Considered to be one of the most beautiful temples in Thailand, Wat Tha Sung or The Glass Temple – so named because of its spectacular roof made from mirrors and crystals – is situated in Thailand’s Uthai Thani province. The recent installation of a discreet L-Acoustics audio system in one of the temple complex’s newer halls has ensured that it sounds as good as the original temple looks.
The original Wat Tha Sung temple dates back to the Ayutthaya period, which dates from 1351 to 1767. By the mid-1700s the temple was derelict, but in 1789 monk Luang Pho Yai restored it, with more buildings later added to the complex. It now has many pavilions with accommodation for meditation.
One of the newer main halls, Sala 12 Rai, has recently undergone extensive renovation in preparation for being renamed 100th Birthday of Pra Rachapromyan Cathedral. The update includes the installation of an L-Acoustics loudspeaker system, comprising a combination of Kara variable curvature line arrays, ARCS Focus constant curvature line sources and coaxial X-Series cabinets.
The 30-year-old hall needed a crisp, clear sounding system, to be primarily used for chanting, sermons and meditation teaching. It required even SPL coverage of +/- 3dB across its entire area; a challenge made more complicated because its structural design includes a large number of pillars located relatively close together.
Bangkok-based Vision One was introduced to the committee that runs Wat Tha Sung by one of the directors of Workpoint Entertainment Public Company Limited, which owns the Siam Pic-Ganesh Center of Performing Arts, where Vision One had already successfully installed an L-Acoustics Kiva system.
“Mr Alvin Koh, L-Acoustics applications engineer for Asia, was involved in the project from day one,” says Vision One’s Tanapat ‘Tony’ Mongkolkosol. “He visited the site and discussed the requirements with the temple’s committee, including the project manager Monk Mongkolwate, the senior advisor/architect Mr Chumnumporn Chavananont and the interior designer. The support from L-Acoustics helped us to convince the committee that our solution would be the best one to solve the many challenges that the hall presented.”
These challenges included the central part of the hall being around 100m wide by 120m long, with a ceiling height of 23m – equivalent to the area of a football pitch and the height of a five or six-storey house. And, while the new design for the hall removed several of the original pillars, 48 remained.
In addition to the acoustic challenges, the speaker system also had to be as discreet as possible, in order not to intrude upon the atmosphere of the temple.
Using Soundvision software, Tony and his team produced over 20 system designs to ensure that they studied all of the potential solutions. The final design comprised 48 Kara, eight SB18i, 50 X12, four ARCS Focus and six X8, all powered by 30 LA4X amplifiers.
“Most of the loudspeakers were flown from the main beams, so we specified the white version of the cabinets to match them,” says Tony. “For the main system we split the Kara into six clusters of eight in three zones, with each zone comprising two clusters, and coupled four SB18i with eight Kara (for both left and right hangs) in zone one at the front of the hall.”
As well as the main PA system, a distributed system is deployed to cover the blind spots and acoustic shadows caused by the pillars.
“Avoiding reflections is the key to achieving a low-level, dispersed sound that still provides an ‘in the face’ sensation. With 48 pillars, curtains and side walls to take into account, a lot of attention was paid to determine the best locations for the speakers,” Tony continues. “We installed 34 X12 as aisle fills and 16 X12 as stage monitors. Four X8 provide front fills and two X8 are control room monitors. Finally, four ARCS Focus have been deployed as front stage fills.”
The carefully-designed placement of the loudspeakers ensured that Vision One was able to achieve its aim of delivering a constant SPL throughout the entire temple, with superb intelligibility.
“The Abbot, the project manager, architect, interior designer and all responsible are very happy with the sound quality that the L-Acoustics system has delivered,” says Tony. “They all agree that the hall now enjoys the best sound quality of its 30-year history.”
“We are very grateful to everyone at Vision One and the L-Acoustics team for all of their hard work,” adds Monk Monkolwate. “We now have the ideal solution for delivering the best ever sound in this incredible hall.”