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Beaming intelligibility at Cimetière de Saint-Georges

Beaming intelligibility at Cimetière de Saint-Georges

Beaming intelligibility at Cimetière de Saint-Georges


Cimetière de Saint-Georges is Geneva’s largest burial ground. At its entance lies a stone chapel designed by 19th-century architect John Camoletti. With an RT60 measurement of more than 2s, sound reproduction proved difficult in the chapel until recently, when the city of Geneva approached Studio Equipment to design and install a new solution, leading to the implementation of Renkus-Heinz Iconyx Gen5 loudspeakers.

The chapel seats 150–200 people for funeral services that require clear spoken words, as well as the playback for recorded music, and is relatively small at a length of 13m and 6.5m wide. However, its vaulted ceiling is 13m high and restrictions imposed on the historic building prevent changes from being made to the structure.

‘The chapel is a listed historic building,’ confirmed Studio Equipment CEO, Terry Nelson. ‘So, we were limited to a maximum thickness of about 3mm for acoustic panels. That approach would have been labour-intensive, inefficient and generally just a waste of time and money. Then the light went on in my head, and I thought, “We won't change the acoustics, we'll change the sound system.” Our experience with Renkus-Heinz in previous installations such as the former Grand Hotel in Caux for Initiatives for Change made Iconyx the obvious choice.’

Nelson installed one IC8-RN digitally steerable line array loudspeaker system on each side of the arch leading to the space beyond the main chapel area. ‘There was not enough space above the middle of the arch for an IC16-RN, and that position would have been too high for proper beam steering,’ Nelson noted.

The IC8-RN’s low profile was key to minimising the sound system’s aesthetic impact. ‘The installation needed to be as discreet as possible. We had to use existing cable routes, which was difficult, and no cables were allowed to be visible.

‘The maximum distance you can have in the chapel between two persons speaking and still retain intelligibility is no more than 2m – and even that is pushing it,’ Nelson continued, adding that this is exactly the sort of problem beam steering was developed to solve. ‘I initially thought to use two beams but simulation in the BeamWare III program incorporated in the Rhaon II software suggested that three would be better, so I went with that. I aimed the third beam further down than the others to avoid hitting the rear wall and used a different high-pass filter cut-off point for each beam. The EQ required was minimal, and the result is very musical.’

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