Advancing Sound.Providing Solutions
Customize/Place order
Order/Account Status
Home Applications Venues/Articles Worship
By Mike Lethby
ICONYX provided the perfect solution for the magnificent Notre Dame du Cap Basilica, Canada

Notre Dame du Cap Basilica, Canada

A recent installation by leading Canadian integrator Siscom is another example of the power of ICONYX to tackle seemingly impossible audio challenges. The giant Basilicas of the Catholic Church are of such a cavernous size that the reflected acoustic energy propagated usually makes intelligible communication at over 25 feet effectively impossible.

Many Catholic cathedrals and churches share architectural characteristics – very high ceilings, boundary surfaces of stone, glass and similarly reflective materials, an absence of any sound absorbing materials except for the worshippers themselves – that create exceptionally long RT60s and equally low intelligibility. Many other houses of worship of all denominations pose the same set of acoustical and architectural challenges, as do many airports, train stations auditoriums, museums, lobbies and more.

Since sound systems were first invented, the pro audio world has tried its best to address this problem but to no avail. Not only has the technical challenge to date been unresolved, every option has usually had a hugely detrimental visual impact on the space. And so it proved at Notre-Dame-du-Cap Basilica in Trois-Rivieres, at the junction of the St. Maurice and St. Lawrence rivers between Montreal and Quebec.

Architect Adrian Dufresne designed this amazing Basilica in the 1950s, with the goal of providing a clear sight-line for every member of the audience. The dome towers 125 feet over the floor while the seating comfortably accomodates a total of 1660 worshippers. A sound system was installed comprising seven Altec-Lansing horns a side – which are still hidden in the Basilica’s columns, 54 feet in the air.

The subsequent fitting of a textured wall covering in some areas just before the 1964 opening ruined the consultants’ predicted sound performance, and the Basilica was obliged to live with the situation until 1971, when a local contractor installed 26 Bouyer RC-20 column loudspeakers mounted on sticks among the pews – meaning the unobstructed sight-lines were now a thing of the past.

Siscom updated the system in 1985 with BGW 320B amplifiers and Urei 539 equalizers, and the company has maintained the installation over the years. Sisco, in fact, has installed sound systems in more than 350 churches in the last 25 years, specialising in churches and some of the most acoustically challenging spaces in the country.

Left to right: Jean Giroux, Sami Midani, Hugues Dion
At NSCA 2005, where Renkus-Heinz introduced the ICONYX series, Jean Giroux and Hugues Dion were also there – seeking a ‘column type’ solution for their Houses of Worship customers. Contact Distribution’s Sami Midani says: “Jean and Hugues at Siscom had already tried every column-type product on the market, but nothing was cutting through a typical church’s reverberant field over a long distance."

"They heard ICONYX at NSCA and played with the Beamware software, so they had high expectations when it was time for a demonstration. In October 2005, we brought an IC24 to a Quebec City church and had Jean and Hugues experiment with all its possibilities. They loved it, kept our demo unit and called all those customers that have been patiently waiting for such a technology. I guess Jean was really happy.”
Jean Giroux comments: “Siscom had been waiting for years for a real solution for the highly reverberant spaces we work with. When we started in 1979 we were obviously working with conventional column loudspeakers. Analog crossovers and equalizers got better over the years, which helped us a bit. For the last 15 years, loudspeaker manufacturers fine-tuned their new creations with digital signal processing (DSP) and better measurement tools. Combining the DSP and computer capability with a high quality column loudspeaker was certainly the way to go. Renkus-Heinz did it better then anybody else and it’s going to be a tough act to follow. The ICONYX Series is a dream come true for me.”

One of the first customers on Siscom’s list was the Notre-Dame-du-Cap Basilica. Mr Jean Giroux called Father Léo-Paul Nobert (O.M.I.) at the Basilica to set an appointment for a demonstration, with Hugues Dion, installation manager at Siscom and Sami Midani, of a single Renkus-Heinz ICONYX IC24.

One of the IC32s is just visible between the two large pillars near the center
Working with the Renkus-Heinz Beamware software to set the aiming point, throw distance and lobe center, the IC24 was ready in half an hour. Walking the room with Father Nobert and head technician Benoit Marchand, everybody could feel the enthusiasm of the team to finally have a solution for this challenging room. Several STI measurements made throughout the room by Jean Giroux proved that what they believed was true: the intelligibility was amazing. The clincher was an A-B test between the existing 26-speaker sound system and a single IC24. The difference was so dramatic that there was no turning back. The Basilica kept the IC24 for a weekend and used it in a service to test it during the real thing.

The final system, after further tests, was a pair of IC32s. Unlike a traditional loudspeaker setup, adding ICONYX cabinets is not merely about gaining extra SPL; a taller array provides a tighter vertical beam, along with better low-mid pattern control and a longer throw distance that can cut through a reverberant field. As this was exactly what was needed at Notre-Dame-du-Cap, the extra benefits of the IC32s provided the ideal solution. Once the EQ had been adjusted within the Beamware software, the job was over.

Jean Giroux concludes: “Two Renkus-Heinz ICONYX IC32s have replaced a large system of loudspeakers, amplifiers, crossovers, EQs, racks and cabling – and perform far better!”

end of page   go to top