With its massive glass doors and smooth tile interior, the Sri Sathya Sai Premamruthamashram in Muddenahalli, India is an awe-inspiring place of devotion. These very same features also make the edifice a highly reflective – and therefore acoustically challenging – space. Coupled with the sheer size of the hall, which can seat close to 10,000 faithful, it was clear that a sound system was required inside the venue to maximise intelligibility during talks, concerts, and devotional activities. For this landmark project an L-Acoustics Kara system, provided by the French manufacturer’s Certified Distributor Provider for India, New Delhi-based HiTech Audio Systems, offered such a solution.
“For the management of Sri Sathya Sai Premamrutham, the project is a milestone and the audio install was a prime consideration,” adds Sri Sathya Sai Premamrutham’s, Bharat Kumar. “We didn’t want anyone to blame the acoustics of the hall for bad sound; rather, we wanted a company that could fix the acoustic environment with their system. We found out about L-Acoustics and thought they could provide the solution we needed, then we discovered there was only one authorised distributor for India – HiTech Audio.”
“As the India distributor of L-Acoustics, we wanted to provide the best system to our client; one that would deliver the consistent audio quality they required,” explains Rajan Gupta, Managing Director of HiTech Audio Systems. “The auditorium has a high reverberation time and we wanted to achieve a very precise sound, particularly for music, to create a soothing spiritual ambience. A Kara system would allow us to do this.”
The installation comprises a main left and right PA with six Kara and three SB18 subs per side flown in a cardioid pattern next to the Kara, with a centre fill of three Kara. To accommodate the enormous size of the venue, delays of four Kara and two SB18 subs per side were added.
J Davis Prosound & Lighting, which has provided AV and lighting installations across India for over two decades, assisted HiTech Audio with the installation.
“L-Acoustics systems are based on a total solutions approach including all enclosures, rigging, amplification, and DSP,” says Santana Davis, owner of J Davis Prosound & Lighting. “This results in a highly predictive, standard system with control and monitoring that satisfies the performance requirements of the venue.”
HiTech’s Senior Application Engineer, Kallol Nath adds, “The venue is a highly reflective zone with a reverb time of 4.5 seconds. This was the biggest challenge as we have to provide direct sound to the congregants who visit the auditorium. To ensure a clean, natural sound throughout the prayer hall we have also installed eight 5XT as front-fills and two X12 as side-fills, positioned directly under the main PA and at a close vicinity to the stage.”
The expansive interior of the auditorium, which measures 60 x 40 metres features a high ceiling that houses hundreds of LED lights. This presented an additional challenge as there was a lack of rigging points, which needed to be created during the two-week installation period.
L-Acoustics Application Engineer, Germain Simon, who provided the system design using L-Acoustics Soundvision modelling software, also travelled to Muddenahalli to assist with final testing and tuning of the system.
“From the pre-installation stage, experts from L-Acoustics were involved in this project,” adds Nath. “They designed the entire system installation in Soundvision. This was helpful to me when I was performing the installation as I had a clear picture of the sound flow across the auditorium.”
While the project was not without its challenges, Davis says the experience, and the outcome, have been “very positive”. A previously-installed LED video wall provides seated audience members a clear view of what is happening on stage and the new L-Acoustics Kara system now enables everyone to hear just as clearly. “Everything sounds clearer, fuller, and the auditorium engineer is getting a better picture of the sound in the venue,” remarks Davis.
“I know that nothing comes easy in our profession, but with L-Acoustics the end result is always marvelous,” concludes Nath. “Now devotees can experience a truly tranquil sound in this sanctuary.”