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Ecclesistical & Heritage World No.99

Ecclesiastical & Heritage World JTC Roofing Contractors Ltd

Do you really need a new sound system?

Our first contact from the team at Blyth Central Methodist Church was a phone call that we’ve had many times before explained Paul Dougherty of Blaydon Communications Ltd 'Our sound system isn’t working, it’s all crackly and we just need a new one'.

"In some circumstances, this could be true", said Paul, "audio equipment does degrade, and eventually, it will need to be replaced, but sometimes things just need a good overhaul and a bit of a spruce up. Our first recommended action was to have us attend the church and assess what equipment had been installed. This also allows us to get talking to the people that use the system to find out the real problems first-hand.

"As the initial advice call is provided free of charge there’s nothing to lose and everything to gain for the church so a mutually agreeable appointment was arranged. Please note, the attendance to site is only available in our working area but telephone support is always offered free of charge.

"On the day of the visit, we attended on time and met with the team that looks after the church. The sound system was basic but had clearly fulfilled the churches needs for many years. It was old but it was from a good manufacturer and it would’ve been a reasonable chunk of money back when it was originally specified. There were a lot of things that had been added on to expand the existing amplifier capabilities with lots of interconnecting wires that just didn’t need to be there. This adding to and adding to creates many points of failure and a good old strip down can often correct issues.

"After discussing the needs, and expectations of the church moving forward, we set about offering our advice. The amplifier installed in the church was still working but it was lacking in some functionality and there were a few inputs short to meet the needs of a modern-day church. The lack of phantom power on the amplifier meant that the active condenser microphones on the lectern and pulpit were connected through a separate power supply which was just adding to the mess of cables. Phantom power is a means of getting power to microphones down the same cable as the audio; just in case you didn’t know. There was also an awful additional switch to switch between the CD player and laptop which wasn’t the best quality and was producing more noise than a live microphone out in the wind!

"With all this in mind, our recommendation was to replace the amplifier unit. The latest analogue unit was proposed with a total of six balanced microphone input that would help reduce noise on the system and they all have phantom power built-in too so that’s the external phantom power supply out of the equation too. The unit also had three inputs for music along with outputs that could connect to the existing loop system for the hard of hearing, and a switch to allow loudspeakers in the hall to be turned off when not in use. All in all, it was the perfect solution to the main problems with enough capacity for future additions too, it wasn’t all we had to do.

"In addition to the main heart of the system needing a tidy up and upgrade, we still had to address why the system was crackling and make sure the church knew how much they had to invest without any extra’s lurking around the corner. We completed a basic check of the system and soon identified the source of the crackling. The microphone socket on the pulpit was not the best quality and was worn, to say the least; the floor socket used for the altar microphone was no better either. We also spotted another common issue whereby DIY repairs have been attempted without using professional equipment, we are all guilty of this to save a few quid even though we know it will come back to bite us! The only workable solution for this is to replace the sockets with good quality ones and make sure they are installed by our experienced engineers to make sure the repairs last as long as the original installation.

"The final problem to resolve involved the radio microphone system. The system was from the 1990s but it was still working and we could see no reason that it wouldn’t continue to work for years to come. The problem was that the church wanted an extra microphone to be compatible with the old equipment and an extra radio microphone system too. Getting new radio microphones with old systems can sometimes be problematic but fortunately for the church, they had invested in a brand called TOA and we just happen to be an authorised agent for TOA and have been since 1972, so we were able to reprogramme a new microphone to work with their old system and of course the supply of an extra radio microphone was an easy task for us.

"After the initial on-site consultation, we put together our no-obligation proposal and sent it off via email to our contact. As with lots of churches, the proposal made its merry way through committee meetings but was soon accepted and the work was authorised. The work went ahead as planned, we provided all the required health and safety paperwork to allow us to work safely with the church, and the project was completed in a timely fashion to the total satisfaction of the church staff and, most importantly, the congregation.

“We often hear stories of churches being sold equipment that they do not need and systems are often unnecessarily over complicated. Our business relies on word of mouth as a main source of obtaining work and we pride ourselves on honesty and integrity when dealing with all our customers. We will always make sure that we understand our customer needs and make sure they spend within their budgets to achieve the outcome they need. On occasions where budget just simply isn’t enough, we’d rather walk away and advise the church to save up a bit more than waste their money on a half-hearted system that simply won’t get used.”

For further information visit www.blaydoncomms.co.uk