The installation of beam-steering Meyer Sound CAL column array loudspeakers has resulted in improved speech intelligibility, enhanced aesthetics and expanded multimedia options in the sanctuary of the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in the Swiss town of Brig. The system renovation was designed and installed by Stefan Margelisch of the local multimedia and system integration firm Black Cow, in consultation with Meyer Sound Design Services and Tonspur, Meyer Sound's Swiss distributor.
The technology enables the two CAL 64 loudspeakers to be placed where conventional speakers could not – suspended from the roof in the front corners, far away from the central altar, with the sound titled downward and the vertical beam shaped to fit the seating plane. The colour-matched CAL loudspeakers blend in discreetly, with no compromises in audio performance.
According to church staff, the system's precise directional control, extremely low distortion and extended bandwidth have dramatically improved spoken-word intelligibility while maintaining a natural voice quality.
"We have noticed the overall improvement in sound reproduction and intelligibility throughout the church," said Martin Furrer, who as sacristan is principally responsible for church operations. "The pastors are very pleased with the reaction of the congregation to the improved speech clarity. Also, with fewer loudspeakers as compared to the old system, and the exact colour match of the new columns, the visual aesthetics are dramatically improved. The view of the altar is now open and undistracted everywhere."
The complete Meyer Sound reinforcement system also includes two miniature MM-4XP loudspeakers, with one in the Chapel of Our Lady and the other in the church entryway.
The balance of the audio system comprises a Symetrix Prism 16 x 16 automixer and DSP unit, a Denon DN700C CD player, and an Ampetronic inductive loop assisted listening amplifier. The new microphone complement, all from Sennheiser, includes three MZH3042 goosenecks with ME36 capsules and an EW100 wireless system. Designed for stable, hands-free operation, the system is controlled by an HP ProOne PC with simple selection of on/off and operating mode via a remote panel. Video playback is facilitated by a Panasonic 7000-lumen projector and a 3m-wide AV Stumpl 16:9 format screen. Streaming of audio is enabled via Barix Instreamer audio encoders.
The system is principally used for voice reinforcement during celebrations of the Mass, but uses for other events often involve music reproduction, such as live electric piano, or playback of CDs or video soundtracks. According to Stefan Margelisch, the importance of both types of programme material dictated a Meyer Sound CAL solution.
"I absolutely could not compromise on speech quality as this was a very prestigious project," said Margelisch. "But as I had used CAL on a previous installation, I was also aware that the music quality was much better than with other beam-steering columns."
Margelisch was also well aware that the design integrity and system calibration were as important as the product itself. "The accuracy of prediction is critically important when using this technology," he noted, "and no other company can offer the level of expertise available from Meyer Sound. I could also rely on responsive support from Tonspur both before and after the installation."