Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church in West Palm Beach, Florida has seen tremendous growth in its fifty-eight year history. In the military surplus warehouse that served as its first sanctuary, early sermons competed with wildlife, rain, and muffled announcements from the dog track across the street. HNJCC grew into, and out of, a purpose-built church before completion of its current facility in 1980.
Despite abundant amenities and freedom from the distractions of the early days, the church’s sound system lacked intelligibility and gave entirely too much user control to people without proper training. Kevin Varnadore, system designer with Peerson Audio of nearby Jupiter, Florida, designed the new sound system centered on two Ashly ne24.24M processors and a simple, foolproof Ashly FR-16 network fader remote control.
A new Ashly KLR-3200 amplifier provides power to the JBL line arrays. “The Ashly amp is a welcome addition to the equipment room,” said Varnadore. “The older amp was made by a respectable manufacturer, but its fan was always running and was always noisy. In contrast, the KLR-3200 is absolutely silent.”
“The previous system was probably the wrong solution from the start,” said Varnadore. “The loudspeakers were poorly suited to the acoustics of the room, which seriously compromised intelligibility. Two semi-pro mixers gave the church way more user control than it needed plus the mixers were overly complex and difficult to operate.”
Varnadore replaced the spoken word console with an Ashly ne24.24M processor, its modular I/O configured for twelve inputs and eight outputs. It handles all of the input conditioning, including gating and equalization to improve intelligibility. Moreover, it delivers all of the audio processing for the JBL CBT-series line arrays that now properly convey energy given the room’s acoustics. “We considered giving them control over the volume of individual channels on that system,” said Varnadore. “But ultimately, we recognized that they weren’t really looking for that kind of control. Usually, they just turn their wireless transmitters off when they don’t need them. Because gain before feedback in the new system is so great, the surest solution was to lock in effective microphone volumes at each input.”
Similarly, Varnadore replaced the console in the choir loft with a second Ashly ne24.24M, this one outfitted with sixteen inputs and eight outputs. To provide simple user control over individual microphone volumes, an Ashly FR-16 network fader remote control is clearly labeled with each input. The ne24.24M provides customized equalization for each microphone, to which the users have no access. In addition, an iPod jack and a keyboard diversify the system’s capabilities. Because another group comes in during the week and uses the choir loft in a different way, Varnadore gave them a preset switch on the FR-16 that shuts down certain inputs and changes the equalization settings.
“The Ashly FR-16 fader control is unique in the industry,” said Varnadore. “People like faders, but other manufacturers either have remotes with knobs, or their fader controls are associated with systems that, unlike the Ashly ne24.24M, are incapable of delivering complete system processing, which includes output conditioning. The ne24.24M offers a lot of DSP power, and we had ample resources to do everything that was necessary to give the church a perfectly-tuned sound system.”
Everyone at HNJCC – the priests, the choir members, the parishioners – is pleased with the new system. No more are they confronted with mysterious, outdated controls, and the new, properly-tuned and powered loudspeakers have dramatically improved intelligibility.