Originally published in the Winter 2016 Quarterly Explorer
Update provided by RC Moore, Bill Rusher, & Jonathan Ambrosino (organ consultant)
Sound System Update
While church members have not seen visible progress, let me assure you, there is active study, research, and planning ongoing to alter the new system performance and bring forth speech improvement to achieve the project’s stated goals.
VIcom has utilized the acoustical consultant to model multiple alternatives which has included other speaker systems and alternative sanctuary configuration. They have also included other industry experts in the search for alterations to consider in the installation. In addition to several monthly updates VIcom senior management and technical manager have met monthly with the Building & Property Council to both report progress and openly discuss the complex nature of the room solutions.
At present, we are planning to introduce a live test session for both objective verification of performance as well as a congregation reaction to the modifications. The test mode will be of a temporary configuration to be certain the proposed changes will bring satisfactory performance increases to making the final alterations. More information on the timing of this step will be announced very soon.
In addition to the congregation area there is ongoing study and planning taking place to improve the choir area sound delivery. The line array system in the chancel has been removed and a wholly new configuration is under consideration. The revision is to allow speech intelligibility for each choir member without conflict to the performance of the main system’s speakers.
In the course of the ongoing research work we have learned the input from the microphone is critical to reproducing the proper speech delivery. As a result we are now using a very small professional over the ear device and in its initial trial are enhancing performance of the current system and will bring continued performance benefits to the revised system. After more testing we will likely adopt this as a standard for ministerial staff use.
There have been disappointments, even moments of distress, but never a loss of the end goal which is a sound system that will perform and meet our stated goals.
There is still some work to do on the lighting system in the Sanctuary, but we have replaced the 64 fixtures that provide indirect lighting. These are the ceiling lights which create our much-loved scalloped effect in the central part of the nave ceiling, and in the archways and transepts on both sides. It has been a long time since all of the indirect lights have been lit, because the old, short-lived, quartz incandescent bulbs would burn out so fast that our volunteers struggled to keep up with the re-lamping.
The new lights are LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes). They are long-lasting, with a life expectancy of 50,000 hours. They are also extremely efficient. To give you an idea of just how efficient, the entire 64 new LEDs use approximately 1500 watts of power, while the old incandescent lights used approximately 46,000 watts.
The average price people in the U.S. pay for electricity is about 12 cents per kilowatt-hour. If we use that rate, then leaving the lights on in the Sanctuary on for 10 hours with the old system would cost $55.20, while leaving the lights on for 10 hours with the new LEDs would cost $1.80. If the average time that the Sanctuary lights are on during the week is ~30 hours, then 50,000 hours equates to over 30 years before they give out. In addition, the annual savings in electricity is over $8,000.
So now when we look up from the pews toward the ceiling, we can be satisfied that all the lights are on, and that they should stay that way for a long time, and that we are saving on the power bill along the way.
The Möller pipe organ is coming alive again, having been to Pennsylvania and back for refurbishment. All of the original mechanism and most of the original pipes are now reinstalled and rough-tuned. The final sets of refurbished pipes return by Thanksgiving, ready for the Advent season.
The new console, which was completed in 2015, is now in service and is performing beautifully. Its technological advances allow the organists to records their performances and listen to them played live.
Early in the new year, the additions will arrive. These will include new Clarinet, Trumpet, and Flute pipes, along with various extensions to existing stops that will extend range and flexibility. The project is scheduled for a gala rededication in April by Prof. David Higgs of the Eastman School of Music.
It’s always a pleasure to work with Bob Gallagher and committee chair Seth Roberts. I look forward to making another progress visit in January.