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Case Study: Ishavskatedralen, Tromsø

The distinctive triangular shape of Tromsdalen Church (Ishavskatedralen, or the Arctic Cathedral) is one of the most recognized landmarks in the Norwegian city of Tromsø. But despite its iconic status as a place of worship, tourist attraction, and symbol of the city, for many years it suffered from poor sound for the services and the many recitals and concerts it hosts. That has now changed with the installation of an Alcons Audio LR7 pro-ribbon sound reinforcement system.

Consecrated in 1965, Ishavskatedralen is considered a masterpiece by architect Jan Inge Hovig. Eleven aluminum-coated concrete plates on either side of the roof give the church its well-known form, complemented at one end by a giant stained glass window. At the other end, a main entrance opens from a wall of clear glass, with a giant cross tying all the elements together.

The church is an important cultural center, featuring many live recitals. With a program peaking at more than 500 concerts in one year, they include the popular midnight sun and northern lights concerts.

The most important thing for church sound is ensuring that speech is crystal clear throughout the main body of the building. For many years Ishavskatedralen had a passive sound reinforcement system, which made speech sound boomy and muffled.

“The wish of the church staff was to have a sound system that delivered high quality speech, but also worked well with the many concerts they host. They had grown weary of rolling equipment in and out for events, often multiple times a week,” says Eirik Haua, sales manager of Tromsø-based audio specialists Lydproduksjon.

“The process of looking for a better system had been going on for many years, but the ball really started rolling when folk singer Jardar Hansen performed through an Alcons LR7 pro-ribbon system at Ishavskatedralen. After hearing the concert, church warden Mogens Olsen wanted the same sound quality all the time,” adds Haua.

Lydproduksjon supplied and installed a system comprising ten LR7 6.5” micro line array modules, two BF302 double 15” high output subwoofers, and four VR5 5” mini versatile monitors. The system is powered and controlled by one Sentinel10 (4x 2500w) and one Sentinel3 (4x 750w) amplified loudspeaker controller. For inconspicuous integration, the system was delivered in a room-matching color scheme through Architect Color Optio.

“The system ensures everyone in each of the church’s 720 seats gets the best possible sound experience. It was specially produced in a custom white color to match the interior of the church, making sure it perfectly complemented the visual aesthetic and did not detract from its iconic architecture,” says Haua. “We think it is the optimal solution for the church and we are grateful that they trusted us to design and install the system.”

“The system delivers pure sound, both loud and quiet, which fills a tight, clean church space,” Olsen says. “The main speakers look like they are floating, rather than hanging. It perfectly supplements the timelessness of the architecture.”

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