It’s rare for a loudspeaker to get a standing ovation, but that’s exactly what happened at St. Michael’s Catholic Church in Wausau, WI, says Andrew Pierson of Audio Architects Inc. “I brought one Tannoy QFlex 40 in, positioned it with a lift and left it there for two months. During a service, the priest asked the congregation what they thought of the sound. They literally got up

on their feet and applauded.”

That was the deciding factor for the church, says St. Michael’s Director of Worship, Tom Lella. “Intelligibility for speech and music was top of the list. Our worship is based on ritual prayer, but the music we have ranges from cantors to small ensembles, to our choir accompanied by piano or organ.”

As Senior Sales Engineer at Chippewa Falls, Wiscoznsin-based Audio Architects Inc., Pierson often uses Tannoy and Lab.gruppen products in a variety of applications. The St. Michael’s project finished out December 2014 and required two QFlex 48 digitally steerable line arrays – placed to either side of the proscenium/altar area roughly seven feet off the floor – and a pair of Tannoy VSX 12.2BP subs tucked in behind the QFlex in the proscenium to each side of the altar. Pierson also relocated some of the church’s pre-existing Tannoy i12s to cover St. Michael’s balcony.

Most of the church’s previous amplifiers were replaced by three Lab.gruppen E Series amplifiers – one E8:2 to drive the VSX subs and two E4:2s to power the i12s and some ancillary speakers located elsewhere in the building. Additional components include Biamp Tesira DSP and a Mackie DL1608 for sub-mixing the choir.

Lab.gruppen C and E Series, generally speaking, are Pierson’s ‘go to’ amplifiers. “Lab’s will do either high or low impedance, and the E Series, with the controls on the back of the amps, keep the end user from making unintentional adjustments. The E Series also come in at a price point that makes them very competitive. The amount of power you get for the dollar makes them more affordable and the 1U footprint and power cycling function are extremely convenient.”

Although the congregation was impressed with the sound of just one QFlex during the demo: “We needed two so they could be steered individually to cover the front pews yet avoid the choir and piano area. Because it’s such a wide room, it required the full 70-degrees the QFlex provide to cover the entire space.” QFlex beam steering capabilities also allow Pierson to keep the energy on the level of the congregation. “So they have a direct line of sight to the mid/high devices whether they’re sitting or standing. The comment we often get about active arrays is that the sound comes directly at the congregation instead of being omnipresent. If they’re placed too high, they energize the room oftentimes as much as they energize the desired location.”

Tannoy’s VSX subs were chosen because the musical offerings at St. Michael’s required additional low frequency support, Pierson continues. “They’re extremely efficient. I didn’t run them all the way up to 130 dB in this environment, but I didn’t need to.”

Aesthetics were a key concern and the VSX’s discreet profile and the slim design of the QFlex arrays – custom painted by Audio Architects – blend in seamlessly with the church’s décor. Pierson also cites the QFlex modular construction as a benefit; one that makes them easier to customize, install and maintain, while also keeping shipping expenses down.

As for the QFlex 40, the company owns and used in the original demonstration? “I’ve demoed it ten times,” Pierson says, and, as far as sales resulting from those demos go, I’m ten for ten. We can easily achieve plus or minus 1.5 dB in locations where we’re covering, say, 85 to 100 feet in length. QFlex allows us to provide the most even SPL, in the widest range, in some of the largest venues we’ve done.”

Pierson, who is also Audio Architects’ lead Digital Signal Programmer, has praise QFlex’s beam steering engine and GUI as well. “It’s easy to work with, extremely accurate and provides a certain wow factor during demos when I say ‘now I’m steering it toward you. Now I’m steering it over your head and now I’m going to steer it to this small space right in front of us.’”


“The difference is night and day,” Lella sums up. “When Andy brought the demo speaker in there was a noticeable difference with just one QFlex and now we have two.”