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HOW Sound

Revitalizing a Reverberant Chapel’s Sound

A 19th century chapel recently got an audio overhaul to tame its aggressive reverberation.

Geneva, Switzerland (April 16, 2019)—The stone chapel at Cimetière de Saint-Georges (St. Georges Cemetery) was designed by 19th century architect John Camoletti and features all the aural hindrances that come with such an edifice—the large amount of reverberation (an RT60 of more than 2 seconds) and the restrictions imposed on historic buildings. Now the chapel has undergone an audio overhaul completed by Vaud, Switzerland’s Studio Equipment.

The chapel, now named for Camoletti, seats 150-200 people for funeral services. It is relatively small— only 43 feet long and half that wide—but has a vaulted ceiling that rises to a bit more than 26 feet. Services in the chapel are mostly spoken word, but also make use of recorded music.

“The chapel is a listed historic building,” said Studio Equipment CEO Terry Nelson, “so we were limited to a maximum thickness of about 3 mm (0.12 inches) for acoustic panels. That approach would have been labor-intensive, inefficient, and generally just a waste of time and money. However, we needed to find a solution. Then the light went on in my head, and I thought, ‘We won’t change the acoustics; we’ll change the sound system.’ Our experience with Renkus-Heinz in previous installations such as the former Grand Hotel in Caux for Initiatives for Change made Renkus-Heinz’s ICONYX the obvious choice.” Having successfully worked with Studio Equipment on other projects, the city staff was open to Nelson’s suggestion.

Houston HOW Revamps Audio System

Nelson installed Renkus-Heinz ICONYX Gen5 loudspeakers, going with one IC8-RN digitally steerable line array loudspeaker system on either side of the arch leading to the space beyond the main chapel area. “There was not enough space above the middle of the arch for an IC16-RN, and that position would have been too high for proper beam steering,” Nelson explains.

The IC8-RN houses eight four-inch, purpose-designed, coaxial transducers, each with its own array of three one-inch tweeters. Eight audio amplifiers and DSP channels control the transducers, enabling a single IC8-RN column to form up to 4 individually shaped and aimed beams, controlled down to 800 Hz. All of this is fit into a compact package only a little more than three feet high and six inches wide.

The IC8-RN’s low profile was key to minimizing intrusion on the chapel’s aesthetics but putting the system in was tricky nonetheless. “The installation needed to be as discreet as possible,” states Nelson. “We had to use existing cable routes, which was difficult, and no cables were allowed to be visible.”

Renkus-Heinz •