A Monumental Audio System – San Marco Church in Venice
At Saint Mark’s Basilica in Venice, a true treasure of history, art and faith visited every year by at least 1.5-2 million people from all over the world, an extensive new RCF sound reinforcement system was recently installed, with forty loudspeaker enclosures that include no less than ten of the new VSA 2050 digitally steerable vertical line arrays.
Many of the countless tourists visiting this marvellous example of Romanesque and Byzantine architecture also take part in the religious ceremonies held inside, so the audio system had to meet various requirements, as is explained by Marco Mazzon, founder of the company of the same name, based in Meolo (Venice), which installed the system: “The brief I got from the client was above all to ensure a considerable increase in intelligibility and flexible control of the various sectors - there are approximately thirty microphones used by officiates and singers in seven different zones of the church."
As he had detailed knowledge of the Basilica and its logistics, Mazzon designed the signal management system, whereas, for the actual acoustic design, he contacted RCF’s dedicated in-house division, in the person of Francesco Venturi, who presented a detailed report and acoustic simulation documentation along with the definitive design.
The main problem to be solved consisted in the different sound coverage required from the system (ranging from a few metres to thirty), which had to ensure considerable spl as well as extremely even distribution, achieving better intelligibility without increasing the reverberation problems typical of this type of location.
Due to the building’s architectural classification, each array had to have a colour that ensured it was almost invisible.
Mazzon enthuses: “The VSA systems provide the ideal solution to both these aspects, thanks to their remarkable sound pressure and precision and a ‘custom’ finish, which solved the aesthetic problems.”
The ten VSA 2050 arrays cover the “congregation” zone of the Basilica and are mounted on the church’s impressive columns, forming a main sound front made up of six systems covering the front area of the naves and the transept, while the other four are mounted twenty metres further forward and appropriately delayed, to cover the rear portion of the naves. Two compact RCF MR 33WT enclosures installed below the ambos optimize the coverage of the first rows of worshippers.
Thanks to the its powerful DSP circuit, connected directly digitally to the twenty Class D 50W amplifiers, the VSA 2050 processes the audio signal fed to each of its twenty loudspeakers to control their vertical dispersion, driving them with the necessary power for ensuring excellent dynamics and addressing the appropriate area to be covered.
Various other types of RCF enclosures were installed in the Basilica, both indoors and outside: seventeen two-way passive loudspeaker columns (versions CS 6940 and 6520) are installed in other seven zones if the huge church, including the entire area of the presbytery and the Pala d’Oro (the high altar’s splendid retable), the Baptistery, the chapel of St. Isidore and the narthex.
Three MR33T “service” enclosures are positioned at the two organs (as monitors for the organists) and in the vestry. On particularly important occasions, six H6045 fibreglass multi-cell long-throw exponential horn speakers, each fitted with four D5076 drivers, are mounted outside the basilica with special fast-lock hardware and cover the entire square.
When installation work was completed, RCF technicians took a series of measurements to ensure that the system’s performance perfectly achieved the acoustic objectives set by the client.
On Sunday, 8th of May at the Basilica of San Marco in Venice, the Pope will host the third Assembly of the Church of the Patriarchate of Venice arranged for the closure of the Pastoral Visit of the Patriarch and his main collaborators of the different parishes.