Iconyx tames acoustics at Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis
WORLD: Cignal Systems recently installed a Renkus-Heinz Iconyx system into the
Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis in Missouri, US. The HOW is know for its mosaic works, including owning one of the largest in the world. Comprising more than 41.5 million pieces, the mosaics display took more than 75 years to complete, and draws visitors from throughout the world.
The 2,000-seat cathedral's architecture is acoustically challenging, exacerbated by a large dome measuring 46m high at its centre. ‘It's an exceptionally challenging environment,’ agreed Gary Haselhorst, president of Cignal Systems. ‘There are so many concave surfaces with 360 degrees of windows. There's not a soft surface in there – marble floors, hard pews -– and there are transepts on either side that create even more reflections.
‘The old system was simply ineffective,’ he added. ‘They had about 20 12-inch two-way cabinets around the perimeter, hung at about 9m in the air. There was a very fine line between enough volume and too much volume. If we brought up the direct feed too high, the room would go into feedback.’
The solution presented itself in the form of Iconyx digitally steerable column arrays from Renkus-Heinz. Two Iconyx IC32-R-II columns were installed left and right of the altar platform. The Iconyx also offered a low profile, streamlined design that blended well with the decor.
‘As proof of concept, we took a single Iconyx 32 into the cathedral, put it stage right of the altar sanctuary area, and steered the beam away from the reflective surfaces,’ he added. ‘Even with one speaker, we were miles beyond the existing sound system. We didn't need the SPL, but we needed the low frequency control. Below 250Hz, the RT in that room is unmanageable.’
A second set of Iconyx IC16-R-II columns are mounted midway back in the room as delays. ‘We could have easily hit the back of the room with the mains, but the transepts created another issue,’ he furthered. ‘If we aimed the beam high enough to hit the back of the room, we were hitting the transepts too. Using the IC16 columns as a delay kept us from having to push the front elements too hard and hitting the transept walls. Time alignment is handled within the Iconyx software. A pair of Symetrix Radius units provides additional signal processing.
‘We took down 20 loudspeakers that were aimed all over the place, and replaced them with four sources that are aimed with precision. You can hear someone now as if you were talking to them ten feet away,’ he enthused. ‘The archbishop said that now he can pull up his old sermons and reuse them, and this time people will be able to hear them.’