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Renkus-Heinz steerable arrays eliminate sonic dead spots in 1950s church (VIDEO)

In a church built for music, the spoken word wasn't being heard everywhere

A pair of Renkus-Heinz ICONYX steerable arrays has eliminated issues of poor speech audibility in a church in the greater Los Angeles area.

Founded in 1891 as the Claremont Congregational Church, the Claremont United Church of Christ moved into its current sanctuary in 1956. Services at the church feature spoken word, choir, and a beautiful Glatter-Goetz/Rosales pipe organ built 20 years ago. The choir and organ sound fabulous in the large sanctuary, with its 18m ceiling and many reflective surfaces, but spoken word intelligibility was an issue.

“We have worked hard to make sure that the acoustics are just right for music but the speakers we were using did not get the spoken word to all parts of the sanctuary,” relates senior co-pastor Rev Jacob Buchholz, who ministers to the congregation in tandem with his wife, senior co-pastor Rev Jennifer Strickland. “There were dead spots in the sanctuary where, when we were preaching or anyone spoke from the pulpit or lectern, you couldn’t hear them very well. We wanted to address the challenge of how to evenly distribute the sound throughout the whole sanctuary.”

Church leaders consulted with the team at Pacific AV, which designed and installed a new system, covering the entire sanctuary with a pair of Renkus-Heinz ICONYX Gen5 IC24-RN digitally steerable arrays. 

“Using Renkus-Heinz’ beam steering technology, we were able to aim the sound down at the congregation, while keeping the sound off the walls, ceiling, and other reflective surfaces,” explained Jeff Miranda, Pacific AV vice president of sales. “Being able to direct the sound and aim it toward the audience is paramount in any reverberant space, and ICONYX does that better than anything. With the ability to steer multiple beams from each column, along with adjustable beam centres, one pair of IC24-RNs was all we needed.”

Renkus-Heinz’ IC24-RN employs 24 4in coaxial transducers, each with three high-frequency tweeters, along with 24 amplifier and DSP channels. Each column can deliver up to 12 steerable beams, which can be individually shaped and aimed using software-controlled DSP. Beam control is effective down to 250 Hz. This combination of flexible, programmable control and precision beam steering enabled the Pacific AV team to eliminate the dead spots, minimise reflections, and provide clear, intelligible sound throughout the sanctuary.

“The Renkus-Heinz speakers work impeccably,” testified Pastor Jacob. “Everyone in the congregation has noticed the massively improved sound. I’ve had the opportunity to sit in the sanctuary and listen to the spoken word, and I was amazed at the improved quality of sound. And there are no more dead spots. Before we got the new system, we never knew whether everyone in the congregation would receive our message accurately. Now we have full confidence in what people are hearing. As pastors, that makes our job easier.”