Tectonic Case Studies

This is a continuing series of detailed articles about Tectonic Plate installations. Each article is generally structured as Problem : Solution.

Tectonic products are specified into some very interesting and difficult spaces. We hope you will find these articles informative and perhaps a challenge to how you might solve for a difficult space. Stay tuned for more...

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In the recording studio with PL-11s

PL-11 Studio Monitors SH1.jpg


• Very Wide, Even Coverage
• No Mixing 'Sweet Spot'
• Driver-by-driver DSP Control
• Highly Accurate Soundstage and Stereo Imaging
• Extremely Low Distortion

How do DML’s perform in a post-production studio environment? I have wanted to answer this question for quite some time.
- Bill Demkov

"An open-minded client with a time sensitive project presented an excellent opportunity to put my DML theories to the test in a studio setting. My goals for this session were to edit, mix and master a solo cello recording in two days' time. Given our time constraints I found it best to set up shop in my home studio.

PL-11 Studio Monitors 2.jpgI installed the Tectonic Audio Labs PL-11 live demo system in my living room a few days before the session to ensure optimal performance. Using the ESRA Systune software in conjunction with the Ashley Pema 8250 DSP Protea™ software I was able achieve system optimization very quickly.

The Tectonic Audio Labs PL-11 / Ashly system provided a unique advantage regarding control room calibration by offering full DSP control over each driver. In comparison, using a typical pair of studio monitors is often limited to a few pre-set choices for overall driver tuning and room correction.

In my mind, I would classify PL-11s more as “musical devices” rather than “speakers”. With that said, the Tectonic system yielded a lifelike representation of acoustic instruments undoubtedly due to the resonant nature of the panels. As a result, my mix balance and direct to reverberant ratios were far easier to achieve. Within moments of beginning our session my client Malina commented excitedly “This actually sounds like my instrument!”

Demkov 2nd engineer.jpgThe wide coverage and off-axis stereo perception completely change the game regarding the proverbial ‘sweet spot’. The Tectonic Audio Labs’ unique mode of propagation significantly increases productive real estate at mix position. The ability to share this acoustic space with the artist is truly revolutionary

I no longer feel the need to reach for headphones to double check crossfades and pan assignments. Using traditional studio monitors I found myself regularly referencing headphones to verify my panning choices. In fact, the few times I needed headphones during this session was whenever my one year old Black Lab “Fender” decided to cause a ruckus."


Eastern Washington University Hockey Arena

PL-12 Back 1.jpg

• Highly Reverberant Space
• Incomplete Coverage
• Very Poor Intelligibility
• Feedback Control Issues
• Out of Date Speakers

• On-site Demo for Proof of Performance
• Full Coverage with Six S
peakers – Replacing 14
• Reverberance and Echo Reduced by 90% with No Room Treatment
• Color-Matched Low-visibility Installation
• Feedback Issues Managed Without Room EQ

The Challenge -
Arena 1 Web.jpgEastern Washington University’s University Recreation Center (URC) hockey arena offers some considerable acoustic challenges. For starters, there’s the ice itself. Surrounding that are 12’ foot plexi-glass shields. Add to that parallel glass galleries up and behind the stands. Top this all off with a hanger-style roof to complete the list of sound issues: poor intelligibility, echo & slap-backs and feedback problems.

Design / Install firm SaviTechs Enterprises assess the situation and found what would be expected. ”Nothing sounded good with the old system.”, says Michaela Hornsby, General Manager. “The current system was clusters of trap boxes progressively added to the bleachers and spotted and aimed as time went on, but coverage to all seating and standing room areas – over 1,000 people in all – was never achieved. Furthermore, there was no direct coverage for the ice itself; necessary for events and public skating.”

The Tectonic Demonstration Proof of Concept -
PL-12 Hang 1 Web.jpgAfter a thorough review, SaviTechs mounted a demo system for proof of concept. “We brought in a pair of lifts and raised a two-by two set of PL-12s.”, explains Hornsby. “By placing the lifts in the players’ box areas, we were able to get them very nearly to their final location.” This panel placement not only succeeded in covering the main arena, but was a better fit to the budget. “We were planning for more speakers, but the PL-12s covered so well that we were able to proceed with adding just a couple of PL-11s for fills.”

Design and Implementation -
Fourteen trapezoidal enclosures were removed, along with 12 amplifiers. The main PL-12 rigs were flown by aircraft cables attached in a dead-hang to Tectonic CBL Center-of-Gravity Heads. With the panels mounted so high, 0⁰ interconnect bars were used between the panels. No curve was necessary. All hardware was painted to match the Tectonic white panels and blend in with surrounding walls and roof.

Two PL-11s were flown over the front rows of seating to overcome the shielding caused by 12-foot tall plexiglass shields. SaviTechs utilized an aim-able mount provided by ATM Flyware™, flown from aircraft cable. An 85-foot delay from the PL-12s was set to sync up the system. A single KV2 dual 15” active sub was placed above the left team box area, near the left PL-12 hang. “The one sub was more than adequate for the space.”, says Hornsby. “That’s how reverberant the arena is.” A Symetrix Radius 12x8 EX processor manages cross-overs, time alignment, limiting and delays for the PL-11 fills. No room EQ is necessary. Two Lab.gruppen 68:4 four-channel amplifiers power the bi-amped PL-12s and a single Lab.gruppen 48:4 four-channel amplifier powers the bi-amped PL-11s.

