St. Peter's Church
The Project Brief
St. Peter’s church is a local congregation based in Sandbach and is part of the Church of England tradition.
The church recently underwent a full renovation and had come to the end of their new build when they contacted us at Piranha. Their project involved the building of a new church hall complex fit for use during Sunday services, and for the various mid-week activities taking place in the space. We were tasked with providing a sound system, along with a projection system for song-words and multimedia presentations.
The space itself is designed to operate in four possible configurations; portrait, with a stage at the end; landscape, with a stage in the middle; split in to two halves, with a partition running down the centre; and, for room hire with reduced functionality. In light of this, all audio visual systems installed needed to be flexible enough to adapt to these various orientations and work equally as effectively across each.
Piranha were also tasked with installing the following audio visual solutions:
A comprehensive sound system for the band, featuring an assistive hearing system
A song word projection system
Room hire projection
Room hire laptop sound
A room hire microphone
All of this equipment needed to be extremely easy to use, as the church doesn’t have any technicians to operate complicated equipment.
The Piranha Solution
As is our promise at Piranha AV, this solution was tailored to the client’s needs, and also to their budget. We know that with charitable institutions such as places of worship, resources are often required to stretch across multiple ministries; making budget requirements tight. For this reason, we worked alongside St. Peter’s for a year before engineers arrived on site, designing a solution that both met their needs, and was within budget. This meant evolving from an initial, extremely high-tech design, featuring automated central switch gear, to a more budget-friendly solution; all the while making sure that we didn’t compromise on functionality.
The resulting solution involved providing the church with an audio system capable of coping with their large band, comprising of: drums, electric piano, flute, saxophone, singers, and acoustic and bass guitars; whilst remaining focused on ease-of-use. This focus led our design team to choose a QU-24 Allen and Heath digital mixing desk mixing desk, for simple control of all sound systems installed. These include; a digital snake/stage box that the band can plug into onstage, three wall-mounted speakers, connections for room hire clients, and four wireless radio microphones. St. Peter’s provided a bespoke cabinet to house the mixing desk, which offers the space to accommodate the radio mic receivers, CD player, DVD player and audio visual switcher provided. This switcher is remote controlled, allowing operators to easily select the image input for projection. One of the major benefits of this system of control is that members of the church aren’t required to manually plug in/connect all the necessary cabling and equipment for each use; ensuring that the system can be easily operated by any individual, regardless of their technical ability. CAD drawings of the room were also provided in order to assess the speaker distribution pattern requirements, and an assistive hearing system was installed underneath the carpet, using specialist foil tape, in order to maximise the efficiency of the system and minimise interference with any projected images; a common problem with induction loops.
In addition to this, Piranha also installed various visual systems. In order to fit with the shape of the building, the projector installed needed to be mounted directly above the projection area, which led our team to choose an ultra-short throw projector with a super-wide angle lens; enabling the necessary projection set-up. The projection system also features VGA and HDMI connections for new and old laptops, and is compatible with both Windows and Apple products. Using these connections, operators can run song words through one of the laptops. An additional connection point has been provided to enable room hire clients to plug in their own laptops.
As previously mentioned, the space itself is designed to operate across various configurations; landscape (the primary set-up), portrait, split, and for room hire. When the system is set up in it’s most common configuration, all users are required to do is to simply remove the bespoke cabinet from it’s cupboard and switch it on; the mixing desk features a multi-core assembly which links it to the rest of the system, meaning there is nothing to plug in or connect, and the system is ready to use extremely quickly.
In portrait mode, the church set up a temporary stage at the narrow end of the hall. Piranha have installed a further set of connections at the very back of the space, to enable users of this configuration to connect the mixing desk etc. to a separate patch plate on the wall. The church are able to recall various presets on the digital mixing desk for this mode of use, and when used in this orientation, the desk can be reconfigured with a host of new settings. St. Peter’s has since made use of this set-up for pantomime performances; a particularly successful set of events.
To offer those hiring the space, simple use of certain aspects of the system; a wall-mounted connection point has been installed for a guest laptop and microphone connection. A volume dial has also been installed in order for guests to have control over the equipment they are using, without the need for extra involvement/training from church staff. A simple wall-mounted control panel has been included, featuring buttons for switching the projector on and off, selecting projector input and blanking the screen. The resulting solution offers those hiring the room easy access to, and control over, the equipment they require, in a manner which eradicates the need for any assistance. Room hire clients are only given access to one half of the partitioned space, and therefore Piranha have routed the audio accordingly, ensuring that sound only comes out of the ‘zone’ in use.
In order to further ensure complete ease-of-use, a sequential switcher is also included. This technology automatically switches on each piece of equipment in the correct order, following a user pressing the master ‘on’ button. If a user chooses to turn the equipment off, this system will work in reverse, therefore eliminating damage caused by equipment being powered up, and down, in the wrong order. The master power system consists of a remarkably uncomplicated interface with a simple switch for turning power on and off, thus utilising Piranha’s one-click system.
This cost-effective and multi-configuration audio visual system was completed within the specified time-period, on budget, and met each of the client’s specific requirements.