Needham, MA, August 2012. St Joseph Parish has been a part of this community for more than 100 years, beginning with a humble wooden church in 1894 and expanding its campus over the years to include a convent, elementary and middle schools, and a range of ministries. In 1966, having outgrown its existing sanctuary, the church completed construction of their current building.
The space has served them well for more than four decades, though there have always been sonic challenges. The room’s architecture provides good acoustics for the traditional choir and organ arrangements, but the sanctuary’s spoken word intelligibility left a bit to be desired.
"It's a rectangular space with a flat ceiling and lots of right angles," explains Zeke Zola, Install Manager at Boston Light and Sound, the company behind the design-build project. The walls are all brick and there's minimal acoustical dampening other than carpeting in the aisles. So it's a rather reverberant space, and they've always struggled with intelligibility and coverage."
The church's sound system had evolved in piecemeal fashion over several years, and included a distributed system along the walls that created more problems than it solved. "They had no loudspeakers at the front of the room, but three or four along the side walls, and they were not time-aligned," says Zola. "So you were getting the sound from the front, mixed with the sounds from two or three different loudspeakers, depending on where you were sitting, and the result was just kind of unnatural and echo-y, with no real directionality."
Boston Light & Sound's recommendation was to replace the distributed system with two Iconyx digitally steerable column array loudspeakers from Renkus-Heinz. A single Iconyx IC16-R-II column mounted on either side of the proscenium covers the entire sanctuary. "Using the Iconyx, we can control the beam for very narrow coverage, and minimize the amount of reflected sound from the ceiling and back wall."
The choir is picked up by wired Clock Audio mics flown overhead, while Shure wired and RF microphones cover the podium and stage. The mics feed a Symetrix 780 Automixer, connected directly to the Iconyx systems.
"The Iconyx has made all the difference in the world in this sanctuary," Zola concludes.
"Coverage is even and intelligible across the entire room, and it even cuts through their very noisy HVAC system. It's a great solution. The Iconyx has made all the difference in the world in this sanctuary," Zola concludes. "Coverage is even and intelligible across the entire room, and it even cuts through their very noisy HVAC system. It's a great solution."