The Sistine Chapel
A restoration of sight and sound
Despite the visual feast that greeted visitors at the Sistine Chapel, sound quality had always been poor. The frescoed plaster walls and dome, and the marble that covers many other surfaces, help create a highly reverberant environment, resulting in poor speech intelligibility and "booming" low frequencies. In addition, the Chapel’s sound system was 30 years old, with large unattractive column-style speakers.
A meeting of art and science
While the speakers are distributed throughout the Chapel, two Acoustimass® 3 speaker cubes make sound seem to come from the altar and chorus. At the same time, the system is unobtrusive. The compact speakers match the colors of the Chapel’s decorative painted drapes, and the cubes are placed outside the sight lines of visitors.
Bose also proposed a solution for the presbytery, a small-group private function area. A single Panaray® 4402® speaker, they suggested, with its wide, controlled radiation pattern, would be adequate for the entire space. A radical proposal, but without risk since the Bose Auditioner audio demonstrator enabled Vatican technicians to hear in advance the proposed system as it would sound when installed in the presbytery. While Bose has a long track record of success at the VaticanBose systems are installed in St. Peter’s Basilica cathedral and churchyard, and in St. John’s Basilicathe Auditioner audio demonstrator entirely removed the need for them to trust expert assurances. It let Vatican officials trust their own ears, and Bose guaranteed that the actual installation would deliver the same high quality of sound.