The Results -
PL-11s Web.jpgThe entire installation took one long day. No additional tuning of the systems was required. “The system fills the space, it’s very intelligible and the echo is maybe 10% of what it was.”, says Hornsby. “With a system this flat and clean, flaws in the signal chain upstream were revealed and actually prompted the replacement of the existing mixing console.”, says Hornsby. “With the previous speaker system no one could hear that things were wrong.” URC management is very pleased with the results and now has a fully-functional arena for hockey, basketball and special events.




St. Jude Thaddeus


• Highly Reverberant Space
Room Treatment Not Allowed
• Column Speakers Required as Fills
Microphone Placement In Front of Speakers
Choir and Instruments at Rear of Sanctuary

• On-site Demo and Evaluation by Church Members
• Color-matched PL-11s
• Custom Beam-mount Brackets
• Even Coverage Throughout Sanctuary
• Reverberance, clarity and Feedback Issues Managed

St. Jude Thaddeus is a continually growing parish in Beaumont, TX that needs to meet ongoing worships and technological needs. A recent architectural renovation to increase the sanctuary size and seating capacity was combined with a sound system upgrade to improve coverage, intelligibility and parishioner engagement. Tectonic PL-11s were selected for their ability to manage a very reverberant space, provide wide and even coverage, reduce feedback and meet aesthetic requirements.

The Challenge -
St._Jude_2_Sm.jpg"The sanctuary is a large space with brick walls, a polished stone floor and a 35’ high curved wooden ceiling, so it is very reverberant”, explains Chase Daigle of MSC Systems, 
Beaumont, TX. “Room treatment solutions were not an option, so we knew from experience that Tectonic Resonant Mode speakers could meet these requirements and manage the space.”
Adding to the challenge, all microphones are in front of the desired speaker location and the choir, piano, organ and musicians are located in the rear of the church, so sufficient gain before feedback would be difficult.

The Tectonic Demonstration Proof of Concept –
After talking with other churches that had selected Tectonic panel solutions for their sanctuaries, St. Jude invited MSC to demonstrate the Tectonic system on-site.
MSC Systems brought in their two PL-11 and subs demo system for the church to evaluate. Eighty parishioners attended the demo to assist in evaluating coverage, intelligibility and an A/B comparison with the existing system; four mid/high boxes and a sub, plus two line-array columns to cover the rear of the sanctuary. The results were 100% positive. A subsequent demonstration from another manufacturer could not produce similar results.

The Design and Implementation –
St._Jude_2a_SM.jpg“The solution we arrived at was to mount a pair of two-panel PL-11 hangs from the first beam, placing them widely to accommodate a mosaic to be installed in the future,” explains Daigle. “We used a pair of custom brackets fitted to the beam to provide attachment points for the panels. For aesthetic reasons, we utilized Tectonic’s center-of-gravity heads vs. pull-back cabling. To these heads we mounted a pair of custom powder-coat colored panels with Tectonic connector bars and quick-pins.” A pair of Danley TH112 subs mounted to the third beam were added to provide low-frequency extension.
A Smaart™ system was used to verify uniform coverage throughout the sanctuary and set time and phase alignment for all speaker components.

The Results –
The final results solve the list of shortcomings of previous systems. Reverberation has been managed without any acoustic treatment, coverage is even from front to back and side to side with no hot or dead spots. Feedback issues have been significantly reduced. “The slap-back is gone,” says Father Tom Phelan. “Hearing impaired parishioners are no longer complaining of missing words. Music and choirs sound more present and engaging, and parishioners are singing. It’s a more inclusive experience.”


Providence Baptist Church


• Aging Equipment
• Dead Spaces
• Inconsistent Sound
• Poor Voice Intelligibility
• Highly Reverberant Space

• Replaced Rotted Speakers
• Moved Speaker Location from Ceiling to Walls
• Significantly Improved Clarity
• Achieved Even Coverage
• Quick Installation - No Disruption to Service Schedule
For many churches, the impetus behind a planned install is often tied to aging equipment that has reached the end of its serviceable life.

In the case of Providence Baptist Church, a church that dates back to the 1960s — and in its current space since 1990 — the time had come to upgrade the worship space’s sound equipment, particularly their speakers.

“(The original speakers) were new in 1990, but now there was dry rotting,” noted Lori Taylor, Providence Baptist’s worship director. “They were deteriorating, there were also dead spaces, and we could never get any consistent sound.”

In the church’s recent install, the most significant addition was the upgrade to Tectonic Audio Labs PL-12 speakers. The church’s previous speakers had been installed to its 40-foot ceilings, while the PL-12s were instead hung from the walls.

The install was completed almost three months ago, with the new system first being used during a service on Sunday, July 3. The project was the first coordinated for the church by systems integrator RTW Media, based in Ruther Glen, Va.

The goal of the new system install was for the church to offer their congregants significantly ‘greater clarity and evenness.’

To Taylor, the communication and timing right from the outset of the project were ideal and helped the church to move forward on the work.

“There were others that did talk to us, but they disappeared,” she said. “RTW continued to talk, and I appreciate that they kept talking, as we needed someone who had a good, comprehensive idea of what we needed to do in there.”

