Baroque abbey preserves interior with discreet d&b columns.

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Nestling at the confluence of Italy’s northern border with Switzerland and Austria, the Monastery of Marienberg strikes a dominant posture among the mountainous slopes. Founded in the twelfth century it overlooks the fertile glacial valley of the river Adige, its steep vertical walls and ornate onion domed turrets typical of Tyrolean architecture. Today it stands as one of the finest examples of its type.

When it came to a major renovation project in 2015 it was this unique aspect of interior design that Werner Tscholl Architects held central to their remit. “We were anxious to ensure nothing in the way of new technology would detract from the church’s inherent beauty,” explained Florian Stecher of media specialist and integrator, flocom. “Marienberg Abbey has been a client of ours for years. It was in their plans to refurbish the sound reinforcement system during the complete renovation of the church and we were fortunate that a product from d&b audiotechnik exactly suited this project."

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The appointment to provide a solution to improve the sound reinforcement situation - principally by increasing speech intelligibility - came directly from Abbot Markus Spanier and Prior Philipp Kuschmann. Unlike so many medieval churches, reverberation wasn’t the issue. The requirement of the architect was to give particular consideration to aesthetic aspects when planning the sound reinforcement system. We started our simulation model with a pair of d&b 24C loudspeakers, integrated with 24C-E extensions to reach the full length of the main nave. A tall, thin column style enclosure, the fact the beam of the 24Cs low/mid drivers tilts five degrees downward would enable us to mount the cabinets parallel to the pillars; while the horizontal cardioid dispersion pattern of these loudspeakers provides a level of broadband attenuation to the sides and rear that address any concerns of reverberance.

“EASE showed good values, so we made a demo with the loudspeakers physically in place. It worked really well, better than planned in fact, and well above expectations. However, architect Werner Tscholl deemed the 24C/24C-E combination not to be in line with the overall aesthetic design, so we started again from scratch modelling with just four of the smaller 16Cs for the main nave. Physically much shorter, and with fewer drivers, the 16C has a wider vertical dispersion than the 24C, forty instead of twenty degrees, and has a max SPL 4dB less than the 24C. It turned out that the 16C served both masters, visual and electroacoustic. We only added four of d&b’s 4S loudspeakers to fill the side naves and altars where the 16Cs can't reach.”

Because the audio installation was part of a much wider renovation project, flocom’s installation phase was unhindered. “Ducts and cables, speakers and microphones, DSP and amplifiers have been put exactly where we wanted them without compromise,” reported Stecher. “Abbot Spanier and Werner Tscholl were satisfied by that. We received their compliments and they stated their satisfaction from the very first time the audio system has been put to use.”

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