Posted in news on January 30, 2017 4:59 pm EST

Protected Swedish Cathedral Gets Modern Sound Reinforcement

Uppsala Cathdral, once the burial place of Swedish royalty and one of Europe's oldest houses of worship, gets a discreet sound upgrade with Renkus-Heinz loudspeaker options.

Images courtesy of Renkus-Heinz.











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TAGS: architectural design, audio, historic preservation, sound reinforcement,


By Church Designer Staff

Sweden's Uppsala Cathedral is one of the oldest houses of worship in Europe, not to mention the tallest in Scandinavia. World-renowned for its architecture and history, the cathedral was once the burial place of Swedish royalty, and is now home not just to a devoted congregation, but uniquely historical items such as Queen Margareta's golden dress -- the world's only preserved evening gown from the Middle Ages.

The cathedral is a protected structure, and since 2010, Viktor Wadelius of Swedish systems integration specialist Svensk Klimatstyrning AB, has worked to update the building's technical infrastructure without harming the ancient stonework. His efforts have led the rejuvenation of systems as diverse as heating and ventilation through to architectural lighting. When it came to investigating more effective sound reinforcement, only Renkus-Heinz Iconyx offered the combination of control and quality required to handle the Cathedral's challenging acoustic environment.

"It's a very personal project," explains Wadelius. "I've worked with the cathedral on every electrical element. It means a lot to me that everything is right. It's the biggest cathedral in Sweden and I also grew up in Uppsala, so it's a big part of who I am."

Audio challenges

Yet as difficult as it is to install any electrical system into a protected structure, it takes a special kind of expertise to find the right audio solution for an environment as reverberant as a cathedral. Adding to the task, meanwhile, was the manner of services conducted within Uppsala.

"One service will take place across many locations -- we call them scenarios. It's unusual to have to create a speaker system for this kind of environment."

—Viktor Wadelius, Systems Integration Specialist, Svensk Klimatstyrning AB

"The cathedral is very big, and one of its unique characteristics is that during the services, the priests move around a lot," Wadelius continues. "They start in the middle of the cathedral, at the central pulpit, and then head up to the high altar, then back to the pulpit, and so on. One service will take place across many locations -- we call them scenarios. It's unusual to have to create a speaker system for this kind of environment."

In the past, attempts had been made to find a suitable sound reinforcement system, with only limited success -- while one attempt might deliver heightened intelligibility, coverage would then become an issue. Nevertheless, determined that it should be possible to properly cover the entire congregation with high quality, intelligible audio, Wadelius and his team went searching for an answer.

"We headed out into Europe to visit the big cathedrals and find out what they were using to solve similar problems, to see what they had chosen," he explains. "We went to Cologne, Germany, and they had Renkus-Heinz, and we went to Lund, here in Sweden, and they had Renkus-Heinz, and we went to Trondheim, in Norway, and they also had Renkus-Heinz. They were all happy with their sound systems. So then we made contact through the Renkus-Heinz distributor, Benum Sweden AB, and everything went well from there."

"We were invited to Uppsala to perform a demonstration," continues Renkus Heinz Regional Sales Manager Håkan Sjoo. "It was immediately clear that this was a very interesting project. It's a large cathedral and very important within Sweden, hosting a number of concerts with a large choir as well as regular services. It's a truly beautiful building."

Implementing solutions

Considering the impressive scale of the solution that was eventually installed within the Cathedral, it's remarkable that the original demonstration comprised of just one loudspeaker array -- an Iconyx IC32, which was located at the central altar.

"From the altar to the rear of the seating, it's approximately 40m (131 feet) - quite a long way!" continues Sjoo. "But even with only one column, the difference was clear. They asked if the difference was because we were using pre-recorded tracks as a source, so we also had a number of priests test the system, and they were happy."  continued >>