The Naval Academy Chapel is a historic focal point for the U.S. Naval Academy and the city of Annapolis, Maryland. Dedicated in 1908 and remodeled in 1940, the Chapel underwent an extensive restoration in 2009. Its classic cruciform design centers on a 121-foot-high dome, seats 2500 worshipers and includes a 268-rank pipe organ.
The Chapel’s large volume, hard surfaces and large, high dome present substantial acoustical issues. As a result, the Chapel has always suffered from poor speech intelligibility and uneven coverage. In an attempt to deal with these issues, the Chapel tried several different sound systems including a distributed system and a pew-back system. Finally, in 2010, while operating with an unsatisfactory mix of these different systems, the Chapel published an RFP asking for proposals for an entirely new sound reinforcement system.
After an extended, formal evaluation of several proposals, the Chapel chose a design presented by DFX Sound Vision of West Berlin, New Jersey. To improve intelligibility in the Chapel and solve its coverage issues, DFX proposed a design based on Community Entasys column line arrays. “We knew we had to keep sound out of the dome as much as possible,” said Drew Juliano, DFX’ Design Engineer, who designed the new Chapel system. “So we installed an Entasys triple-stack on each side in the front and added an Entasys double-stack on each side towards the rear to cover the mezzanine and choir loft. Entasys’ narrow vertical coverage helped us keep sound away from the ceiling and the dome and its wide horizontal coverage helped provide even coverage throughout the seating areas.”
DFX completed its installation in late 2012 and aimed the Entasys stacks with a laser to avoid slap echoes from the back wall. They added delay to the rear stacks to match the sound arrivals from the front. And, they carefully adjusted levels of the individual loudspeakers to get even coverage throughout the Chapel.
“System aesthetics were very important to the Chapel,” said DFX’ Sales Manager Rene DiPeri. “We provided them with a rendering of the installed loudspeakers as part of our proposal,” she continued. “So, Community custom-painted the Entasys columns to an RAL color number we provided, and we took care to match all of our work to the Chapel’s interior design and colors.”
The Chapel hosts religious services for several faiths as well as weddings, funerals and other services. DFX added a Crestron touch-panel control to reconfigure the system to match the needs of these varied events. A Digidesign digital mixer is available for special events that need extra microphones and a professional operator. DFX completed the system with a BSS DSP system and Crown power amplifiers.
“The Chapel is very pleased with the system’s intelligibility and coverage,” said Juliano, “and we provided a service contract so we can continue to train new users and adjust the Crestron settings as their needs change.”