Skaneateles, New York | February, 2016 - Named after an adjacent lake (the name is an Iroquois term that means "long lake"), the Central New York town of Skaneateles boasts a colorful history. Citizens participated in pre-Civil War reform movements, formed a utopian community in the 1840s, and aided the Underground Railroad. St. James' Episcopal Church has been there through it all. Organized in 1816, the first dedicated St. James' Episcopal Church building went up in 1827, and the present stone church was dedicated in 1874. It's a beautiful building that has been expanded and renovated several times, but for years the congregation suffered with a poor sound system that could not deliver sound to the back of the nave, among other issues.
That old system is history now, and the church is home to a new Renkus-Heinz Iconyx Gen5 loudspeaker system designed and installed by DCI Sound. "The sanctuary seats approximately 400, and they have three services nearly back-to-back," relates DCI president and manager David May. "The 9 a.m. service is traditional, with a choir and a 1927 Ernest M. Skinner pipe organ. But the 10:30 service has a full contemporary band. So they needed a sound system that could handle everything, from speech intelligibility to contemporary Christian music, and they needed to be able to quickly adjust the system in the 10 minutes between services."
As with most such spaces, it was important to keep sound directed at the congregation and away from walls and other reflective surfaces. "Iconyx arrays, with their steered beams, are perfect for this type of space," May explains. "In addition, Iconyx are very musical and have high output, so they can easily handle the praise band. Iconyx Gen5 is even better because you get a more flexible selection of configurations, with even more precision. That means we can customize Gen5 systems even better for the venue, and we can deliver for less money."
May placed an Iconyx Gen5 IC16-RN digitally steerable line array on house left. Thanks to its multiple steerable beams, this one column covers the left front corner and the entire width of the room from approximately the fourth row all the way to the rear of the sanctuary. To cover the remaining right front corner, May selected a Gen5 IC8-RN digitally steerable array. He added a dummy IC8 column on top of the real IC8-RN to visually match the IC16-RN on the opposite side. Renkus-Heinz' custom paint job enabled the Iconyx columns to blend in with the adjacent woodwork.
In the summer, Skaneateles is a busy tourist town, and the 10:30 service is held outdoors, in a section of the property along the waterfront. "Outside, we use a network cable to an I/O box in a small portable rack where they can plug in local inputs," May recalls. "The rack includes a four channel amp to drive four portable Renkus-Heinz speakers which cover the outdoor services and other events. To provide the flexibility the church needed, we used wireless wherever practical, and the system is configured with a touchscreen controller to choose between the inside and outside systems and also to switch instantly from a service with choir and organ to a contemporary service with a praise band."
May used Renkus-Heinz' new RHAON II software to tune the Iconyx Gen5 speakers. He liked the original RHAON, he says, "but RHAON II renders much faster. It's is a big improvement."
After years of suffering with an inadequate sound system, the good people of St. James Episcopal Church have had their patience richly rewarded. They now have a beautifully renovated sanctuary with a sound system that easily handles their traditional and contemporary services and other events, indoors and outdoors, and sounds great everywhere. "They are delighted with the Iconyx Gen5 system, as I knew they would be," May relates. "We've done a number of installs with Gen5 recently, and all have been very well received."