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Coverage and intelligibility in chapel audio

bose, capilla

The integrator FotoCommo designed an audio solution with Bose Pro technology that meets the different requirements of architects, builders, technicians and priests responsible for the chapel project.


Regardless of their size, religious precincts represent a challenge for designers and integrators of acoustic solutions, and the modern chapel of the Universidad Panamericana, located on its new Campus Ciudad UP (Mexico City), is no exception.

Beyond the sharpness and intelligibility required for the ceremonies to be heard clearly, the sound project required solving a complicated indoor and outdoor coverage, as well as discreetly adapting to the modern aesthetics of the chapel. The Mexican company Foto Commo was in charge of integrating a system that met the expectations of the university and for this it relied on the audio technology of Bose Profesional.

- Publicidad -

Universidad Panamericana is one of the most prestigious private educational institutions in Mexico. It has recently begun the construction of Ciudad UP, a new campus designed by the firm Sasaki, located to the west of Mexico City, which already has the first buildings in operation. Among them, there are several spaces for the coexistence of the university community, such as a multipurpose auditorium and a chapel for religious services.

The Foto Commo team was involved from the beginning of the project, so they could listen to the requirements of the architects, the construction company, the technical managers and the priests themselves who would be the main users of the chapel. The audio solution had to focus on achieving flexible coverage of indoor and outdoor spaces, offering clarity and intelligibility and simple operation. At the same time, it was requested that the installation of equipment be as discreet as possible and that the devices in sight be mixed with the architectural elements.

The interior of the chapel offers a maximum capacity for 100 people, 60 of them comfortably seated. But it can be expanded by opening the access doors and using its outdoor terrace, of approximately 200 square meters, as an extension to receive more parishioners. Its architecture is sober, with a combination of stylized lines and religious symbols with simple and modern design. Wood is present in the ceiling and floor, in one of the side walls and in the benches. The altar and pulpit are made of marble. On the left side, a large window allows the passage of natural light. Access is through two wide sliding glass doors.

After evaluating the project and all its details, the decision of the designers of Foto Commo was to divide the audio system into two zones to facilitate its operation according to the needs of the ceremonies.

For the interior area, two Bose Panaray MSA12EX speakers installed in the front columns on both sides of the altar were used. In addition to providing the horizontal coverage and vocal intelligibility that the chapel required, the Panaray MSA12EX also met the architects' requirement to mount the speakers embedded within custom niches so that they did not protrude from the surface of the columns.

capilla boseAlthough at first doubts arose about the acoustic performance that Panaray speakers would have when located within the niches, some small adjustments were enough to obtain the desired sound.

"Unlike other religious temples, in which materials become obstacles to acoustic performance, in this chapel, the use of wood in the walls, ceiling and benches, in addition to the cushioned seats covered with fabric, were of great help for the absorption of sound," explains Laura García, Manager of Audio Design at Foto Commo.

- Publicidad -

The second area, the outdoor terrace, represented the biggest challenge, as it is an area that is exposed to the noises of vehicles traveling on a nearby highway and that become a distraction for listeners and an obstacle for the voice of priests. The solution was to install two powerful ArenaMatch Utility AMU206 speakers for outdoor use, which were mounted on the façade at a height of 2.80 meters and with an inclination of 10 degrees. Like the speakers inside the chapel, the AMU206s were also embedded in a couple of niches in the façade.

The ArenaMatch Utility AMU206 efficiently cover the terrace space, make the speaker's voice heard clearly and manage to hide the noises coming from the road.

To provide the best user experience for chapel managers, a simple system automation solution was implemented. When the terrace doors are open, then the ArenaMatch Utility is activated and when they remain closed only the Panaray MSA12EX inside are used. In addition, they can control the system and make some presets through the ControlSpace Remote software installed on a mobile device.

The sound of the chapel is managed through a Control Space EX-440C processor in which aspects such as echo, delay or audio filters are controlled. And the system is complemented by a PowerSpace P2600A amplifier, both from Bose.

The voice is captured by the different Shure microphones available to the priests. A wireless lavalier for easy mobility, a gooseneck model installed in the pulpit and another fixed microphone in the sacristy. In addition, in case any ceremony includes the performance of a musician, there is a microphone input for the use of any musical instrument.

Foto Commo trained the technical staff of the university in charge of the chapel of Ciudad UP to be able to operate the system and use the ControlSpace Remote software to control the equipment and make presets.

- Publicidad -

"The priests of the Universidad Panamericana were always attentive to the project. They have great experience in other chapels, auditoriums and university campuses, so they know the importance of the sound of the voice and the architectural elements," says Francisco Gaytán Téllez Girón, Director of Project Design at Foto Commo.

Thanks to this solution, the chapel of the Universidad Panamericana on the Ciudad UP campus has a sound system that meets the main acoustic needs of a religious temple, since the voice of the priests is heard in an intelligible, clear way and reaches all the people who participate in the ceremonies.

"The main challenge was to ensure that the voice of the priests will be heard with great clarity, both with the chapel closed and with the open doors of the terrace. The customer is very happy with the solution and the way the sound is heard. Everything indicates that this project is a success", concludes Manuel Galán, Project Manager at Foto Commo.

Richard Santa, RAVT
Author: Richard Santa, RAVT
Periodista de la Universidad de Antioquia (2010), con experiencia en temas sobre tecnología y economía. Editor de las revistas TVyVideo+Radio y AVI Latinoamérica. Coordinador académico de TecnoTelevisión&Radio.

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