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Many of our projects are houses of worship, with a clear emphasis on churches and synagogues having traditional liturgies and strong music programs. Successful worship spaces share highly-valued qualities such as clarity for intelligible speech, reverberance for liturgical music, responsiveness for congregational participation, and low background noise for enhancement of all sounds. We offer a full scope of architectural acoustics consulting services, including room interior acoustic design, sound isolation, mechanical equipment noise and vibration control, speech- and music-reinforcement sound system design and pipe organ acoustics. We most often serve those congregations which wish to retain or even enhance the natural worship-space acoustics and may also require a high quality speech-reinforcement sound system to provide excellent speech intelligibility. We also help our clients with a variety of organ-related acoustics issues.

A reverberant synagogue or church is often a very complex acoustical space which must reconcile a distinct conflict of uses, needing to simultaneously be a music room and a lecture hall. Choral and organ music, as well as congregational singing and responses, are typically well supported by the natural acoustics of a responsive and reverberant worship space, but not by one with low reverberance. Speech, on the other hand—whether amplified or not—is best served by an acoustic space with little reverberance, where clarity of the spoken word enhances sermons, prayers and scripture readings. Our preferred design approach is to identify realistic ways in which the musical acoustics can be improved, and then to specify a high quality speech-reinforcement sound system capable of providing excellent speech intelligibility.

Noise in a worship space—even the background hum of traffic or whir of machinery—can be a potent enemy of speech and music. Any amount of background noise reduces speech intelligibility and music clarity, masking nuance of the spoken word and subtlety of a musical phrase. We advocate strongly for elimination of noise in the worship space, whether from environmental sources outside the building or mechanical systems inside.

Many worship buildings, old and new, can be challenging spaces in which to achieve the right acoustical balance between music and speech requirements. A practical and sensitive design based upon solid acoustics principles, with careful attention to detail and thoroughness of purpose, can achieve excellent results.

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