RTW Media’s Walsh Hinnant noted that after having made the initial contact, he learned of the church’s plans for a renovation and their needs, after which a consultation and site visits followed. Sitting down with Taylor and her husband, along with front of house engineer Nathan Lamb to discuss the project further, he added, “we then went through some designs and revisions,” before the work in the space began.

What were learned from those discussions was that one of the primary goals with the new sound system at Providence Baptist was to offer their congregants significantly “greater clarity and evenness.”

Having learned from Hinnant about Tectonic speakers for the project, Taylor said, “Walsh introduced us to the concept. We were really amazed, it was day and night. There was muddiness before and now there was a clarity; especially with the spoken word and being able to hear the individual instruments.”

To Hinnant, the PL-12s were ideal for such a “reverberant space,” one with many acoustical issues. Using the Tectonics added up to a speaker “that provides a much clearer and intelligible sound, and brings a much more neutral and natural tone to the vocals.”

Aside from the Tectonic speakers, the church’s audio upgrade included a series of amplifiers and subwoofers, each by Electro-Voice. To power the mains or PL-12s, the church went with an Electro-Voice CPS2.12 two-channel amplifier, rated at 1,100 watts per channel at 4 ohms. To power speakers that are located in the overflow areas, such as the hallway, a two-channel, 270 watts per channel Electro-Voice PA2250T was installed. The church then added a dual 18-inch QRX218S subwoofer to accentuate the low frequencies, paired with a Q1212 amplifier, rated at 1,800 watts per channel at 2 ohms.

Once the switch to the PL-12s was made, though, Taylor admitted there was an initial period of adjustment for the congregation, largely because the Tectonics were so much better than their prior aging speakers.

“People would sit in the dead spaces (with the old speakers) when they didn’t like the sound before,” noted Taylor, noting how no dead spaces still existed with the new speakers. “Everything was far away (with the old speakers), but now we had to do frequency adjustments over about six weeks. With (the PL-12s) about 12 feet up, there is an immediacy (that didn’t exist before).”

Over that period of transition, Taylor explained that there were a few initial complaints over the change to their system, but she encouraged feedback from the congregation “to communicate what we are looking for,” in the interest of making the necessary tweaks, to satisfy as many of the church’s members as possible.

Providence_Baptist_Chuch_3.jpg“During the first week, (the congregation was) overwhelmed, because it was such a difference,” she noted. “They were overwhelmed…some in a good way, some not in a good way. But we had an opportunity to say to everybody, ‘please let me know what you hear,’ and people gave me their opinion. We have to be driven by our vision, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t be sensitive and accommodate whenever possible.”

When moving to make the desired changes, Taylor said, “RTW was very helpful with it, and since they didn’t know our congregation, we had to wait to hear from (our congregation).”

As Hinnant explained, the adjustments that followed were not out of the ordinary, since “it is one thing to demo a system, another to install it, and another to have it where there are those additional bodies in (the worship space).”

Once the desired changes were made, she added, “(The Tectonics have) the range to (be powerful), but it has to be tempered for the congregation, even though the people do like how clear they are with the instruments and the melody.”

Since those first few weeks after the change, Taylor noted that “it’s been very positive. When we backed off, and eased back in, they were receptive to a fuller sound.”

In deciding on the Tectonics, the staff at Providence Baptist opted against A-B testing of any other speakers for the space.
“We didn’t try any other systems, but we did talk about similar systems,” said Taylor. “We know there has been a great improvement with the Tectonics…before you could hear it loud, but you could not understand what they were saying. We decided to go with them when we heard the demo.”

While the work for the install was completed over a span of about three days during the early part of the summer, Taylor said, “They just came and did their thing. I did not have any issues with them. When they had to run cable in the ceiling, that was the only time that anyone really saw them, as it was unobtrusive.” The result of the work was that there were no cancellations or delays associated with any of the church’s services. Throughout the rest of the week, RTW spent time on tweaking the system and training the church staff.

In talking further about the importance of not rushing the adjustments made at Providence Baptist, Hinnant commented, “Audio should be clear and intelligible. If it isn’t clear, the message isn’t clear and being received, which means that an opportunity is lost to save a soul.”

St. Paul United Methodist Church


• Highly Reverberant Space
• Very Long Decay Time & 'Room Flutter'
• Intelligibility Issues
• Poor Coverage from Existing System
• Possible Need for Room Treatment

• Replace Existing 12” x 2-way System
• Color-matched powder coat finish
• Swing-arm VESA Mounting
• Third PL-11 Flown Center to Center Sound Image
• No Room Treatment Required

St._Paul_Sanctuary_2The sanctuary of St. Paul United Methodist Church has presented an audio challenge to clergy, parishioners and the worship team for quite some time.

“We have a lack of intelligibility in our sanctuary”, explains Matt Carter, Youth Director. “We’ve had a lot of complaints regarding spoken word for pretty much anyone talking. We have a very ‘live’ room and we have a problem understanding speech through the echo.”

Possible solutions came down to two alternatives - purchasing a system with better coverage and spending perhaps an equal amount of money on acoustic treatment, or installing a Tectonic system that did not require any additional acoustic treatment. St. Paul chose the latter.

St. Paul engaged the services of MSC Systems of Beaumont, TX to find a solution. “Architecturally it is a very nice room. Acoustically it is a very challenging room”, says Chase Daigle, Systems Designer. “There was a 12” 2-way point-source system in place, with soffit-mounted subs. It didn’t cover the room very well and it acoustically excited the space. The room had excessive flutter and decay. Overall intelligibility, especially for voice, was pretty poor. One of the congregation’s main complaints was they had to really concentrate and focus to even understand speech.”

