Historic St. Mark’s Church Achieves Audio Clarity

by | Audio, AVL Projects, Production

Deep in the heart of Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse Square neighborhood lies St. Mark’s Church. Considered one of the best concert venues in the city, the church nave is quite large, with seating for more than 450 people. Parishioners celebrated the church’s first service in 1849 under the overarching timber fretwork of the great roof. The Decorated Gothic style of the church, replete with vaulted ceilings, solid wood pews and stone masonry throughout, contributed to an unsatisfactory reverberation time of three seconds. Beam steering arrays from Renkus-Heinz are perfect for installations requiring highly targeted audio solutions.

Church staff reached out to Joe DiSabatino, lead design engineer at JD Sound & Video, to design a new audio system for the sanctuary. DiSabatino partnered with local acoustical engineer Hadi Sumoro of HX Audio Lab to model the acoustics using EASE to design the system and SysTune to tune and optimize. Additionally, JD Sound & Video contacted Renkus Heinz’s Regional Manufacturer representatives at Audio Associates, a leading manufacturer’s rep firm in the professional audio system integration market, to assist with the installation.

“We have an extensive history working with Renkus-Heinz loudspeakers, and the EASE model showed great performance in the nave,” said DiSabatino. “Their beam steering arrays eliminated the need for delay speakers which would have required mounting to columns, something the church would not approve.”

JD Sound & Video installed IC Live Gen5 ICL-F-DUAL-RN arrays in the nave to improve speech intelligibility and provide even front-to-back coverage. IC Live Gen5 arrays use advanced digital beam steering technology to deliver impeccable sound while blending into the background visually. Individual driver control means unsurpassed vertical pattern control — essential for delivering intelligible speech in reverberant spaces. Renkus-Heinz’s RHAON II System Manager software lets the installer define the opening angles for as many as eight sonic beams from each ICL-F-DUAL-RN array module and aim them up or down. Meanwhile, the slim enclosure remains inconspicuous. For St. Mark’s installation, an artist custom-painted the cabinets in a complimentary stone motif to help them further blend into the space.

Six compact CX41s were “tucked away” near the pulpit and choir areas, acting as monitors for liturgical services. The compact four-inch loudspeakers deliver outstanding, full-range performance in a miniaturized, space-saving design.

The church staff was thrilled with the audio improvements. Masses are intelligible for the entire nave — even parishioners sitting in the back of the large sanctuary can still understand the liturgy.

“We’ll continue using IC Live for challenging acoustic environments like St. Mark’s,” said DiSabatino. “The beam steering is second to none for reverberant spaces.”

About Renkus-Heinz

Founded in 1979, Renkus-Heinz, Inc. is a leading manufacturer of professional loudspeaker technology and the recognized world leader in digitally steerable arrays. Known for cutting-edge innovations and exceptional customer service, Renkus-Heinz delivers premier sound solutions to the world’s most prestigious projects. For more information about Renkus-Heinz, please visit www.renkus-heinz.com.

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