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d&b helps London’s Church House enter new era of intelligibility

The need to address historic intelligibility issues and improve the overall audio quality were the key factors behind the recent installation at Church House Westminster in Central London. The project focused on the site’s two-level Assembly Hall, a Grade II listed space that is primarily used for conferences and other meetings.

Church House AV manager Ian Locke chose d&b for the upgrade, but also engaged the services of freelance sound designer and engineer Phil Wright to ensure the most appropriate units were selected throughout the cylindrical, dome-roofed venue.

“We undertook some tests with the existing system in the downstairs area, and found that for any given impulse we put into the PA we could measure ten to fifteen distinct arrivals at the measurement microphone. From an intelligibility point of view it really was a bit of a disaster, so resolving that was priority number one for the new d&b system design,” explained Wright.

d&b’s Y-Series Yi7P loudspeaker cabinets were selected, which house two 8in low frequency drivers and a 1.4in compression driver. At Church House, Yi7Ps are flown either side of the main stage and a pair of Yi-SUBs provide low-end reinforcement. The Y-Series products are augmented by a total of seven E6 loudspeakers. These compact multipurpose loudspeakers, with integrated coaxial drivers, have been specified to handle both frontfill and nearfill duties in the downstairs space.

Church House’s upstairs area constituted another distinct challenge for Wright and Locke, who were understandably keen to avoid any negative impact from the balcony fill and delay system on the downstairs area. A number of different d&b products were considered before they opted for the 16C column loudspeaker. The two-way passive 16C is the smallest column in the xC-Series, housing four 4in neodymium drivers and a 0.75in compression driver mounted on a CD horn. Powering the system is a combination of 10D and 30D amplifiers.

Wright commented: “At the very time that we were looking into equipment for this area of the Assembly Hall, d&b was bringing out the 16C, and not only did it immediately hit me as being highly suitable on an aesthetic level, it also allowed us to achieve control down to about 400Hz. This meant that we could really minimise the amount of information reaching the downstairs area.”

After a competitive tender process, London-based sound engineering, audio hire, sales and installation company RG Jones was appointed to undertake the fit-out of the new system. Jeff Woodford, project engineer at RG Jones, oversaw the installation, which he said proceeded “very smoothly indeed. We had about four people onsite doing cabling work and fitting loudspeakers at any one time. The overall improvement in sound quality is clear for everyone to hear – I would say it is about 10 times better than before!”

Wright praised the “highly sophisticated” nature of the d&b boxes, in particular their pattern control. “They have become really good at controlling the mid/low frequencies. It’s definitely a brand I will be looking at more keenly for future projects.”

Final word on the new set-up goes to Locke, who said the new system has made “a vast difference. The installation has increased versatility and improved the clarity, allowing us to deliver events more successfully. It has also allowed us to deliver a wider range of events as a result of improved response. Investing in sound system design and a great manufacturer has really benefited our engineers and clients. The team from d&b has been a pleasure to work with, and through RG Jones has delivered a great result.”