Steering Mass at the Divine Mercy Parish
USA: On July 1st 2009, neighbouring parishes Nativity of Our Lord and St Elizabeth Ann Seton joined together to form the Divine Mercy Parish. Seven years later and the church has recently inaugurated its new sanctuary a short drive north west of New Orleans, just below Lake Pontchartrain.
More than 1,820 sq-m in size, the new church building has the capacity to accommodate 950 worshippers. The interior decoration exposed trusses, a high wooden ceiling, a large stained glass panel between the narthex and the nave and other stained glass windows. Although visually striking, this all results in several acoustic challenges that were to be taken into account when selecting an audio system for the new sanctuary.
In addition to the acoustically challenging décor, the Divine Mercy Parish also hosts a contemporary mass that features amplified musical instruments as well as traditional services. Therefore, when Baton Rouge-based Technical Services Group, Inc (TSG) was called upon to design and install the audio solution, it was deemed critical for reflected sound to be kept minimal.
‘Intelligibility was a primary consideration, of course, and keeping sound off the walls and ceilings was crucial,’ recalls Arthur Hoover, owner and president of TSG. ‘Renkus-Heinz steerable beam technology is a great solution for that. The church holds traditional mass, contemporary mass with an amplified band, Spanish-language mass, and other events, and we had to figure out the acoustics of the room and provide setups for each situation.’
With the manufacturer in mind, TSG deployed a system that comprised two ICL-FR steerable arrays for the main system at the front of the church. These were integrated behind the alter into recesses in the wall and aimed so that the sound waves form an X-shaped pattern.
‘If vocal intelligibility was the only concern, we would have opted for standard Iconyx arrays,’ Mr Hoover notes. ‘But we needed extra power for amplified music, as well, and the IC Lives have power to spare. They were the right speaker system for this environment. We had to get a little bit more of a criss-cross angle with the mains than we initially expected because there was a bit too much energy hitting an opposing wall. But once we made one or two mechanical adjustments and tweaked the beam steering, it worked great.’
Providing coverage for the front few rows of the main seating area are a pair of TRX61 point-source speakers that have been placed on the steps that lead up to the elevated stage. Meanwhile, towards the back of the sanctuary two ICL-FR-Dual arrays that have been recessed into the pillars deliver delayed rear-fill.
With the Renkus-Heinz solution installed, TSG set to work on programming the system so that it would be easy to use, installing a Symetrix Radius 12x8 EX digital signal processor with an xIn 12 input expander. ‘We programmed seven or eight profiles that set the system for each type of event,’ explains Mr Hoover. ‘So a layperson can walk in and, for example, choose the “Spanish mass” profile, and the front-of-house and monitoring are automatically set up. It is pretty extensive.
‘The Renkus-Heinz IC Live system is doing a wonderful job,’ Mr Hoover concludes. ‘The support from Renkus-Heinz was fantastic; they even helped set the beam steering during the commissioning process. Now this beautiful new church has a sound system their parishioners can be proud of.’