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HARMAN Professional Audio System Overcomes Acoustical Challenges at India’s Dharmaram College Chapel

BANGLAORE, India – Dharmaram College, part of the CMI Congregation in Bangalore and home to the Dharmaram College Chapel, recently underwent a complete redesign of the audio system to overcome the chapel’s architectural design challenges. With an insufficient existing sound system and a reverberation time of nearly three seconds, local systems integration firm Acoustic Control was presented with a major sonic challenge. To help overcome it, Acoustic Control turned to products from HARMAN’s JBL, Crown, BSS Audio, Soundcraft and AKG brands for a complete audio system solution.

The chapel has had more than three different sound systems installed over 35 years in attempts to provide clear speech and tame the tough acoustical environment created by the domed roof . The team at Acoustic Control conducted a study on the current PA system and the acoustics in an effort to identify possible areas for improvement.

Although the chapel was plagued by excessive reverberation, acoustical treatments were not an option, as it would detract from the domed chapel’s beautiful appearance. Acoustic Control had to provide a system that would compensate for the chapel’s highly reverberant acoustics and would also easy to use for unskilled operators.

“We had to install a brand new audio system from the ground up, as the existing PA could not be re-purposed,” said Sanjay Mudartha, Director, Acoustic Control. “The speakers were placed at the sides of the chapel, which was not a proper location and made it impossible for the system to deliver adequate coverage and directivity.” Mudartha and his team conducted an acoustical analysis of the chapel using EASE (Enhanced Acoustic Simulator for Engineers) software, which provides the ability to model specific loudspeakers and determine the speakers’ interaction with the room being modeled.

“We have vast experience with the JBL VerTec range of loudspeakers and we were confident we could achieve a great-sounding solution in the Dharmaram College chapel,” noted Mudartha, “but we had to validate their performance within EASE modeling software and also fit within a budget before we could present our recommendations to the client.” JBL VERTEC VT4886 subcompact line array elements, powered by Crown I-Tech HD Series amplifiers, met the performance parameters specified by Acoustic Control.

“We achieved an STI Speech Transmission Index of around 0.7 with the system able to deliver a target SPL of no less than 100dB across the chapel in a smooth, consistent manner,” said Mudartha. “Considering the acoustical, architectural and budgetary challenges we had to deal with, the measured and audible results are especially impressive.”

In order to ensure that the system would be easy to use, a BSS Audio BLU-100 device was configured to provide processing and necessary signal management features such as automatic mixing. The main AKG D5 microphone inputs were automated so that the chapel would have consistent sound for public speaking. A dedicated Soundcraft MFXi 20 console was provided with which to mix music inputs.

Commenting on the successful project, Prashant Govindan, Director, India Operations, HARMAN Professional said, “The venue’s limitations and project challenges were systematically and expertly handled by Acoustic Control, without disturbing the chapel’s aesthetics. The new system had to deliver better results despite the existing acoustics. The selection of Harman equipment has perfectly complemented the design specifications with higher levels of satisfaction for the system users in the chapel, and the visitors who are now able to more clearly hear both speech and music.”

HARMAN (www.HARMAN.com) designs, manufactures, and markets a wide range of infotainment and audio solutions for the automotive, consumer, and professional markets. It is a recognized world leader across its customer segments with premium brands including AKG®, Harman Kardon®, Infinity®, JBL®, Lexicon®, and Mark Levinson® and leading-edge connectivity, safety and audio technologies. The company is admired by audiophiles across multiple generations and supports leading professional entertainers and the venues where they perform. More than 25 million automobiles on the road today are equipped with HARMAN audio and infotainment systems. HARMAN has a workforce of about 14,000 people across the Americas, Europe, and Asia and reported sales of $4.3 billion for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2013.

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