Lund Cathedral in Sweden, the country’s oldest and largest church and which dates back to 1080, has expanded its permanently installed Renkus-Heinz RHAON-equipped Iconyx digitally steerable system with the addition of a further IC16/8-R-II active array above its altar.
The cathedral’s size—in normal use it seats 1,800 but can accommodate an extra 800 during major events that are frequently televised—reflects its historical status as the Seat of the Archbishop for the whole of northern Sweden and the other Nordic countries.
Its cavernous nave had long proved a challenge for bishops whose voices would become hoarse trying to project down such a long space. Many years ago a sound system was installed to help, originally with four wired microphones and a conventional loudspeaker system.
The last time it was replaced was 1987, when the church felt it was time for something more capable - as well as increasing the microphone count to 20, including two that relay the sound of the church towers’ bells inside the church. Many of the congregation had been unable to hear the bells over the level of conversation or a sermon.
The Cathedral recently invested in Renkus-Heinz Iconyx, says the Cathedral’s Lars Jonven, because the existing PA was inadequate in both audio distribution and quality - including the fact that audio control was limited to a single volume knob.
Having had the space acoustically analyzed, the cathedral’s architect decided that the speakers should be mounted flat on the wall rather than tilted forward. A couple of brands with that capability were examined, but it was the Renkus-Heinz Iconyx that was chosen by installer Björn Carlsson with Svensk Musik TTS AB.
It also had the effect of reducing the number of loudspeakers in the church from over 40 to just 14, including the crypt.
“They came to us because they wanted an intelligent, efficient solution that wouldn’t need to be changed every few years,” says Carlsson. “The main issue with the new sound system is that Renkus-Heinz won on sound quality, proven technology and its very special directivity control.”
The addition this fall of an extra IC16/8-R-II, finished in a special architecturally matched colour, provides additional projection of sound to the congregation.
“We looked at a couple of other brands and their solutions involved installing many more speakers, actually more than they had in the old system. And then there was another request for us to distribute the system digitally as far as possible.
“So actually the only part in the whole system that’s analogue is the microphones; everything else is distributed by MediaMatrix and CobraNet direct to the loudspeakers. So that was another big feature.”
In another nod to modernity, the cathedral is also the proud owner of an iPad remote control for the NION system. A controller is installed to the side of the nave, which remains where it is, but TTS also supplied a wireless iPad.
This allows an operator to control sound from, for example, a service in the crypt, from where the fixed controller would be unreachable.
The same goes for christenings, which are held in the Northern Chapel, which is also invisible from the normal mix position. Once again the iPad allows remote control from the chapel area itself - and is much appreciated by the church for its flexibility.
The large space also allows the church to be used in different areas simultaneously; the system is designed to allow split feeds and zones.
A pair of IC24-R arrays covers the central area of the nave, each delivering four separate beams of sound, while a combination of IC16-R and IC8-R arrays cover other areas with an IC7 in the crypt.
The IC16/8-RII incorporates the latest coaxial transducers with triple tweeter arrays driven by multichannel audiophile high-current amplifiers, allowing up to eight individually steerable multiple beams from each unit. The triple tweeter “array within an array” design reduces the distance between HF sources for greatly improved high frequency performance with consistent broad horizontal dispersion and reduced grating lobes.
“The whole system gives us much better sound naturally,” says Carlsson. “Each priest has their own headset and there are presets that adjust the EQ to their individual timbre and volume. It’s a fantastic solution.”