One of the oldest Conservative Jewish congregations in Chicago, Anshe Emet Synagogue was founded in 1873. The congregation moved to their current building in 1929. Sabbath Services feature performances by Alberto Mizrahi, a highly respected world-class Hazzan, or cantor (a person who sings liturgical music and leads prayer), as well as by guest cantors. The sanctuary also hosts a wide range of other events. Having mixed the sound for their services for more than 15 years, I had long struggled with the temple’s 30-yearold sound system. Originally designed for spoken word, the old loudspeakers were 50 feet above the center of the congregation, which left signiﬁcant parts of the sanctuary without good coverage. The system simply could not handle the demands of musical performance, and certainly could not do justice to Cantor Mizrahi’s powerful tenor. In short, Anshe Emet needed a modern sound system.
As Vice President of Sales and System Design for systems integrator Sound Planning Associates, I was professionally qualiﬁed to design and install the temple’s new audio system. Having run sound at Anshe Emet for 15 years, I had come to know not only the existing system, but also the room itself, and all its anomalies, and this was a labor of love for me. We decided to design the system around Alberto Mizrahi’s voice. His voice is stunning, and I don’t have to boost it much, but he sometimes sings with other people, and we want everyone to hear perfectly. The sanctuary also hosts guest cantors, a lot of concerts, and a wide range of interfaith events, so we really needed a more full-range, performance-level sound system.
The sanctuary seats 700 to 750 and features a large balcony and theater-style seating. The sound is pretty dry at most seats, but we had to account for reﬂections on the side walls, as well as delivering clear, intelligible sound to the balcony seats. The room has a nice band-shell shape above the stage lip, which helps. In addition to coverage, intelligibility, and a clean appearance, directionality was a major consideration in designing the new system. People were used to hearing the sound from 50 feet above. I wanted to bring the sound back to eye level, with all ears and eyes pointing to the front, so they could hear everything that was happening on the stage and not get distracted by the acoustics. I knew that steerable beam technology can cover a room precisely, without unwanted reﬂections, so we chose a pair of Renkus-Heinz Iconyx IC Live ICL-FR-DUAL steerable arrays for the front mains. The ICL-FR-Dual provides ﬁve 6.5-inch cone transducers and three 1-inch, high-frequency compression drivers and has a typical throw of 160 feet (50 meters). The loudspeakers’ narrow proﬁle and white paint also blended nicely with the sanctuary walls, providing the clean look we were after.
To deliver sound to the main balcony, we installed several Renkus-Heinz CFX41 passive, two-way, coaxial loudspeakers, ﬂ own above the front of the balcony and driven by Lab.Gruppen power ampliﬁers. I just steer a little bit of sound from the arrays to the balcony to pull your ears to the front. It woks exceptionally well. The CFX41 is really compact, with a four-inch coaxial transducer, a four-inch woofer, and a one-inch, soft-dome tweeter. We installed additional CFX41s (the system includes 16 in all) as front ﬁlls and side ﬁlls for the bimah. The rest of the system includes a Yamaha QL1 console at Front of House. The system is networked via Dante, Audinate’s audio-over-Ethernet technology, which has worked very well. Needless to say, as the main sound person for Anshe Emet, I’m a big beneﬁciary of the new IC Live system. With the old system, I could never hear clearly from the mix position — I just got used to how bad it sounded. With the new ICONYX steerable arrays, I’m sitting within the beam pattern, so I can make better decisions and know what it’s going to sound like in the seats.
I’m far from the only person beneﬁtting from the new IC Live system, though. Alberto Mizrahi and the congregation’s other leaders have quickly become big fans of the system. In fact, we have two simultaneous services, seating another 1,000 people in the social hall/ cafeteria, and we’ve installed a Renkus-Heinz system in that room, too.