Fort Knox Chapels Tackle Sound Design Challenges

Four chapels on U.S. Army outputs make new loudspeaker investment
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The four chapels on the base at Fort Knox were recently upgraded by the AV systems integrators SKC Communications and AXXIS.

Fort Knox is perhaps best known as home to the gold bullion depository that the U.S. Department of the Treasury maintains there. But the huge base also houses several other U.S. Army outposts, and serves as home to more than 12,000 people who work and reside on the base.

Four chapels on base serve many of these individuals of diverse faiths. Built in 1899, the Main Post Chapel seats about 150 and is the oldest building standing on the base. Calvary Chapel seats about 300 and does double duty as a training and orientation facility, and is under the direct command of the base commander. O’Neil Chapel is perhaps the most basic of the four venues, seating about 200 and with simple instrumentation used for praise music. Prichard Place Chapel is just the opposite: a 500-seat venue with an acoustically challenging A-frame roof design.

These four chapels were recently collectively upgraded by the AV systems integrators SKC Communications and AXXIS, who worked together on the project. SKC brought scale to the project; Louisville-based AXXIS managed the installation.

In each case, the system integrators faced unique sound design issues as each venue had its own idiosyncrasies. Bose loudspeaker systems were installed in each of the chapels, including the Bose RoomMatch and Panaray loudspeaker systems.

According to SKC, Prichard Place Chapel’s 43-foot-tall interior could have acted as a troublesome bass node with the wrong system. A Bose RoomMatch system consisting of an RM5510 module on top was installed for the farthest throw, followed by an RM7010, RM9020 and two RM12020 modules, all which were powered by a pair of Bose PowerMatch PM8500N networked configurable amplifiers.

“The Prichard Place Chapel was the most challenging of all,” said Keith Stengl, design engineer at SKC. “Besides the A-frame design, which caused flutter echoes and bass complications, it was also all hard, reflective surfaces. Keeping the sound off of those and on the seating area would be extremely difficult.” The integrator used Bose Modeler software to analyze the room and were able to achieve intelligible sound in what Stengl called a “very challenging” space.

The O’Neil Chapel utilized the same system components as the Prichard chapel, also using Bose rigging frames and hardware.

The Main Post Chapel’s sound was improved via a system consisting of four Panaray 402 Series II full-range loudspeakers and a Panaray MB24 modular bass loudspeaker, powered by one PowerMatch PM4500 configurable amplifier.

“The Main Post Chapel was interesting in that there are several pillars inside that could affect the sound coverage,” Stengl said.

Calvary Chapel received the most comprehensive upgrade, including new video projection and switching systems and a videoconferencing system, underscoring its dual role as a training facility and worship venue. Intelligible sound was achieved using a system consisting of RoomMatch RM5510, RM7010, RM9020 and RM12020 modules, buttressed by four Panaray 310M speakers for fills and powered by two PowerMatch PM8500N networked amplifiers.