Bose Boosts St. Anthony Church

St. Anthony Church in Davenport, Iowa, was established in 1837. One thing the church has long sought but never found until recently is reliably clear, intelligible speech.

Like most church buildings of its type, St. Anthony’s stone walls and floors and vaulted ceilings create highly reverberant spaces, the ultimate challenge for intelligible speech. Now, St. Anthony Church has found the solution, with the installation, in March 2018, of a new sound system featuring the Bose Professional Panaray MSA12X modular steerable array loudspeaker system at its core.

Installed in the church’s main building by AV systems integrator Communications Engineering Co. (CEC) of Hiawatha, Iowa, the system consists of six advanced digital beam steering MSA12X loudspeakers, mounted three on the left and three on the right above and behind the altar. Processing, networking and system management are handled by a Bose ControlSpace ESP-1240 processor, a Bose Dante network card, and a Bose ControlSpace CC-64 control centre. The installation was completed in advance of the celebration of Palm Sunday on March 25.

John Cooper, St. Anthony Church’s Pastoral Associate & Business Manager, says that the system came about in a heartwarming manner. “We had an elderly parishioner here for many years, and she would let us know that she found it hard to hear at Mass,” Cooper recounts, noting that the church’s existing sound system had components that dated back decades, with just a few updates over that time. When the woman passed away last year, her family made a donation towards a new sound system.

CEC Systems Engineer, Leo Smith, looked at the sanctuary and knew immediately that this was a perfect application for the Bose Panaray MSA12X. “These types of environments need very precisely laid out coverage to be effective, and the Panaray MSA12X gave us better coverage than any other speaker could have here,” says Smith. With the amplifier and speaker operating as a single unit, with a Dante jumper in between them, the network signal gets directly to the speaker. From there, a coverage pattern was established by Bose Modeler® software to determine how the sound would be dispersed over the seating area. “The sound is precisely mapped to avoid all of the reflective surfaces in the church, and there are many of them,” Smith explains. “Architecturally, churches like these are among the most challenging environments in which to achieve intelligibility, and the MSA12X handled it perfectly. We have very precise control over all of the sound beams.”

The self-powered Panaray MSA12X loudspeaker features a slim, unobtrusive acoustic design with 12 full-range 2.25-inch transducers in a columnar array configuration, to provide consistent audio levels with outstanding vocal intelligibility and full-range music reinforcement in acoustically challenging spaces. The MSA12X speaker includes 12 internal power amplifiers (50 watts per channel; total 600-watt rated power) and onboard DSP to allow digital control and beam steering of the array’s vertical coverage pattern. The proprietary Articulated Array configuration allows wide, 160-degree horizontal coverage. Independent level and EQ control are supported for two separate beams per array, and onboard memory stores up to 10 user-selectable preset. The MSA12X features both Dante network connectivity and a line-level analog input. The modular design allows up to three MSA12X units to be vertically arrayed to increase coverage distance and low-frequency pattern control. The slim, low-profile enclosure mounts close to surfaces, blending in with the visual aesthetic of a space, and its digital control eliminates protruding pitch brackets.

Once the project was completed, Cooper says the transformation of the church’s sound was spectacular. “It was ready the Friday before Palm Sunday, and ever since then we’ve had many compliments about the new sound,” he says. “It was done in time for Holy Week and the Easter season, and everyone loves it. And it looks great, too, in the sense that you can’t really see it. It blends right in, which is important in a classic church like this one. We’ve waited a long time to get sound like this, and we’re glad it’s now here.”