|ULTRA-COMPACT ICONYX SYSTEM "SOLVES THE UNSOLVABLE" FOR HISTORIC CHURCHES
By Christian Doering, Marketing Partner,
Dynamic Market Systems
ICONYX offers a unique combination of unobtrusiveness, intelligibility and musicality for St Peter Cathedral, Erie, PA
The beautiful 19th-century St Peter Cathedral in Erie, PA
is among the first of many acoustically challenging buildings to reap the benefits of an ICONYX installation.
The new system’s designers, regional integrator Fact AV Technologies Inc.
, faced the kind of challenge that ICONYX
has already proved to be a world beater at overcoming.
Parishioners love the brick and stone building’s architectural look, and the organist and choir director enjoy the room’s six-second reverberation time. But that long reverberation had made speech intelligibility effectively unachievable with any of the cathedral’s previous sound systems, and the lack of intelligibility had been a source of complaints from the congregation for years.
Built in a traditional French Gothic style by architect Patrick Keeley, the designer of over 22 American Catholic cathedrals, and opened for worship in 1893, its interior surfaces are hardwood, marble and stone. The Cathedral seats 896 persons, and for major events, chairs are brought in bringing the number closer to 1,100.
St Peter Cathedral, Erie, PA
Older liturgical rites were all in Latin, and intelligibility was not critical with preaching being largely oratorical in style.
Newer Catholic worship
is in English and it is critical that all can hear and
participate - but the church’s lofty interior, stone
columns and highly reverberant acoustics, while
perfect for the earlier form of worship, proved to be
the enemy of speech clarity.
As far back as the 1950s attempts had been
made to solve the acoustical challenges, and
the 1992-3 renovation included new pew back speakers. “Even at its best it was inadequate,”
comments Monsignor William E. Biebel, Rector.
As so often with such a venerable building,
aesthetic considerations ruled out the usual modern
solutions of multiple distributed loudspeakers or high
power flown clusters – a much more architecturally
sympathetic approach was demanded.
Eric Johnson, owner of Fact AV Technologies, takes
up the story: “Some of the remedies that may have
worked technically were aesthetically unacceptable
to the mission.
But when Renkus-Heinz came up
with ICONYX, it really was the perfect solution. The
slim and unobtrusive design fits architecturally very
well with the church and was readily acceptable to
the bishop for installation."
|“Then, with the help of Ralph Heinz, we did a
demo of a single ICONYX column in the church,
which really sealed the issue because everyone
could tell immediately that it would solve the
church’s problems at a stroke. The applications team at Renkus-Heinz helped us with an EASE
model, and our proposed design using four columns
was approved. We were still limited as to where we
could locate the loudspeakers, so we made the best
choice of available locations that we were allowed
to use – but that actually worked out well.”
Series uses advanced technology
to provide intelligible speech and musical sound
in highly reverberant environments. Their slender
“thin stick” vertical profile mounts flat to the
wall, blending easily with both classical and
column is positioned either side of the
altar platform area with a further pair on the right and
left hand sides of the main area of the church, midway
back. Using Renkus-Heinz’s dedicated BeamWare
Lobe Selector software, the team focused the sound
directly at the seating areas while minimising direct
energy to troublesome areas and surfaces.
The result, says Eric Johnson
, is that “the sound
coverage is even throughout the church from
front to back, and the parishioners have stopped
has the last word: “We have gone
from wholesale complaining every weekend to
a quiet satisfaction. In-house surveys have been
conclusive that we have hit the mark. Volunteer
contributions from parishioners came in at over
$33,000 towards paying the bills incurred. I
am grateful to all who worked with us in this
critical project, and especially to the team from
Fact Audio who have really put in the hours and
done the homework. Finally, we have solved the