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.