Design and install a superior sound system in the historic Sacred Heart Church, built in 1918. Sacred Heart asked AV Design Build to improve intelligibility from both the pulpit and stage and eliminate radio frequency interference that muddled the sound quality.
The age and English Gothic architecture of the church — with 70-foot ceilings and extensive stained glass and other hard surfaces — created multiple acoustic challenges including echoing and reverberation. The existing analog system was subject to thermal noise, buzzing and RF blast from local stadiums. In fact, the audio was so poor that parishioners complained they couldn't hear during church services. Due to structural limitations, it was also essential to reduce bulky equipment and cabling requirements.
Richard O'Connell, Principal of AV Design Build, replaced the old analog, distributed speaker system with an automatic system run by a Biamp Systems AudiaSOLO digital audio processor. The result is a new system that is silent, RFI immune, and delivers clear, natural, highly intelligible sound. The AudiaSOLO features a programmable automixer, sophisticated EQ filters, and a matrix router to deliver all sound sources to seven destinations, from the upper altar to the choir loft. The chassis of the AudiaSOLO unit is galvanized to prevent radio interference and has no knobs or buttons, so no one can tamper with the settings.
O'Connell replaced existing distributed system loudspeakers with R-H Iconyx IC24 modified 'point source' loudspeakers to provide 100' x 100' even coverage. New Audix RFI immune microphones installed on the pulpit, altar, chair, kneeler and in the choir are very sensitive, offer a long 'reach' and only required 18dB gain. Creative solutions deliver great coverage. One example is a piano mic system permanently installed in the piano.
There's no need for music stands and no RFI. People speaking or singing can be positioned two feet away from a mic and still be heard. The existing choir audio mixer was replaced with an APB Dynasonics H20 professional mixer with 20 mic inputs and a low noise floor. Adjusted for unity gain, it allows for many open mics.
Replacing the existing electrical circuit with dedicated audio power delivered clean power with surge protection and EMI/RFI filtering. Even when a power outage occurs during a service, the system is completely restored when power returns, with no loss of settings or processor functions.
A tremendous improvement in audio quality came from replacing audio cable with new double-shielded Gepco cable within a conduit. Now the 'noise floor' (unwanted signal and thermal noise) is inaudible — even if someone's ear is located within six inches of a speaker. O'Connell deployed Surgex NEMA enclosures for the choir and Renkus-Heinz speakers. Additional improvements include a new remote controllable Tascam CD700 CD/ cassette deck, which the priest can operate with a foot pedal while standing at the altar.
AV Design Build also added a Raxxess iPod docking station to the rack with a Biamp SPM412e used as the stereo program source selector and level control. This is the only user-adjustable control. The benefit is that MP3 players can be easily integrated with the audio system and simple level adjustments can compensate for varying sound sources.
The new Sacred Heart audio system showcases elegance in design and precision in execution. The system has gained 100 percent customer acceptance. The sound went from a 12-foot audible range to being clearly heard 100 feet away. The equipment space required shrunk from ten enclosures to just two, and the DSP-based system requires much less cabling. The Biamp AudiaSOLO unit distributes the sound cost-effectively and efficiently, eliminating both end user and radio interference. Sacred Heart Church is now equipped with a 21st century sound system to keep spreading the word to a new generation of parishioners.