The archeparchy of Trichur in Kerala was founded on May 20, 1887 by Pope Leo XIII by his Papal bull Quod Jam Pridem; and currently covers covers an area of 2000 Sq.Kms; with a Catholic population of about 460848 individuals spread across a total of 215 parishes. Among these 215 parishes is the St. Thomas church located in Vallachira, which is home to over 400 catholic families, as the church’s jurisdiction covers an area of about 3 sq.kms.
In a remarkable achievement of blending advanced audio technology with spiritual worship, the historic St. Thomas Church has undergone a remarkable transformation; thanks to the expertise of Zacs and Phils – a renowned full-service design, engineering, and integration firm specializing in Houses of Worship – who have outfitted the church with a state-of-the-art sound system that promises a seamless and immersive experience for its devoted congregation.
“This project was an interesting challenge, as our team had to overcome the constraints of a limited budget and a tight turn-around-time even as we work to create a superior audio system in an acoustically challenging space,” explains Manu Philip, Business Manager at Zacs and Phils. “Most importantly, we had to ensure that our work, in no way disturbed the divinity and sanctity of the church’s architecture.”
According to him, the church’s architectural design sporting highly reflective glossy tiles and walls clearly lacked any form of acoustical treatment. That resulted in disruptive sound reflections, echoes, and reverberations – all of which compromised the intelligibility of the spoken word and the quality of musical renditions during sermons and other praise and worship proceedings.
After careful evaluation of the space, team Zacs and Phils stepped in with a comprehensive solution that essentially featured Tannoy VLS series of column array speakers as the primary sound reinforcement solution – mainly attributed to the loudspeakers’ stellar reputation of being ideal for architecturally sensitive spaces which require background/foreground music and speech reinforcement.
“In acoustically challenging and architecturally sensitive spaces, focusing on the essentials becomes crucial,” recalls the exec from Alphatec Audio Video Pvt Ltd, the official distribution partners for Tannoy professional audio products in India. “We strongly recommend engaging an experienced audio professional like Zacs and Phils, who can optimize the system’s configuration, speaker placement, and calibration, and ensure the best possible audio integration within the given constraints.”
Expertly positioned on pillars on either side of the altar are two units of the VLS 30 passive column array loudspeakers that ensure consistent and even sound distribution throughout the church; with the loudspeakers’ cutting-edge technology allowing them to maintain crystal-clear sound quality, even in challenging acoustic environments. And complementing the VLS 30 speakers while superbly reinforcing the low-end frequencies, are two units of the M18 B subwoofers from Turbosound.
To address the challenge of excessive low-frequency buildup and the issue of ‘muddled’ sound in key audience sections, team Zacs and Phils strategically positioned the subwoofers near the steps of the altar to derive a balanced and controlled low-frequency response; with the decibel levels of the subwoofers being equalized and fine-tuned after taking into account the simulation readings observed within the highly reverberant areas of the church space. This careful placement and fine-tuning of the subwoofers in specific, ensures that the low frequencies are evenly dispersed, avoiding any of the aforementioned undesirable audio anomalies.
Recognizing the church’s unique design and layout, and to ensure that the sound reaches every corner of the church without any delay or distortion, team Zacs and Phils incorporated a well-thought-out delay solution that comprises two units of the VLS 15 loudspeakers placed on each side of the inner walls, and expertly aligned to cover the areas that might experience delayed sound propagation.
According to the integrator, the most impressive aspect of the installation was the meticulous time-alignment between the FOH system and the delay system. To drive the entire loudspeaker system, team Zacs and Phils opted for the powerful and efficient PDX3000 Lab-Gruppen 3000 amplifiers which ensure that the speakers perform at their best, with uncompromising clarity and power.
Central to the control of the quality of sound derived from the system is the versatile and reliable Behringer X32 Compact mixing console, which allows for seamless integration and management of the sound system components, granting the sound engineers precise control over the audio output. Furthermore, Zacs and Phils add another layer of finesse to the sound system by deploying four units of the DR110DSP from Behringer for digital signal processing and overall loudspeaker system management. This digital prowess enables the sound engineers to fine-tune the system according to the unique needs of the church, enhancing the overall sonic experience.
“The installation stands a testament to the capabilities of Zacs and Phils as a leading design, engineering, and integration firm in the professional AV system integration industry. The Tannoy VLS series proved its mettle by delivering an outstanding sound experience that surpasses all expectations, enveloping the space in an exceptional audio ambiance; and we couldn’t be more pleased with the outcome. Having said this, I do extend my heartfelt gratitude to the entire managing committee of St. Thomas Church, especially Babu Mk, Inasu Ouseph, and Fr Jijo Pidiyath, for trusting and choosing Zacs and Phils as their preferred audio solutions partner. It is their unwavering faith in our expertise that allowed us to execute this project with the utmost dedication and precision.”
A senior member of the managing committee of St Thomas Church expressed their thoughts on the quality of the sound experience with the newly installed sound system as they exclaim, “The results are truly transformative! The once acoustically challenged environment now resonates with richness and remarkable audio intelligibility. As the echo of hymns and prayers fills the air, the legacy of St. Thomas Church continues, now amplified and enhanced for years to come!”