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Audio Upgrade for a Reverbrant Church

Jan 25, 2012 3:48 PM

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Immaculate Conception Church in Traverse City, Mich., is enjoying a major upgrade to its sound system. The Tannoy QFlex speaker system designed and installed by Perfect World Studios is getting positive reviews from parishioners, visitors, and the clergy. Immaculate Conception is an old-style cathedral built in the 1950s and, like most Catholic churches, is highly reverberant with vaulted ceilings that are more than 30ft. high, stucco walls, stained glass, tile, and natural wood.

“We needed to provide high quality, even coverage to the seating area,” says Jack Conners of Perfect World. “While that didn’t require a lot of sound pressure level, it’s still a challenge in a 300-capacity, two-story room with reverberation time in excess of 3 seconds and no acoustic treatment.”

The previously installed speakers were a central cluster mounted at the ceiling, and while the system worked reasonably well for many years, intelligibility was always an issue. The primary use is for speech reinforcement. The ability to target specific areas using QFlex was crucial to the success of the project, specifically in keeping sound off of the ceiling and rear wall. “QFlex uses a highly advanced beam-steering algorithm that allows precise control over the throw of the loudspeaker,” Conners says. “You can literally focus the sound on the pews and away from the ceiling and back wall. The result is that no matter where you sit, you hear the direct sound from the loudspeakers with much higher speech intelligibility. It’s clear, focused, very high quality sound.”

The two QFlex speakers are placed to the left and right of the altar and mounted approximately 8ft. off the floor. “The most difficult part of the installation was running the cabling for the arrays,” Conners says. “The walls are stucco, but with cement block and steel beams behind them. Randy O’Connor, maintenance director at the church, found a route through the walls, and once the cabling and brackets were installed, the speakers went up easily.”

The church purchased new head-worn wireless microphones and new microphones for the ambo and podium. Some pre-existing components were reused including the audio mixer and the amplifier used to drive additional loudspeakers in the vestibule, cry room, and under the choir loft. Choir reinforcement is handled with a separate system from the rear loft to maintain source localization.

Product At Work: Tannoy QFlex

QFlex is a range of digitally steerable, multi- channel, array speaker systems for the professional install market. Qflex is designed as a complete solution for applications with difficult acoustics. Flex is able to create an asymmetrical pattern which allows similar SPL's both in the near and far field. It is able to steer the beam away from surfaces that cause reflections to frequencies beyond 12kHz.

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