The Northeastern U.S. offers many beautiful churches, from Gothic-style buildings to old fashioned meetinghouses. But a true European-style cathedral like the stunning Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Waterbury, Connecticut, is a rarity. Because it’s an architectural gem, explains Peter Scandone, Jr., president of New Haven systems integrator PASCOM Sound, Inc., the aesthetic challenges of installing a new sound system were even greater than the acoustical challenges.
The demanding aesthetic and acoustical requirements were key reasons Scandone chose a Renkus-Heinz Iconyx Gen5 IC32-RN digitally steered line array as the heart of the new system. “I’ve been working in the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception for more than 25 years,” Scandone begins, “and when we finally got a chance to put our own system in place, a Renkus-Heinz steerable array was clearly the best choice. I’ve used Iconyx in the past, and the Iconyx Generation 5 speakers are a great product. There’s no other loudspeaker I would have chosen for the basilica.” Scandone sourced the system from Cardone Solomon & Associates, Inc., of Northport, New York.
A single IC32-RN array, placed stage left and mounted to a large column 30 inches in diameter, covers most of the seating in the main nave. “We normally would prefer to use two IC32-RNs,” he notes, “But the space around the altar is not symmetrical, and we didn’t have the right situation for a left-right pair. As it turns out, we didn’t need a second array. One Gen5 IC32-RN was fully up to the challenge. And it was simpler because we didn’t have to account for arrival times from two arrays.”
While the basilica’s new IC32-RN is visible, its custom beige color and slim, low-profile form enable it to blend with its surroundings-of great importance where aesthetics are a critical consideration. “We not only needed a system that looks and sounds good,” Scandone recalls, “we had to work with layers of marble and decorative columns while being as minimally invasive as possible. Just surface-mounting one IC32-RN array to a column required extreme care. But we accomplished our goals.”
Scandone is greatly impressed with the performance of the new Iconyx Gen5 arrays. “Earlier Iconyx generations sounded very good,” he hastens to point out, “and the drivers are the same in Gen5. But it has new amplifiers and new DSP, and it sounds even better. The IC32-RN’s intelligibility is outstanding, even at 120 feet away in a reverberant space with almost four seconds of delay.”
The job was made easier by Renkus-Heinz’ new RHAON 2 system management software. “RHAON 2 is a dream,” Scandone enthuses. “It’s very user friendly when you’re setting beam directivity, and it renders much faster than the first-generation RHAON. The software allows us to squeeze every bit out of the system, maximizing performance.”
Although the IC32-RN provides excellent coverage for the main nave, the basilica’s new system also had to cover the transept and fill a few angles that even a digitally steered array can’t reach. “For those areas, we chose a series of passive Renkus-Heinz ICX7-II mechanically steered column arrays to serve as fills so we could have a good match with the sound quality of the IC32-RN,” notes Scandone. “With an all-Renkus-Heinz system, we could easily bring the voicings into alignment.”
A basilica is designed to inspire, and the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception certainly does that. Now, thanks to its new Iconyx Gen5 system, its parishioners are inspired to worship without being distracted by poor sound. “The install was a complete success, and the client is delighted,” Scandone concludes, “and that’s what matters most.”