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Steerable Array For Large-format Church, St. Ann’s Catholic Church

Apr 9, 2012 3:15 PM

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When it was built in the 19th century, St. Ann’s Roman Catholic Church in Penetanguishene, Canada, employed the acoustical technology of its day—architectural ceiling curves and reflective surfaces designed to amplify and sculpt the sound, propelling an orator’s voice to the back of the nearly 200-foot-long sanctuary.

“When we came in, they had a 1970s solution, with speakers on the walls every five pews—no delay, no time alignment,” says Roger Robinson of CHS Productions. CHS designed and installed the audio upgrade for St. Ann’s; he’s found increasing demand for solving intelligibility problems in historical cathedrals and large churches.

Robinson says that 15 years ago it was a problem he wouldn’t have been eager to tackle, but steerable line arrays have dramatically changed the options for taming big, reflective churches. And further, since these churches often deliver a highly visual experience through paintings, icons, and architecture, the speakers must be inconspicuous.

CHS used the Renkus-Heinz IC24-R DSP-driven vertical array, consisting of three IC8-R modules joined into one column. Using Renkus-Heinz’s DSP algorithms and BeamWare interface software, CHS Productions determined that a single IC24-R could be installed almost invisibly on the right front wall and achieve accurate and natural reproduction of speech.

“We were able steer the sound beam into the exact location where people are sitting and keep these audio beams off the wall,” says Robinson, who along with senior design engineer Godfried van Rooji went through the rigorous Iconyx certification.

Product at Work: Renkus-Heinz IC24-R-II

The IC24-R consists of 24 identical co-axial drivers. Each co-axial speaker has its own amplifier module. The BeamWare interface and built-in DSP allows each module’s time delay and volume to be adjusted separately. Multiple sonic beams can be individually shaped and aimed from a single Iconyx array using the software-controlled DSP. The acoustic center of the array can be raised or lowered electronically because all array elements are identical and equidistant. The Iconyx enclosure mounts flush to walls for architectural blending.

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