Saints Peter & Paul Catholic Church in Winter Park, Florida features monastic seating, a circular sanctuary with the altar placed prominently in the center of the room.
The sanctuary features plenty of marble, stained glass, wooden pews and a tall cathedral ceiling – an attractive place for worship, but a real challenge from an audio perspective.
Recently the church reached out to a number of sound system designers and installers seeking a system design that provides vocal intelligibility, evenly covers the sanctuary and looks as unobtrusive as possible.
Craig Beyrooti, owner of Atlantic Professional Audio in nearby Altamonte Springs, presented a solution based around Tannoy's well established and proven QFlex steerable column array loudspeaker system – thought in this case in a somewhat unconventional manner.
"It is a large open space with ceiling beams—there were not a lot of places to place loudspeakers—especially if the system was to be unobtrusive," Beyrooti said. "Because of all of the reflective surfaces, it was imperative to focus the sound on the audience area while keeping the sound off the walls and ceiling as much as possible, in order to meet the requirements for intelligibility.
"I already knew the QFlex loudspeakers were ideal for this type of application – but the question was where to hang them. Then it dawned on me – if I placed them on opposite beams shooting down and across the altar to the opposite seating areas, I could keep the sound on the audience and off the reflective surfaces.
"Because the QFlex boxes have such a wide coverage area, as well as the ability to steer effectively at steeper angles, one loudspeaker for each side of the church would be all that was required."
Beyrooti, who is also a theatrical sound designer, likes the sound perception the design created. Because reinforcement was coming from above and a bit beyond the priest, it gave the impression that it was coming from him, and not in front of him.
Beyrooti also suggested the installation a QFlex 40 and VNET 15BP subwoofer to reinforce the choir – which was situated behind and to the right of the altar. Because the column array loudspeaker provides such a wide coverage area, it would easily cover the room. In addition, he suggested placing it above the choir area, to once again give parishioners the impression that the choir was more robust without seeming over-amplified.
"One of the goals was to keep an even 80 dB throughout the church," added Beyrooti. "By adding a QFlex specifically for the choir it allows them to reinforce only what is needed, when needed."
After his presentation, the church was sold on his concept and the design philosophy.
Shortly thereafter the APA team, headed by Michael Ramey CTS, received the QFlex 32s and QFlex 40 from Tannoy – custom painted by the factory to perfectly match the aesthetics of the space and minimize the architectural impact of the technology – and the installation process began.
"Once the speakers arrived, it was a matter of mounting them with the provided brackets," Ramey said. "Craig created a full EASE prediction plot and went over the design parameters with Graham Hendry, VP of TC Group’s AET (Applications, Engineering & Training) department, so we knew our placement would work. Hendry then came over during the InfoComm show to help tune the system once it was installed."
Paul Kusler, Music Director at Sts. Peter and Paul is pleased with the outcome. “Unlike the old system, the new speaker system offers so much clarity no matter where you are in the room, no matter who is talking into a mic,” he said.
Ramey and his team also installed a BSS Soundweb for sound control and programming as well as a Yamaha LS9 digital console at FOH. As a full service audio/video installer, they were additionally responsible for installing new Panasonic cameras and a Roland switcher that was tied into the existing flat panel screen located in the narthex.
"Saints Peter and Paul is a hymnal-free church," Beyrooti added. "So we were also called upon to update the video switcher system that outputs to two large 4x3 video screens that display prayers and songs – we added a little lighting and our job was done."
Since the upgraded system the parishioners have had nothing but good things to say about masses served at Saints Peter and Paul.
Beyrooti concluded, “The client is happy with a design that met all of their criteria and expectations. Excellent sound with minimal impact on the aesthetics of the Church has been well received by all at Saints Peter and Paul."