Landmark Oklahoma City Church Finds a Sound Solution with Iconyx
Oklahoma City, OK, June 2012. The distinctive white vaulted roof of Oklahoma City's First Christian Church stands as an eye-catching landmark to residents and visitors alike. One of this city's founding houses of worship, First Christian Church has inhabited several locations since its 1889 origin, moving to its current location in 1956.
The massive domed structure - referred to by local press as "The First Christian Church of Tomorrow" during its dedication ceremony - was designed by R. Duane Conner of Conner & Pojezny Designs, a congregation member during the 1950s. The expansive, thin-shelled concrete dome covers the main sanctuary, which seats 1200 in theater-style pews.
The sanctuary houses a large pipe organ and frequently features performances by symphonic orchestras, bell choirs and other chorale groups.
While the building has won much acclaim as an architectural masterpiece, it has been equally disparaged as an acoustical nightmare, its concave ceiling and hard surfaces creating a tremendously reverberative environment that is certainly one of a kind. Spoken word intelligibility has long been an ongoing struggle, with the church going through numerous sound systems over the past 50 years in a ceaseless attempt to achieve an acceptable audio quality.
"First Christian Church is by far the most acoustically challenging space I've ever experienced," reports Danny Nix, sales and marketing manager at AVL Systems Design, the Oklahoma-based audio video designer-integrator responsible for the sound system upgrade.
"They had invested a great deal of time and money into several different audio systems over the years, and were pretty much ready to give up on finding a system that would suitably meet their requirements. That's when we presented them with the Renkus-Heinz Iconyx solution."
"We realized that any system we considered had to meet certain performance requirements, and still deliver clear & articulate sound to every seat in the house," says Marc Pierce, President & Owner of AVL Systems Design. "We exhaustively studied technical specs & solutions from manufacturers to maintain a balance between quality and value, so our client would receive the best product necessary to accurately meet their needs and also maintain budgetary criteria."
Pierce, along with AVL's director of engineering, Kenny Kendrick, designed First Christian's new audio system using Iconyx digitally steerable array column loudspeakers from Renkus-Heinz. Two Iconyx IC16-R loudspeakers are surface-mounted high on the walls to either side of the proscenium. The Iconyx steerable beam technology enables sound to be focused downward, away from the domed ceiling and towards the main floor seating area.
"It's literally the first system that has worked for them," says Nix. "The difference is like night and day."
As often happens with classic architecture, aesthetics prevented AVL from extending cabling to the Iconyx cabinets. AVL responded with a highly innovative solution. "We are transmitting the signal wirelessly using an AKG in-ear monitor system, routed through the DSP to power the speakers," explains Nix. "It has worked really well and the end result is exceptional sound quality with no visible wires." A custom paint job by Renkus-Heinz further adds to the Iconyx cabinets' low profile appearance.
AVL's upgrade for the church also included a video component, installing a pair of Digital Projection E-Vision WXGA projectors with long throw lenses.
The projectors fire onto dual Stewart 14' by 8' film screens. Two Samsung 400DX-2 46-inch LCD screens and an Analog Way EFD-341 high-resolution video switcher/scaler complete the system.
AVL's Nix reports the church is so pleased with the sound quality of their new Iconyx system that they are planning additional upgrades elsewhere on the campus using more Renkus-Heinz gear.