The Monaco cathedral’s soaring vaulted interior presents a dazzling feast for the eyes, but it also creates highly reverberant acoustics that had confounded all attempts at achieving musical clarity and speech intelligibility when using sound amplification.
Determined to overcome the problems, the responsible ecclesial and governmental authorities have commissioned an audio system renovation that culminated with installation of a high-precision Meyer Sound system based around CAL digital beam steering column array loudspeakers.
Serving as principal acoustical consultant and sound designer on the project was Dominique Heymès. His brief was to find a superior replacement for an aging, 100V distributed system with no provisions for separate management of different zones, resulting in extremely poor intelligibility.
“Several options were open to me,” he explained, “but the CAL from Meyer Sound — revolutionary in my opinion — stood out as the ideal choice. This impression was reinforced with further studies and measurements. I’ve always appreciated Meyer Sound for sophisticated products offering technologies that are often irreplaceable. In this case, the ability to use the CAL directivity beams in a thorough and precise way proved to be a determining factor.”
José Chaves of Paris-based Best Audio plotted the specifics of the new system design. Two CAL 64 column array loudspeakers placed in front of the altar anchor the system. To cover acoustically isolated areas or seating shadowed by columns, delay systems were added comprising a total of 25 Meyer Sound IntelligentDC series loudspeakers, including UPM-1XP, UPM-2XP, UP-4XP and MM-4XP models.
In addition, dual Meyer Sound 750-LFC low-frequency control elements assure full bandwidth bass extension for contemporary music, while two Meyer Sound Galileo GALAXY processors supply system drive and optimisation. All loudspeakers are factory colour-matched to the surrounding stonework.
Monaco-based Accord Son Lumière has installed the system under the direction of Jean Michel Mounier and Thierry Chambet. Marco de Fouquières of Dushow in Paris came to Monaco for final tuning of the system.
According to Dominique Heymès, the listening tests for the CAL loudspeakers proved to be a decisive revelation, and his conclusions were shared by others participating in the evaluations.
“We listened to classical music recordings first, and everybody was enthusiastic about the fidelity and precision of the sound.”