A Russian Orthodox monastery on the southwest side of the peninsula of Mount Athos in Macedonia, Northern Greece, the Saint Panteleimon Monastery is home to around 70 resident monks and many pilgrims every year. The monastery has recently installed a Yamaha audio system to enable its scripture readings to be clearly heard.

Saint Panteleimon MonasteryThe largest monastery on the peninsula, the Saint Panteleimon Monastery comprises multi-storey buildings and tall cupolas giving the impression of a city in miniature. Its Cenobitic tradition follows the monastic practise of regulated community life. A key part of this is mealtimes when, after prayers in church, monks and pilgrims gather in the refectory to eat, while being read scripture from the Bible.

Ensuring that everybody hears the readings can be a challenge, partly because the refectory is large, with high arched ceilings, square columns and many other reflective surfaces, but also because of the mealtime noise levels, which can reach 70dB. The monastery previously installed a consumer-type audio system, comprising three sound bars and four budget hi-fi loudspeakers. Unsurprisingly ineffective, systems integrator CMYK Service was approached to specify and install a professional solution.

CMYK Service CEO Roman Belyaev is a dedicated Yamaha user: ‘Yamaha specialises in high-tech, innovative technologies that allow us to implement unique solutions for spaces with difficult acoustics,’ he says. ‘It was a challenging space to deliver seamless, high-quality sound, but we also had ensure that the scripture reader’s voice sounded natural. The monks also wanted the sound reinforcement to be as unobtrusive as possible, both acoustically and visually.’

Saint Panteleimon Monastery

Yamaha’s discreet VXS series loudspeakers provided the answer to both the aesthetic and acoustic challenges. A matrix of 32 white VXS1MLs was arrayed throughout the space on existing horizontal bars beneath the ceiling, with eight white VXS3S also installed for a subtle boost to the lower frequencies. The system is powered by an XMV8140 power amplifier and managed by an MTX3 matrix processor. A Shure microphone, phantom powered from the MTX3, is hidden in the lectern, with system control by a DCP4V4S surface mount unit and Yamaha’s Wireless DCP app.

The key to the system’s programming was subtlety, ensuring that the sound of the scripture readings is completely natural, the speakers nearer the lectern delivering less volume than those further away. The MTX3’s processing ensures there is no microphone feedback, while extra input sources can be used for background music and other applications.

Belyaev and CMYK Service Head of Installation Igor Guschin worked with Dmitry Levkovsky of Yamaha Russia to specify and install the system, which provided additional challenges.

‘The refectory remained in use during the installation, meaning it had to take place during the break between the morning and evening meal. The benches are very heavy, each needing eight people to move, so there was a lot of hard work involved,’ Levkovsky says. ‘But the customer is very happy with the system and the readings are clearly audible throughout.’

‘The installation is unique because it is such a holy place,’ adds Belyaev. ‘The VXS1ML has become an ornament, or pearl necklace, located under the arches of the refectory, filling it with benevolent sound for many years. The brothers of the monastery and visiting pilgrims have thanked us for delivering the high quality sound they have waited for many years.’

A further advantage of the Yamaha solution is that the system can be easily expanded in future. It has already proved such a success that a possible further expansion, to relay the sound from the church into the refectory, has already been suggested.

More: www.yamahaproaudio.com

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