St_Paul_PL-11_Hang_1_SmAfter a preliminary site assessment, MSC recommended a Tectonic Resonant Mode Loudspeaker systems as a viable solution. Tectonic provided a simple on-site demonstration of the benefits of a non-point-source speaker solution in a reverberant space.

“When we turned on the Tectonic PL-11 system, we were very surprised at the lack of echo”, continues Carter. “It sounded really good, the clarity was there and we had no room decay. When pastor stopped speaking, the sound stopped. Like it was supposed to.”

“St. Paul had already auditioned a couple of other systems and the quality had increased from their old system, but they still had intelligibility issues that would need to be addressed St_Paul_PL-12_Hang_1_Smwith acoustic treatments”, says Daigle. “When we set up the Tectonic system, we had two PL-11s left and right on VESA floor stands. The church staff and audio committee chair walked the room listening to program music and were very pleased with the coverage and quality of sound. We then had pastor talk through the system using his existing headset microphone while the rest of the staff walked around and listened. That was the part of the demo where the PL-11s far surpassed anything that they had listened to before. The whole demo took less than 15 minutes.”

From this presentation, MSC determined that two PL-11s would cover the sanctuary, but with the speakers so far left and right of the center, there was a sound imaging issue. If pastor stood in the center of the platform, he could be heard clearly, but was perceived as being left and right of his physical location. To solve this issue, MSC added a third PL-11 flown high in the center of the sanctuary. After the system was calibrated and aligned properly, the sound image was brought back to the center of the space.

St_Paul_PL-11_Hang_2_SmThe two side PL-11’s were mounted with Chief™ swing-arm VESA mounts. The center PL-11 was flown using the rigging tubes and eye bolts provided by Tectonic Audio. The PL-11s were aimed, tuned, and aligned using SysTune™ and Smaart™.

“Aesthetically, the goal was to have the PL-11s blend into the sanctuary as much as possible,” says Daigle. “To accomplish this, we took advantage of the powder coat color options from Tectonic to specify the left and right PL-11s in a custom Designer Beige. The flown center PL-11 was standard black and blended with the dark wood behind it.”

St._Paul_Sanctuary_3_SmThe entire church staff was very pleased with the aesthetics and quality and clarity of the audio. They have since received many comments from congregation members about the improved audio intelligibility. One of the biggest surprises was comments from church members with hearing impairment that the clarity they were able to perceive with hearing aids was significantly improved, even at louder volumes.

Daigle concludes, “After installing the PL-11s in this acoustically challenging room and achieving the results we did, it would be hard not to choose Tectonic again. I do not believe we could have gotten the same results from another manufacture or loudspeaker technology without installing a lot of acoustic treatment.”


Shove Memorial Chapel



• Very reverberant space
• History of poor coverage and intelligibility from 70v distributed audio system 
• Architecturally sensitive design and installation challenges
• Required proof of concept with no impact to the chapel allowed

• Replace existing 70v distributed speaker system with five PL-11s
• Color-matched powder coat finish

• Simple VESA mount installation
• Horizontal and vertical orientation to meet aesthetic and coverage needs
• Even coverage to entire sanctuary and balconies with fewer panels than expected
• Simple laser aiming

We recently installed a five-panel PL-11 Distributed Mode Loudspeaker (DML) system in Shove Memorial Chapel at Colorado College. The process from live demo to final installation relied on virtually every unique capability that Tectonic panels provide.
The design mandate was to provide a speaker system that was highly intelligible, feedback resistant, provided equal frequency and volume coverage to all areas of the space and to be respectful of the architecture. The chapel is a natural stone construction in the traditional design of Gothic cathedrals; with an arching ceiling, long and narrow nave and fairly wide perpendicular transepts. The resulting acoustics characteristics are highly reverberant.

Colorado_College_Demo_Sm>The Tectonic advantage started with the ability to demonstrate the speakers on-site. After a preliminary walk-through, we rolled in two 25’ lifts and placed a pair of PL-11s very nearly to their eventual positions to prove-out the concept and performed real-time listening tests. The DML method of propagating audio performed very well in this large and reverberant space.</div><div style=The Tectonic advantage started with the ability to demonstrate the speakers
on-site. After a preliminary walk-through, we rolled in two 25’ lifts and placed a pair of PL-11s very nearly to their eventual positions to prove-out the concept and performed real-time listening tests. The DML method of propagating audio performed very well in this large and reverberant space.

PL-11_VESA_1_SmWith proof of system performance, we were able to provide a location guide, recommend standard VESA mounting solutions, and color-matched powder coating for five PL-11 panels to meet the specifications for the chapel.

Colorado Springs, CO based AV company Sight + Sound Technologies mounted two PL-11s in a horizontal orientation at the front of the chancel, two PL-11s in a vertical orientation 1/3 of the way into the nave and a single horizontal PL-11 facing rearward into the apse. All color-matched pl-11s were mounted with standard VESA 400mm x 400mm hardware.

Chapel_5th_Speaker.jpgSight + Sound was able to solve a complex audio design starting with a no impact audio demonstration, and provide a solution that met all audio and architectural requirements. “The demo sealed the deal for the client”, says Sight + Sound CEO Kris Johnson. “When we got the demo speakers in we realized the wide coverage pattern covered the areas very well. In fact we were able to reduce the total number of speakers needed.”
Read the Technologies For Worship Magazine 'Peer Review' for more information.


