Service at Tromsø’s Ishavskatedralen (Pic: Daniel Lilleeng)

The distinctive profile of the Tromsdalen Church (Ishavskatedralen, or Arctic Cathedral) is one of the most striking landmarks for the Norwegian city of Tromsø. But despite its iconic status – equally as a place of worship, tourist attraction and symbol of the city –it has suffered from poor sound for services and the many recitals and concerts it hosts for many years.

All that has now changed, with to the installation of an Alcons Audio LR7 pro-ribbon sound reinforcement system.

Consecrated in 1965 by architect Jan Inge Hovig, Ishavskatedralen is considered a architectura; masterpiece. Eleven aluminium-coated concrete plates either side of the roof give the church its distinctive form, complemented at one end by a large stained glass window and, at the other, the main entrance in a wall of clear glass, with a giant cross tying all the elements together.

Service at Tromsø’s Ishavskatedralen (Pic: Daniel Lilleeng)

The church is an important cultural centre, featuring many live recitals. With a programme peaking at more than 500 concerts each year, these include the popular midnight sun and northern lights concerts, which have both become a staple of Tromsø culture.

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 local audio specialist, 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. After further investigation of different systems and brands, it was confirmed that Alcons LR7 was the best solution for both worship and live concerts.’

Ishavskatedralen exterior (Pic: Siri Uldal)Lydproduksjon supplied and installed a system comprising ten LR7 6.5-inch micro line array modules, two BF302 double 15-inch high output subwoofers, and four VR5 5-inch mini monitors. The system is powered and controlled by one Sentinel10 (4x 2.5kW) and one Sentinel3 (4x 750W) amplified loudspeaker controller. For inconspicuous integration, visible part of the installation were delivered in a room-matching colour scheme through Architect Color Option.

‘The system ensures everyone in each of the church’s 720 seats gets the best possible sound experience,’ Haua says. ‘It was specially produced in a custom white colour to match the interior of the church, making sure it perfectly complemented the visual aesthetic and did not detract from its architecture. 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 main speakers look as if they are floating, rather than hanging. It perfectly supplements the timelessness of the architecture,’ Mogens says. ‘Although Jan Inge Hovig passed away in 1977, we know that he would be happy.’

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