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HoW speakers: eight of the best solutions

Loudspeakers in houses of worship have a difficult job to carry out – providing intelligible speech and natural-sounding music to enhance the experience of the faithful, often in acoustically challenging environments. Here are some offerings from leading manufacturers for the worship market.

APG’s three-way array for worship venues

APG says its UC206N can be considered as the first high-power, low-throw, high-precision and high-fidelity line array speaker.

Despite its relatively small size, it is a three-way cabinet: the bass section (two 6.5in cone drivers) extended in the lows down to 65Hz; a mid-section (5in cone driver) covers the range 500Hz-5kHz, augmenting the performance of the high and low sections; and the high section (one 1in compression driver) works on a narrower bandwidth, higher in frequency and in power handling.

This addition of the 5in cone driver is possible thanks to APG’s flagship Isotop technology: Isotop is a wide-band, large, high-power proprietary APG compression driver.

APG says these three-way speakers bring an impressive extension in low and high frequencies, and a huge gain of dynamic and maximum SPL over the complete bandwidth, plus reduced distortion.

The 15° V by 70° H coverage pattern provides high intelligibility for indoor applications. To achieve control of constant directivity with both angles, a complex acoustic load has been specifically designed. According to APG, this guaranteed control of directivity operates from low-mid, around 400Hz, up to 19kHz in the highs.

UC arrays have been used for the biggest church in France, Sainte Bernadette in Lourdes, which is one of the holiest places in the world for Catholics and can accommodate over 5,000 worshippers.

Kobra speakers cover long distances

K-array’s Kobra loudspeakers are claimed to show a perfect phase response in both the near and the far field, which enables this compact column speaker to cover long distances, like long chapels and naves, uniformly.

The passive Kobra systems are comprised of 2in neodymium transducers housed in a stainless steel chassis. The half-metre KK52 features eight drivers, while the metre-long KK102 sports 16. Equipped with Pure Array Technology (PAT), the Kobra has no crossover in the voice range and no reflex ports.

The narrow vertical coverage minimises the sound spill towards the ceiling and the floor, increasing the intelligibility in houses of worship where architectural features such as domes and archways can produce a highly reverberant environment.

For improved coverage of the entire musical frequency range, a K-array powered subwoofer from the Thunder line may be integrated, configured with specific presets. A variety of rigging accessories allows for various linking and hanging set-ups in vertical and horizontal line array configurations to satisfy the requirements of many different worship venues.

Kobra is available in black or white, or can be customised with reflective finishes such as polished, brushed or 24K gold-plated stainless steel, which help the speakers to blend in with their environment.

GEO M6 for old and new

NEXO’s GEO M6 compact line array has a high output for its size, and can keep a low visual profile in historic buildings, while presenting a contemporary design in modern environments.

The full-range GEO M620 uses a long-excursion high-efficiency 6.5in LF driver and a 1in throat driver on a BEA/FEA optimised HR wavesource, to deliver a frequency response of 80Hz to 19kHz ±3dB, with nominal peak SPL of 127dB. Speakers can be used singly, in pairs, in curved arrays of three, or in line arrays up to 12 cabinets long, depending on application.

Compactness and intelligibility with CURV 500

LD Systems (part of the Adam Hall Group) believes that its CURV 500 Series is ideal for house of worship installations, as it combines excellent speech intelligibility with minimal visual presence.

With expandable vertical and horizontal coverage, CURV 500 Series systems are completely scalable, and the SmartLink plug-and-play adapter offers numerous mounting options. Using SmartLink, elements can be joined together with a simple slide-and-lock action to provide instant mechanical and electrical connection. Up to four speakers can be stacked in this way.

The main cabinet element, the CURV 500 S2 array satellite, sports a unibody aluminium construction and features a 110º horizontal dispersion angle. LD Systems’ WaveAhead design delivers extended sound dispersion from a low-weight, ultra-compact enclosure – just 12cm high by 12cm wide. Within houses of worship, these satellites can be hung in arrays from the ceiling or mounted on pillars.

The sound can be rounded out with LF audio from CURV 500 iSUB subwoofers, and CURV 500 iAMP Class D power amplifiers have been designed specifically to drive CURV 500 Series speakers.

