Nov 30, 2019

Mary Help of Christians Chapel - Don Bosco Mandaluyong

I can still remember two years ago when my friends from high school and college called me as they organized a reunion at the University of the Philippines alumni homecoming.  It is held annualy every month of December.

It was also at that time when I got a call from Don Bosco Mandaluyong Rector - Fr. Chito Dimaranan that they were considering to upgrade the public address system at Mary Help of Christians Chapel.

The old public address system was a Ramsa® analog mixer/amplifier and compact loudspeakers mixed with different brands of subpar microphones installed in the early 90s.  It has served them well, and it's time to retire them.  

The goal was to design a new high quality sound system that has high sound intelligibility, simple to use, and reliable enough to take on a daily beating.

When I first saw the building from afar, I knew that there is some history behind these walls - until this sign confirmed it.  This was a historic place in setting the "Philippines 1896 revolt" against 300 years of colonial control from Spain.

The Bose DXA 2120 Mixer Amplifier was the heart of the system.  It includes digital signal processing presets engineered specifically for Bose speakers.  One of the most important features why we use this specific component is that after careful setup and tuning, we can lock the settings to prevent people who love to tinker that often result in a bad sounding system.

We also used Panasonic® EMT to provide cabling protection to the audio cabinet.  It is a building standard that is guaranteed to last for years.

A chapel is truly one of the most challenging spaces for good acoustics due to hard surfaces that reflect sound everywhere.  

The Quiklok® brand were chosen as mic stands that were placed at two lecterns.  It has solid construction and weight.

A Bose DS40 SE was installed based on its foreground, background music and speech reproduction capabilities.  It is compact in design with a sound dispersion of 125° degrees, and it is just right for a narrow chapel while still providing great sound coverage on the farthest side of the benches.

I remember when we took out the old Ramsa® speakers, the previous contractor just used concrete nails to hold the speaker brackets on the arch wall.  The old Ramsa® speaker brackets also can't be tilted downwards at an angle, causing sound to project only at the back rows of the congregation.

We installed three units of Shure® SM58 microphones.  Legendary mics used by pop idols, rockstars, and even Presidents.  It has a cardioid pattern that can resist background noises and potential feedback.  In 2016, Shure released a 50th anniversary SM58 microphone.  Enough said.

At the back of the red lantern is also a Bose DS40 SE used as a monitor so preachers can also hear their speech and adjust accordingly.  The old system doesn't have a monitor speaker.

This chapel can accompany 80 people comfortably.  They hold 3 masses here daily. 

We also made custom mic panels that are easy to access for three wired microphones.  No more expensive batteries for daily operations.  Neutrik® interconnects were used through the installation.

They play an old Yamaha keyboard which they also intend to replace.  But after I learned that they just use the internal loudspeakers of the keyboard, I suggested that we can hook it up the new sound system for an even sound throughout the chapel.  

I used a dbx passive direct box to connect it to the amplifier, and when they heard it, they were blown away by the old Yamaha keyboard's potential.  No need to buy a new one.

Going back to the University of the Philippines alumni homecoming, I wasn't able to attend the reunion together with my friends, since I have a commitment to finish the new sound system in time for Simbang Gabi or Misa de Gallo (Dawn masses) which starts on December 16.

It is one of the most distinctive Christmas tradition for Catholics in the Philippines.  Glad that we finished our commitment on time.  First things first!

With the gracious admin staff of Fr. Chito Dimaranan.

Upon turnover of the system, Fr. Chito Dimaranan said "I'm very satisfied with the sound system upgrade, my voice sounds more natural, the congregation can hear the mass more clearly without ear fatigue". 

You know Audio Artist Manila have put together a high quality audio system when after 2 years of rugged use (3 masses daily), until now they haven't called in for any adjustment or repair.

Aug 10, 2018

8 Wack Wack Condominium

My client called me and happily shared with me that he's got a brand new turntable as a birthday gift from his then 19-year old model girlfriend.  He wanted me to help build his analog Hi-Fi system.  I must confess, at first, I thought he got a beginners turntable, something flimsy, with no easily available parts.  A brand that's targeted for the very young generation (mostly pre-teens to early teens) to help them get started into spinning records.  

But when I asked the model of his new turntable, I was astonished - it was an ONKYO CP-1050 Direct Drive Turntable.  An audiophile quality turntable from ONKYO.  How can a millennial from the digital age be spot-on when choosing an analog turntable as a gift?  Maybe, I was too quick to judge, and I learned my lesson well.

ONKYO CP-1050 Direct Drive Turntable

High quality S-shaped Tonearm with cartridge included.  Detachable headshell compatible with aftermarket cartridges.

Good looks, Great build!

So I quickly designed a system revolving around the new turntable without breaking the bank.  What better way than to partner it with an integrated amplifier with the same brand from ONKYO.  

