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Prodigal Son

GPdi Melati Mas Church

When Bonar Abraham returned to his native Serpong in 2007, he was ready to give something back to the GPdi Melati Mas church his father had consecrated in 1995. During his three years in Sydney, he had studied music at the School of Creative Arts and Sound & Lighting at Julius Media, and he had learned well. So when he had to re-tune his ears to a substandard audio system back at the west Jakarta church, he could only impart one piece of advice to his father, pastor Kornelius: ‘It’s better to save your money than to spend it unwisely.’

‘We used several different sound systems in the past and came to the conclusion that we’d rather have nothing than something that simply did a job,’ explains Bonar Abraham. ‘I started to appreciate good sound, so I told my father not to compromise and do without a sound system until we could afford one that was right for our needs.’

Pastor Kornelius heeded his son’s words, but when the church opted to rebuild the site in order to accommodate its growing congregation, the opportunity to use educational training arrived. ‘My brother Bondan is technical with IT and video, whereas I could use my training in acoustics and audio to ensure that our services became intelligible and more musical,’ explains Mr Abraham.

The congregation of 650 worshippers had contributed a worthy sum with which to build a new church, but Mr Abraham didn’t want to rashly spend this on an A/V and lighting system that would not suit the church’s needs. ‘The services are contemporary and music plays a big part, so I knew we had to get the acoustics right before we could even consider getting a new sound system,’ he explains. Measuring 24m in length, including a 6m deep stage, and 17m in width, the sanctuary accommodates an upper level balcony whose ceiling reaches a maximum height of 9m at its apex. The walls were filled with rock-wool for absorption, then treated with Slot Resonator Box, gypsum rock and finally perforated, whilst baffles were added to the irregular ceiling structure.

Several loudspeaker suppliers were invited to demonstrate their systems to the church, but ultimately it was the clarity and power of the system proposed by Clair Brothers Indonesia (CBI) that struck the right chord.

‘We listened to the CAT114 system and it was a perfect for this church’s room shape,’ explains Mr Abraham. The two-way, passive, curved line array element combines a 14-inch LF woofer with two 1.4-inch HF compression drivers, but it is the unique curved design that makes it ideal for venues such as GPdi Melati Mas, where limited length can make it difficult to host more traditional line arrays. The unique curvature, combining three modules in the same rigging system, is ideal for such spaces, as each waveguide module provides 100-degrees of horizontal coverage and 25-degrees of vertical coverage. When vertically flown, the three CAT waveguide modules create a seamless 75-degree vertical by 100-degree horizontal coverage pattern.

Low frequencies within the sanctuary have been extended beyond the 39Hz provided by the CAT114 system courtesy of two CS218 dual 18-inch subwoofers, located on the floor underneath the hangs. With the CAT114 systems suspended as L-R arrays and the room acoustics creating a reverb time of just over one second, EASE calculations conducted by the CBI designers confirmed that few additional fill cabinets were required. Serving as a central fill, a single FF2 8-inch enclosure has been placed on the lip of the stage, firing towards the middle seats. Two more of the same speakers are affixed under the balcony as L-R rear seat fills. Finally, a pair of F28 dual 8-inch cabinets are suspended from the ceiling at the front of the balcony, serving as delays for the seats upstairs.

The entire system is powered by a combination of five Clair Q340 and single 380 amplifiers, whilst DSP loudspeaker management is handled by a Lake Processor. At FOH, an Allen and Heath iLive T-112 console - acquired several years ago - continues to be used for mixing all the services. Five Aviom A360 personal mixers assist the musician, with features such as stereo placement, pan-spread control, dual profile channel, one-touch ambience and instant mix recalls all receiving a positive reaction.

'We've use Aviom before and didn't want to switch to another brand as they are reliable,' confirms Mr Abraham. 'Basically, the musicians can either adjust the volume, tone and reverb on each of the A360 stereo or mono mix channels, but they prefer to customize and draw from a network pool of channels. We also have an Aviom sound card inserted into the iLive console, ensuring compatibility.' In addition, there are four EV ZXA1 self-powered speakers on stage as monitors. The singers on all use Shure Beta 58a SLX wireless handheld microphones, whilst pastor Kornelius prefers to use an Audio-Technica omni headset.

The visual set-up in the church sanctuary is relatively simple whereby one camera on a tripod transmits its signal to an Edirol video switcher, before displaying the content on the L-R motorized screens via In Focus projectors. Two trusses of lighting comprise several fresnels, par cans and LED washes, whilst four Sharpy moving heads project out from the stage floor. Towards the rear centre of the sanctuary, an Avolites Pearl Tiger console is used for controlling the lighting inventory, situated in the production area alongside the iLive console.

The church hosts three Sunday services each week. Following the first Sunday service, in which the Clair Brothers system had been called into action for the first time, the singers, musicians and congregation were united in their praise for it. 'Everyone was commenting that they could feel the dynamics, its power, its clarity and its evenness of dispersion,' attests Mr Abraham. 'There is no doubt that the musicianship skills have improved and that the congregation joins in more now with the services. They feel less alienated. When we first used it, the CS218s were moving the building, so we had to turn it down, but then people started complaining, saying we should play it louder - they loved the bass!'

The return of pastor Kornelius' son has heralded a new chapter in the church's youthful history. Not that he was ever lost during his two years in Australia, but he certainly found much needed wisdom. Having waited patiently upon his return and invested wisely when the time arose, he has ensured that the congregation can now better understand the church's message, whilst participating more in the musical aspects of the services.