After more than 50 years of worshipping in a building that was never intended for that purpose, the congregation of St. George Catholic Church in Baton Rouge, LA can now take pride in a new $17 million sanctuary. To ensure excellent speech intelligibility and natural music reproduction, church management relied on PreSonus Commercial Division for their sound system components. Ultimately, loudspeakers from the company’s WorxAudio line—tuned with FIRmaker steering technology from AFMG—were deployed.

St. George’s system features 20 WorxAudio V5 2-way line array enclosures for the house mains, positioned 10 elements each for the left and right hangs and flown 32 feet high on each side of the altar.

“The building is designed in the shape of a cross,” said Bo Bowen founder and president of Advanced Audio & Stage Lighting of Denham Springs, LA, the AV design/build firm that was contracted to handle the deployment of the church’s new AV system. “The ceilings are 50 feet high and there is seating capacity for 1,200 worshippers. The sanctuary has beautiful stained glass and ceramic tile flooring. While there is acoustical treatment, this exists only on the rear and the two sidewalls. Overall, the room is quite live, which presented a variety of acoustical challenges. Fortunately, Hugh Sarvis, chief designer, Loudspeaker Division, and Tony Flammia, the Commercial Division’s director, assumed very active roles to ensure the sound system performed optimally.”

The church’s traditional services include a full choir with occasional instrumental accompaniment, Bowen explained, but there’s an additional range of uses. “The Sunday evening service is contemporary in nature and uses a praise band,” he said. “The church school also uses this space several times each week, so a high-quality sound system was essential.”

The sound system consists of 20 WorxAudio V5 two-way line array enclosures for the house mains. These are positioned 10 elements each for the left and right hangs, flown at a height of 32 feet on each side of the altar. They are custom-painted to match the room’s aesthetics. Additionally, there is a single Wave Series 8A two-way point source loudspeaker mounted against the ceiling that faces down onto the stage and serves as the choir’s monitor system.

Augmenting these two main house clusters, there are two WorxAudio X2 two-way, compact line array enclosures. These are positioned one each for the left and right sides, mounted behind the video screens to provide coverage for the extreme sides in the transepts. For low-frequency support, there are two X118S high SPL subwoofers. These are positioned along with the X2 loudspeakers—one each behind the left and right video screens.

Mixing tasks are handled by a PreSonus Series III StudioLive 32 digital console, which operates via an AVB network. To meet the challenges of multiple worship styles, the StudioLive mixer enables the church’s audio team to create multiple scenes for easy recall. For additional flexibility, the church is utilizing PreSonus’ UC control software, which allows the mix engineer to make adjustments via an Apple iPad from anywhere in the facility.

For loudspeaker management, Bowen and his team deployed QSC’s Q-SYS Core 510i for audio processing and control. “The combination of the Q-SYS processing and AFMG’s FIRmaker technology enabled us to create a system that delivers clear, even coverage throughout the sanctuary,” Bowen said.

System tuning was accomplished using AFMG’s FIRmaker technology, which has improved spectral consistency dramatically.

“With the loudspeakers in place, Tony and I took measurements for all rigging heights, splay angles of the enclosures, plus the distance to first row and back row seats,” said Sarvis. “At that point, we were ready to evaluate coverage and implement FIR filtering. I like to use four to six mics for testing, placing them on the floor as a ground plane measurement and positioning them starting at the front of the stage, with subsequent mic placements every doubling of distance for 5, 10, 20 feet, etc. Using Ease Focus 3, we are able to conduct a sweep and check all microphones simultaneously. We use Ease Focus 3 to run simulations of room coverage, exports the FIR filter to the computer, uploads the filter to Q-SYS, and we continue measuring the room until the desired results are achieved.”

With St. George Catholic Church’s new sound system in place, Bowen reported his client couldn’t be happier. “The system is working great and sounds exceptional,” he said, “which is really rewarding considering the system is installed in one of the most challenging rooms I have ever dealt with.”