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Making The Word Heard—A Showcase Of Loudspeakers In Church Applications

A range of recent designs from around the globe

By PSW Staff February 8, 2013

It’s not a secret that an increasing number of churches are adopting sophisticated production technology and using it to great effect, including implementing sound reinforcement systems that would be well-capable of supporting larger scale concert tours and high-end performing arts centers.

At the forefront of these systems are the loudspeakers, and for larger venues, they’re often in line array format.

Column loudspeakers have also become a popular choice, particularly models that offer “beam steering” to help keep excessive energy off of reflective surfaces. In combination with other system elements—processing in particular—these loudspeakers are expected to deliver a high degree of spoken word intelligibility as well as dynamic, full-range music. And everything in between.

Let’s take a look at some recent loudspeaker approaches at larger churches from around the globe.

Lund Cathedral, Sweden

The country’s largest and oldest church (dating all the way back to the year 1080 in the town of Lund, Scania), has implemented RHAON-equipped Renkus-Heinz Iconyx digitally steerable arrays. In normal use, the cathedral seats 1,800 but can expand to accommodate another 800 for major events.

The cavernous facility has long proved a challenge in terms of achieving adequate sound reinforcement. The existing system was inadequate in terms of audio distribution and quality. Further, after the acoustics of the space were analyzed, the cathedral’s architect decided that any new loudspeakers should be mounted flat on the wall rather than tilted forward.

Svensk Music TTS of Göteborg, installer on the project, selected the Renkus-Heinz Iconyx approach, and in the process reduced the number of loudspeakers in the church from more than 40 to just 14, including the recent addition of a further IC16/8-R-II active array above the altar to bolster coverage to the congregation.

(click to enlarge)

Specifically, a pair of IC24-R arrays cover the central area of the nave, each delivering four separate beams of sound, while a combination of IC16-R and IC8-R arrays cover other areas with an IC7 in the crypt. The IC16/8-RII incorporates the coaxial transducers with triple tweeter arrays driven by multichannel high-current amplifiers, allowing up to eight individually steerable multiple beams from each unit. The triple tweeter “array within an array” design reduces the distance between HF sources for improved high frequency performance with consistent broad horizontal dispersion and reduced grating lobes.

“The church came to us because they wanted an intelligent, efficient solution that wouldn’t need to be changed every few years,” says Björn Carlsson of Svensk Music TTS. “Renkus-Heinz won on sound quality, proven technology and its very special directivity control.”  The entire system is under digital control and distribution via MediaMatrix NION, which can also be accessed via iPad remote control.

Watermark Community Church, Dallas

The new 3,500-seat main sanctuary incorporates a new system designed by Acoustic Dimensions of Dallas and installed by Clair Brothers Audio Systems that is headed by L-Acoustics KUDO arrays.

A dozen KUDO enclosures from the previous Westmark facility were moved to the new room and supplemented to create a new system built around left and right arrays of eight KUDO loudspeakers flanked by low-frequency arrays comprised of six SB28 enclosures.

Just to the outside of the subwoofers on both sides are three additional KUDO cabinets flown in a horizontal configuration to address the out fill areas of the wide fan-shaped seating area.

Five mini-arrays – each with three KIVAs – are flown above the balcony for delay, while a pair of coaxial 12XT enclosures targets the far corner balcony areas. All loudspeakers are driven by 19 LA8 amplified controllers.

(click to enlarge)

“We had originally designed the system four years ago with scalability in mind, knowing that we could move it to the permanent space and add a few more enclosures as needed,” explains Robert Rose, Acoustic Dimensions senior consultant-VP, adding that the church’s only criticism of the previous room’s PA stemmed from where a few discrete seating sections had been addressed with conventional fill loudspeakers.

“It was somewhat obvious when you’d transition out of KUDO’s pattern to the other boxes,” he says. “For example, the new sanctuary is bordered by catslides that connect the main floor seating section to the balcony. On each side of the main PA, we hung horizontal arrays of KUDO to cover those areas, which worked out really well. It tonally matched up much better with the mains this time.

“Plus, KUDO’s adjustable louvers really helped us extend the coverage down front and keep a much tighter push up to the top.”

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