At 48-feet tall with over 6,000 square feet of glass and a flagstone floor, the Thorncrown Chapel was “an acoustical nightmare.”
There are challenging acoustical spaces, and then there are really challenging acoustical spaces. A contender for the top of that list is also near the top of another elite collection: the Thorncrown Chapel, in Eureka Springs, Ark., comes in fourth on the American Institute of Architecture’s top designs of the 20th century. It has 425 windows and more than 6,000 square feet of glass. However, the 48-foot-tall wooden structure, which has won numerous architectural awards and has been visited by over six million people since the chapel opened in 1980, has another, less salutary distinction: All that glass and other hard surfaces such as a flagstone floor have made for what AV systems designers rightly call “an acoustical nightmare.” The massive amounts of reflected sound make vocal intelligibility all but impossible. After numerous attempts to tame the space had failed, the Panaray MA12EX system from Bose Professional Systems, powered by the Bose PowerMatch PM8500N amplifier, was brought in to address the problem. As a result, for the first time in the structure’s 33-year history, the problem was solved. The Panaray system was reportedly able to conquer this acoustical challenge with the simplest of designs: just two columns of two MA12EX modules per side and a single PM8500N amplifier.
Read more: Thorncrown Chapel Receives a Sound Renovation