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St. Anthony Church in Davenport

St. Anthony Church in Davenport, Iowa, was established in 1837, and one thing the church has long sought but never found until recently is reliably clear, intelligible speech.

Like most church buildings of its type, St. Anthony’s stone walls and floors and vaulted ceilings create highly reverberant spaces, the ultimate challenge for clear speech. Now, St. Anthony Church has found the solution, with the installation of a new sound system featuring the Bose Professional MSA12X modular steerable array loudspeaker system at its core. The installation was completed in advance of the celebration of Palm Sunday on March 25.

John Cooper, St. Anthony Church’s Pastoral Associate & Business Manager, says that the system came about in a heartwarming manner.

“We had an elderly parishioner here for many years, and she would let us know that she found it hard to hear at Mass,” Cooper recounts, noting that the church’s existing sound system had components that dated back decades, with just a few updates over that time. When the woman passed away last year, her family made a donation towards a new sound system.

Installed in the church’s main building by AV systems integrator Communications Engineering Co. (CEC) of Hiawatha, Iowa, the system consists of six advanced digital beam steering MSA12X loudspeakers, mounted three on the left and three on the right above and behind the altar. Processing, networking and system management are handled by a Bose Professional ControlSpace ESP-1240 processor, a Bose Professional Dante network card, and a Bose Professional ControlSpace CC-64 control center.

St. Anthony Church in Davenport

CEC Systems Engineer, Leo Smith, looked at the sanctuary and knew immediately that this was a perfect application for the Bose Professional MSA12X. “These types of environments need very precisely laid out coverage to be effective, and the MSA12X gave us better coverage than any other speaker could have here,” says Smith.

With the amplifier and speaker operating as a single unit, with a Dante jumper in between them, the network signal gets directly to the speaker. From there, a coverage pattern was established by Bose Professional Modeler® software to determine how the sound would be dispersed over the seating area. “The sound is precisely mapped to avoid all of the reflective surfaces in the church, and there are many of them,” Smith explains. “Architecturally, churches like these are among the most challenging environments in which to achieve intelligibility, and the MSA12X handled it perfectly. We have very precise control over all of the sound beams.”

St. Anthony Church in Davenport

Once the project was completed, Cooper says the transformation of the church’s sound was spectacular. “It was ready the Friday before Palm Sunday, and ever since then we’ve had many compliments about the new sound,” he says. “It was done in time for Holy Week and the Easter season, and everyone loves it. And it looks great, too, in the sense that you can’t really see it. It blends right in, which is important in a classic church like this one. We’ve waited a long time to get sound like this, and we’re glad it’s now here.”

The self-powered MSA12X loudspeaker features a slim, unobtrusive acoustic design with 12 full-range 2.25-inch transducers in a columnar array configuration, to provide consistent audio levels with outstanding vocal intelligibility and full-range music reinforcement in acoustically challenging spaces. 

The MSA12X speaker includes 12 internal power amplifiers (50 watts per channel; total 600-watt rated power) and onboard DSP to allow digital control and beam steering of the array’s vertical coverage pattern. The proprietary Articulated Array configuration allows wide, 160-degree horizontal coverage. Independent level and EQ control is supported.