing challenges in intelligibility. People couldn't hear," warranting the needed change.
Mitchell agreed, noting that, "They were getting complaints from the congregation that they could not hear in certain spots." That was likely related to the fact that the "building had changed since the system was installed."
The structure's layout and makeup also demand plenty from any audio system. The most challenging aspects are the space's cruciform design, and the very sound reflective terrazzo floors, explained Costello.
The new system was first used during a service Feb. 25, and Mitchell admitted the building's wiring required additional work.
"We are going back in, as we had temporary wiring in," for that first service, "he explained. "The wiring was of an undetermined age, with lots of splicing. We have the (soon-to-be permanent wiring) on order right now." The church has been in at its current location the last 52 years.
Goals Quickly Realized after Install
In the two weekends since the new system was installed, the response has been particularly favorable, noted Costello and Mitchell.
"(The congregation's) feedback has been very, very, very positive. In particular, it has been with their ability to hear words, which was what was most lacking before," said Costello. From Mitchell, he recalled hearing from one member, a high school orchestra teacher, "that it was a significant improvement over what they had."
Between the new speakers, amplifiers, mixer and processors, Mitchell figured the speakers were most responsible for the space's sound improvement. "Having speakers that do a good job, controlling the sound energy, is critical in a room so large," he said. To Costello, the choice of speakers made sense for the church, knowing that there was a need to update. "We knew the technology had changed significantly since then, (and the speakers were) one of the more economical solutions offered to us."
With the work now complete, both Mitchell and Costello consider the goals of the project as having been met.
For what was installed, both Costello and Mitchell agreed that the toughest aspect was flying the Electro-Voice horn-loaded speakers.
"The rigging was certainly a challenge, with it being so high," said Mitchell. "We had to get an articulating platform (to finish the install). It was tough to maneuver it, as we had to thread the needle as we worked around the sanctuary." Costello estimated that the majority of the time was spent hanging the Electro-Voice speakers, about four days.
The install at the church took less than a week, noted Mitchell, with no delays or cancellations of any services. Work began on a Monday morning that week by dismantling the old system, before finishing up the next Saturday afternoon. Even with for the regularly scheduled Friday morning mass for the students, Mitchell had a temporary system in place.
Beyond the need to return for installing new wiring in the space, Mitchell expected to return for future training with the church's other personnel, having thus far done completed training with Costello.