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New Audio System Protects Beauty of Sioux Falls' Historic St. Joseph’s Cathedral

$16 million restoration project topped off with digitally steerable array system

Originally constructed in 1919, St. Joseph’s Cathedral in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, recently put the finishing touches on a decade-long restoration project. The extensive renovation and restoration process of the majestic church was overseen by architect Duncan G. Stroik and totaled more than $16 million.

Intrinsic to the project was replacing the church’s 25 year-old sound system. Serving as mother church to the diocese, as well as parish church for Sioux Falls and other surrounding parishes, St. Joseph’s mass services are well attended by hundreds of parishioners.

The project proved quite challenging, according to Peter Borchard of MuSonics Audio. MuSonics has designed audio solutions for many large cathedrals across the country. “The church has a lot of reflective surfaces that resulted in a six second reverberation time, making it one of the more reverberant in the US and creating significant intelligibility issues,” reports Borchard.

The historic cathedral is known for its magnificent architecture featuring imported Italian marble floors and columns, massive arched ceilings, and huge stained glass windows.  It was vital to St. Joseph’s that the new audio system blend aesthetically so as not to diminish the visual impact of the church’s stunning architecture. “Needless to say, it was critical that the new sound system would in no way interfere with the church’s aesthetics,” says Borchard.

An Iconyx high performance digitally steerable array system by Renkus-Heinz proved to be the perfect audio solution for the cathedral.

The system, installed by Brookings, South Dakota-based Audio Connections, used a combination of Iconyx loudspeakers - two IC-32, two IC-24 and six IC-8 loudspeakers - wall-mounted throughout the cathedral. Iconyx uses Renkus-Heinz’s steerable multiple beam technology to provide full even coverage throughout the venue. The slim, low profile column speakers are custom painted to match the cathedral walls, rendering them almost invisible.

RHAON DSP controls the loudspeakers. “RHAON is great because you plug into the network in one place and you can control and monitor all the speakers. You don’t have the normal hassle of running around plugging in to various pieces of equipment,” explains Borchard.

“The sound quality of the Iconyx loudspeakers is superb, and the color matching and mounting is exemplary,” says Borchard. “The cathedral is a showcase.”

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