Symetrix Solus Affordably Integrates Audio and Control in Historic Swiss Church
Home to nearly 1,500 Swiss residents, the charming pastoral municipality of Messen in northwestern Switzerland claims numerous buildings of deep historical significance nestled amid the rolling foothills of the Jura Mountains. Among them is Reformierte Pfarrkirche, a church whose foundation was laid before the year 1000 A.D. and whose current walls have been standing since 1480. Despite its age, or perhaps because of it, Reformierte Pfarrkirche was overdue for an A/V system upgrade, which Pro Sound Beschallungstechnik recently provided. Although the plans originally called for multiple hardware units to provide audio processing and system control, Pro Sound Beschallungstechnik simplified things and cut costs without compromising anything by using an open-architecture Symetrix Solus 8 processor for total system integration.
"Historic structures do not have to be incompatible with contemporary expectations for audio and video support," said Harry Horlacher, pro audio sales manager with GoWild AG, Symetrix' Swiss distributor, who assisted with the design. "Even a standard contemporary service requires media in addition to simple speech reinforcement. At a minimum, prerecorded music and video must be part of the experience." When Daniel Amsler of Pro Sound Beschallungstechnik initially approached Horlacher and described the system requirements at Reformierte Pfarrkirche, Horlacher thought a fixed-architecture Symetrix Jupiter would be the right solution. "Three microphones and two line sources would have been a simple task for a Symetrix Jupiter 8," he said. "It could have easily handled automixing for the microphones, loudspeaker conditioning, and processing for a record output. Users could control the system from a Symetrix ARC-2e wall panel remote, which would return all volumes to their default levels on power-up."
However, Amsler also mentioned that he planned to use a separate media control system to control the Sanyo PLC-WM4500 video projector's input source, lens function, and standby mode together with a separate user interface. "I knew that the church's budget was already stretched thin, and I knew there was a better-integrated, more cost-effective solution to be had in the open-architecture Symetrix Solus processor," said Horlacher. "All of the projector functions were addressable via RS-232 commands, and the Solus had all of the necessary infrastructure to fire those commands either independently or in coordination with the audio reinforcement commands. The switch to a Solus would be friendlier for the user and easier on the church's budget."
With the projector's control protocol in hand, programming the Solus 8 was a straightforward task. In fact, one of the Solus 8's external control inputs served to send an automatic shutdown command to the projector. "When the master switch is turned off," Horlacher explained, "a Furman power conditioner first switches the amplifier off and opens a contact that tells the Solus 8 to send standby and 'default input' commands to the projector. Next, the Furman power conditioner powers down the Solus 8. Finally, it cuts the mains to the projector after a long delay for cool down. The next day, the system sequences up appropriately, and the Solus 8 loads all the default levels and states. A Symetrix ARC-2e provides the users with intuitive control over microphone and line volumes, projector power, and projector inputs. And it all happens with just a one-rack space Solus unit."
Processing with the Symetrix Solus 8 delivers predictably uniform, intelligible audio from a myriad of sources. For example, the output levels from media played on the Denon DVD/CD player vary substantially. "The Symetrix AGC-leveler module ensures that all media play back at a consistent volume," said Horlacher. "In addition, the feedback-fighter modules provide additional security and headroom on the microphone inputs." The Solus 8 also protects the Kling & Freitag loudspeakers with limiters. He also noted that the Symetrix Solus 8 still has plenty of processing power to spare in case the church decides to add a subwoofer or additional loudspeakers in the future.