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St. Paulís Church Clears Up Their Audio With New Array

Built on a tract of land purchased in 1856, the elegant and venerable St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Chestnut Hill, Pennsylvania, was built in 1929 on the foundation of the second building.

The ceiling of St. Paul's is built like a ship, symbolic of the Ark and the boat of the fishermen, but not the ideal setting for audio reproduction.

The Rev. Cliff Cutler retained Spinnaker-Multimedia Solutions to study the room acoustics and design a compatible audio system. The original systems consisted of massive stadium speakers with overhead microphones for speech and choir reproduction.

"We were retained to correct poor sound distribution and speech intelligibility problems. Parishioners seated in the rear couldn't understand the spoken word or the choir very well," said Fenicia Redman, vice president of project development at Spinnaker.

"So we did what we always do," related Redman, "and modeled the space. There was no way we were going to touch the room without an acoustic model. We used EASE and tested speakers from various manufacturers so that the client was able to see the sound distribution and plots from each. Martin Audio's OmniLine array performed better than the others.

Redman explained, "The choice was based on a process that was thoroughly engineered. The room is about 100 feet deep and the decibel span was plus or minus 2.18 dB across the entire seating area, which is amazing and fully documented."

Spinnaker installed 16 OmniLine enclosures, with four modules of four each along the center beam of the ceiling, color-matched to the interior of the sanctuary so as to be completely unobtrusive, if not nearly invisible.

The rest of the system included and Allen & Heath IDR-S mixing and processing system; a BSS Blu-100 networked signal processor; Crown amplifiers; DPA and Sennheiser microphones, and a William Sound hearing impaired system.

Once the system was completed, Redman was not surprised with the results.

"Of course, the client is thrilled with the sound," Redman said. "More important is the fact that every seat matters in a church and OmniLine delivered on the commitment to achieve clear sound and intelligibility. Now everyone in the congregation hears the pastor's message of hope and reaffirmation and the sacred worship shared by the choir."

Asked about the upgrade, the Reverend Cliff Cutler of St. Paul's explained, "We took down these huge speakers and now we have this array that fits right into the space. It's not any wider than the beams of the church, so it just blends right in and matches the ceiling perfectly, and the sound is very good."

Cutler added, "The original system was uneven in terms of the coverage and lacked clarity, certainly compared to what we're getting now. It provides exceptional coverage and everyone can hear no matter where they're sitting in the church. We no longer get any complaints about clarity. It does exactly what it's supposed to do."

Located outside of London, Martin Audio embodies a sophisticated mix of acoustic design, research, mathematical modeling and software engineering for a wide range of products in a variety of markets, www.martin-audio.com.

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Religious Product News