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A major JBL Intellivox digitally controlled beam steering sound system has been installed in the restored St. Mel’s Cathedral in Longford, Ireland by Sound Productions.

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Originally built between 1840-1856, and situated in the Diocese of Ardagh and Clonmacnois, this flagship cathedral is considered one of the finest Roman Catholic churches in Ireland.

But on Christmas Day 2009 it was completely destroyed by fire, leaving only the perimeter wall intact. A long rebuilding process, true to the original, began and the new altar was finally consecrated in March last year, with the reopening on Christmas Eve.

In charge of the project was the Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnoise, Colm O’Reilly.AWN Acoustic Consultants were engaged to acoustically model the proposed rebuild and make predictions and recommendations in respect of materials that might be used to reduce the previous reverberation time of over six seconds. They calculated that the RT of an empty room could be reduced to 5.6s with the use of absorptive treatments.

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However, feeling that this might have a negative impact on the aesthetic and historic elements of the building, Dublin based Sound Productions, who had previously worked successfully with AWN on a number of acoustically challenging projects, recommended an alternative that would avoid using absorptive treatments and at the same time meet the acoustic performance requirement of the tender document. To reinforce their argument, they took the architect, Colm Redmond of Fitzgerald Kavanagh & Partners, and the parish priest to another Intellivox project — in St Michael’s Athy Co Kildare — which had a a similar RT time.

According to Sound Productions’ senior project manager, Peadar Carley, by importing AWN’s ODEON acoustic model into the JBL Intellivox dedicated DDA software, speaker directivity patterns could be optimised via an Intellivox DS280 solution.

As a result, six Intellivox DS280’s have been specified and mounted (avoiding the stone pillars). A frequent problem solver for Sound Productions, the DS280 is capable of providing a constant sound pressure level over a distance of up to 35m, in demanding acoustical conditions such as this. Each enclosure houses 16 custom designed, 4” loudspeakers, driven by a built-in eight-channel Class-D amplifier.

Two loudspeakers are situated in free standing bespoke stainless steel housing, left and right of the altar, a further two are distributed left and right along the side aisles and the final pair are each side of the transepts — with JBL ADC-V90 infills and fold back to the altar further boosting speech intelligibility. At the same time, the voices of the high choir and folk choir (which has its own breakout box to facilitate sound requirement) are evenly dispersed throughout the church.

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Summing up, Peadar Carley said, “As with all such projects achieving quiet time when all trades are trying to meet a completion deadline is difficult. The project managers were very accommodating for both Sound Productions and Fratelli Rufatti, the organ builders. They ensured that we had at least one full day and two evenings without any construction noise to facilitate our final commissioning.”As a result, congregants are now enjoying the vastly improved audio quality in their new environment, which pays homage to the original architecture — but with a larger sanctuary bringing them closer to the altar.

JBL and all HARMAN Professional products are distributed in the UK by Sound Technology Ltd.   For more information please call 01462 480000 or visit


  • St Mel's Cathedral
  • St. Mel’s Cathedral in Longford, Ireland

Project Team

  • Design and Installation: Sound Productions


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