'W' Hotel, Atlanta Downtown


• Highly reflective space
• Four story window facade and polished floor
• Flexibility from morning coffee to evening cocktails to nighttime DJs and live music
• High-concept branding of the look and feel of the 'W' Hotel chain

• Supplement the existing ceiling speaker system for live sound
• Eliminate the need to set up temporary and insufficient 'speakers-on-sticks' for DJ nights
• Overcoming space acoustics to allow for live music
• Improving patron listening / conversing experience
• Improved ability to sell to patrons
• Architecturally respectful

W_VESA-Mount_5_SmThe 'W' Hotel brand and visitor experience is inspired by the creative worlds of music, film, fashion, art, design and beyond. A key element of every 'W' Hotel design is the "Living Room"; a requisite element for ‘W’ properties worldwide that serves as meeting space, food & drink service area, event space and nightly entertainment venue. 

Toronto interior design company Burdifilek created an urban oasis within 'W' Atlanta Downtown Hotel. Designers Diego Burdi and Paul Filek reinterpreted the Living Room as a verdant sanctuary that mimics the lushness of Georgia, while maintaining the brand’s celebrated cosmopolitan edge.

The final design presented acoustic challenges. Three-story glass windows and polished marble floor made for a highly reverberant space that could not permanently accommodate more than low-volume ceiling speakers. For over seven years, this situation combined with existing speaker technologies, made many of the needs of the Living Room difficult to resolve.

With the recommendation of Tectonic representatives EDA Pro AV and audio/visual provider Atlanta Sound Works, Tectonic was able to provide a real-time demonstration of a proposed solution for this space. Tectonic rolled-in 25' lifts to place a pair of PL-12 flat panel Resonant Mode Loudspeakers into very nearly their final locations. 

W_Hotel_VESA-Mount_8_Sm“Unlike traditional speaker systems that produce pistonic and highly correlated audio energy that reacts with boundaries to produce slap-back echoes, feedback, and a general lack of intelligibility, Tectonic Resonant Mode Loudspeakers propagate audio as a diffuse and non-correlated audio source that does not interact significantly with boundary surfaces; even glass walls and polished floors”, explains Scott Garside of Tectonic. “With the unique audio characteristics of Tectonic panels, we were able to solve for this challenging acoustic space.”

The demonstration was accomplished in a couple of hours and did not require any modification to the space or a significant disruption of daily business. Results were presented in real-time audio vs. predictive modeling reports, so stake holders were able to make an immediate evaluation of the system's performance.

W_VESA-Mount_1_SmIn addition to audio requirements, aesthetics was a major concern in selecting a speaker system. “I was tasked with finding a new speaker system”, explains hotel brand manager Pablo Andres-Lopez. “The solution had to fit the design of the Living Room. We really didn’t want to put in typical big old lumpy speakers. We needed something sleek that would blend in with the design of the space. The Tectonic speakers were a perfect fit. They look beautiful; like they have been designed for this space.”

Atlanta Sound Works engineered an elegant mounting system that utilized the Tectonic PL panel's VESA compatible capabilities. Custom-fabricated ceiling mounts were fitted with standard VESA brackets to attach to the Tectonic PL-12s. Adjustment points were provided by this design to allow for aiming of the panels. Speaker cables were routed internally through the mounts to provide a clean look to the final installation.

“For the first time, we are able to offer live music in this space”, says Lopez. “The Living Room is not only an amenity for our hotel guests, but an upscale destination for discriminating locals in the downtown area. We can now program our entertainment between DJs and live music, and accommodate up to 150 people on a big night without the need to provide, set-up and remove additional speaker systems.”

W_VESA-Mount_9_Sm“The speakers sound outstanding”, adds bar manager Pete Carver. “We have used them for DJs and live music. The sound doesn’t drown out conversations and interactions with patrons.”

”It’s a beautiful, nice, round sound”, concludes Lopez. “It’s very comfortable for guests to just relax and lounge in, and they can converse. We cut down on equipment overhead, labor costs, and gained more space for guests in a comfortable yet high-energy setting. This goes directly to the bottom line. ”


San Rafael Catholic Church - Worship In The Round


 "Tectonic PL 12 panels were the only acceptable loudspeaker technology I could think of that satisfied the majority of design, performance and integration challenges."

San_Rafael_3_SM San Rafael Catholic Church in Rancho Bernardo, CA is a beautiful octagonal worship space that presents a number of acoustic challenges. The sanctuary was re-designed following the trend of a center altar with organ, choir, musicians and parishioners positioned in-the-round. The existing system of small flush-mount 2-way speakers placed in the overhead central soffit proved to be inadequate for volume, coverage and intelligibility.
Sound Image of San Diego, CA was tasked with providing a solution that met both acoustic and architectural demands. They chose Tectonic PL-12s flat panel loudspeakers for their ability to provide audio performance while blending in with the architecture of the sanctuary.

