The objective of this article is to emphasize the importance of good sound in our environment, focused in this case to the Segment of the traditional Churches.
Felipe Vargas *
For more than 20 years, I have been traveling in most Latin American countries, I have even lived in 6 of them, and my conclusion for all countries is the same, as for the segment of Traditional Churches:
"In each and every one of them, we have thousands of Traditional Churches, of different sizes and different acoustic characteristics, the great majority with a common denominator: poor sound quality; This is directly influenced by the acoustic conditions of each of the churches, but mainly because it is the result of a bad sound system. "
It is also important to note that few audio professionals are involved in this segment, leaving the door open for people less prepared to perform in many cases this type of facilities.
That is why in many of the Traditional Churches the main result of all this is a bad Communication from the Issuer to the Receiver, let us remember what we learned in the College: when we have a Message, an Issuer and a Receiver; And well the Channel for Effective Communication in Traditional Churches is the Audio System.
The audio system
1. It is the main tool of work in a Church
2. It should not interfere with the celebration
3. Must not alter temple aesthetics
The audio system is the main channel or medium of communication that the traditional churches have to carry their message to their audience: their receivers.
Let's emphasize some important concepts, which we often take for granted, but forget that most of us do not consider it an important segment, because other concepts are a little vague and out of technical context at the professional audio level, such as:
"Churches do not invest, they do not have money, they are not good clients, etc ..."
1. The Audio System is the main tool of work in a Church. For example, in a church with 500 people, the celebrant can not be heard by everyone present without a sound system or at least one megaphone, so you can NOT do your job without this tool.
2. The Audio System should NOT interfere with the celebration. That is to say, the audio system must go unnoticed, not generating strange undesirable noises, doing its work well so that it understands what is said, because when it is not understood, it is altering the Message that the Issuer wants to send to its public Receiver .
3. The Audio system should NOT alter the aesthetics of the room where it is being used. In many cases boxes and bulky solutions are placed without the result in the quality of the resultant sound being appropriate and also completely altering the esthetics of the enclosure.
Objectives of the audio system
1. That all attendees can hear: Coverage
2. Let it sound loud enough: Sound pressure
3. That the message is perfectly understood: Intelligibility
It is always important to consider a series of objectives when implementing any type of audio system; To generate a series of predetermined expectations in the client, and thus to use them as measurement points; Within the parameters that we have raised to the user.
1. The Coverage, meaning that all attendees can listen. In addition to ensuring that all areas of hearing are directly covered by the sound system, in many of the churches there are areas where it does not make sense to have direct coverage; This should be discussed with the user.
2. The sound pressure, that is, it is heard loud enough. In most of the Traditional Churches activities are carried out daily with few attendees, less than 100 people, but also activities are carried out on weekends with more than 500 people, and also activities on special dates where the capacity of The enclosures, making this a major challenge for the audio system, since it must be able to offer an appropriate sound pressure level in the various types of activities; Since if it is not able to offer a sound pressure level adequate in the activities of weekends for example, it is not then the appropriate system for this enclosure.
3. Intelligibility, that is, the message is perfectly understood. In many occasions we get good coverage and good sound pressure, but not so good intelligibility; Therefore, the implemented system is not appropriate for that specific enclosure. It is here where most of the sound systems installed in the Traditional Churches fail, since we are faced with the Acoustics of the Venue, and against this there is nothing we can do, we can try to reduce a little the acoustic effects of an enclosure, but In most cases it can only be achieved with a good acoustic treatment.
The audio system is not a 'cost'!
1. It is an investment in the long term.
2. Older people will thank you.
3. Most churches buy at least three audio systems before they get one that meets their needs.
4. So important is the quality of the installation and materials such as the audio system and its components.
In the Traditional Churches a good system is said to be very costly; But if we analyze where the true cost is, it is really in a bad sound system; As constant investments and repairs are made to try to improve a bad system, raising the cost over the years, without improving the result, making the complaints of the public are constant and increasingly annoying.
