Building an icon: Church of the Russian Armed Forces

Standing tall at the heart of a national memorial complex, the Church of the Russian Armed Forces in Kubinka, Russia, stands out as an interconnected giant home to hosting national events. Reece Webb reports.

Seated in the centre of the sprawling Memory Lane Museum Complex (covered in Inavate November 2020), the Church of the Russian Armed Forces sits as the crown jewel of a sprawling memorial to the Soviet armed forces of old and the Russian armed forces of today as well as the centrepiece of national events in Russia.

Located in the military themed Patriot Park in Kubinka,the awe-inspiring church is dedicated to the 75th anniversary of the Great Patriotic War (The eastern front of World War Two) and marks the Russian Armed Forces’ first foray into church building. This first of a kind build required a professional and world beating AV integration to meet the momentous status of the building.

Avilex was chosen to deliver this project, having worked on numerous projects within Patriot Park. The integrator was given the momentous task of delivering the complete project not just inside the church but in the sprawling outside areas surrounding the church and museum.

Alexey Samokhin, creative director, Avilex explained: “The decision to build the church was made three years ago and because we have a good relationship with the customer, they gave us the task. They wanted the best possible sound system in the church. We had a very short timeframe with the museum, but we had a comfortable timeframe for the church to design and build.

“The military had never built a church before, so we reviewed how it usually happens, what the needs of the church are and how events happen inside the church. In Russia, there aren’t many churches equipped with modern technologies, so we visited the Christ the Saviour Cathedral in Saint Petersburg to review how the technology works. That cathedral was driven by Meyer Sound and we also decided to use Meyer Sound.”

The brief for the church focused primarily on sound reinforcement inside the building, with screens and interactive kiosks outside the building to allow national eventsto take place in the outside area of the church.

Samokhin said: “The military are not responsiblefor the operation of the church, they didn’t give us any rules as to where exact places sound reinforcement should be, so we worked with the client and referenced the Saint Petersburg church and learned from the Vatican to discover everything we could.”

The church is comprised of two sections: the higher and the lower church, with a Meyer Sound system serving as the lifeblood of the sound reinforcement system.

Samokhin: “The main church has two Meyer Sound CAL96 columns and four CAL32 loudspeakers with a Galaxy network platform for processing. We were also briefed that all equipment should be hidden as much as possible, so we painted all of the columns and other visible equipment to be as discreet as possible.

“The Meyer Sound system has very advanced sound adjustment features and the materials inside of the church are not ‘acoustically friendly’. There is metal on the floor, concrete on the walls and this processing was really a requirement, we made a lot of effort to make it sound right.”

Sennheiser wireless vocal sets are used to cover the church’s ranging microphone needs, including SKM 6000 BK A5-A8 wireless live vocal microphones, MKE 2-4 Gold-C lavalier microphones and ME 34 + MZH3062 L gooseneck microphones, alongside a Digico S31 used as a mixing desk.

„We kept everything digital by sending all signals over Dante; the customer was very impressedby the audio as they didn’t expect that a sound like this would be achievable.“ – Alexey Samokhin, Avilex

As a unique project for both the client and Avilex, the installation was not without its challenges as Samokhin clarifies: “We needed to hide the equipment and special placements for the speakers were reserved for us. We could not choose any place that we wanted for the placement of equipment. We needed to put them in the areas that were available, and from that point we needed to adjust the direction of the sound to make the sound clear and correct, we managed to achieve really good results with this. We kept everything digital by sending all signals over Dante; the customer was very impressed by the audio as they didn’t expect that a sound like this would be achievable.”

“We have a lot of Panasonic PTZ cameras. In the design phase, we proposed cameras for broadcast purposes, but we now have a lot of presets for online webcasting to YouTube. All the events that happen in the church go to YouTube by using the PTZ cameras.

Increasingly, churches are looking for additional meeting spaces within their facilities and the Church of the Russian Armed Forces is no exception as Samokhin explains: “This church looks like a small office inside with a meeting room and conference room. We built a big conference room as a meeting room with digital facilities for video conferencing, screen presentation and digital collaboration.”

