The striking modernist Catholic cathedral in Benguela in the West African state of Angola has received a brand new d&b installation.
The Cathedral, whose full name is Sé Catedral de Nossa Senhora de Fátima (Cathedral Church of Our Lady of Fatima), is situated between the city’s main railway station and the home football team’s stadium.
The d&b system was installed by Event Technology (ET), which is based in the neighbouring country of Namibia.
Although its unadorned, concrete construction and its inward sloping walls creating a towering triangular building may mark it out from its innumerable masonry-built forebears in Europe it retains the grand reverberant interior acoustics of those earlier cathedrals.
“When I first made a detailed EASE model of the cathedral the calculated reverb time was 5 seconds at 100 Hz,” explained Burton Reid from ET, “the reality was no different”.
Reid’s company was charged with finding an appropriate sound reinforcement solution to a classic speech intelligibility problem found in such buildings.
“This is an almost twenty thousand cubic metre space confined by flat concrete walls,” Reid added. “I simulated several loudspeaker configurations before deciding upon an appropriate system.”
ET is an established sales partner with the South African company Stage Audio Works (SAW). It was utilising the range of d&b audiotechnik loudspeaker systems distributed by SAW that provided Reid with the equipment to overcome this challenge.
Reid thus tailored the system in line with the particular services that take place at the Cathedral to support the large Catholic contingent of the half-a-million population of the city.
“The church conducts simple services daily during the week, but at the weekend there is a small band, usually keyboard and guitars with up to six vocal inputs,” he explained.
“I eventually decided upon d&b Qi7 for mains and delays,” continued Reid. “With E8s for the balcony and to provide a slight lift in the fill position at the altar. For the congregation good uniform coverage was essential, but at relatively low SPLs, not something many modern systems are so good at delivering, but the Qi7 like all the d&b systems works just the same even when driven very lightly. Vocal presence and clarity is essential, the neutral balance of the d&b system unparalleled.”
As well as being a welcomed cool haven from the oppressive heat for its congregation its role as the focus for Christianity in the city has been supplemented by this new system. This is something Reid is particularly proud of, adding: “They were really pleased that the priests could now be heard by the congregation.”
“It has never sounded like this before,” added Father Franklin from the Cathedral. “After the services we were getting ‘thumbs ups’ and smiles as the congregation left the church.”