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St. John the Evangelist Church Gains Intelligibility with New Sound System

July 10, 2014

St. John the Evangelist is a historic Roman Catholic church in Frederick, Maryland. Completed in 1837, the church has a Grecian ionic design and a cruciform floor plan. The church’s beautiful and spacious interior is finished in marble and plaster with hardwood pews. Unfortunately, even though the carpeted floor absorbs some sound, the church’s reverberant acoustics create major challenges for voice intelligibility.

St. John’s sound system, installed in 2000, wasn’t able to provide acceptable intelligibility or coverage and it had a recurring feedback issue. In 2011, Eric Johnson of Audio Video Group offered St. John’s a new system using Community’s ENTASYS column line-source loudspeaker system. As part of his proposal, Johnson performed a live demonstration for the church that showed his design could provide intelligible sound with even coverage while minimizing audio feedback.

St. John’s new system consists of a two-column stack of ENTASYS on each side of the chancel. Each stack has an ENT-FR full-range column and an ENT-LF low-frequency column. The stacks are tilted slightly downwards to cover the congregation while avoiding rear-wall echoes. Johnson used ENTASYS ENT206 columns to cover the left and right transepts and delayed ENT206s to supplement coverage in the rear of the church. A pair of ENT203s provides coverage for the balcony and choir loft. The loudspeakers white color blends well with the church’s interior.

Johnson used an Earthworks gooseneck mic on the ambo and lectern and provided Shure ULXP wireless mics for the priests. The gooseneck mics are about six feet from the main ENTASYS columns but the system has excellent gain before feedback. St. John’s system is a “hands-off” design using a Biamp AUDIA FLEX for automatic mixing, loudspeaker delay and system equalization and Lab Gruppen power amplifiers. A small mixer in the balcony blends choir soloists and guitars into the service.

St. John’s is very pleased with their new system’s intelligibility and coverage and they hope to expand the system with monitor loudspeakers in the near future. Johnson noted that, on the Sunday after the system was installed, a senior gentleman in the parish asked the priest to please not change anything because this was the first time attending Mass in a long time that he could actually clearly hear what was being said!