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Harman solution for historic Oxford chapel

David Davies 4 November 2011
Harman solution for historic Oxford chapel

Sound Technology recently supplied About Sound with JBL, Crown, BSS Audio and AKG components for an installation at the 14th century New College Oxford chapel.

Working alongside the Chapel’s musical director, Prof. Edward Higginbottom, and chaplain Revd Dr Erica Longfellow, About Sound was initially enlisted to set up a recording facility to enable weekly webcasts of choral evensong. But in a second phase of work, they were asked to address a permanent solution for the amplification of spoken word.

Acknowledging the success of a JBL Control 52 installation at Trinity College, About Sound MD Matthew Dilley arranged for two Control 52s to be demonstrated to the Chaplain. The resulting design features 100 JBL satellite speakers, locked onto a custom bracket and mounted behind the pews on oak-stained plywood.

The speakers are processed and controlled within a BSS Soundweb London digital processing environment, comprising a BLU 100 (with a fixed configuration of 12 inputs and 8 outputs), two BLU-BOB breakout boxes providing necessary output expansion, and BLU-8 wall-mount controller for selecting basic presets. A custom touchscreen interface was designed around a Windows 7 wireless tablet PC for more complex control from any location. Each of the four lecterns features an LED button sunk into the pew; these buttons allow the system to be moderated for straightforward services, while the touchscreen facilitates access to more complex features.

About Sound’s technical manager, Richard Bland, described Soundweb as “an extremely flexible tool, in which we have been able to set a number of default preferences. [It] prevents the system having two speaking positions active at the same time. Without the Logic side of Soundweb London we couldn’t have provided that degree of control.”

The building’s three sections — the ante chapel, choir stalls and altar — are assigned to 16 sound zones (plus hearing loop), with the speakers driven 100V line from a pair of Crown’s CT8150 1U 8-channel power amplifiers and a CTs1200, which powers two JBL CBT100 column speakers in the ante chapel and two CBT 50s discreetly set at the altar.

A number of task-specific microphones have been selected, including AKG C747 miniature shotgun mics (with shockmount/adapters) fixed at the lectern positions, and an AKG GN 155 Set Gooseneck Podium Mic positioned in the altar area. An AKG DMS 700 digital wireless system completes the core specification.

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