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Patience is a virtue with some AV installations

Sometimes it takes a little longer to finish the job, but the end result is worth it. That was the case with the longest-running project to date for AV specialists APi Communications.

Back in April 2012 they were approached by St Michael’s Church in Alphington, Exeter, to specify a sound and projection system as part of an upcoming reordering project. That included many other elements such as a new gallery area, offices, removal of the pews and a new floor.

The construction phase of the gallery and offices duly went ahead in 2015 and APi Communications installed the projector and much of the cabling. However, due to an on-going issue over the removal of pews and the replacement flooring, there was a period of two years where the church used a temporary version of the sound system and trolley-mounted screens for the side aisles.

In September this year APi Communications was able to proceed with the final phase of installation. That involved the creation of a bespoke loudspeaker mounting system, using post-mounted units that sit in front of the pillars and plug into the new floor – to avoid making fixing holes in the architecturally-significant pillars.

The HK Audio loudspeakers have the advantage of being slim and scalable in use. They can be stacked to create the necessary throw and power handling for most environments and are available to order in standard RAL colours as well as black and white. A separate, hidden subwoofer creates a discrete full-range system well capable of handling live music, in addition to recorded content and excellent speech. The sound system is completed by a well-featured but simple-to-operate digital mixer and iPad remote control app, with a stage box and a range of Audio Technica radio microphones.

Since its inception the visual system has changed, as the passage of time has led to widescreen becoming affordable and the format of choice. The projector – a 4:3 unit – is almost three years old, so until that is retired the system will be a mix of 4:3 and 16:9 for the side aisle trolley-mounted flat screens, which have been retained as part of the final installation.

A remote pan/tilt zoom camera was in the mix from the beginning, but like the projector there has been a lot of movement in that area. At the start of the project the only cameras that fitted the budget were from the CCTV stable. Now, for a similar price, full HD units with HDMI and SDI are available. That created a potential problem as the original camera cabling was for a unit with a composite video output. Fortunately APi Communications were able to repurpose the coaxial cable for the SDI camera output and some spare cores in the original CAT5 network camera control cable were used to send a composite signal to the video monitor on the camera remote control.

Vision switching is taken care of by a capable Blustream switcher/scaler, offering four HDMI inputs plus VGA. That allowed the inclusion of sources from the front of the church and the AV desk, including Apple Airplay for wireless presenting.

All-in-all the sound and projection systems provide a bespoke solution to meet the requirements of St Michael’s Church, meaning it is now a church suitable for 21st century worship as well as community events.

For further information visit the website at

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