LA VERNE, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 2011: The iconic 1967 film The Graduate ends with protagonist Benjamin Braddock (famously played by Dustin Hoffman) interrupting the wedding of his true love by banging on the church window from a loft at its rear and screaming her name, just as she is about to kiss her soon-to-be husband. The two elope, ditching the wedding guests and, we presume, society's suffocating mores. The scene and a number of subsequent scenes of comedic homage (Bubble Boy, Wayne's World 2) were shot at La Verne United Methodist in La Verne, California. However, for the parishioners of LVUM, such moments of celebrity are but fun anecdotes, and the real life and work of the church is like any other. And like so many other churches, LVUM was suffering from a terrible audio system (installed shortly after the filming of The Graduate!) and there was no video system
at all. Paul Svenson of PS Audio Video of San Diego recently fixed that by gutting the existing system and replacing it with one centered on Symetrix' Jupiter 12 audio processor.
"I'm sure the old system was pretty terrible when it was installed. And unlike wine, the decades certainly didn't improve it," said Svenson. "Intelligibility was abysmal and, to add insult to injury, the loudspeakers looked terrible in such a beautifully modernist church. La Verne was in a position that pretty much all main-line protestant churches are in these days: they had to reinvent themselves or they were facing cultural obsolescence." Svenson speaks with authority. He has been an A-list church musician for over forty years and has witnessed the shifting tides from both sides of the pulpit.
The primary challenge for the new video system was the well-lit interior of LVUM, which is perhaps part of what made it appealing for shooting The Graduate. Svenson prescribed two 6200-lumen NEC 4400 projectors positioned just fifteen feet from the white walls that would serve as screens. A Kramer VP-436 video switcher ties in computer-generated content, DVD, and video technology. The installation of both the video system and the audio system was complicated by a complete lack of conduit in the church. Instead, Svenson and his crew had to run flat wire under the carpet.
A much more aesthetically-appealing Bose Panaray MA12 line array now covers the house seating, and QSC amplifiers provide power. On the input side, two new Audio-Technica 3000 Series wireless microphones join a constellation of wired mics and the output of the Kramer video switcher. Between the inputs and the amplifiers, a Symetrix Jupiter 12 provides the brains of the system. In addition to providing input conditioning and routing logic, Svenson programmed the Sound Reinforcement #10 app in the Jupiter 12 to deliver precise EQ curves for the Bose line array, saving the church the expense of an additional processor.
"I gave them a PhD system," said Svenson dryly. "Which stands, of course, for 'Push here, Dummy!' All they have to do is flip a switch and they're ready to go - it's all dialed in and equalized. It's very hands-off and very simple." A Symetrix ARC-2e wall panel provides the essential system control for the end users. Four presets encompass the universe of possibilities for LVUM: wedding, memorial, simple worship, and full mix. "Like any church, La Verne makes good use of its space during the week," said Svenson. "With the presets, the sound system meets them where they need to be." Although he doesn't anticipate its frequent use, Svenson did connect an existing mixer in, which takes over in the 'full mix' preset.
Part of the reason why Svenson specifies the Symetrix Jupiter for every small or mid-size installation is its sound quality. "The simple act of pulling out an old processor and replacing it with the Symetrix Jupiter - even before I make any adjustments - invariably makes the system sound more open and clear," he enthused. "On top of that, they're easy to program and work with. I program my Jupiter units from a MacBook Pro running Windows 7 under parallels. It couldn't be more ripe for communication screw-ups, but Symetrix has built a very solid connect wizard. I can always log on and boom - no problems."
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