NEW BEDFORD, MASSACHUSETTS – OCTOBER 2015: The stunning Romanesque-style sanctuary of St. Anthony of Padua Roman Catholic Church in New Bedford, Massachusetts was founded in 1885 and the church was erected in 1912 and seats 2,000. Given its immensity and huge surface area of beautiful, but highly-reflective stone, speech intelligibility has always been a challenge at St. Anthony of Padua. In the early 2000s, local A/V integration firm Audio Associates installed a multiple-column line array solution, which improved upon the previous system. However it was still frustratingly far from perfect. When Audio Associates learned of Danley Sound Labs’ pathbreaking new SBH-Series of “Skinny Big Horn” columnar point-source loudspeakers, they suggested a demonstration at the church to see if the steep pattern control and phase coherence of the Danley SBH-10 could improve upon the old line arrays. While many in attendance at the demo expected an improvement, the magnitude of the improvement shocked everyone. Intelligibility wasn’t just a little bit better; it was way, way better. And so, with a simple switch to the Danley SBH-10, Audio Associates won the allegiance anew of their long-standing client.
“The sanctuary at St. Anthony of Padua is highly reverberant,” explained Steve Welch, owner of Audio Associates. “If you try to have an unamplified conversation with someone standing fifteen feet away, you lose every third word. When we put the line arrays in, it was the best we could do with the technology of the time. But technology improves, and Danley Sound Labs has been rethinking many of the established conventions in loudspeaker design. Unlike line arrays, which coerce whatever directivity they have through the interference of multiple drivers, Danley’s SBH-Series takes a very different approach. The SBH-10, which we ended up installing at the church, effectively folds a 25-ft horn into a column, which has huge advantages in terms of pattern control and phase coherence.”
Welch proposed a simple shootout: the church’s existing line arrays against a single Danley SBH-10. “The SBH-10 improved the intelligibility dramatically,” said Welch. “It was no contest. The SBH-10’s pattern control kept most of the energy on the pews and off the walls, which helped a lot, and its point-source, phase coherent output made everything that came out of it more natural sounding.” The church was able to secure funding to replace the six line arrays at the front of the sanctuary with two Danley SBH-10s, reusing all of the existing amplification and processing. As funds allow, the church will replace four delay line arrays with an additional pair of Danley SBH-Series loudspeakers. Nevertheless, Audio Associates was able to turn the volume down on the delays because more intelligible signal is now making it to the back of the room from the SBH-10s.
Audio Associates ordered the SBH-10s in raw wood and painted them as faux marble to match the sanctuary walls.
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