An international pilgrimage center for church-goers and visitors alike, Grace Cathedral is famous for its reproduction of Ghiberti’s Gates of Paradise, two labyrinths, stained glass windows, its medieval and contemporary furnishings, as well as its 44-bell carillon, three organs, and choirs.
Adjoining the main sanctuary is the Chapel of Grace, a charming space that serves as a more intimate environment for a wide range of functions.
To ensure flawless performance for these functions, the microphones of choice are none other than the E6 Omni and E6 Flex Omni Earset models from Menlo Park, CA-based Countryman Associates.
San Francisco-based Novo Group, Inc. serves as Grace Cathedral’s audio consultant and integration firm. Specializing in video/audio/lighting systems from small churches to the most complex AV systems of today’s mega-churches, Novo Group’s co-founder Arthur Yeap discussed the types of events that take place at the Chapel of Grace and his decision to deploy Countryman microphones.
“The Chapel resides next to Grace Cathedral’s main Nave on the south side,” Yeap explained. “Seating is configurable and ranges from 70 – 200. The facility boasts lovely acoustics, has its own Skinner pipe organ—considered by many as one of the finest small pipe organs in the country—and has numerous beautiful stained glass windows.”
“This space is home to memorial services, weddings, poetry readings, contemporary performances, and other programs. In the event that the gathering gets larger than expected, the audience can ‘overflow’ into the main sanctuary area. This is a positively stunning environment and the sound quality must absolutely be on par with every other aspect of the space, and this is precisely why I specify Countryman microphones.”
“I originally began placing Countryman’s E6 Omni Earset mics at Grace Cathedral back in 2008,” Yeap continued. “We found the sound quality of the microphone and its high gain before feedback characteristics to be exceptional. Recently, we added three Countryman E6 Flex Omni Earset mics and, as with the earlier E6 models, we are very impressed with the performance of these new microphones.”
“The E6 Flex offers very clear sound quality with great speech intelligibility, and this is a paramount consideration for any microphone in this type of environment. Equally important, the E6 Flex mics are very easy to adjust so as not to be distracting, and their size and overall design is very inconspicuous. They are barely noticeable.”
Depending upon the nature of the event taking place in the Chapel of Grace, the Countryman microphones are worn by everyone from the clergy to musicians, poets, and others. As such, the microphones are used regularly and are passed from person to person—not all of whom are accustomed to handling products of this nature.
“I’ve been impressed with the robust design of the Countryman microphones,” notes Yeap. “Not everyone handles the mics as carefully as you would hope for. The E6 mics are typically used with Sennheiser wireless systems and collectively, they are regularly outfitted in such a way that the microphone’s seemingly delicate cable gets run underneath some very ornate—and heavy—robes. Nonetheless, we’ve yet to encounter any issues.”
Yeap was equally complimentary of Countryman’s customer / technical support services, “We don’t really have any technical issues with their products because it’s a solid design. Similarly, the company’s customer service is first-rate. It’s not uncommon for us to place last minute product orders and the company routinely ships overnight. Whether we’re asking questions about the nature of a particular microphone or are requesting expedited delivery on an order, the folks at Countryman consistently deliver. They are very responsive to their customers.”
Before re-focusing his attention to the business of the day, Yeap offered this parting thought. “While its services are traditional in nature, Grace Cathedral is very open to employing the latest technology to ensure its message gets heard. In addition to the Chapel of Grace and the main Nave we’ve also deployed Countryman microphones in the multipurpose Gresham Hall / Gymnasium area.”
“These microphones consistently deliver outstanding performance. Sound quality and reliability are crucial to Grace Cathedral’s staff. They want very good quality—and that’s exactly what they’ve experienced using Countryman microphones.”