d&b loudspeakers turn to stone.
With its golden stone, gracious curves and vaulted barrel ceilings, the Our Lady of Victory Chapel at St. Catherine University in Saint Paul, Minnesota, is a building of significant stature and historical importance. However, such aesthetics seldom guarantee an acoustic friendly environment, as managing director of Audio Logic Systems (ALS), John Markiewicz points out.
“Hostile is how I would describe the acoustic of the chapel: it only takes a little L/F energy to make speech unintelligible. Although I considered a single point source solution when we were first exploring the audio installation options, the aesthetic considerations dictated the distributed route was essential. In fact, the more I looked at it the more I realized a single point source would be no easier and would detract from the beauty of the space."
Markiewicz’ selection of the Ti10P was founded on its unique features, size and pattern control. “They gave me the pattern control I required, specifically the 35 degrees in the vertical down as low as 800 Hz needed to achieve the desired coverage without exciting the walls. By arranging the loudspeakers down the aisle on the available columns I was able to get close, direct and intelligible coverage."
Colour matching for installations of this nature is nothing new for ALS or d&b, but at St. Catherine University, the chapel’s interior aesthetics took what was required to a whole new level, as Director of Campus Ministry, Laurie Svatek explains. “It was important that the loudspeakers blended into the room seamlessly. The tile work on both the interior and exterior of the chapel is the largest display of artist Ernest Batchelder’s work anywhere in the world. Each one is hand painted so colour matching all the way through the chapel was a big ask. When John explained that we could have them completely colour-customized, I was really excited to see how that could be achieved.”
The loudspeakers arrived from the factory in a rather unusual beige/grey, the base colour of the chapel interior, and were then placed in the creative hands of Tamatha Miller. “Tamatha is to artwork as d&b is to sound,” says Markiewicz. “ALS have engaged her artistic talents on numerous occasions previously, so we knew she would understand what was required. She took each loudspeaker, painted and matched them to each specific position. Then once installed, she went up the scaffold and touched them in. I can’t fault Tamatha’s work, her attention to detail was immaculate, even down to the antenna of the wireless system, the cable conduits and the touch panel control system.”
During installations of this nature and with this degree of architectural sensitivity it's often the perception that quality of sound has to be compromised to maintain the visual impact of the room. Quite clearly, this is not the case as Markiewicz concludes: “We were asked: can we make the voice of a priest heard and understood? I knew we could do that but to do it without detracting from the visual experience of the chapel was the real challenge here. With some imaginative artwork, careful planning and support from d&b that has been fully realized.”