Renkus-Heinz Revives Roman Church

The Sweetest Heart of Mary Roman Catholic Church is the largest Gothic Revival church in the Midwest of the USA. For years, the sanctuary had an inadequate and outdated sound system.

“It was very difficult to understand anything anywhere in the building,” observed Steve Newby, principal of family-owned AV systems integrator Annunciation Audio-Visual Services, which designed and built a new sound system for the historic church. “We have used Renkus-Heinz loudspeakers before, and we knew the solution would be Renkus-Heinz ICONYX Gen5 loudspeakers because of their digital beam-steering and clarity.”

Steve reached out to Mike Somerville, his rep at McFadden Sales, and Mike helped set up a demo. “We showed them ICONYX IC24-RDs for the demo but we knew the space required a pair of IC32-24-RD to get the full robust vocal reinforcement they needed,” Steve recalled.

The church is 88 ft tall and 202 ft long on the exterior, and 90 ft wide for the main body of the nave, while the transept is 188 ft wide. “For the size, it’s fairly acoustically friendly,” asserted Steve, “partly because the transept isn’t the rectangle you normally would see in a cruciform-shaped building. Its corners are at 45° angles, so it is almost octagonal but not so much so that it turns this into an in-the-round type building. Front arrays normally hit the back wall of a transept pretty hard but with the front and back walls of the transept at a 45° angle, it softens some of the early reflections and provides the width we need, despite being further from the seats in that location.”

Renkus-Heinz’ IC32-24-RD arrays feature 19 4-inch coaxial transducers, each with three high-frequency tweeters, plus five 4-inch low/mid-frequency transducers, progressively spaced. With 24 amplifier and DSP channels and multiple beams and acoustic beam centers, Steve’s team was able to cover the entire nave with just one IC32-24-RD on each side of the sanctuary, while minimising reflections. “We crisscrossed the left and right arrays a little, as it was the best way to get around the blind spots behind the two rows of substantial columns,” explained Steve. “With the width of the transepts and the nave, we didn’t have horrific overlap. But some overlap is necessary because seats are masked from their near-side array, and we need the far-side array to cover those masked areas.”

Subwoofers were not required. Speaker management and processing are entirely handled by the arrays’ onboard DSP and Renkus-Heinz’ RHAON II System Manager software. All audio connections are analog. A Symetrix Radius DSP provides microphone processing and mixing, with audio distributed to the speakers via Dante.

“ICONYX Gen5 was definitely the right choice for this space,” Steve concluded. “Renkus-Heinz’ digital beam steering technology enabled us to cover the entire sanctuary, transept and all, with just two arrays, including dealing with the blind spots and hard surfaces. IC32-24-RDs are slim and low profile, as well, so they’re not visually obtrusive.”