The house of worship market is indeed diverse. No matter what your faith may be, the need to get the message across in a clear and concise way will always be of paramount importance. To that end, the Houghton Mosque on West Street is no different. A new Mosque in the area, they commissioned industry veterans Prosound to handle the installation of their loudspeaker and recording systems. I met Lee Thomson, technical sales consultant at Prosound, at Houghton Mosque to take a look at the new building and to check out the installation.
Having never been into a Mosque before I was quite intrigued as to what was in store. After a brief introduction by Lee, we were led to the rear of the building and entered a small air conditioned room where the recording equipment, amplifiers and effects equipment are kept.
Impressively, audio streaming is also part of the service as was explained to me by Yaseen, one of the technical personnel at the mosque: “What we’ve done is, with the audio streaming, we’re pushing more kilobits. Instead of 32kbps we’re streaming at 128kbps. All this month we have a prayer that goes on for about two hours and the listeners love it. The clarity they’re getting; they love it. We’ve got between 230 to 270 people streaming the prayer every night and we haven’t advertised or promoted it. We’ve even got four radio stations in the US pulling the audio stream as well.’
In the rack there are a number of units that perform different functions around the Mosque. Starting at the top, there is a Tascam CD-RW901SL CD recorder that is used to make recordings of prayer services. Next there is a TC Electronic M-One XL dual effects processor that is used to apply voice effects. What interesting about this setup is that it is paired to a MIDI Solutions F8 eight-input MIDI footswitch controller which is used to change the patch from a switch panel in an alcove in the main prayer area.
All audio distribution is handled by an EV NetMax N8000 digital matrix controller. This unit supplies 32 channel routing and matrixing and incorporates a massive range of 48-bit filters, EQ, dynamics and delay DSP. The N8000 is also fitted with an AO-1 eight-channel analogue output card which feeds the specific zones throughout the Mosque and an MI-1 module; the eight channel mic/line input card that features programmable preamp gain and phantom power.
In terms of microphones, two DPA4080-F lapel mics were supplied, each with a DAD6030 adapter unit for the EV WTU-2 body pack transmitters that were employed. The body packs transmit to two EV RE2 Pro receivers. There are also three EV PC-Plus-18 gooseneck microphones placed throughout the Mosque for further address: two in the alcove in the main prayer area and one in the minber, a pulpit where the imam gives a noonday prayer on Fridays and holidays. Also found in the alcove is a four-channel snake head that the three gooseneck microphones plug into. This snake is then connected to the MI-1 input module in the N8000.
Finally, there are five EV CPS4.5 four-channel class-D amplifiers that power the specific zones throughout the mosque. These 2000W (500W x 4) amps are commercial installation grade and can be configured per channel to output at 2/4Ohms or 70/100V for distributed systems.
After we had checked out the amp room I was led into the mosque itself which is beautifully crafted inside and out. It is customary to take your shoes off when entering the courtyard, so I obliged and stored them away in the provided receptacle shelves. The main courtyard is a wonderful, naturally lit space with thick, comfortable carpet perfect for walking shoeless.
For the courtyard system there are four One System 103IM outdoor loudspeakers which were chosen for their ruggedness. These two-way speakers feature 3.5-inch low frequency driver and a high frequency driver coupled to an elliptical constant-directivity horn which provides a coverage pattern or 100 degrees. They have a frequency response of 85Hz to 20kHz.
Throughout the rest of the mosque including the main prayer area there are a variety of speakers. 13 Martin Logan Ticket loudspeakers were spec’d and placed strategically throughout. These are wall mount-type speakers that are recessed into the internal pillars and archways and feature dual four-inch aluminium low frequency drivers coupled to a one-inch neodymium tweeter with a 75Hz to 20kHz frequency response. A further 13 EV EVID C4.2 ceiling-mount speakers were also employed that employ 4-inch coaxial drivers with a .75-inch Titanium mylar laminate dome with a 65Hz to 20kHz frequency response.
Not knowing what to expect when entering the mosque it became immediately evident that the distributed audio system was designed to fit as seamlessly and as discretely as possible within aesthetic of the building. However, that does not mean that it is lacking technology in any way. The inclusion of the MIDI switch to change FX patches on the M-One was a surprising twist that brought a modern edge to an ancient tradition, which, I’m sure, further enhances the message. The overall topology of the system, while relatively simple, is powerful and streamlined and I’m sure will serve the mosque for many years to come.