THOMASTON, CONNECTICUT: As they were celebrating one-hundred years in their beautiful stone structure, the parishioners of St. Thomas Roman Catholic Church in bucolic Thomaston, Connecticut were trying to ignore a less jubilant anniversary. It had been 18 years since they purchased a sound system that promised much more than it ever delivered, and they were quickly closing in on two decades of poorly reinforced speech and uninspiring vocals. But even during these difficult times a generous benefactor set aside a very special gift for the procurement of an upgrade to the system.
replacing everything and starting from scratch, PASCOM Sound Inc. of Hamden, Connecticut offered an elegant solution that was simply unavailable eighteen years ago. They installed a Symetrix Automix Matrix 780 to properly align and process the existing speakers – and to fabulous effect!
The sanctuary and nave of St. Thomas is approximately 100 feet by 50 feet and seats some 500 congregants. The church requires reinforcement for spoken word, the choir, and solo vocalists. According to PASCOM’s systems engineer and president Peter A. Scandone, Jr., church officials purchased a Bose speaker system. “Bose is a very good manufacturer,” he said, “and their reputation was soaring back in the late 1980s. The church thought they were buying a ‘Bose System’ (emphasis on ‘System’) but the contractor only backed the speakers with a cafeteria-grade amplifier and no signal processing whatsoever.”
Nevertheless, St. Thomas had four Bose 402-W loudspeakers in a L-R lateral and decentralized configuration. Two were in front of the Sanctuary and another pair halfway back. Nearing the “enough is enough” point, the church approached PASCOM to see if there was a real, yet affordable, solution available. Scandone surprised St. Thomas by presenting a proposal stating that by using Symetrix DSP technology, it would be possible to deliver better-than-new sound without replacing the speakers. By using the Symetrix Automix 780, PASCOM could provide the church with eight mic/line inputs, four line inputs, and eight outputs, along with a full matrix mixer topology necessary for both current and future requirements.
PASCOM also provided an upgrade to each of this system’s microphones using an array of direct and wireless technologies along with four channels of amplification. But the real change was provided by the electro-acoustic alignment of this system’s filtering and signal delay. “We used each of the 780’s DSP resources, including matrix mixing, parametric EQ, delay, and discrete control of each input and output,” noted Scandone. “The existing Bose 402Ws are now properly equalized and phased.
He continued, “Listening before and after, you’d think the entire system was replaced. The improvement is dramatic. We’ve eliminated much of the acoustic interference that had severely compromised the earlier system and delivered an affordable solution that now provides the clarity, uniformity, and fidelity the church anticipated.”
The renovation of St. Thomas’ sound system highlights a seldom-appreciated benefit of the digital revolution. The processing power that can be brought to bear has increased by orders of magnitude. Thus, many older systems, with perfectly adequate components, for which ideal processing was non-existent or cost-prohibitive at the time of their installation, can reap substantial benefits from new and expertly applied DSP solutions. It’s a “better-than-new” approach that often requires “less” equipment.
Scandone summarized, “The desire for high-quality performance and the current state of the economy don’t often mix, but our extensive experience, coupled with new digital processors like the Symetrix Automix Matrix 780, allows PASCOM to offer customers an array of very affordable solutions.”
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ABOUT PASCOM SOUND PASCOM SOUND INC., established in 1984, is currently celebrating its 25th Anniversary as the Scandone family marks 87 years and three generations of continuous service in audio engineering. www.pascomav.com