High-quality speech reinforcement in the Marienfeld Abbey church thanks to d&b audiotechnik.

One of the historically significant buildings in the East Westphalian town of Harsewinkel is the church of the former Cistercian abbey in Marienfeld, which is over 800 years old. Since the fall of 2022, the abbey church has been equipped with a modern sound system, the main components of which are loudspeakers and amplifiers from d&b audiotechnik. In this acoustically demanding environment, slim column speakers from the d&b xC series in a decentralized arrangement are responsible for producing the lion’s share of direct sound in the areas where sound is required.

Elegant Loudspeaker Solution in Three Different Lengths

The loudspeakers are installed in the nave and side aisles of the church and in the choir room. All of the housings are painted white and blend into the environment discreetly. The adjacent cloister is also equipped with column loudspeakers from the d&b xC series. If required, audio can be transmitted in the form of monophonic summed signals between the church and the cloister and played back in parallel.

Two d&b 24C units were selected to deliver audio to the nave, operating as a L/R constellation in combination with 24C-E extenders. The extenders cap off the slim columns at the top, lengthening the lines and increasing directivity. The cardioid effect of the model 24C is extended down an octave by the extenders, enabling directional sound dispersion from a frequency of just 190 hertz, which is advantageous in an environment with pronounced reverberation such as the domical vault in Marienfeld.

The main speakers, operated in a stereo configuration, are supplemented by additional monophonic positions – on axis with the main speakers is a 24C that delivers sound to part of the side aisle near the entrance area. The first delay line is composed of three 16C units (2x nave, 1x side aisle). The second delay consists of a 16C further back in the side aisle’s ribbed vault. The delay speakers are operated with a time delay that is matched to the playback of the main speakers.

People standing in the choir room can follow the action electroacoustically via two d&b 16C units, which are mounted on the sides of the walls and act as monitors. Rounding out the loudspeaker setup are two d&b 5S two-way coaxial loudspeakers in a white finish, mounted in the choir stalls above the seats and operated in parallel on a single amplifier channel. Sound is delivered to the aforementioned cloister by three d&b 16C units mounted on the north wall.

All in all, the loudspeaker configuration in the Marienfeld Abbey church today consists of fewer units than the previously used sound system, which helps to create a cleaner overall impression. The system could be expanded to include subwoofers, if required (suitable spare outputs are available on the 19" audio mixing console), but these aren’t needed for the reproduction of speech and vocals in normal operation.

Small, Black, High-Performance: Powered by d&b 5Ds

In the Marienfeld Abbey church, the xC series column loudspeakers and the 5S two-way systems are powered by d&b 5D amplifiers. Two of the compact 9.5" installation amplifiers (1 RU) are responsible for the church hall, while a single 5D amplifier drives the three 16C column loudspeakers in the cloister. The 5D is the first d&b amplifier with a built-in Dante network, but in the Marienfeld Abbey church, it receives its signals via the analog inputs. Control signals are fed to the amplifier via VLAN using Ethernet cables.

In order to keep the losses between the amplifiers and the loudspeakers along the sometimes long cable routes as low as possible, large cable diameters were selected for the Marienfeld Abbey church. Attached to the ceiling of the 17.20-meter-high church hall is a sub-distributor that feeds lines to the individual loudspeakers.

Professional Planning

The company akustik & ton (www.akustik-ton.de) from Marienfeld was in charge of planning the new sound system for the Marienfeld Abbey church. Its services include designing room and building acoustics as well as supplying audio and media equipment.

It became immediately clear during my initial assessment that the sound system needed to be overhauled and the cabling urgently renewed as well. The old system had been in use for more than 20 years and could no longer meet today’s standards of sound reproduction quality. The system still used conventional sound lines powered by 100-volt technology.Heiner Rüschoff, planner, akustik & ton

A sound reinforcement concept was developed for the abbey church that incorporated ideas based on a simulation using d&b ArrayCalc. Prior to developing the concept, a 16C loudspeaker from the d&b xC series was presented to the church council’s building committee at the abbey church, and possible options were discussed with the church council.

In the Beginning was the Word

Since the end of 2022, visitors have not only been able to admire the impressive architecture and the lavishly restored interior, but also to enjoy the significantly improved sound during church services and other occasions.

A pastor from the parish of St. Lucia, to which the Marienfeld Abbey church belongs, was more than satisfied with the new sound system after his first sermon, telling Heiner Rüschoff enthusiastically that he doesn’t have to speak as slowly in Marienfeld as he does in other places of worship in the parish in order for his words to be understood by the churchgoers.

In addition to the hardware from d&b audiotechnik, the sound system’s professional calibration also contributes to this completely positive impression. By fine-tuning the equalizer and level settings in the d&b 5D amplifiers’ DSP modules, it was possible to achieve the best possible speech intelligibility with an excellent STI value for the type of venue and characteristics of the place of worship. Feedback from the condenser microphones used in the church (e.g., at the ambo) doesn’t occur, which is also thanks to the cardioid dispersion behavior of the passive loudspeaker columns from the d&b xC series.

Our collaboration with d&b audiotechnik can only be described as excellent. I’d say that we were on the same wavelength right from the start, and whenever I had questions, they were always answered knowledgeably. Throughout the project, I always had the feeling that I could completely rely on d&b audiotechnik.Heiner Rüschoff, planner, akustik & ton
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