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Markets: Houses of Worship First line array for Iranian HOW

The Hazrat Masoomeh mosque, also known as the Fatima Masumeh Shrine, comprises a burial chamber, three courtyards and three large prayer halls. Based in Qom, Iran’s second most sacred city, it is important enough to have been depicted on Iranian coins and banknotes. It has now also become the first religious site in Iran with a line- array installation.

Twin dBTechnologies arrays, using a total of six DVA T12s and 10 DVA T4s, were installed by Kish Pishgaman Co (the local dBTechnologies distributor), with Meysam Khorasani heading the technical team, overseen by Alireza Haddadi, the project’s chief sound engineer. Frequency resolution and clarity of speech, given that the system is used mainly for vocal applications, were crucial, as was the ability to cover the mosque’s large listening area. The project had been put out to tender, and Haddadi was impressed not only with the

The ideal solution is to get impartial advice beforehand – and for the client to recognise why setting the right budget might make long-term economic sense.

“Sometimes a HOW will turn to a consultant to design a system for them and go to tender,” says Ellis. “While

technical performance of the dBTechnologies system but with its competitive pricing and the before- and after-sales service offered by the integrator.

Weight was another crucial factor in an old building subject to stringent safety regulations, while aesthetics, as ever, also had to be taken into account – a pair of line array hangs offering wide dispersion with minimal visual intrusion was chosen.

initially this costs more money, in the longer term it is often a good use of resources, as it might be cost effective for the church to use some of the budget on acoustic treatment, rather then hoping the sound engineer can ‘fix it in the mix’. While with digital processing you can do a lot of things,


you still cannot change the acoustics of the physical space and its associated reverberation times, standing waves, early and late reflections.”

“Acoustics play a huge part in the search for a new sound system,” agrees Schwartz. “Often a facility would be much wiser to spend its money on professional advice and proper acoustic treatment than to buy a new sound system. But in many cases they keep spending money on sound equipment hoping that it will cure their acoustic problems.

“Intelligible speech reproduction and good music reproduction do not necessarily go hand in hand,” he continues. “Many churches have upgraded to the latest and greatest touring-type speaker system only to find that it is hard to understand the spoken word. The musical presentation has great impact and is very forward sounding, but speech intelligibility has suffered as a result of this ‘upgrade’.” “The standard church service content has morphed into a wide range of audio and visual delights,” adds his colleague, Scott Wakelin, TC Group UK’s install sales manager, “and so the PA systems have had to keep up with the development from speech orientated to musical recital and full-on live concert while managing to deliver high-quality intelligible audio into what quite often are highly reverberant spaces. This has seen the death of the

old distributed PA system that basically threw sound everywhere and relied on its proximity to the listener to overcome the reflective noise it also created. We are also seeing a move away from distributed audio to the digitally steerable line array columns, such as Tannoy’s QFlex range.”

Out with the old

This suggests that in many cases the existing system may in effect be obsolete. “Many of the old systems that are still in place today are really outdated and not fit for function anymore,” says Palluat de Besset. He suggests the following remedial course: “First step: insert a processed mixer in the existing audio chain, to bring some audio processing to the microphones and audio system.

“Second step: replace the existing system with some DSP column loudspeakers, such as Active Audio’s StepArray. And, of course, use the directivity control to match the HOW.” It’s essential, he adds, to decrease the number of diffusion sources in a building where acoustics are difficult, and column loudspeakers with directivity control are the simplest way to achieve that. “One more good reason for architects is that the number of loudspeakers decreases, and regal buildings such as cathedrals, mosques, temples and so on are then less ‘polluted’ by the audio system.

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26 IE May 2012

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