Zion Episcopal Church

The Client


Zion Episcopal Church
Wappingers Falls, NY

Brief Description of the Location:

An Episcopal Church in Wappingers Falls, NY with ministries, services, bible studies, classes, food pantry, and community garden.

The Challenge

Design an audio system that improves overall audio performance, provides flexibility, and integrates with a Facebook Live streaming solution, simplifying the Church’s ability to stream while enhancing the video and audio experience for viewers.

The Solution

We made a few visits to the site and had several in-person and remote meetings to discuss what the goals were. Ultimately, we determined their needs and created a cohesive system comprised of a completely new audio system, camera, lighting, and control system. 

The audio system originally was a pair of home-made speakers, underpowered mixer/amplifier, and a collection of aging wired and wireless microphones. All these components needed replacement due to the poor audio quality, lacking microphone sensitivity, and ease of use. 

The replacement system is a leap forward in technology. Starting with the speakers. We chose, due to successful experiences in the past, the CBT 70J-1 + 70JE-1 System. Using software tools and measurements taken, we placed the arrays very specifically to allow for decent gain, feedback mitigation and room coverage. The resulting audio performance is fantastic. In fact, there is no location in the sanctuary that is not able to hear the pastor clearly. Additionally, the microphone feedback issue that persisted prior is gone. 

Of course, speakers are not the whole story. We replaced each wired microphone with the legendary Shure SM58 on brand new gooseneck holders at the lectern, pulpit, rector, and organist. We also provided a discrete, almost invisible, headset microphone for the pastor, which is one of 2 wireless Shure QLXD microphones available. These microphones are then connected to a Behringer X32-RACK digital mixer. The mixer is configured to provide proper gain and equalization for the room with respect to the microphones and the speakers. Amplification is accomplished using a Crown CDi 2/300 DSP power amplifier. To be sure even the hard-of-hearing can benefit, we included an assistive listening system with four receivers and a variety of hearing aid compatible lanyards and ear speakers. 

Once we had solved the audio issues, we then focused on Facebook Live streaming. For video capture, we selected the PTZOptics 12X-USB for the most flexibility. This camera has pan, tilt, and zoom functions, supports multiple presets, and works well in difficult lighting. To operate the camera during streams we included two methods of control, depending on the user’s ability. The first method is using the PTZOptics joystick controller. For a trained user, the joystick controller provides a professional feel and allows the operator to move the camera around the room, select/create presets, and adjust camera settings on the fly. For users that are not comfortable with the joystick, we custom programmed a Crestron control system to duplicate the essential functionality of the joystick on an intuitively laid out touch screen app running on an iPad. The touch screen interface also allows the user to move the camera around the room and select from predetermined presets, but without the complexity of the joystick. 

The new camera feeds video signal via HDMI to a dedicated streaming encoder. Also connected to the encoder is the customized audio mix from the Behringer X32-RACK mixer. The encoder is setup to stream to Facebook live using the RTSP protocol and is included on the iPad control interface. Users simply press “start” and the stream goes live. 

To ensure that video sent to Facebook looked good, we also integrated three LED pin-spot stage lights focused on specific areas in the front of the sanctuary. These lights are controlled by selecting a camera preset or via individual controls for on/off on the iPad control interface. Selecting a camera preset will turn on the appropriate light scene for that preset automatically. 

Essentially, to begin streaming, the user opens the Crestron app on the iPad, turns the system on, selects a camera preset (which includes lighting scenes) and presses “start”. Simple. 

There was additional work done here as well. We enlisted a partner electrician to add power receptacles on the balcony for the lighting. We also expanded the church’s network to our equipment rack to provide a wireless connection for the iPad controller and an internet connection for the streaming encoder. 

An overall success, this system can be easily operated, provides excellent sound quality both in-house and on stream and has the flexibility to be configured to support a variety of uses including weddings, funerals, and other gatherings where there may be remote guests. 

Manufacturers Utilized

  • - Crestron
  • - JBL Professional
  • - Behringer
  • - Shure
  • - PTZOptics
  • - Extron
  • - Listen Technologies
  • - Ubiquity