Tannoy VLS system installed in South Carolina cathedral

Passive column loudspeakers introduced to solve the intelligibility issues that have been plaguing the church for years.
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The Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Charleston, South Carolina has upgraded its sound reinforcement system with Tannoy VLS speakers.

The church has been through many updates and renovations since it was built in 1850, but none of the previous sound systems were able to solve the intelligibility issues caused by the highly reverberant space.

Joe Bennett, owner of Spectrum Sound from nearby Summerville was given the task of finding a sound reinforcement system that would give each mass plenty of clarity.

"After a thorough review of the components in place it became obvious that the existing system was bits and pieces of older systems patched together," Bennett said. "There were speakers firing everywhere. Frankly it was amazing that anyone could hear the services at all."

Bennett suggested bringing in loudspeakers that would keep sound away from hard surfaces, and on to the audience, which led to the VLS passive column loudspeakers being trialled, and eventually picked.

"They were very impressed with the natural and realistic sound quality of the loudspeakers," Bennett reported. "They needed a system that would offer vocal intelligibility without sounding overly amplified – the VLS were perfect."

The first Tannoy loudspeakers to offer FAST – Focused Asymmetrical Shaping Technology – the VLS speakers deliver an asymmetrical vertical dispersion that gently shapes the acoustic coverage toward the lower quadrant of the vertical axis.

Two VLS 30 column array loudspeakers were fixed onto pillars in front of and to the sides of the alter. Each unit is equipped with 14 3.5-inch LF transducers mounted in vertical arrays with 16 one-inch HF transducers mounted co-axially over a section of the LF drivers. Each speaker produces a maximum average SPL of 120 dB, which was more than sufficient for this particular space.

"The installation was pretty straightforward," Bennett continued. "We are using the VLS loudspeakers with a Biamp AudioFlex system with auto-mixer – that's all it needs. We tweaked the system for a few days during Noon mass to make sure the EQ and auto-mix settings were all dialed in and it's been running like a charm ever since. The parishioners and church leaders are thrilled."

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