Upgrading the Sound-reinforcement System at St. Pius X Catholic Church, Rochester, Minn.

Like so many houses of worship, St. Pius X Catholic Church in Rochester, Minn., followed a haphazard path from the era predating sound reinforcement to today 4/12/2010 8:00 AM Eastern

Upgrading the Sound-reinforcement System at St. Pius X Catholic Church, Rochester, Minn.

Apr 12, 2010 12:00 PM

Intermedia Systems Group (ISG) specified Ashly Audio NE Series amplifiers during the recent renovation at St. Pius X Catholic Church in Rochester, Minn.

Like so many houses of worship, St. Pius X Catholic Church in Rochester, Minn., followed a haphazard path from the era predating sound reinforcement to today. The church was established in 1954 and moved into its present building a decade later. A rudimentary public-address system went in sometime in the 1970s to provide reinforcement for spoken word. But as the church moved toward live music—a mixture of choral with classical instrumentation, such as violin, piano, and flute—the system, which was already inadequate for its intended purpose and riddled with hot and cold spots, was asked to reinforce the music as well. The result was predictable. Thus, when the church undertook a massive renovation, Intermedia Systems Group (ISG) replaced the old sound system with a thoroughly modern one that provides even coverage across the audible spectrum. At the center of the new system are Ashly Audio NE Series amplifiers delivering reliable power, along with easy network access allowing ISG to monitor and adjust the system remotely from its offices in Burnsville, Minn.

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Josh Jagdfeld, ISG vice president, worked closely with principal architect Carter Hord of Hord Architects (Memphis, Tenn.), parish administrator Denise DeRienzo, and director of liturgy Katie Stinson to design and install a functional, easy-to-use, and aesthetically matched AV system for the newly renovated church. The new system has touchscreen control and backing by Intermedia Remote Support. The whole system can be accessed and adjusted remotely, providing St. Pius X a level of service that has only recently become possible.

The church is roughly split into four main seating areas, and Jagdfeld arranged four EAW coaxial loudspeaker cabinets to cover them seamlessly. RCF loudspeakers provide delay coverage for the balcony and cry rooms, and a Biamp Nexia DSP provides intelligent control of the system. For example, if the church is hosting a smaller event, unused zones may be muted so as not to unnecessarily excite the acoustics of the room. Four new Audio-Technica 4000 series wireless microphone systems provide modern inputs that combine the convenience of wireless with fidelity worthy of the rest of the system.

Two Ashly ne1600 2-channel amps provide 400W of power per channel to each of the four main EAW loudspeakers. One Ashly ne4250 4-channel amp provides 150W of power per channel to the RCF delays. "We love the feature set and price of the Ashly amps," Jagdfeld says. "And there is no other comparably-priced amp out there that hooks up so easily to a network. That's a big part of what we provide to our clients; remote access is essential. If something breaks or something is misconfigured, we want to be calling the church with a fix before they even know there's a problem. The Ashly NE Series amps are a key part of that service.

"At ISG, we pride ourselves on avoiding cookie-cutter designs. Everything we do is very intentional, and as a result we are very choosy about selecting specific equipment for particular applications. If it doesn't fit, we look elsewhere. That said, the Ashly amps have proven to be so flexible and reliable that they find their way into almost every job. Since Ashly introduced the PE Series a year ago, we've put in a huge number of Ashly NE and PE Series amps, and we have yet to have a single problem with any of them."

Of course, people who think about sound all day assume that the visual aesthetics of a sound system play a distant second to its audio performance, if they think about the visual aesthetics at all. But clients don't think about sound all day and so the visual aesthetics do matter. ISG worked closely with Hord Architects to guarantee that St. Pius X's new system would look as great as it sounds. To that end, they custom-tailored all of the hardware and color-matched the finishes on all the exposed elements of the system. As a result the new church is as beautiful as it is functional, and the good people of St. Pius X have a long, crystal-clear future ahead of them.

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