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Canterbury Church Gains Invisible Intelligibility

Canterbury Church Gains Invisible Intelligibility

Canterbury Church wanted to maintain its clean looking aesthetics in their worship space. Here's how a sanctuary with high reverberation accomplished intelligibility without cluttering the pristine look.

Established in 1950, Canterbury UMC has grown to embrace both traditional and contemporary worship styles, with separate sanctuaries for each on its Mountain Brook, Alabama campus. Recently, the church engaged Twist Technology of nearby Birmingham to address its ongoing issues with intelligibility of the spoken word in the main (traditional) sanctuary. 

For Twist CEO Lynn McCroskey, there were two challenges to be overcome in this design/build project. “First, we had to create articulation in an extremely reverberant environment,” he explains. “At the same time, aesthetics was a primary concern. This is a beautiful worship space, and they did not want to see a big speaker cluster or anything like that.”

Two Iconyx IC24-R-II digitally steerable column arrays cover the entire room, delivering advanced digital beam steering to direct the sound to the seating areas, and away from the side walls, balcony facings, and other reflective surfaces. And the Iconyx slim, low-profile design enabled Twist to create a system that sounded great, with minimal visual impact.

“The IC24 column is 10 feet tall, but only about six inches wide, so it’s really more like an architectural element than a loudspeaker,” says McCroskey. “It’s designed to be flush-mounted to the walls, so there is no interference with the congregation’s sightlines. With the precision color-matched paint job, they really just look like part of the building. Most people don’t even realize that there are two 10-foot tall speaker columns behind the altar. The church elders are very pleased and impressed.”

Iconyx steered beam technology enabled Twist Technology to meet Canterbury’s seemingly conflicting goals of preserving the sanctuary’s big sound while creating exceptional intelligibility. “We’ve used the Iconyx successfully in several architecturally sensitive installations,” McCroskey reports. “The directional control is a huge help with articulation, and really helps control reverberation. For a large space like this, with high, vaulted ceilings, a balcony, and hard surfaces everywhere, beam steering is the perfect solution. The pipe organ and choir music still soars, but now the spoken word can be clearly understood from every seat.”

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