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Renkus-Heinz ICONYX IC2 At Heart Of System Serving New St. Mary Magdalen Catholic Church In NC

AVCON deploys six IC2s to deliver speech and full-range music in reverberant sanctuary

By Keith Clark September 11, 2017

A perspective of the new sanctuary of St. Mary Magdalene Catholic Church in Apex, NC, where coverage is delivered by six Renkus-Heinz IC2s.

After two years of construction, the new St. Mary Magdalene Catholic Church in Apex, NC opened its doors this year, welcoming a capacity crowd of about 1,450 congregants, with Cary, NC-based, design/build AV systems integration firm AVCON deploying a system headed by Renkus-Heinz ICONYX IC2 steerable loudspeakers.

The sanctuary hass 30-foot-high ceilings, granite walls, plenty of stained glass windows, tile floors, and other hard surfaces. Although not as “live” as many classic cathedrals and older churches, it has plenty of reverberation. The church has transepts as well, so covering the entire sanctuary required multiple loudspeakers.

Services are a blend of contemporary worship, with electric and electronic instruments, and traditional worship, featuring a variety of acoustic instruments (except drums) and anywhere from four to 35 singers. The overall goal was delivering clear, intelligible speech as well as acoustic and amplified music, with aesthetics another major consideration in selecting and placing loudspeakers.

“We need a steerable loudspeaker that could focus energy on the floor and keep it off the walls and ceilings and that could deliver high speech intelligibility, as well as good music playback,” explains AVCON design engineer Eb Strickland. “The Renkus-Heinz IC2 provided all of that. We’ve used ICONYX loudspeakers before but this was our first use of the IC2, and we were very pleased with it.

“Renkus-Heinz column line arrays on the walls might have worked in the space but we could not find places to mount them,” he continues. “We needed a loudspeaker with a small form factor so it wouldn’t be obtrusive hanging from the ceiling. The IC2 is quite compact, and Renkus-Heinz custom painted them to match the décor. Up in the ceiling, they’re out of sight and out of mind.”

AVCON installed six IC2s in St. Mary Magdalene Church’s sanctuary. “We have two in the center that cover the main seating and the nave, from the front all the way back to the hall,” Strickland recounts. “Then we have left and right corner arrays that cover the sides and far left and far right speakers to cover the transepts.”

AVCON president/CEO Frank Yarborough adds, “There’s always a fine line between trying to maintain a traditional worship space with high reverberation and having clarity of speech. That creates a conflict, almost a contradiction, in the approach. In a space like this, you have beautiful reverberation and warmth, kind of like singing in the shower. People love that feel of openness and airiness. But intelligibility is an issue.”

Yarborough also notes that hearing speech clearly can be challenging to begin with because the Catholic Church enjoys a multicultural range of priests, bishops, and others who often speak different dialects, making it difficult for some parishioners to hear and understand. “Add to that the acoustical challenges of a big, majestic space,” he continues. “Renkus-Heinz ICONYX loudspeakers provide excellent clarity, as well as the directivity and control needed to keep the sound on the congregants and off of walls, ceilings, and other hard surfaces. The custom-painted IC2s don’t conflict with the beauty of the worship space, and they complement the room with their technology.”

The system has exceeded church sound engineer Scott Todd’s expectations: “At first, I was not optimistic when AVCON wanted to put a bunch of speakers up in the ceiling, 30 feet up in the air, with granite walls and lots of glass and other hard surfaces. But after working with the Renkus-Heinz sound system in the church for weeks, I am very impressed.

“The way AVCON set the system up, it sounds great, and you get an almost identical sound no matter where you are in the room. The speakers steer the sound where it’s supposed to be, which helps us keep the volume and reverberation at the right level. We’ve been extremely pleased with how everything has come together. I’m a Renkus-Heinz IC2 convert; I love it.”


About Keith

Keith Clark
Keith Clark

Editor In Chief, ProSoundWeb & Live Sound International
Keith has covered professional audio and systems contracting for more than 25 years, authoring hundreds of articles in addition to hands-on work in every facet of publishing. He fostered the content of ProSoundWeb (PSW) from its inception, helping build pro audio’s largest portal website, and has also served for several years as editor in chief of Live Sound International (LSI).
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