Tectonic was able to deliver an acoustic solution where the characteristics of Distributed Mode Loudspeaker technology were able to overcome the audio challenges. The flat panel form factor of the loudspeakers provided an aesthetic solution. VESA-mount capabilities and custom RAL # color-matching allowed for the Tectonic panels to blend in with the existing space.
Michael Fay, Sound Image General Manager, explains the installation:

San_Rafael_4_Sm "Based on our mounting opportunities, we had roughly 20’ between each panel. Two panels back to back, 10’ off the center line. We called these the East and West panels. The third panel (South) is rigged perpendicular to the other two, and is also about 10’ off the center line of the room. Each panel is about 34’ AFF, and has roughly a 55 degree down tilt.

 Given this spacing and aiming, we had significant horizontal overlap between each pair of panels. This overlap produced an audible “thickening” of the sound in the low-mid range frequencies around 200 - 400 Hz. We also had a significant amount of “bottom half” vertical overlap that built up dead center on the floor, right where the Altar table stands. Remember, this is essentially church in the round. Also, for the record, we had no noticeable, mid-high comb filtering issues in the overlap zones.

 We tried a polarity flip on the South panel, but that didn’t help enough, so we went back to normal polarity. To satisfactorily resolve both the horizontal overlap thickening issue and the vertical spill summing, we used a few ms of delay on the South panel, and a little parametric EQ to thin out the low-mid region. Further, each mic input had a HPF and multi-band parametric EQ available.

San_Rafael_Hero_Sm After careful tuning of the system frequency response, we rang out the first few feedback frequencies on each mic channel, then did a final sound check on all open mics, to optimize for each individual user. The same process was used on the hanging area mics that were in the choir area, which is located in direct coverage of the East panel.

Ultimately, it took a combination of factors: low room interaction of the DML; careful tuning of the panels’ frequency response; careful adjustment of the multiple open mics; and the use of a good gain sharing auto-mixer in the DSP. Without all these element working well, this project would not have been nearly as successful as it turned out."

 Michael Fay concludes, "Tectonic PL 12 panels were the only acceptable loudspeaker technology I could think of that satisfied the majority of design, performance and integration challenges." 


You can read more about this installation in the April 2015 issue of 'Sound & Communications' magazine.





Seattle City Council Chambers Speakers Upgrade


• Very wide and tall room
• History of poor coverage and intelligibility
• Two 2-way 12" front speakers and mini-monitors to cover the entire chamber, with many dead areas
• Minimal gain before feedback for boom-mounted council member mics
• Feedback issues for attendee wireless mics

• Replace existing speaker systems with a single PL-12 Plate
• Simple VESA mount installation
• Even coverage to all seats in the council chamber
• Sufficient gain before feedback to allow for maximum boom and wireless microphone performance.
• Architecturally respectful

Jaymarc AV of Seattle was tasked with solving coverage, intelligibility, microphone performance and gain before feedback issues that have plagued the Seattle City Council Chamber. This architecturally stunning space was acoustically sound, but the existing speaker solution of a pair of 12" 2-way flown speakers and several rear-fill monitors was not sufficient to cover this large space and presented significant audio management issues.

Council members had to lean in to speak to mounted boom mics in order to be heard from their seats and a large meeting table. Hand-held mics were deployed to both council members and visitors in order to be heard. Gain before feedback was a constant issue for sound system operators and many seats were not covered.

SCCC-1-Web-300x199  The installation of a single Tectonic PL-12 Plate™ solved for all of these issues. Mounting was simple and easy, as all Tectonic Plates are VESA mount compatible. One Plate, placed high up in the chamber and aimed at the back row of public seats was all that was required.

 The  160° horizontal and vertical dispersion of Tectonic’s DML’s and our wide dispersion large-format ribbon transducer provide full-frequency coverage to all seats throughout the chamber.

Thanks to the Tectonic Plate’s extreme resistance to feedback, considerable gain before feedback allows for system sensitivity such that council members can now sit back in their chairs, speak normally, and allow boom mics to pick up everything said.

Wireless mics passed around to attendees who usually don’t know how to use a mic can now be boosted without undue concern for feedback.

Seattle City Council’s IT Manager, Ian Smith says, “Prior to the upgrade, our traditional speaker system didn’t properly project the voices of Council members in their meeting room. After installation of the new audio equipment, we’ve noted a remarkable improvement in the quality of sound, which meets the unique acoustics of the space.”

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St. Louise Catholic Church - Sound System Upgrade

Best Pro Speakers for Churches

• Very wide sanctuary

• History of poor coverage and intelligibility
• Center cluster required two additional fill systems; still with dead areas
• All-glass rear of sanctuary
• Flexibility for spoken word to full worship teams

• Replaced existing center cluster and fill systems with a 2 x 2 Tectonic Plate system
• Absolutely even stereo coverage for all seating areas
• Feedback issues managed; increased gain for pulpit, lectern and choir mics
• No additional room treatment required
• Architecturally respectful
St. Louise surveyed parishioners over the course of a weekend and many services from traditional to contemporary. Each respondent answered a series of questions about their listening experience and indicated where they were sitting.

Definitive Audio of Seattle/Tacoma was engaged to solve perennial problems of coverage and intelligibility for St. Louise Parish, Bellevue, WA. In addition to solutions for existing problems, simple and reliable system operation was a mandate. Tectonic Audio Labs was selected to provide loudspeakers.

“St. Louise provides a ministry that is active and diverse”, explains Jonathan Taasan, parish administrator. “We need a sound system that can be respectful of traditional expectations and then seamlessly scale up to meet the needs of our growing contemporary worship services.”

