Veteran AV systems integrator Joe Barone provides sonic clarity and presence for magnificent Catholic sanctuary reborn out of the ashes of its predecessor.

When Saint Pius Tenth Parish’s church in Western New York was completely destroyed by a fire, Father Paul Bonacci likened the catastrophe to Good Friday and assured his congregation that a wonderful Easter Sunday would surely follow. The parish entrusted veteran AV systems integrator Joe Barone to design and install a sound system for the stately new Catholic sanctuary reborn out of the ashes of its predecessor.

Challenges 

The sanctuary’s hard reflective surfaces and lack of acoustic treatment presented significant acoustical challenges. Aesthetic challenges included parameters on loudspeaker placement to avoid detracting from the awe-inspiring architecture. 

Solution

“Saint Pius Tenth is the first new church in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester in 40 years, so I knew expectations were running high,” recounts Joe Barone. “Pleased with the AV system I’d done for their Parish Center that housed services during the rebuilding process, the church chose me for the sanctuary system.”

“While the original sanctuary had been acoustically dead, the new sanctuary’s highly reflective marble, drywall, glass and wooden surfaces created a very live and reverberant worship space,” states Barone. “Complicating matters further, acoustical treatment was outside the project budget and the church required a visually unobtrusive sound system that wouldn’t interfere with its dramatic architecture and iconography. In my four decades of working with church sound, I’ve established a reputation as a trouble-shooter and I was determined to meet this challenge.” 

“Loudspeaker selection, aiming and placement were critical to keep sound off reflective surfaces and focused on the parishioners” explains Barone. “Many loudspeaker brands offer limited driver sizes and horn patterns, and leave it up to system designers to fit them into various projects. I use Fulcrum whenever I can because their broad range of coaxial loudspeaker models all but ensure the right tool for any given project.” 

“As the Bishop of Rochester didn’t allow speakers below the archway at the sanctuary’s nave, we flew left/right Fulcrum DX1577 dual 15-inch coaxial loudspeakers with 75° x 75° horns as mains above the arch,” relates Barone. “Four compact DX896 dual 8-inch coaxes with 90° x 60° horns serve as fills for the sanctuary’s side and mezzanine sections. Fulcrum’s DX Series 3-way loudspeakers give me the output and pattern control I need from enclosure sizes typical of conventional 2-way systems. Rounding out the system, a pair of compact FX896 8-inch, portable coaxial vocal monitors provide clarity and source separation for the church choir.”

“Church deacons and parishioners have been very positive about the new system,” enthuses Barone. “The discrete system provides an aural clarity and presence that makes the room breathe like a fine wine. An elderly gentleman who always sits in the back of the church told me he could now hear every single word of the service. I’m honored to have been involved in Saint Pius Tenth’s rebirth and I couldn’t have done it without Fulcrum’s coaxial loudspeakers and support.”

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