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Audio Consulting Design and Installation

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July 2010
Sound Installation Begins at Historic Synagogue


Temple Emanu-EL When selecting a company to design and execute an upgrade to their sound system, most houses of worship would not immediately look to the one of the most recognizable names in Broadway sound; however, Congregation Emanu-El, located in the heart of Manhattan, with its multiple venues of varying size and use, is not your typical synagogue.
The structure, built in 1925 on the original site of the John Jacob Astor mansion, is not only well-known in New York for its landmark Romanesque facade, but its elegantly reverent interior, presenting unique challenges for designers, Mark Annunziato and Matthew Evra-Silver: to minimize the visual impact of the sound reinforcement system and maintain the aesthetics befitting the individual venue.

The Beth-El Chapel is a small, intimate space primarily used for smaller services. To overcome the highly reflective nature of the room, as well as the general acoustics, fastidious planning and consultations with both the clergy and chief engineer, Bobby Rambali, were engaged. Due to its more intimate nature, D&B E3 speakers with a D6 amplifier were chosen. A custom volume control equipped with a rotary switch set to fixed audio level increments was installed into the Chapel's ornate reading table. This rotary switch allows the clergy to make adjustments without disrupting the flow of the program.

And because the amplification is required for both speaking and singing, the designers replaced the current microphone with a MKH40 high-sensitivity cardioid microphone by Sennheiser. The result gives the chapel improved intelligibility, with the sound more evenly distributed.

On the other end of the spectrum lies the Leon Lowenstein Auditorium, a larger venue capable of accommodating up to 1100 people serving a multitude of functions. Utilized for film and live theatrical productions, a school multi-purpose room and High Holiday services, the Lowenstein Auditorium caters to a host of needs and a variety of patrons and congregants. The designers chose to use a Meyer Melodie line array center cluster complemented with Tannoy V8 powered speakers (part of the center cluster) and Tannoy V8 speakers (for delay) to reinforce the audio in this versatile space.

The front end of the system utilizes a Yamaha LS-9 digital mixer and Symetrix audio distribution amp to route audio to the congregation's radio and web broadcast, remote reading locations and overflow areas. Again, a Sennheiser MKH40 was used for the main reading table and Shure Beta 87 for the cantor's lectern.

Installation will be completed by August 2010 with rejuvenation of the sound system in the main sanctuary to begin shortly.