CURV 500 systems have been installed in two very contrasting Spanish houses of worship: the modern International Centre for Buddhist Studies in Pedreguer on the Costa Blanca and the Renaissance Cathedral of Santa Maria Magdalena in Getafe, near Madrid.

Syva brings concert experience to worship

L-Acoustics points out that primary worship spaces frequently host multiple event types while also using additional temporary spaces, which require reconfigurable sound systems that are flexible, rapid and easy to deploy.

Supporting their wide range of potential content is possible with the combination of Syva and Syva Low, which provides 142dB of peak output with a 9dB LF contour from 40Hz to 20kHz. The 140° horizontal and 26° J-shaped vertical directivity, and the 35m throw distance, provide very large surface coverage.

Developed expressly for installed and mobile applications, Syva is said to incorporate the controlled coverage, output and coherence benefits of line-source technology into a system that deploys or installs with the simplicity of a plug-and-play point source.

The AutoConnect feature and pre-timed subwoofer presets enable volunteer worship teams to reliably repurpose Syva to meet the evolving needs of their congregation.

Vertical pattern control from TS 400

Dynacord recommends the TS 400 Vertical Array System for small to mid-sized house of worship installations. It features vertical pattern control to provide the highest sound quality and speech intelligibility in difficult acoustic spaces. By using spaced and filtered woofers as array elements, the TS 400 has been designed to provide a very even and smooth coverage over a wide bandwidth.

The 2.5-way design places elements at the ends of the column to lower the effective controlled frequency. The MF elements and the HF element are placed in the middle of the cabinet for a smooth mid-to-high transition and to extend the coverage control. Each group of elements has its own band-pass filter to provide good attenuation at 90° off-axis and cover the audience area evenly from front to rear – with a rate of attenuation claimed to be half that of a non-steered cluster.

This speaker can be extended by dedicated subwoofers from the PSD or PSE series. The TS range is a versatile solution: smaller models are also available (TS 100, TS 200), cabinets can be supplied in black or white, and a transformer kit allows the cabinets to be used in 70/100V loudspeaker lines.

IC Live is the choice for music

Renkus-Heinz describes its IC Live range as the intelligent evolution of the small-format line array, and the ICL-F-RN Gen5, designed for fixed installation, as its intrinsic core. This high-powered model is particularly suitable for music reproduction within worship spaces, whereas the manufacturer’s popular ICONYX Gen5 model is generally the choice for spoken-word applications.

Featuring three 1in compression drivers on a single manifold and five 6.5in premium woofers, the ICL-F-RN Gen5 is a compact but powerful column array speaker. At 30m, SPL is 105dB (or 108dB when two cabinets are stacked). Output is flat from 80Hz to 20kHz, and the IC Live can be custom painted to match any colour scheme.

Drivers can be individually controlled for a high degree of vertical pattern control – which is essential for delivering intelligible speech in reverberant spaces. The software allows the opening angles for as many as four beams from each array module to be defined (up to eight beams when double-stacked) and the beams to be aimed up or down. A third, low-mid module with seven 6.5in woofers may be added to extend low-frequency control.

Bose adds steerability to Panaray MA12 module

Bose says that its Panaray MA12 and MA12EX modular line array family has been a popular choice for houses of worship for many years; the Panaray MSA12X is a new steerable version. Slim and unobtrusive, it features 12 full-range 2.25in transducers, with 75Hz-14kHz response, in a columnar line array configuration. It includes 12 internal power amplifiers (50W per channel) and onboard DSP.

It has been developed for spaces with up to 5s reverberation time that need the vertical radiation pattern control that digital beam steering offers. Because it allows more precise targeting of audience areas, system designers can decide where to place (and not place) the acoustic energy.

Up to three MSA12X units can be vertically arrayed to increase coverage distance and low-frequency pattern control. A choice of three beam patterns is offered for the MSA12X – basic steer/spread with an option of vocal range smoothing; flat-floor optimised also with optional vocal range smoothing; and raked-floor optimised. One or two beams can be radiated from an MSA12X array (comprising one, two or three modules), with any beam pattern selected independently for each beam. Gain and Room EQ may be applied individually to each beam.