That is why among the main tasks we have is to make you see this segment because the Audio System is not a cost:
1. It is an investment in the long term. It really is more economical a good system that lasts 15 years to one of poor quality that lasts 3 or 4 years; And it is also for the benefit of the community that they are the ones who really contribute the money to cover this investment.
2. Older people will thank you. They are generally the oldest people who have the most assistance in the Traditional Churches, are also those that in many occasions more financial contributions realize; At the same time they are the people with greater auditory problems; So a good audio system will be appreciated by them, and will be the first to let you know and contribute to the payment.
3. Most churches buy at least three audio systems before getting one that meets their needs. It is very common to see how in many traditional churches the purchase of audio systems is almost a sport, making purchases and constant changes; Without obtaining a true solution.
4. So important is the quality of the installation and materials such as the audio system and its components. This is a common mistake made by many installers or systems integrators, and not only in installations in Traditional Churches, since many use systems and equipment of high quality, of recognized brands, but then the cables and connectors are of a totally quality Inferior, they do not worry about the appropriate electrical power, and the installation do it without following the basic and minimum criteria of a quality installation, and also that it is safe.
It is very common to find ourselves in the traditional churches with rudimentary facilities; I am sure that more than one of you will have seen cases similar to these, that it is not appropriate to say his name:
Photo 1: For example, conventional speakers were used in this church on a hand-made stand without any vertical tilt or horizontal rotation, ie the sound is reflected directly in the front column.
Photo 2: In this Church, there were more than 8 small speakers for an enclosure of 20 meters long, in a series-parallel combination, to cover a distance greater than 10 meters; Clearly this typical or traditional installation is not a solution for this type of applications, because when the enclosure was at its maximum capacity, the system could not develop the required sound pressure level.
Photo 3: Here we see how an arrangement of linear speakers was used, as if they were an arrangement of conventional speakers. Although it was a possible electro-acoustic solution, it is certainly not very aesthetic.
Photo 4: We also constantly find cases like these, where you do not follow any technical aspects to carry out the wiring, nor the minimal anti-fire care.
Foto 5: In many cases, even if quality equipment, of recognized marks, etc., are used, they are not installed properly in metal racks, with the appropriate electrical conditioning and ventilation for the system.
In Professional Installations, the quality is noticed just by seeing the equipment rack and the installation of the same.
Photo 6: The difference is substantial, the implementation is professional, it is clean, all cables ordered and organized by type and category, each one properly identified.
Photo 7: In addition, the main thing is that metallic cabinets for installation, with keyed doors, with blind covers for spaces without equipment, and to achieve the behavior of the rack like a chimney, taking fresh air from below and extracting the Hot air from above with fans.
Systems that go unnoticed
As part of the Professional Installations, it is that the systems go unnoticed, that is to say, that at both the electro-acoustic and aesthetic level, the speaker systems, are well installed, that the cables are not seen, and that they play With the architectural design of the place.
In other words, the conventional user has trouble finding the speakers.
The importance of a professional design
The design of an audio system is a custom process; Since there are no two churches equal !!! Thus two Churches built with the same planes, there are several aspects such as temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure and others that directly affect the acoustic behavior of an enclosure.
Today, the design of an audio system in a Traditional Church is not justified without the use of an electro-acoustic computer design program.
The main advantage of the design is that it allows to evaluate the system and to know in advance how it is going to perform, even before installing it.
In case there are no plans of the enclosure, the corresponding survey must be carried out to obtain the model of the enclosure in the program; And must be included of the materials with which the Temple is built.
In summary, and in broad outline, I wanted to highlight the important aspects to consider in the implementation of audio systems in order to achieve true effective communication in traditional churches.
Within my daily functions at Crestron Latin America, as a Consultant, we face daily situations very similar to those described in the previous paragraphs, and that is why I was given the task of sharing this type of concept with all of you.
* Felipe Vargas is the founder of AV Consulting Group and audiovisual consultant for Crestron Latin America. You can contact him via e email@example.com