Tectonic Audio Labs and design/install firm Definitive Audio collaborated to solve perennial audio problems for St. Louise Parish, a large and progressive Catholic church in the Pacific Northwest serving a diverse ministry from traditional to modern and multi-ethnic congregations.
"The existing loudspeaker solution was primarily based on three two-way 15-inch trapezoidal boxes in a center cluster," explains Dennis Schlossberg of Definitive Audio. "In order to fully cover this large and wide space, three separate systems were previously employed in total: the main center cluster and two independent fill systems mounted on pillars and soffits throughout the sanctuary. Even with that, there were still dead areas, and overall system intelligibility was very poor."
The team from Definitive Audio
The solution selected by Definitive Audio and St. Louise was a pair of Tectonic Plates per side flown over the chancel. "With this relatively simple installation, we solved for all issues," says Schlossberg. "St. Louise was able to remove all three previous speaker systems and consolidate all electronics into one simple and small electronics rack."
Tectonic Audio Labs reports that the wide and diffuse output of the Tectonic Plates covered all areas of the sanctuary with audio levels that measured with remarkable consistency; from the first row pews to the narthex and off to the sides of this very wide space.
"There are many unique acoustic characteristics of the Tectonic Plates' Distributed Mode Loudspeaker [DML] technology, and almost every one of them came into play with this installation," explains Dave Firestone, Tectonic CMO. "The very wide pattern of our speakers provided coverage to not only the back of the sanctuary, but to equally distant side spaces. The Tectonic Plates exhibited near linear output level in this large and wide space. We were able to provide an equal and comfortable stereo listening experience for every parishioner."
The Tectonic Plates' extreme resistance to feedback allowed for much greater microphone gain to maximize pulpit, lectern and overhead choir mic placement performance. System intelligibility improved with near-zero third-order harmonic distortion, no cross-over points from 110 Hz to 7 kHz and lack of room interaction from reflective surfaces, including a three-story all-glass sanctuary rear.
"Tectonic had a distinct advantage over other solutions by virtue of the fact that their speakers do not require a specifically engineered solution," Schlossberg says. "Tectonic was able to raise a demo system on portable lifts and deliver over 90-percent of the performance of a finished installation. They proved the system's performance over a four-day period and some 10 services—on demand and with no cost or impact to the parish. No other manufacturer could have done that."
"St. Louise provides a ministry that is active and diverse," says Jonathan Taasan, parish administrator. "We needed a sound system that could be respectful of traditional expectations and then seamlessly scale up to meet the needs of our growing contemporary worship services. The Tectonic System has met all of our needs and then some!"