Located in Salem, Oregon, Alpha Sound is rapidly establishing a reputation for excellence across the US for its work in designing and installing sound systems in houses of worship. Following a recent project at St Mary’s Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland, lead engineer Devin Sheets and the Alpha Sound team have added further to their credentials with another successful installation at the prestigious Mount Angel Abbey monastery of Benedictine monks, established 140 years ago in St. Benedict, Oregon.
“The brief at Mount Angel Abbey was to amplify the spoken word throughout the abbey with the exact same sonic character and timbre as that of the unamplified choir, while also providing pristine audio capture for the live streaming of choral music” reports Devin. “And, of course, the system had to be as unobtrusive as possible in such a historic building.”
With line array clusters and delays deemed inappropriate in this case, thoughts turned quickly to NEXO’s ID84 column speaker. “In a highly reverberant space with up to 5 seconds of decay, it’s difficult enough to understand speech at 15 feet, let alone 150 feet away at the back of the abbey” says Sheets. “The sound of the ID84 is amazingly smooth and natural, and it fires like a laser beam to deliver total clarity right to the back. It’s just perfect for this type of application.”
Also from NEXO’s ID Series, ultra-compact ID14s are deployed to cover the nave, the choir area, an additional side chapel and organist waiting area, and 6 per side along the triforium, essentially a U-shaped balcony around the front and sides of the space.
Power and processing come from NEXO’s DTD controllers and amplifiers. “It really helps the budget to have an appropriately-powered amplification solution that doesn’t compromise on quality in any way” says Sheets, “And it’s also important that the system is easy to use by anybody in the absence of trained operators.”
A range of DPA microphones is used at podiums, on custom-built wireless microphone stands, and located discreetly in areas of acoustic shadow to capture the choir without encountering any direct sound from the speakers.
“Perhaps it’s not surprising that the monks place such a high level of importance on pure sound quality and acoustics” comments Sheets in conclusion. “We really had to bring our A game to this project and thoroughly enjoyed the process of meeting the very exacting demands of our client.
“At Mount Angel Abbey, we’ve installed the best microphones and the best column speaker into an extraordinary acoustic environment. Listening to the system, I genuinely find it impossible to imagine how the sound could be any better.”
For more information about Alpha Sound, visit: alphasound.tech
For more information about Mount Angel Abbey, visit: mountangelabbey.org