Resurrection House is a Catholic primary school located in Essendon, Melbourne. The property has a rich history, originally built as an orphanage for Polish children affected by World War II. It turned into a primary school as time passed but still retains its Polish charm with characterful architecture and beautifully manicured garden beds.
Weekly Sunday mass is a big part of the Resurrection House community. The ornate church has sliding doors across the rear which open up into a much larger parish hall opposite. Churchgoers spend time in this area after mass, often enjoying music played by the school students from the parish hall stage. The hall also hosts musical performances and rehearsals from local acts including the Grace Notes Singers women’s vocal ensemble.
Theatre productions have become a larger part of the school’s annual schedule as students showed more interest. These are also held in the parish hall which, until now, had an outdated PA system that wasn’t quite cutting it for the school’s needs.
Resurrection House decided it was time to up the ante and, thanks to a stimulus package from the government, spent money on a state-of-the-art stage lighting rig. The next natural step was to bring the audio up to the same standard. In searching for a new PA, the school’s volunteer technical manager Joseph Gofron stressed the importance of intelligibility in the vocal range.
“Vocal intelligibility is important for us because we’ve often got an elderly audience and a lot of them suffer from high frequency hearing loss,” notes Gofron. “When we started doing musicals with young kids’ high-pitched voices, intelligibility was an issue. We wanted to have clarity. The narrators and actors telling the story need to be understood.”
Joe Sofo from Concert AV managed the installation of both audio and lighting system upgrades at Resurrection House.
Already familiar with d&b audiotechnik products from the concert and festival scene, Joe suggested a point source front of house system for Resurrection House. The boxes of choice were two d&b 24S loudspeakers left and right, and a single d&b 21S-SUB subwoofer placed under the front edge of the stage. The wide stage puts a large gap between the two 24S speakers, so a d&b Y7P was mounted horizontally above centre stage to fill the front area. All loudspeakers are powered by a single d&b 30D four-channel amplifier.
Bek Varcoe from the NAS Projects Team used d&b ArrayCalc software to develop graphs for the loudspeaker configuration. ArrayCalc is an invaluable tool which accurately predicts how a speaker will disperse sound in a room throughout the frequency range, helping the installer pinpoint the best speaker placement for maximum coverage and controlled reflections.
Apart from the loudspeakers, the school also upgraded its mixing console from an Allen & Heath analogue desk to a Midas M32 digital mixing console with accompanying DL32 stage box. The M32’s ability to store and recall snapshots was quickly utilised in the school’s productions to simplify playback cues and microphone switching — a much easier workflow than riding faders and popping mutes through the whole show like on the previous analogue desk. What’s more, the M32 accepts cue signals via MIDI, allowing an entire show’s lighting and audio playback to be controlled by a single operator using LSC’s Clarity system.
“The Midas M32 is great,” says Joe Gofron. “I can put a MIDI trigger in Clarity to trigger the Next button on the M32, so you could in fact run everything with one operator and have everything pre-set. My preference is to have more operators because a lot of the audiovisual stuff is run by ex students. They enjoy using the mixer and lighting system; it gives them a sense of ownership.”
Prior to the PA’s official commissioning by NAS, Joe Sofo had already received compliments from the school stating how big an improvement the d&b loudspeakers had made.
Joe Gofron said, “The speakers are a big plus over what we had. The clarity and intelligibility in the vocal range is the most noticeable difference. They’re doing a marvellous job. I think we made the right choice.”
“d&b is a great product that’s definitely considered a premium audio brand,” says Joe Sofo from Concert AV. “For value for money and performance, it’s one of the better options on the market. The client had heard of d&b before so there was already a confidence in the product. And the PA suited the room as well. It’s quite a difficult room acoustically, so having a high quality point source system meant they could get good coverage throughout the room without too much reverberation.”