Posted in practice on September 15, 2015 12:05 pm EDT

Church Sound According to Tannoy

An interview with Graham Hendry, vice president of applications, engineering and training

Tannoy’s QFlex steerable line array loudspeaker range.











Sign up for our bi-monthly newsletter Designer Today to stay up to date with all we do at Designer and with what's going on in the field of house of worship architecture.


TAGS: audio, business, church, design, sound, sustainability,


By Carol Badaracco Padgett

Most every designer is familiar with the products of Tannoy from Coatbridge, Scotland, United Kingdom. But what sound designers may not know is the pulse behind the brand—especially when it comes to the church market.

"If you're a sound designer who has invested significant resources into learning audio and acoustics, you should go one step further and learn to market speech intelligibility as a product."

—Graham Hendry Vice President of Applications, Engineering, and Training (AET), Tannoy, Coatbridge, Scotland, United Kingdom.

Church Designer caught up with Vice President of Applications, Engineering, and Training (AET) Graham Hendry to gather information geared toward the needs of the sound designer and specifier of loudspeaker products for worship space applications. Read on to find out what makes Tannoy tick.

Do Tannoy and its products mesh well with the unique needs and concerns of specifiers and end-users in the house-of-worship market?

Graham Hendry

Hendry: Audio requirements in the house of worship market are wide and varied; contemporary to traditional, high SPL demands, to dealing with extremely difficult acoustics—this market vertical, in particular, places many challengers on the sound designer. Tannoy offers a wide range of high quality loudspeakers and loudspeaker technologies designed to provide the best possible solutions for many challenging projects in the house of worship market.

Are there new products you've recently introduced or will soon introduce that are right for the church market in terms of performance, price and filling a specific need?

Hendry: Sound system design for the church marked should be treated like any other space requiring high quality sound reinforcement. There is no particular product that is right for the church market exclusively that can’t be utilized for other applications. Tannoy has many current products that can meet the various needs of the church market, with various budgets, performance and architectural constraints in mind. From surface-mounted loudspeakers and digitally steerable line array loudspeakers, to ceiling speakers that feature the latest in our groundbreaking Dual-Concentric driver technology.

How does Tannoy support churches that have largely volunteer technical artists?

Hendry: Whether paid or volunteer, education in our industry is a very important consideration. We aim to be the leading education and training resource provider in our market. We are currently developing more web-based content that educates the viewer while helping them form the decision to choose the correct products. We are also at the end of the phone. Tannoy has an excellent team of sales, support, training, and education staff that is available to provide assistance, as needed.

Is there a particular product or feature in audio system design that you feel will have a significant impact on the church market leading into 2016? If so, what is it, and why do you feel it will impact the church market, in particular?

Hendry: Tannoy’s steerable line array QFlex loudspeaker series provides optimal control of vocal and musical reproduction and performs exceedingly well in acoustically challenging, highly reverberant spaces. The range comes in various sizes and can be painted in custom colors to seamlessly blend into an environment. Even today, poor speech intelligibility in houses of worship (HOW) is the norm rather than the exception. It's rare to be able to understand the spoken word without having to strain the ear. We live in an age of amazing signal processing power, yet we still experience poor speech intelligibility in HOWs. Properly deployed, QFlex produces amazing results.

How does Tannoy support designers and integrators (readers of Church Designer magazine) who specify their products—and how do you educate them on an ongoing basis?

Hendry: Tannoy’s Applications Engineering and Training department exists to provide training, education, and support to our customer. We have a great technical department [with staff that has] vast experience with designers, specifiers and design-build contractors to create systems that achieve or surpass design criteria.

Tannoy also has a support department of highly skilled staff who are available to answer questions and troubleshoot issues. Furthermore, Tannoy offers scheduled product trainings that we will be implementing in the coming months, so individuals can sign up to attend in-depth product trainings on products. [Editor’s note: Watch (visit link) for updates on Tannoy’s training dates.]

Lighting has LED (and lighting has a large focus in this issue), but what does pro audio have—what one feature or component—that is making giant strides and affecting sound in worship and entertainment spaces today?

Hendry: Steerable line array speakers are becoming very popular due to their ability to steer audio to very specific locations within a coverage area. Digital beam steering has allowed the designer an alternative to labor-intensive distributed solution.

In closing, is there anything you'd like to add that might be of benefit to designers and engineers?

Hendry: Designing for acoustic performance is an art. Not all speakers are created the same and many offer unique, patented technology that provides enhanced acoustic clarity and performance. While price is always a factor, it is important to choose a manufacturing partner who can provide [not only] the appropriate products for a space, but that also provides the best in audio quality. If you're a sound designer who has invested significant resources into learning audio and acoustics, you should go one step further and learn to market speech intelligibility as a product. Competence in improving intelligibility requires one to hit the books. A good grounding in acoustic measurements and computer-based room modeling is mandatory.

It seems that music reproduction has had too much influence over the design of sound reinforcement systems. Speech reproduction has been an afterthought, and the perception that ‘if the music sounds good, so will the speech’ has prevailed. Good products require the application of good design principles. Most people hone their skills in small, acoustically friendly rooms. This doesn't prepare one to work in larger spaces. Here, if you make the wrong choices, the congregation won't understand the words.





Learn more about the companies in this story:




What people are saying


 Add your comment:


Remember my personal information

Notify me of follow-up comments?


Please enter the word you see in the image below: