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Westminster Abbey audio flexibility boosted with Yamaha DMEs

The iconic UK house of worship has been equipped with a new audio/video installation featuring Yamaha Digital Mixing Engines (DMEs).

One of the UK’s most distinguished houses of worship has been equipped with a new audio/video installation featuring Yamaha Digital Mixing Engines (DMEs).

The DMEs were specified as part of a wide-ranging project that drew on the input of audio consultants Michael Hyland & Associates and installer Whitwam Ltd. The project has included the installation of speech reinforcement, induction loop and CCTV systems, along with video, audio and data distribution facilities.

Minimising visual unobtrusiveness and the effects of a highly reverberant acoustic space were among the priorities that confronted the project’s various contributors.

At the heart of the resulting audio system are two Yamaha DME64N digital mixing engines, installed in the main ‘user‘ rack. These are connected locally to AD8HR microphone input modules and DA824 line outputs. Five remote equipment racks contain a number of DME24N and DME8o-C devices, with audio connections from the user rack via CobraNet and a fibre optic ‘backbone’‘. This comprises two multi‑core fibres, installed between all of the rack locations and forming two continuous rings to provide full redundancy.

The decision to employ multiple racks was taken to localise cabling wherever possible, avoiding long runs between areas where cable routes did not exist and would be difficult to create because of the Abbey ‘s historic structure.

Overall control of the system is by The Abbey‘s Vergers using Crestron touch screens, which have been installed in various areas to maximise flexibility. A further touch screen by the organ console gives control of the audio and video elements which are specific to the organist.

The system can also be controlled by a portable screen which can be plugged in at a number of locations, along with a wireless touch screen which can be used throughout the main areas of the building.

The Crestron AV2 processor also provides control over other elements of the installation such as CCTV cameras, audio and video recording/playback equipment.

Audio inputs to the system include 32 wired microphone circuits in key areas, each of which can be switched on and off locally by the user, or by remotely using any of the touch screens, which use bespoke electronics to interface with the Yamaha DMEs and Crestron system. There are also six wireless lapel mics, two wireless handhelds and a paging microphone at the user rack.

There are no less than 47 zones of loudspeaker coverage, including external sockets by the Abbey ‘s north and west Doors to enable stand‑mounted loudspeakers to be connected to the system. A range of presets enable the loudspeaker zones for regular services to be selected via the touch screens.

Other input and output options include a solid state audio recorder, plus CD and DVD units. The system also includes a number of pre‑recorded announcements for various emergency situations, while an internet link allows the system to be remotely monitored and managed.

A separate system has been installed to reinforce the sound of the choir for the congregation in the nave, while further ancillary systems connected to the primary one are located in the Jericho Chamber, the Ringing Chamber and St Margaret ‘s Church.