Monte Brothers Sound Systems, an Ardsley, NY-based house-of-worship audio equipment integration specialist for over 50 years which has served nearly 2,000 churches nationwide, maintains a close collaborative relationship with Audio-Technica that’s highlighted by two recently completed installations.
Both institutions host some of the major events that typically take place in a cathedral (e.g., ordinations), as well as the celebrations common to a parish church, such as daily liturgies, baptisms and weddings. These events and celebrations involve very different uses of the spaces, making mobile and reconfigurable wireless microphone technology essential. Further, both facilities had been trying to fix chronic problems with intelligibility for some time before calling in Monte Bros.
States Steve Minozzi of Monte Brothers: “The problems were typical to most houses of worship – people couldn’t hear.”
Audio-Technica microphones and RF equipment were just one component of the replacement sound systems at the two churches, systems that also include technologies from brands that include Biamp, Powersoft and CAMM, a Leon company.
The Miraculous Medal Shrine in Philadelphia and St. Mary’s Seminary and University in Baltimore contacted Monte Brothers for sound system overhauls based, both with similar requirements: to accommodate daily mass and other events with just the celebrant and servers at or near the altar, but then reconfigure the microphones to handle multiple speaking celebrants during ordinations and other large services. The churches can seat about 800 congregants each.
At the Miraculous Medal Shrine, only the microphone at the pulpit, an A-T Engineered Sound ES925/XLR (with MicroLine element), is hard wired. “The ES925 MicroLine capsule was designed by Audio-Technica with consultation from Monte Brothers back in 1987 for Cardinal O’Connor in 1990,” says Minozzi, and was intended to eliminate the pop of earlier microphone models. “That capsule has accomplished our tasks for all these years, so we stay with that mic.”
Logistics and mobility is another important factor for the church, he adds, a need met with the deployment of now has three A-T 3000 Series wireless body packs plus a handheld microphone, all operating in the UHF band at 500 MHz. “Besides the three celebrants that have the wireless body packs and headset mics on, any additional people speaking at the altar can be heard through the altar microphone, which is a System 10 PRO ATW-T1006 boundary microphone/transmitter,” he says.
The boundary mic is not permanently positioned at the altar, he continues, which is why wireless was necessary. “They don’t necessarily use a mic there all the time, only for big events. The whole sanctuary area, where the organ and altar are, is filled with priests when they have ordinations, and during the celebration of the services, multiple priests will speak.”
Two other positions in the sanctuary area, a lectern and a chair, are also covered by System 10 PRO bases, in combination with ES925/XLR mics with MicroLine elements. “Those are moveable to another location in the worship space,” Minozzi says. “Or they may take them out completely.” Additional System 10 PRO bases provide coverage of the choir. “They are usable with any mobile choir microphone that they might want to employ during special events,” he notes, and generally move around depending on the need.
At a sixth location, a System 10 PRO ATW-T1002 handheld transmitter is available for use by the organist or a solo singer. Minozzi: “It’s usually on a stand or boom stand for soloists either at the organ, in the rear sanctuary or sometimes in the front, for concerts, announcements or whatever.”
Meanwhile, at St. Mary’s Seminary, the majority of the microphones are A-T 3000 Series wireless products. Four body packs are paired with two AT899 lavaliers and two BP894 headset mics. There are also four handheld wireless mics available. System 10 PRO bases are paired with ES925/XLRs with MicroLine elements at the pulpit and the lectern, and a pair of ATW-T1006 boundary microphone/transmitters, one at each end of the altar. A microphone on the piano transmits through a fifth System 10 PRO base.
Monte Brothers has shared its expertise through a webinar entitled “Can You Hear Me Now?” — a primer prepared for the Conference for Catholic Facility Management, which oversees the construction and maintenance of buildings and helps local parishes connect with contractors. The webinar explains the essential component parts of a sound system and offers recommended solutions for six common types of Catholic Church architecture. “We broke it down for them,” Minozzi concludes, “because we are in a position to share our knowledge so churches have a firm starting point before they meet with their design consultant.”