Cairo, Egypt – February 2014… In a region renowned as the birthplace of modern religion, this sprawling metropolis on the banks of the Nile is dotted with houses of worship large and small. Constructed in 1939, the Basilica of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus is a classic example, a massive Byzantine style structure adorned with Arabic-Egyptian ornamentation.
As with many of the grand basilicas, the room’s acoustics have long been a challenge. Soaring walls, marble floors, wooden pews, and a massive 80-foot (25 meter) high dome ringed with windows are just the beginning of a highly reflective environment that makes intelligibility nearly impossible. The walls of the church are decorated with an ornate mosaic which, while beautiful to behold, only adds to the reflectivity of the space.
Egyptian audio distributors Al Fanny Trading were called in to help solve the Basilica’s sonic challenges, and installed a system based around four of Mackie’s HDA two-way arrayable powered loudspeakers. As Al Fanny’s Rami Saad explains, the church’s previous system was simply not up to the task.
“They had a system of ten speakers installed on the columns, but the sound quality was pretty much unacceptable,” Saad says. “People could not understand the sermon, and the balance between the choir and the spoken word was very poor.”
Saad says the HDA system was selected not just for its power, but for its processing and pattern control. “It was no problem to find speakers that were loud, or speakers with good sound quality,” he explains. “The challenge was to find speakers that could direct the sound toward the people, not toward the walls. The HDA speakers did exactly that, and very well. And the HDA’s high-definition processing delivers a very high degree of intelligibility, which is essential for a challenging environment like this one.”
The choir area has been equipped with several SRM450v2 loudspeakers for monitoring. “The choir are standing higher on a platform, and the sound coming out of the main speakers didn’t really provide them with enough coverage,” says Saad. “The SRM speakers are a great solution.”
As the final piece to the sound system, Al Fanny installed a Mackie Onyx 24.4-Bus console. “The Onyx console sounds wonderful – very clean and clear,” says Saad. “The system has made a big difference for them already, and everyone is very pleased.”