The BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha – one of the most influential spiritual institutions in India – is known for its awe-inspiring temples and communication technologies. While the fascinating temples the institution builds across the world play testimony to this, a multitude of lesser grade worship places grace the globe. One such place of worship is the Bengaluru Swaminarayan Mandir.
The mandir (temple) – built at Rajajinagar Industrial Layout, features as its central focal point a prayer hall measuring 110 ft x 90 ft x 21ft. A pillar-less hall with marble flooring and gypsum ceiling surrounded by arches and pillars made of marble, the environment created a major acoustic challenge.
That it hosts spiritual discourses by Swamis coming across from the country and outside, apart from regular devotional renditions, speech intelligibility compromise was a major concern. The management approached a wide spectrum of professional solution providers to address the problem.
Even as they were deliberating on the possible solution, architect Kunal of locally-based Kunal Architects – who actually designed the temple – happened to meet Gautam N Shah of Hansa Pictures at an event. Having seen the mandir management trying in vain too many solutions, Kunal asked if Hansa could to something to resolve the issue.
“That’s how we got in,” explains Gautam. He visited the site and observed that the hall was indeed bad in terms of acoustics. While a perfect sound reinforcement was imperative there, the challenge was to do it without making any changes to the interiors – for, architecture and aesthetics were still a big thing.
Being an ardent fan and long-time user and believer of Tannoy, Gautam put the issue to Krishna Pratap Singh of Tannoy India. Looking at the site specs and brief, Krishna immediately came up with a solution. But he knew it couldn’t be sold just by the catalogue. That it was pretty new, and its performance needed to be demonstrated, Krishna and Gautam brought the systems to the site for a live demo.
“The Swaminarayan Sanstha doesn’t take anything on hearsay,” Krishna says, adding, “they are known to be the best of perfectionists.”
Thus they brought the new Tannoy Q-Flex 32 speaker system to demonstrate in front of the Swamis. The system was configured to reach the first row and continue till the last row uniformly. Saral Jeevan Swami, the main Swami at the mandir – while he was amazed at the sound quality of the unassuming slender column speakers – tested them repeatedly asking his devotees to hear him while moving all around the prayer hall.
“Though the answer was ‘yes,’ it took four hours of testing,” recalls Gautam. A week later, they were summoned for yet another demo in front of the decision-making bastion of Swamis. That the day fell on Sunday, the hall had a capacity crowd, and posed a real test which lasted for eight hours.
The Swamis were pleased, and thus moved in the first Tannoy Q-Flex 32 into the country.
“The system is basically a combination of multiples of small drivers lined up in an array, self-powered and connected via a simple Cat 5 cable,” explains Gautam. “The entire system is controlled by a software that helps configure sound throw in the given direction and space, by means of an intuitive BeamEngine GUI.”
According to Krishna, the Q-Flex 32 brings in a very natural sound even as it weaves an overall intelligibility. Coming in six variants, the system can be custom chosen depending upon the specs and size of the space.
Hansa had complimented the audio solution by means of a combination of Soundcraft EPM-12 mixer and a few units of wired mics from Shure and Sennheiser.
While the devotees are generically happy with the audio experience, the Swamis were particularly pleased that the system helped their mandir sound perfectly, without tampering with its interiors.