Seward, NE-March 2018
Concordia University, Nebraska, has been through many changes since its founding with one professor and a dozen students in 1894. Operated by The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, it is now a fully accredited, coeducational university with more than 2,700 students. Its home town of Seward, located 25 miles west of Lincoln, is best known for an annual July 4 celebration that draws 40,000 to a town of 7,000 people.
Weller Hall, built in 1925, is the campus’ central gathering place and most iconic building. Weller houses the admission office, financial aid office, the president’s office, and two classrooms but its most important space is the chapel/auditorium. Built in 1950, and seating about 400, the chapel houses theatrical and musical performances, daily Chapel services, and a weekly student devotional service called “Praise.” Some services are traditional, with choir, organ, and spoken word, while others are contemporary and feature a praise band. The chapel also hosts an assortment of musical performances and spoken-word presentations. The chapel had long suffered from an outdated sound system and for the past five years relied on a temporary, portable system comprising two subwoofers and two full-range tops on sticks. But that system was never intended for permanent use, and it was underpowered and detracted from the room’s aesthetics. To address this issue, following a recent chapel remodel, the university hired multimedia production and AV systems integration firm Inspirmedia Productions, which designed and installed a new sound system based on Renkus-Heinz ICONYX Gen5 loudspeakers. “We’ve done several churches with ICONYX, including the Lutheran church across street from Weller,” recounts Inspirmedia Executive Director Phil Grimpo, “so the university was able to hear them and know what they were getting.”
Grimpo and Ben Shipman, president of dealer Audio Video Associates, initially considered Renkus-Heinz’ IC Live series, which have extra power for reinforcing music. However, a pair of Renkus-Heinz ICONYX Gen5 IC8-RN loudspeakers, placed left and right of the stage, better fit the school’s budget and proved fully equal to the room’s challenges. “Ben was a bit worried that the IC8-RNs were not going to be enough for that room if they put a band in,” Grimpo recalls. “We normally would use IC Live for that. But the IC8-RNs gave us levels in the mid-90 dB range, and in that room, they’re plenty loud, and the clarity is excellent.”
Finding a place to mount the loudspeakers wasn’t easy. “With the balcony overhanging on the right side where the organ is, we didn’t have a lot of good places to mount speakers that would be downstage of the stage lip but upstage of where the front row seats are, and where we could get the speakers high enough,” Grimpo observes. “That was a bit difficult. But we were able to mount the ICONYX IC8-RNs at about six feet, and thanks to Renkus-Heinz’ beam steering, they cover everything except up in the balcony at the back of the room. As a result, we did not need delay speakers under the balcony, which they used in the old system. With just two IC8-RNs and the subwoofers, we’re within 2 dB from the front of the room all the way to the back, including the seating under the balcony.”
Sub-lows are handled by a pair of Renkus-Heinz PN212-SUB self-powered subwoofers, each of which features two ultra-heavy-duty 12-inch woofers. The subwoofers are located on the floor, on either side of the stage. To fill in the balcony-the only area not covered by the main system-Grimpo specified two Renkus-Heinz PN82R self-powered, two-way Complex Conic loudspeakers. A Roland M-series console connects to a digital snake onstage and from there directly to the self-powered Renkus-Heinz loudspeakers. The system doesn’t employ a third-party DSP unit, relying on the loudspeakers’ onboard DSP and Renkus-Heinz RHAON II System Manager software.
“The Renkus-Heinz speakers were really easy to install,” reports Grimpo. “We got in there at 12:30 pm, and the university had a practice in the space that started at 4. We were done by 3:30; in just three hours, we hung and wired two IC8-RN speakers and installed the PN212-SUB subwoofers. The next day we came back and tuned.”
Grimpo’s contention that the extra horsepower of the IC Live was borne out in practice. “Renkus-Heinz IC8-RNs are a good fit for this room,” he confirms. “When I crank the system up, I think they would not want it any louder than this. The system sounds great, and the university is very happy.”