Iconyx Transforms 1st Presbyterian Church, Cranford, NJ

Foothill Ranch, CA | June, 2009 - Built in 1894 by Irish carpenters, the elegant 1st Presbyterian Church in Cranford, NJ, is delivering clearer services to its congregations courtesy of a new audio system featuring Renkus-Heinz ICONYX IC8 digitally steerable array loudspeakers.

The historic Shingle Style sanctuary building on Springfield Avenue features Romanesque rounded arches and beautiful examples of American Opalescent stained glass windows, carefully restored in 2000 by members of the 600-strong church community. Inside, a cathedralstyle ceiling meets white walls, soft carpet and wooden pews.

Mike Sinclair of New Jersey-based system integrators Audio Incorporated explained that a combination of desires – for both better acoustics and better aesthetics – on the ministry’s part led to the choice of audio systems.

"It was partly an architectural and partly an intelligibility issue," he says. "They used to have a large speaker that hung in the middle between the lectern and the pulpit which didn’t belong there visually and didn’t really do a very good job. So we suggested using two ICONYX, and we found the perfect location exactly in the corners of the room, from where we’re cross-firing them over the room. The one on stage left is firing to the right audience and vice versa which gives everybody a very even sound field."

Each self-powered Iconyx is configured with two nodes apiece, the lower node digitally beamsteered down to the near most seating, while the majority of the cabinet steers a node to the larger rear part of the congregation. "Acoustically," adds Mike, "it’s a very nice space and the reflections sound warm in nature. But the real challenge was getting sound to the front half, more than it was to the rear, because of the need to reach that area with sound without obstructing the architecture. By placing the ICONYX, finished in white, in the corners against the white plasterwork, they ‘disappear’ and because we’re able to steer lobes to the front of the congregation it resolves both problems. "The cross-firing also means that anyone sitting in the front rows looking at somebody talking in the pulpit gets the impression that the speech is coming from their mouth and not from above their head – so it works well in terms of a psycho-acoustic location."

Two small areas at the back to the left and right of the mix position, slightly shadowed from the main beams by pillars, are filled in with a pair of miniature QSC-powered Renkus-Heinz SGX41 loudspeakers, while a further pair of SGX41s serve as fills for the far end seats of the front row.

The system is mixed on a Midas Venice console and controlled by an Allen & Heath IDR128 system, which provides simple user presets: one for the normal Sunday service mode and an auto mix setting to cater for weddings, funerals and other acoustically simple events that involve just one or two microphones in the altar area.

It also works well enough that in the Sunday services, the church is able to have children participate at the altar, almost directly in front of the Iconyx, on lavalier microphones. "For the first time ever," comments Mike, "the congregation can hear the children’s choir properly, so they’re very happy with that."

As a final aside, he notes that the small church also needed to know their new system "would use very well-made devices throughout, that have a longevity to them and are well-supported. That really is a part of the budgeting because it makes spending that kind of money a little easier when they know it’s going to last a long time."