Two churches, two challenges, one solution

Published: WORSHIP

Two churches, two challenges, one solution

USA: At the head of Covington, Kentucky sits an example of 19th century Italian Renaissance Revival architecture displayed inside Mother of God Catholic Church. Meanwhile, 500 miles away in America’s capital Washington DC, at the Saint John Paul II National Shrine is found a former meeting and exhibition space that now serves as the Redemptor Hominis Chapel. Although widely differing in architecture, both sanctuaries suffered from acoustical challenges that would be remedied with similar solutions.

To provide the contemporary music heard during Mother of God’s services, David Walters, principal consultant at Stan Roller and Associates, designed a system that has seen Meyer Sound CAL 96 loudspeakers installed in custom-colours, camouflaging them against the architecture. The consultant also called for the rear wall to be acoustically treated, removing slap echoes and replacing the old loudspeaker cabinets with beam-steering column speakers. Systems integrator, George Smith of Smithall Electronics was on-hand for the installation.

‘We are so thrilled with what we are hearing now,’ enthuses Cindy Duesing, who directs the church’s contemporary music ensemble. ‘For the first time we can really hear each other. Now we can distinguish individual voices and instruments – instead of hearing mush.’

The solution has been configured in spilt beam formation with the top 32 of a combined 64 drivers employing a 10-degrees vertical beam covering the middle and rear seating-areas with a throw of approximately 30m. The lower 32 drivers evenly cover the front of the sanctuary with a beam of 20-degrees.

‘I presented three options for loudspeaker columns, with Meyer Sound as the premium option,’ explains Mr Walters. ‘Here, I must give credit to Cindy Duesing, who headed the committee, because she pushed hard for the best solution. Musically, the CALs sound just stupendous. In fact, this is probably the best column array room I’ve ever done.’

In spite of the building’s reverberant acoustics, intelligibility is now reportedly excellent. Mr Walter has since taken STI readings of .65 and above throughout the 600-seat sanctuary.

Over in Washington, an acoustic was required that would be suitable for a more traditional style of catholic worship within the Redemptor Hominis Chapel. Supplying direct reinforcement for speech as well as some music are two CAL 64 column array speakers, specified by acoustic consultancy Jaffe Holden.

The beam angle and vertical spread of the CAL speakers were calibrated to distribute even, intelligible sound to the rear pews over 27m away. ‘Of all the beam-steering columns out there, Meyer Sound CALs are exceptional in both their sound quality and controllability,’ notes Jaffe Holden’s Andrew Nagel.

Also recommended by Jaffe Holden was Meyer Sound’s Constellation acoustic system. ‘The room dimensions and ceiling height were dictated by the existing structure and couldn’t be expanded,’ recalls Mark Reber, principal at Jaffe Holden. ‘By applying specific absorptive treatments together with the active acoustics of Constellation, we were able to re-balance and enhance the acoustical signature of the room. The result can range from subtle to dramatic, and it is remarkably effective.’

A D-Mitri digital audio platform manages the system. A total of 14 miniature condenser mics handle the ambient room sensing, which is reproduced by 18 MM-4XP self-powered loudspeakers and 13 Stella-8C installation loudspeakers as well as 10 MM-XP subwoofers.

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