More than a decade has passed since Fr. Michael Froidurot and the planning committee at St. Gabriel’s Catholic Church in Poway, CA, set in motion their vision for a new worship space. Recently, the church unveiled their long-awaited new sanctuary to applause from the congregation and accolades from the surrounding south Poway community.
Designed in traditional cruciform style by design-build contractor T. B. Penick & Sons, Inc. and architects Hyndman & Hyndman, the church’s patience and planning are clearly evident in its beautiful architecture.
Toward the front of the church, the pulpit and altar reside beneath a massive domed wood and aluminum barreled ceiling that has been blow-torched and sanded to give it a rustic appearance. Hundreds of unfinished wood pews sit atop an expansive polished concrete floor, surrounded by a drywall interior.
The many reverberant surfaces throughout the new building posed a challenge for AMT Systems, the Santa Clarita, CA-based audio visual contractor responsible for designing and installing the church’s new audio system.
Like many contemporary churches, St. Gabriel’s incorporates music into most worship services, with live musicians and vocalists frequently featured in religious services. In addition to being aesthetically pleasing, AMT Systems had to provide a steerable system with high intelligibility and musical output.
“It’s a gorgeous looking facility, but acoustically it presented some difficult musicality and intelligibility issues,” explains Mike Shelton of AMT Systems. “Cruciform architecture presents its own special challenges. Typically you have sound bouncing all over the place, muddying the intelligibility with echoes and timing problems. It’s very hard to get even coverage in cruciform transept spaces.”
Together with St. Gabriel’s, AMT selected Renkus-Heinz Iconyx digitally steerable line array loudspeakers, with two IC32/16-R systems column-mounted on either s side of the domed ceiling.
The pastoral mics route back to a DSP processor controlled by a Crestron touch screen and iPad. All musical instrument inputs route to a Yamaha LS9 console. Both inputs remain live throughout the program or service.
Utilizing Beamware modeling software, Shelton configured shape and throw distance to direct sound to the nave and other areas that have previously been dead spaces.
Shelton reports that Beamware helped them eliminate much of the need for acoustical treatment, now only necessary on the domed ceiling to ensure maximum sound absorption from its highly reflective corrugated aluminum panels.
“The church has really perfected their use of the Iconyx technology with this audio system,” he says. “They’re extremely pleased with the musical quality and the voice intelligibility is outstanding. Everybody loves the system.”