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St Mary Catholic Church calls on L-Acoustics to fix reflective surfaces

St Mary Catholic Church calls on L-Acoustics to fix reflective surfaces

St Mary Catholic Church calls on L-Acoustics to fix reflective surfaces


Following St Mary Catholic Church’s decision to relocate its music ministry to the rear balcony of the nave to create more floor seating, the HOW called in Detroit-based Sound Planning Communications (SPC) to equip the space with a new sound reinforcement solution primarily composed of L-Acoustics A Series and Syva enclosures. For over six decades, St Mary Catholic Church in Detroit’s Royal Oak suburb has served the community through its food and clothing pantry, holding regular mass and teaching students at its parochial school.

According to SPC’s design engineer, Jeff Wilshaw, the church had been in need of an audio upgrade for some time. “St Mary has a classic Catholic church architecture, with stone and marble surfaces and high ceilings, and the loudspeaker system they were previously using was pretty much spraying energy all throughout the room,” he described. “Nearly a third of the sanctuary was unusable as the space was so reverberant. Using Soundvision design software, it quickly became apparent that the L-Acoustics A10 would be an ideal choice for the main liturgical array system.”

SPC installed a single A10 Focus over an A10 Wide at the front of the room, and a second identical array 12m out into the house. “We also used the Panflex dispersion control on the top box of each array, which kept unwanted energy off the side walls, allowing a better direct sound field. We were also able to keep the sightlines desired by the church. We would have chosen A Series just for the technology, but the added bonus is that the system looks good in the space.”

With the choirs, individual vocalists, instrumentalists and percussionists now performing from the rear choir loft, SPC installed a Syva-based solution at the back of the nave to deliver musical reinforcement and proper imaging. Two Syva colinear systems are mounted to the rear wall, just below the far left and right edges of the balcony face, while two Syva Low enclosures are mounted a bit farther out and higher up for extended bandwidth and low-frequency contour.

Justin Umbarger, St Mary’s new director of sacred music, added: “Because our music is performed from the back choir loft and the spoken word is proclaimed from the front, we now have two systems that can be used separately or in tandem, with each system perfectly tuned for its purpose. The result in power and clarity is just spectacular, especially with the music system, which is able to stand up to our pipe organ.”

Two ultra-compact 5XT enclosures located up in the loft round out the new audio system, providing balcony reinforcement so that the musicians can hear the pastors and presiders. “We find this system a necessity, especially in responsive reading times, and it ties everything together nicely,” Wilshaw noted, adding that the entire loudspeaker complement for the church is powered and processed by only two LA4X amplified controllers. “With their new A10 liturgical system, spoken word at St Mary is now direct, clear and easy to understand, while the Syva musical system provides beautiful fidelity that really envelopes the parishioners. And even though the parish’s recent pandemic measures – like physical distancing and removing pew cushions – have increased the reverberant nature of the room, with this installation, we’ve been able to assist the church in keeping better connected to the congregation than ever before.”

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