The solution selected by Definitive Audio and St. Louise was a pair of Tectonic Plates per side flown over the chancel. “With this relatively simple installation, we solved for all issues”, says Dennis Schlossberg of Definitive Audio.

“The existing loudspeaker solution was based on three 2-way 15? trapezoidal boxes in a center cluster”, explains Schlossberg. “In order to fully cover this large and wide space, three separate systems were actually employed; the main center cluster and two independent fill systems mounted on pillars throughout the sanctuary; and there were still dead areas.”

“Tectonic won the bid by virtue of the fact that their speakers do not require a specifically engineered solution” Schlossberg continues. “Tectonic was able to raise a demo system on portable lifts that simulated 90% of the performance of a finished installation, and was able to prove the system’s performance over a four day period and some 10 services. No other manufacturer was able to do this.” 

Best Speakers for Houses of WorshipThe wide and diffuse output of the Tectonic Plates covered all areas of the sanctuary with audio levels that measured with remarkable consistency from the first row pews to the narthex and off to the sides of this very wide space.

“There are many unique acoustic characteristics of the Tectonic Plates and almost every one of them came into play with this installation”, explains Dave Firestone, Tectonic CMO. “The very wide output of our speakers allows for coverage to not only the back of the sanctuary, but also to equally distant side spaces. The Tectonic Plates exhibit near linear output level in a space of this size, so we are able to provide an equal and comfortable listening experience for every parishioner.”

The Tectonic Plates’ extreme resistance to feedback allows for much greater microphone gain to accommodate pulpit, lectern and choir placements. Near-zero third-order harmonic distortion and lack of room interaction from hard surfaces greatly improves system intelligibility.

“The rear of the sanctuary is an all-glass multi-story surface”, explains Tectonic system specialist David Crocker. “Previous loudspeaker designs had to avoid this massive reflective surface at all cost to manage slap-back echoes. The Tectonic Plates’ diffuse and random audio energy output simply meets this reflective surface and returns equally random and diffuse audio energy in a non-destructive and non-correlated manner with no significant interaction.”

Speakers for churchesAdditional benefits outside of the specifications for the upgrade were realized, including stereo audio for nearly every seating position and anecdotal reporting of superior audio and intelligibility for parishioners with hearing aids or those who have previously relied on assisted listening systems.
Definitive Audio’s engineering team designed a clean and secure rigging solution for the Tectonic Plates that allowed for flexibility in positioning and security. Because each Tectonic Plate weighs less than 100 lbs, rigging was accomplished with simple aircraft cabling and brackets.

Speaker system electronics for the St. Louise upgrade included a pair of Lab-Gruppen C68:4 amplifiers and a RANE HAL1x processor to manage cross-overs, basic room eq and limiting. Two KV2 subwoofers were placed on either side of the chancel; one EX2.5 dual 15? active unit and one ES2.6 dual 15" passive slave.

“We are absolutely pleased with the speakers, and glad that we took the leap of faith”, concludes Jonathan Taasan.


Gig Harbor High School Auditorium
- Worst Seats Made Into Best Seats

High School Auditorium Loudspeakers


• Multi-use facility with rotating ‘pods’ of a cylindrical design
• Single center cluster only able to cover main floor seating
• No coverage to upper level rotatable seating (50% of total seats)
• Ceiling speakers used to cover upper seats
• Severe feedback issues

• Replace cluster and ceiling systems with a 1 x 1 Tectonic Plates system
• Even stereo coverage to all areas of multi-use facility including rotatable ‘pods’
• Simple VESA-mount solution
• Feedback issues managed
• No additional room treatment required

GHHS-House-1-Web-300x200.jpgGig Harbor High School’s award winning drama program has a long history of staging theatrical and musical productions well beyond the expectations of an average high school offering. This spring’s staging of Disney’s ‘Beauty and the Beast’ was a fully licensed production with sets and costume support from Disney and evaluated by the Seattle Theater Group for consideration in their annual awards for school productions.

With a commitment to superior production values for this major musical, the Gig Harbor HS auditorium’s sound system came under close scrutiny. The venue is particularly challenging, as it is a component of a multi-use facility. Fully half of the auditorium’s seating is located in circular ‘pods’ that can be rotated 180 degrees to serve as seating for a pair of attached lecture halls. The result is two very acoustically challenging spaces that have the best seats in the house for view and the very worst for audio. It is well known by students and theater patrons alike that the center seats of each pod are the worst in the house.

The current solution was a pair of trapezoidal enclosures that covered the permanent seats and missed the circular ‘pods’ all together. ‘Pod’ sound was provided by standard ceiling-mount speakers with no ability to meet volume and sound quality needs. Further, the trapezoidal boxes, being point-source speakers were extremely prone to feed-back.

No feedback speakers for live events“I work with a pit orchestra in front of the stage at the audience level”, explains Director Kristen
“Zetty” Zetterstrom. “I also like to stage in front of the orchestra on runways. This can put performers over 20 feet in front of the speaker location. The combination of trying to overcome the volume of the orchestra plus miking actors so far in front of the existing speakers has been nearly impossible.”

Put simply, not enough gain before feedback could be achieved from stage mics and wireless headset mics to overcome the orchestra – and staging in front of the speakers was risky at best. “Audiences told us consistently that they enjoyed the music very much but couldn’t hear or understand the lyrics and dialog”, says Zetty.

