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Renkus-Heinz arrays boost intelligibility at Old St Louis Cathedral

The Old St Louis Cathedral, consecrated in 1834, was the first cathedral built west of the Mississippi River. As part of a major renovation, the archdiocese engaged St Louis-based Tech Electronics to address the audio issues, most notably a lack of spoken word intelligibility and an out-dated, inefficient PA system.

“The Cathedral has been known as an acoustic nightmare for many years,” explained Tony Badamo of Tech Electronics. “When we heard they wanted to upgrade their audio system, I knew immediately that Renkus-Heinz Iconyx was the right solution for the space.”

Iconyx digitally steerable column arrays are designed to focus full-range audio content, providing consistent coverage while avoiding reflections that make speech difficult to understand. “The natural reverberation that makes the organ and choir sound so amazing, also makes the human voice difficult to understand,” explained Badamo. “Iconyx digital beam steering enables us to overcome that conflict without a lot of visual distraction.”

The entire sanctuary is covered by two IC24-R-II columns, mounted beside two structural columns on the wall behind the altar. With its low profile design, Iconyx integrates seamlessly with the church’s classic architecture. “Any other solution involves hanging large, boxy speakers in the sanctuary, usually with acoustical treatment in the room,” Baldamo observed. “In most cases, it creates a visual distraction without really addressing the intelligibility issues.”

“Iconyx enables us to create a custom coverage pattern that is amazingly even in every seat,” said Badamo. “You can actually sit in a pew directly behind one of the huge structural columns and understand every word perfectly.”

The church’s audio makeover also includes a pair of Renkus-Heinz ICX7-II steered array columns, delivering sound to the altar without the visual distraction of floor wedge monitors. To provide a direct monitor feed to the balcony choir loft, Badamo selected full-range, two-way Renkus-Heinz TRX81 loudspeakers.

“Based on our experience in traditional churches, Iconyx steerable arrays are our go-to solution,” Baldamo concludes. “They just work.”