Classic Chicago Church Gets Renewed with Iconyx

Chicago, IL | February, 2012 - Located in the heart of Chicago's downtown, St. John Cantius is one of the city's oldest Roman Catholic churches, with roots that date back to the influx of Polish immigrants in the 19th century. But the church's parish, which once numbered in the tens of thousands, has waned over the years, and when Reverend Frank Phillips was appointed pastor in 1988 he found a church in neglect and extreme disrepair.

Over the ensuing years Rev. Phillips has led community efforts to renovate the church and restore it to its former glory. Recently the church replaced an aging, ineffective sound system dating back many decades, installing an Iconyx IC16-R digitally steerable array system from Renkus-Heinz. As Erik Saari of Wheaton, IL-based Sound Planning Associates explains, the Iconyx system brought much-needed improved intelligibility to the sanctuary.

"Like many older sanctuaries, this one was built to enhance the sound of organ and choir," says Saari. "And as with most classic architecture, aesthetics was a concern – we were not at liberty to install a large, obtrusive system, so the Iconyx's low profile was definitely an asset."

Although the new system was intended primarily for speech reinforcement, Saari points out that it has done more than simply improve intelligibility. "One of the nice things about the Renkus-Heinz system as opposed to the other line arrays that we've used is that I was able to put in more of the low end frequencies and it didn't disrupt the acoustics of the space," says Saari. "It really added some nice warmth, especially since some of the priests there have really young voices. It's now intelligible and also a little bit warmer sounding."

The DSP-controlled directivity of the Iconyx system enables the sound to be directed to the congregation and away from walls and other reflective surfaces, greatly increasing intelligibility. "I've heard nothing but rave reviews from everybody who has been going there for many, many years," Saari reports. "It definitely sounds a lot better."

Sound Planning Associates also supplied the church with a recording system. St. John Cantius church is well known for its choir, which regularly performs Gregorian chant and Renaissance liturgical music, as well as modern sacred choral works.