Originally named Hickory Grove, Jerseyville earned its current name in 1834, when the town was surveyed and platted by two of the many residents who moved there from New Jersey. Jersey County was established in 1839, and two years later, the first Catholic Mass was celebrated in the new county. Holy Ghost Catholic Church, part of the Diocese at Springfield in Illinois, was established in 1883, although the current mid-century modern edifice is only about a half-century old.
Until this year, Holy Ghost Church’s sound system was of the same vintage, with two 1960s-style column speakers located at the extreme left and right sides, driven by an equally ancient four-channel powered mixer. In some ways the worst seat in the house was front and center. Today, the situation is entirely different thanks to a Renkus-Heinz ICONYX Gen5 sound system designed and installed by Output Unlimited of nearby Alton, Illinois.
“The church called me based on recommendations from other churches,” begins Output Unlimited owner Tracy Bodenbach. “I went up there on a Sunday to attend a service, and when I walked in the church and listened, I immediately knew Services at Holy Ghost Church range from traditional, with organ and cantor, to more contemporary services with vocals and acoustic guitars or piano. “One evening that I attended services, it was a bluegrass-style band with upright bass, mandolin, acoustic guitar, and four people singing into a mic,” recalls Bodenbach. “But they don’t get into electric instruments and drums.” It’s an ideal match for the IC16-RN, he observes. “For services like those at Holy Ghost Church, we don’t need more low-end control than the IC16-RN provides. We’ve done at least a dozen jobs using ICONYX in the past couple of years, and for most of the Catholic or liturgical-type churches with traditional services, we choose the IC16-RN.”
Another factor is that Holy Ghost Church has a wide sanctuary, and the ICONYX Gen5 speakers have up to 120° horizontal dispersion, as well as up to eight beams that can be individually shaped. “The room is pretty lively,” Bodenbach observes. “The building seats 400 and is almost octagonal, which is unusual. The floor is carpeted but the pews are hard, and the central dome is 50 feet high at the peak. The space has about a three-second reverb time. As with many such churches, speech intelligibility was an issue. If we were within four or five feet and facing each other, we could understand each other. But if you’re in the altar area, and someone in the far back tries to talk to you, you can hear their voice but understanding is a different matter.”
Bodenbach met with the client, took measurements and photos, and consulted with his Renkus-Heinz contact, who agreed the IC16-RN was the right choice. Bodenbach provided a preliminary quote, figured out where the speakers should be placed and the beams aimed, and set up a demo to compare the existing system with the ICONYX Gen5 system. The demo confirmed Bodenbach’s analysis, and he installed a pair of IC16-RNs to the left and right of the dais, at the edge of the proscenium. A PNX-112 powered subwoofer adds a bit more low end for the praise and worship music. Bodenbach had Renkus-Heinz do a custom paint job to ensure the loudspeakers would blend in with the architecture.
An Ashly Protea 3.6SP DSP manages the system. “We can EQ and aim the beams from the ICONYX loudspeakers,” Bodenbach notes, “but I like to put a processor in and do some fine tuning. We also use the processor to manage a 70V line for the cry room, the sacristy, and a hearing-assistance system. We installed a Roland M200-i console, operated by an iPad, with everything locked out except for the volume controls. We have passwords set up so they can adjust the volume but only the administrators can adjust the EQ and compression.” Bodenbach also provided a TASCAM CD recorder, Radial DI boxes, and a selection of quality microphones.
“We’ve had nothing but compliments on the Renkus-Heinz system,” reports Bodenbach. “I was there for a Saturday night service and for two services on Sunday, and everything went smoothly. There have been no issues. Everyone I talked to-church staff and parishioners-said the sound quality was excellent, very clean and clear.” Indeed, the IC16-RNs did the job just as Bodenbach knew they would the first time he set foot in the church.