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Roman Catholic Cathedral of St. John the Baptist
Savannah, GA

Roman Catholics of southern Georgia built their cathedral in 1874, rebuilt in 1899 after a fire, and fully restored and upgraded their diocesan seat in 2000. Soaring vaults and stunning liturgical decoration are a feast for the eye. Lively acoustics provide excellent support for choirs and a fine Noack pipe organ (1987), but the six second reverberation time renders the spoken word unintelligible. We were asked to design a new speech reinforcement sound system for this challenging space. Our solution included just two steerable line array loudspeakers to cover the nave and transepts, plus two supplementary line arrays for the large chancel. An innovative DSP “level - delay - mixing matrix” enhances directional realism for listeners throughout the cathedral. An independent sound system provides reinforcement for choir soloists in the rear balcony. Acoustics advice included material and finish recommendations for support of choir and organ sound, and noise control. Our role was that of “acoustics preservation”; we did not alter the natural acoustics for speech amplification, but instead designed a sound system to match the building, succeeding beyond expectation. Now, for the first time in 125 years, every listener can understand the spoken word.

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