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Sound Image Integration upgrades the audio at the historic Mission San Luis Rey

Sound Image Integration upgrades the audio at the historic Mission San Luis Rey

Sound Image Integration upgrades the audio at the historic Mission San Luis Rey


Founded in Oceanside in 1798, Mission San Luis Rey church, known as the “King of Missions”, is one of 21 missions originally built by the Spanish in California. Today, it’s seen as one of the finest examples of Spanish colonial architecture and a national historic landmark that Franciscan Friars call home.

San Diego-based AV company Sound Image Integration, now part of Clair Global Integration, has been servicing the mission’s audio, camera and video distribution requirements for the past 20 years. When a decision was made to reorientate the interior of the mission, from its traditional long rectangular shape, through 90°, to bring the congregation – which can reach 1,200 worshippers – closer to the altar, Sound Image Integration’s business development manager, Scott Coyle, recognised that “while it made more sense that way, the sound was compromised due to a succession of ceiling speakers”.

When the mission’s administrators realised that a more permanent approach to the audio setup was required, it was the Martin Audio Torus T820 constant curvature solution that Coyle proposed, bearing in mind that with the reconfiguration, the church now had extraordinary width but little depth. “We knew the focus needed to be principally the spoken word,” he says. “However, at the same time, they have large congregations attending their weekend masses when a full choir and band perform.”

Together, Coyle and the mission looked at the space and reviewed the types of speakers that would serve best for clarity, coverage and budget. “Having undertaken several projects with Martin Audio over the years in the house of worship space, Torus was our recommendation. Based on our long-standing relationship, I knew we would have their trust,” he explains.

An approach was made to Martin Audio product support engineer, Will Harris, who duly set to work on a design. “When [the church] saw the visualisation and coverage map of how the speakers would react within the room, they were truly wowed,” adds Coyle.

Harris continues: “With such a beautiful and historic building, I knew that the minimal visual footprint would be needed to get this done right and the Torus T820 really fit the bill. We were able to get them tucked away within the architecture of the building.”

Delivering high output from an 8-inch speaker within a compact footprint, it is the 100° x 20° (HxV) dispersion pattern that makes the Torus T820 suitable for the short-throw requirement within the space. L-R flown pairs flank a central cluster of four T820 elements, while out wide on each wing, wall-mounted Martin Audio CDD10s provide optional out-fill reinforcement, generally depending on whether the choir is in session. SX112 subwoofers warm up the sound and fit into the existing cut-outs in the ceiling, while the entire rig is powered by a pair of matched iKON iK81 eight-channel amplifiers.

With classical and baroque architecture, the installation needed to be undertaken with the upmost sensitivity. “Once our engineering team had purpose-manufactured the rigging points, the system went up easily.”

When it came to fine-tuning, Coyle said they were fortunate that the room was not as live as is typical in what he terms as “an A-frame type of scenario”. Harris undertook final commissioning. “When he fired the system up, he looked at his screen, smiled and said, ‘This is why I love these boxes!’” adds Coyle. “Testament not only to the box but to our installation craftsmanship. This was a perfect project for the Torus 8. The constant curvature systems just work so well together delivering even and seamless coverage across the entire room, while handling the entire frequency spectrum with very little effort.”

Kerey Quaid, the mission’s music director, agrees wholeheartedly. “The new speakers and amplification system are a great improvement for both music and spoken word in our worship space. We have both clarity and bass for the first time, and equally good sound for the whole congregation.”

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