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Case study – wireless microphones grace San Francisco Cathedral

Novo Group and Lectrosonics have teamed up at San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral to provide cabled sound quality and RF agility that has proved ideal for legendary church’s varied functions.

Novo Group and Lectrosonics have teamed up at San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral to provide cabled sound quality and RF agility that has proved ideal for legendary church’s varied functions.

An international pilgrimage centre for church-goers and visitors alike, Grace Cathedral is famous for its reproduction of Ghiberti’s Gates of Paradise, two labyrinths, stained glass windows, its medieval and contemporary furnishings, as well as its 44-bell carillon, three organs, and choirs. The legendary house of worship recently saw the completion of a wireless system in its Gresham Hall / Gymnasium area with equipment from Lectrosonics.

San Francisco-based Novo Group was contracted to handle the design and installation of the facility’s new wireless microphone system. Specializing in video/audio/lighting systems from small churches to the most complex AV systems of today’s mega-churches, Novo Group’s co-founder Arthur Yeap discussed the nature of the project and his decision to deploy Lectrosonics’ Digital Hybrid Wireless technology.@page_break@

“In addition to various sports activities for the adjacent Grace Cathedral School for Boys,” Yeap explained, “the Gresham Hall / Gymnasium facility is used for the church’s webcasts and newsfeeds, diocesan conventions, as well as a variety of public speaking events. Gresham Hall measures roughly 60 feet wide by 150 feet long and opens up to the gymnasium when additional space is required. In addition to feeding signal for the webcasts and newsfeeds, the system is also tied in to a sound reinforcement system. As such, we not only required premium sound quality, we also wanted to ensure optimum gain before feedback performance for the live events.”

To address these parameters, Yeap decided to install a Lectrosonics system built around the company’s Venue receiver system and the Digital Hybrid Wireless technology employed by the equipment. “We ultimately selected a 6-channel system consisting of four LMa Digital Hybrid Wireless beltpack transmitters and two HM plug-on transmitters. The Venue receiver is the VRMWB – 230 MHz bandwidth (Wideband) model and it’s fully stocked with six VRS receiver modules. To enhance signal reception, we also installed two Lectrosonics ALP600 Log Periodic Dipole Array antennas. System configuration—and any modifications that may be required down the line—is handled by a notebook computer running Lectrosonics’ LecNet2™ system configuration software.”@page_break@

Because of Grace Cathedral’s location in San Francisco, Yeap (pictured, above) was quite concerned about the ability of any wireless system to address the area’s RF (radio frequency) congestion. “Being located atop Nob Hill, we were very concerned about RF interference. In this immediate area, there are all types of frequencies that are not listed in anyone’s spectrum database. A number of companies, including the phone carriers conduct tests there. We’ve also encountered frequencies used by the US Government that seem to pop up whenever high ranking officials are in town and then disappear a few days later. Lectrosonics’ one-touch SmartTune auto frequency selection feature implemented on the Venue receiver system has proven to be invaluable. It works terrifically and makes the process of identifying available frequencies quick and easy. This capability was a key feature in our selection of the equipment.”

Yeap is also extremely fond of the sound quality and the ability of the system to achieve solid gain levels. “The sound quality of the Lectrosonics equipment is excellent—very transparent,” he says. “The equipment accurately reflects the character of the microphones that are attached to the system and the sound quality is absolutely on par with cabled microphones. Because the wireless equipment is also tied into a live sound reinforcement system for world renowned guest speakers with Q&A from the audience, the Lectrosonics equipment needed to provide solid gain before feedback—and it absolutely does.”

Since the system’s installation in July, Yeap reports everyone who encounters the new wireless microphone setup is positively enamored with its performance. “The system is working very well,” Yeap said. “The sound quality is first rate, operation is quick and easy, the gear is built to last, and we get good strong levels with the house sound system. With the plug-on transmitters, members of the audience / congregation can get involved and be clearly heard throughout the room. Simply put, our client is ecstatic.”