ONKYO A-9030 Integrated Amplifier with built-in moving magnet Phono stage, just plug and play.

We didn't scrimp on great sounding bookshelf speakers.  The obvious choice is the award-winning Bowers & Wilkins 685 S2 speakers.

B&W 685 S2
Double dome aluminium tweeter for natural spacious treble.
Kevlar fiber cone midbass driver.

After setting-up and some fine tuning.  I placed David Benoit's, Every Step of The Way album, and played "The Key To You".  My client's mother sang to the tune with glee.  "I'm used to the true authentic sound of vinyl records which I grew up listening to", she said.

With the revival of vinyl records nowadays, her family can now recollect their lost favorite albums in vinyl format.  And the last time I heard from my client, he now has a vinyl album of Bruno Mars and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1 (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack), which he enjoys listening with his model girlfriend.

Thank you for trusting Audio Artist Manila!

Aug 7, 2018

Don Jose Heights Clubhouse

Originally built in 1983, the Don Jose Heights clubhouse in Quezon City was renovated in 2012 (after 29 years) to accommodate the lifestyle of its growing community.  By the time you read this, the booking list for special events such as weddings, birthdays, and reunions are already laid on their calendar as far as 2 years in advance.

Event organizers see it is a nice blank canvass, where they can easily decorate to their design motif.  Ample parking space, seals the deal for many people who want to use the clubhouse for special occasions.

Don Jose Clubhouse

However, after being renovated back in 2012, there was still a missing piece to accommodate the basic needs of homeowners during association meetings, elections, and yearly Christmas parties.  A proper sound system.

According to Don Jose Subdivision President Dr. Rene Ramas, when the Board of Directors have meetings on weekends, they could hardly understand each other due to the bad acoustics of the new clubhouse.  This is the result of a lot of reflective surfaces (glass walls and tile floors) which bounces the sound around the place creating unwanted echoes which interfere with sound intelligibility.

I was witness to the bad acoustics of the clubhouse, when we were doing a survey, I could hardly understand a word my sound technician was saying, who was just standing on a 10-foot ladder over my head.

When Dr. Rene Ramas invited Audio Artist Manila, he wanted to make sure that the installation of a new sound system will meet the following criteria: 
  • A sound system for speech with good sound intelligibility
  • A sound system that can provide an even sound no matter where you are seated
  • A sound system that is sweet sounding for background music during parties
  • A sound system with both wireless and wired microphones
Audio Artist Manila listens and values the needs of its clients.  Let me take you on a visual tour:

The Bose FreeSpace DS100SE arrived on the set.  While competitors scrimp on a number of speakers just to win bids at a low price, we at Audio Artist Manila believe in satisfying our customers
by providing an even sound no matter where you are seated.

We use Panasonic EMT pipes to hide our wires.  UL certification makes it an industry building standard for safety.  Quality installation requires quality materials.

White colored Bose DS100SE speakers were chosen for a seamless blend in aesthetics.  

With proper placement and angle of the speakers.  We were able to achieve high sound intelligibility throughout the whole space.

Custom built patch panel for wired microphones using genuine Neutrik XLR chassis connector.

Genuine Neutrik XLR cable connectors were used for top notch quality.  Made in Liechtenstein.

At the heart of the audio system is a Bose FreeSpace DXA2120 Digital Mixer/Amplifier and a TOA multi-media player. 

Sound system settings can be locked so no changes are accidentally made once the system has been configured.

Sound Test using a USB flash drive loaded with high resolution MP3 audio files (320kbps).  Enjoying Boz Scaggs "Heart of mine" with my favorite drummer John "JR" Robinson on drums.  The sound is great that I usually find myself air-drumming to the beat.

You can choose whatever music source you like:  USB flash drive, CD, SD MMC card or FM radio.

Four (4) balanced inputs are enough to accommodate a few microphones, and a multi-media player.

Genuine Shure SVX/PG58 wireless microphone.  According to Dr. Ramas, "effortless, long range, natural voice".

Shure SM58 wired microphone is the industry standard among musicians.  A favorite among music artists such as Sheryl Crow and Iggy Pop.

Shure products have the hologram feature that indicates 100% authenticity.  Audio Artist Manila supplies only genuine audio products, beware of counterfeit products that will degrade sound quality.

The drapes were added by Interior Designer Anne Policarpio-Laqui, that doubles as acoustic panels.

The newly installed sound system blended well with the interiors that you hardly notice the speakers on the wall due to its white color.

The audio system design checked all of Dr. Rene Ramas' criteria, and we didn't forget to make sure that it was easy to use, reliable, with a robust installation method that will last and be witness to many joyous occasions at Don Jose Heights Clubhouse.

Thank you for trusting Audio Artist Manila!