House of Worship Case Study – Saint John’s Cathedral
Saint John’s Cathedral in Denver, Colorado is the seat of the bishop and the cathedral of the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado and part of the Episcopal Church in the United States. Construction began in 1909, the first service held in the cathedral in 1911, and it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1975.
It has been a long time coming. In fact, it has been 3 decades since the cathedral has had any kind of upgrade to their sound system. AV Colorado and Second Opinion Audio in a joint partnership were chosen for this project. This was not a job for the faint of heart. The ceilings here are huge and majestic and everything is concrete. The seating area although fairly narrow is almost 130’ to the last pew. To complicate matters even more this is on the National Registry of Historic places. This means special care had to be taken to respect the aesthetic integrity of this beautiful space. This is a building tourists visit on a regular basis just to see this historic architecture.
The only real option for this space was Meyer Sound’s CAL 64s with MM10 low frequency support. The speakers were color matched to the brick and seem to disappear into the background. You really have to look for them to see them. We used the Cals in a split beam configuration.
The lower beam for the first half of the seating and the upper beam for the last half of the seating. It was also important that the energy was as “On Axis” as possible to keep the image close to where the voices originate from. We also needed to keep the energy low as possible as to not excite the enormous round ceilings. The only loudspeakers that had enough SPL, pattern control, and phase linearity was the CAL64. Nothing else even came close. What we achieved was astounding and beyond our expectations.
The actual sound field was no more than 4db difference from the first pew to the last with a very smooth drop off at the very back wall. These speakers seem not to care what your acoustics are. They will delivery amazing direct energy and superb clarity.
The split beam configuration also allowed us to have the microphones themselves at the pulpit and lectern positions to be in between and somewhat in the “null” of the two beams. Even though the pulpit mic is a little in front of the left speaker, the Shure goose neck microphone with the WL-185 capsule is very stable and sounds wonderful with good gain before feedback. The small worship orchestra is under the right house speaker as well and we seem to be very stable with having microphones directly underneath it. The stability of the energy also allowed us to roam with the headset belt pack microphones as they have many positions in the sanctuary where scripture is read.
The Meyer Sound MM4XPs were chosen for the choir loft for their size and output. They are perfect for this application where they need to be loud yet unseen. The pipe organ is also in this area.
For the house console we chose the Midas M32 which is one of our favorite small consoles. The combination of Meyer and Midas cannot be beat and for us cannot be overstated as a match that sets the highest of standards. We worked with the staff and programmed the console so there is very little to do other than push faders.
Their head engineer Tim DeMars of course received extensive training. Tim has been there since the last system was installed and is now the engineer for a system that will set the new standard for cathedrals everywhere. A very special thanks to the Reverend Canon Jadon D. Hartsuff for your vision and guidance on this project.