The space is equipped with 98-in LG flat panel displays as well as Televic wired and wireless units for conferencing purposes,supported by Sennheiser microphones.

Moving outside into the open air, guests are greeted by a large open space surrounded by the Memory Lane Museum Complex, an area that is now host to large scale national events televised across Russia and beyond.

Samokhin said: “There is a big square outside. It is already used for big celebrations. and we did the sound reinforcement of all the area with pretty nice results. After opening, the military guys loved the square in front of the church and wanted to use it for all kinds of events. They like to use it because it’s quite big and many of the events were moved from Moscow’s Red Square to this square. We put in a lot of connection points for broadcasters, it’s fibre optic, 3XL and hybrid. There are connection points for portable broadcasters and big retractable LED screens.”

“The outside area required a massive amount of sound reinforcement, using 76 RCF CS6940EN column loudspeakers and 252 RCF HD 3216/T horn speakers throughout the entire area with calculations and adjustments made in RCF’s Easy Shape Designer software to ensure consistent and clear coverage throughout the entire outdoor memorial complex. When people arrive on site via the parking lot, they can already hear what’s happening inside the church. From the parking lot to the main square, we have horns by RCF for announcements. The whole area is covered by the sound, so that everyone can feel like they’re inside the church from the point of arrival.”

Samokhin added: “All of our systems are integrated together by Dante, allowing us to do announcements to the outdoor systems, inside the church and inside the museum, all of them are linked together across the complex. It’s even connected with other areas of the Patriot Park.”

Since opening, the church area has seen a number of improvements and upgrades including the inclusion of retractable LED screens from Screen LED.

 Samokhin: “The screens were a part of the complete project but were delayed because of the Covid-19 situation and they finally arrived in October. They look like a container with a retractable screen that goes up from the container. They are 9x5 metre displays and they are movable, able to be moved to other areas of the park when needed due to the park’s size and they are also integrated with the rest of the park’s systems so there are lots of connection points around the park when the screens can be connected to receive signal.

“There is also an outdoor part of the museum where we did the sound reinforcement and there are interactive kiosks from Vconn that allow visitors to navigate around the territory. All of this is linked into the one system so it’s still in Biamp, CobraNet and Dante. It’s all linked together to show any content on the screens or any content on the speakers to flexibly change everything from one workstation.”

Reflecting on the project, Samokhin finished: “I still think that sound is harder than video because if you have good video content, people will ignore how it looks if you have good content. For sound, even if you have good audio, the quality of loudspeakers and the right adjustments really matter.When you do the reinforcement of such a large outdoor area, it’s really state of the art to make it work. “We have had very positive feedback. It’s a very important and unique design for one of the top destinations for tourists at the moment. I suspect that next year will see us facing new challenges.The park is constantly developing all the time and that’s a process that never stops.“

Kit List

Video

LG LCD displays

Panasonic AW-HE series PTZ cameras, AV-HS45OE vision mixer

Screen LED C1-P59-9-5-N LED screens

VCONN Q557SSI-P touchscreen kiosks

Audio

Biamp Vocia VA-8600c networked multi channel amplifier, Tesira Server-IO

Meyer Sound CAL, UP-4slim,MM-4XPD loudspeakers, MJF-208 stage monitor

Neumann KM 184 microphones

Polycom Group 700 videoconferencing system

RCF L 2406-T, MQ60H-B, MR 44 T, CS 6940EN, HD3216/T, P 3115-T loudspeakers, HL2290 arrays

Sennheiser EM6000 digital receivers, SKM6000, MKE 2-4, HSP 4-3, MKH 416P48 U3, E 935, ME34 + MZH 3062,EW 500 microphones

Control and distribution

Digico S31/D2 digital mixer

Extron IPCP Pro 555 controller, XTP II CrossPoint3200 matrix switcher, SMP 351(SSD 400) streaming processor

Televic Confidea wired delegate units, Plixus AE-Plixus AE-R central units 

Photo credit: LSL, Pyrofest