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A higher calling

Canterbury Christ Church University’s choice of Sennheiser SpeechLine Digital Wireless microphone system – deployed by CDEC – for its new £60m flagship building has added audio sophistication to the new city campus development

For more than 50 years, Canterbury Christ Church University (CCCU) has been at the heart of the Kent community, offering a rich academic and professional education. With 15,000-plus students coming from over 100 countries, CCCU has a fervent belief in the power of higher education to bring a real and positive difference to people’s lives.

The vibrant network of the University’s campuses has been complemented by the new multi-million-pound home to CCCU’s dynamic science, technology, health, engineering and medicine courses, due to open in January of this year. The industry-standard, hi-tech facility was recently equipped with Sennheiser’s SpeechLine Digital Wireless (SpeechLine DW), a digital wireless microphone system designed for speech and lecture applications.

Award-winning integration
The formal tender process was carried out by the CCCU at the end of February 2020, and went out to a number of audiovisual suppliers, although none would match the system design proposed by the award-winning AV integrator, CDEC.

“We went through a highly competitive tender process based on price, capability, and service, with all elements playing a vital part in the CCCU AV team’s final decision,” explains David Corker, HE/FE sales manager at CDEC. “CDEC was granted the contract as we were able to come up with a solution that met all the requirements of the university’s team and ticked all their boxes.”

With over eight years working for CDEC, first as an external sales manager for primary and secondary schools, then moving to university work and presently being responsible for overseeing all the universities CDEC works with across the UK, Corker describes how CDEC’s relationship with CCCU has developed over the years.

“Canterbury Christ Church Uni is one of our major customers,” he says. “We are the sole AV provider for the university, and have been since 2015, so for the last five years we have acted as the university’s audiovisual consultant.

“We’ve got a very close relationship with their AV team as
we provide all their AV needs in terms of supplying equipment, from PC loudspeakers to cameras, to fully consulted and designed audio-visual installations for their seminar rooms
and the lecture theatres. And now, new builds as well.”

Inspirational learning
After five weeks of non-stop installation, which commenced in October of last year, the CDEC team had installed 42 channels of SpeechLine DW microphone systems across 46 high-spec rooms, all designed to the highest standard in order to bring engineers, scientists, doctors and healthcare students together in an inspirational learning environment.

“We wanted to convey the vision of CCCU’s AV team, which was to transform the new space into an ideal hub for research, experimentation, industry collaboration and much more,” says Corker. “We knew that SpeechLine would be the perfect system for that particular facility due to features such as its advanced system automatics and preconfigured sound profiles, which all play a part in delivering a highly flexible offering for multiple education applications.”

Hands-free presentations and a wide variety of transmitter options – depending on personal preferences such as wireless table stand, handheld, or body transmitter for use with lapel or headmic – have all been made possible with SpeechLine DW, ensuring the ideal microphone solution for any situation.

“SpeechLine has been the preferred solution for the education sector for many years now, and Sennheiser is the preferred microphone brand of CCCU, with all of its campuses using Sennheiser extensively, so it really was a no-brainer for us to marry the two together and recommend this particular system for the university’s new building,”
continues Corker.

One of the major challenges the system helped the CDEC team to address is putting a large number of channels in close proximity. “Obviously, with SpeechLine DW being a 1G9 DECT solution, we don’t have to worry about licenses or any crossovers with existing frequencies. This has given us the flexibility to put in numerous microphones into different size spaces, some of which are quite compact, with SpeechLine working perfectly for the environments the university is using them in,” Corker adds.

Iain McCracken, head of service delivery at CCCU, agrees: “The SpeechLine range gives our lecturers the confidence and capability in their approach to voice reinforcement.”

The working range of SpeechLine DW was  more than sufficient to cover all room sizes at CCCU without any restrictions. The final stage of the extensive installation was completed in October 2020, with just over a month left for both teams to make any necessary final adjustments.

“CDEC is a knowledgeable and valued Sennheiser partner,” says Inesh Patel, Sennheiser’s business development manager – business communication. “With this project for CCCU, their recommendation for the adoption of the SpeechLine series of wireless microphones was a perfect fit for the university’s
AV team, who were keen on employing a license-free and easy-to-use system.

“SpeechLine’s automatic frequency and interference management offered the ideal answer to that requirement. What is more, the system’s Multi-Room Mode allows the use of any number of microphones on campus, while the Sennheiser Control Cockpit Software gives the team on site all possibilities for remote control, monitoring and trouble-shooting.”

Dedicated engineers
Says Corker: “We are very fortunate to have been able to develop such a great working relationship with the Canterbury Christ Church University AV team over the years. Their team are all experienced and dedicated audiovisual engineers that have a lot of experience about audio-visual requirements. This means they can put together a good vision of what they’re trying to achieve and we can always put together a good response to make it happen.

“This is a mutually beneficial relationship, where we trust in what the client is looking for and they trust the designs we put forward. Sennheiser plays a big part in that, as it provides reliable and highly flexible solutions such as SpeechLine DW, which are specifically tailored to education and trusted by hundreds of universities worldwide.”