In September 1974, 200 people gathered for the first Mass of the community that, a mere two months later, became Church of the Holy Family parish. In November 1977, John Cardinal Dearden dedicated Church of the Holy Family’s current building. Today, the close-knit parish boasts more than 3,300 households, and the church offers the traditional Mass in English and Spanish, with choir and cantor, as well as a contemporary Mass with a full praise band.
However functional the original 1970s-era sound system may have been when installed, it was long outdated and could not support a modern electric praise band. System coverage was very spotty; some areas were well covered, while other areas were muddy and lacked the intelligibility of speech. The worship team was forced to set up portable equipment to get by, and nobody was happy with the sound.
To resolve the sound issues, as part of a major building renovation, the church hired worship facilities systems integrator Sound Planning Communications. Sound Planning Communications’ team designed and installed a new sound system based on Renkus-Heinz ICONYX Gen5 digitally steered arrays.
“The sanctuary’s capacity is about 1,000, so it’s a good size,” states Sound Planning Communications’ Nathan Cole. “The building is a very tall octagon, and the renovation included dramatic architectural changes, so where the interior was originally in the round, now it’s more of a 120 to 160-degree configuration. The music area, where the choir and band are located, is off to the side, at house left, which is typical of many of the Catholic churches we work with. The architects did a tremendous job making the space brighter, opening it up, and making it a lot more modern.”
For the design team, Renkus-Heinz ICONYX was an obvious choice. “We wanted a column array that would give us penetration into the space, intelligibility, and reliability,” details Cole. “We’ve worked with Renkus-Heinz and put in many ICONYX systems over the years, and it’s typically our go-to when we’re looking for a system that needs the control that ICONYX offers.”
With the renovation, locations for loudspeakers were limited. “The church leaders did not want hanging clusters or visible loudspeakers,” Cole relates. “We needed to conceal components as much as possible but still provide the coverage and improve upon the fidelity. That’s where Renkus-Heinz ICONYX came into play. Thanks to their compact profile and steerable beams, we were able to mount a pair of Renkus-Heinz IC24-RD arrays high to the left and right of the altar area and cover the space evenly with clear, intelligible sound.” The arrays were custom-painted to match the décor, so they’re barely visible.
The IC24-RD features 24 4-inch coaxial transducers, each with three high-frequency tweeters, and 24 amplifier and DSP channels. It also sports dual redundant Dante connectivity. Two IC24-RDs at Church of the Holy Family cover the entire space evenly, except for the altar, which is below and behind the arrays.
A pair of Renkus-Heinz CFX-61 compact, two-way Complex Conic loudspeaker systems serve as altar fills so the priest can hear what’s going on. The CFX-61 is a non-powered system with a 6.5-inch heavy-duty woofer and 1-inch, extended-range titanium high-frequency driver that delivers high output in an extremely compact enclosure.
The system is managed with a Symetrix Radius EX DSP. “We use Symetrix for a lot of house of worship projects,” Cole explains. “They’re a very good-sounding and reliable product, they won’t break the bank, and they have native Dante, which we wanted for this system. We also wanted a DSP that allowed us to do external control for the priest’s microphone without additional equipment. We ran the priest, deacon, and ambo microphones directly to the Radius EX and provided a Symetrix ARC-3 controller so the priest can make simple level adjustments without getting into deep system control.”
In the music area, a Yamaha QL1 digital mixer runs via Dante back to the DSP and breaks out to the ICONYX system. “The music director makes the adjustments to the system,” notes Cole. “It’s not the best location to hear everything, but it gives the music director control as the church desired.”
The Church of the Holy Family’s new Renkus-Heinz sound system has proven an excellent match for the renovated sanctuary. “Now you can hear speech clearly and intelligibly throughout the space, with no dead spots,” asserts Cole. “The praise band finally has a sound system that properly supports their music. The priest can hear everything, thanks to the Renkus-Heinz CFX-61 fills. Visually, the system is well concealed, maintaining the improved aesthetics of the space. Best of all, the client is happy.”