Posted in projects
on December 7, 2015 2:47 pm EST
Old World-Style California Church Seizes Modern Sound Solution
Five Wounds Portuguese National Church in San Jose gets audio worthy of its architectural appeal.
Five Wounds Portuguese National Church, San Jose, Calif., gained improved speech intelligibility and acoustics without compromising its architecture or budget.
"The building has old knob-and-tube wiring with 100 rows of live wires under the floor, and the grounding was almost nonexistent. And then there were the acoustics...."
—Joe Orlando, Systems Designer and Integrator, Commercial Media Systems, Atwater, CA
Built in 1914, the picturesque Five Wounds Portuguese National Church is one of the most photographed, sketched, and painted buildings in the San Jose, Calif., area. The Old World-style Catholic church's architecture exudes Iberian charm and grace, but its acoustics have proven problematic over the years, with intelligibility an issue for the church's traditional Latin Mass.
"This was a particularly challenging project because of the building's age," reports Joe Orlando of Atwater, Calif., systems designer and integrator Commercial Media Systems. "It took three guys a full day just to run wire to the loft. The building has old knob-and-tube wiring with 100 rows of live wires under the floor, and the grounding was almost nonexistent. And then there were the acoustics."Beautiful space, smart solution
Not surprisingly, the room's ceilings are high and arched, and the sanctuary includes a transept. It's the sort of space that gives system designers nightmares. The old distributed sound system was, Orlando reports, "absolutely terrible."
Orlando called on Roseville, Calif.-based Layer 8's president, Rocky Giannetta, an expert in acoustical measurement, system tuning, and room modeling and analysis. Giannetta demo'd a passive column and a Renkus-Heinz Iconyx IC16-RN, part of the next generation Iconyx Gen5 Series. "Rocky documented reverb times as long as three to four seconds at the back of the room -- the kind of conditions that could be best addressed with steerable beams."
Rather than opting for a left/right pair, the systems designer and integrator flew a single Renkus-Heinz IC24-16-RN digitally steerable column array on house left to serve as the main house loudspeaker.
Rather than opting for a left/right pair, Orlando flew a single Renkus-Heinz IC24-16-RN digitally steerable column array on house left to serve as the main house loudspeaker. "Less is more in such a reverberant room," he observes. "With two sources, you can have multiple arrival times and reflection issues from the transepts. The IC24-16-RN can give you up to eight separate beams, so you can do quite a lot with just one column."