Tectonic was able to provide a simple and elegant solution to solve all of the problems of this challenging venue and their production needs.

Two Tectonic plates were mounted above the proscenium on standard VESA flat panel TV mounts. This simple act alone provided the theater with stereo sound vs. the existing mono center speakers. With the ‘Plates’ very wide dispersion characteristics up to 165 horizontal degrees and diffuse sound propagation, no longer was audio ‘beamed’ only to the front half of the house but was able to cover the whole house including the neglected ‘pods’.

Tectonic plates’ unique diffuse sound propagation properties cured the challenge of projecting audio energy into the pair of semi-circular cement-brick tubes. Audio ‘slap-back’ from these hard semicircular surfaces was eliminated and intelligibility was significantly improved.

The ‘Plates’ extreme resistance to feedback allowed more than enough gain for stage mics to overcome the pit orchestra and managed open mics in front of the proscenium as well. In fact, the orchestra was now able to be covered with some 21 condenser mics for this production to allow for a more accurate stereo mix and a more immersive audio experience for the audience.

GHHS_Front_Runway“Feedback has been the killer of our shows in the past”, says Zetty. “I put a lot of staging up to 20 feet in front of the speakers and that will cause feedback. With the Tectonic Plates, feedback is not an issue and the sound is getting to the ‘pods’.”

In addition to being able to increase voice volume before feedback, intelligibility is greatly increased. “You can understand people. Beyond being able to hear the actors, the sound is just more crisp”, says Zetty.

“I have not had a complaint yet with this system. Finally actors can be heard. It’s amazing! ‘Beauty and the Beast’ would be a travesty to present without this capability, as we unfortunately did in 2007. This production is a mix of very dynamic musical numbers and dialog that goes from very loud to very soft and tender. To miss any of that is to lose the narrative of the story.”

Purchasing the Tectonic system was so important to the Drama staff and school that they stepped out of the normal district funding program and engaged the school community directly. “We’ve asked the parents and school supporters if this improvement in the theater experience is important to them and they are coming back to us with a resounding response of financial support”, says Zetty.

She concludes, “The vocal director and I sat in the center seats of the ‘pods’ and agreed that these may now be the best seats in the house! We’ve never been able to say that in the history of this space.” 


Empress Theatre - Historic Venue Renovation


• Mandate to not interfere with architectural features with ‘room treatment’
• History of poor intelligibility, coverage and a high-fidelity experience for every seat.
• Flexibility for spoken word to all-up blues-rock performances
• Desire to attract national acts with a superior venue and sound system

• Replaced existing trapezoidal point source system with a 3 x 3 Tectonic Plate system
• Absolutely even stereo coverage for all seats on the floor and balcony
• Feedback issues managed
• No additional room treatment required
• Architecturally respectful

Tectonic Audio Labs was selected to provide installed Front of House loudspeakers for the historic Empress Theater in Vallejo, CA. The Empress has recently completed a renovation of this beautiful 1911beaux arts venue.

Best PA for Historic TheatresA critical mandate from restoration advisors was that any new sound system must not be visually intrusive or require any architecturally disruptive room treatments. Tectonic Plates fit the bill.

“It’s thrilling to see that the Tectonic Plates are actually here,” says Don Bassey, Empress Theatre

General Manager. “We’ve been talking about this for a year now. For a theater, it’s amazing what they can do.”

Bassey has been in the speaker business for 15 years. “These aren’t the first speakers I’ve ever heard, so my initial response was ‘Wow!’ It’s a phenomenal experience to stand here and feel the difference. Musicians hearing the new system are freaked out. They can’t believe it.”

“The system spreads sound up to a six octave range evenly throughout the theater”, Bassey continues.”With this state-of-the-art technology, sound no longer bounces around the room as with traditional sound systems. The system delivers audio of equal quality from all speakers to all points of the room.”

“The new sound is very different from before”, adds Empress board member Susan MacDonald. “Each instrument is heard but still comes out as a distinctly beautiful sound. I could hear the brushes on the drums. It was amazing! We had four horns on Friday night and each instrument was separate but part of the whole sound.”

Professional Speakers for Historic Theatre“The sound is the same no matter where you are in the theatre because the speakers deliver sound in a different way”, continues MacDonald. “Feedback is eliminated, so no more ear splitting screeching or squealing mics.”

“It’s a revelation”, says house sound engineer Gustav Hobel. “In my 25 years in live sound, there’s really been no change in speaker development. Speakers got bigger, then smaller. They became better, then worse. Shows got bigger and speakers got bigger. But they all worked from the same concept.”

“The Tectonic speakers, however, change everything”, says Hobel. “This is a paradigm shift. Consistency is the major change. You can move around to anywhere and hear the same thing. The Empress Theatre’s former conventional speakers used a “cone” system which sent the highest quality audio to the sides and into the walkways leading to the front lobby. Now the sound is dispersed evenly throughout the theater. “

Tectonic Audio Labs will be using the Empress as a demo showcase for Northern California. “It will give the Empress some great exposure”, MacDonald says. “There is no other place in the Bay Area where these speakers can be heard. We are excited to be a part of this revolution in sound. I think it will be a big attraction to musicians and patrons alike.”

“It’s so great knowing you’re walking into a venue and you know it’s going to be killer sound”, adds Bassey. “Word will get around about the great vibes coming from the Empress.”